Monday, April 23, 2012

vegetarian cooking

My friend Anthea who is a wonderful vegetarian wholefood mama introduced me to the vegetarian splendour to be found on veggienumnum. The photography and recipes on this blog will inspire the most bored homecooks into the kitchen to create memorable meat free meals.

Another vegetarian wholefood mama who I have been a fan of since my university days when I listened to her talk food on Melbourne's famed independent radio station RRR, is muesli maker and cookbook author (among many other talents) Flip Shelton. I wrote about Flip's book Veg In here and for this post Flip has kindly agreed to share one of her recipes from Veg In. Those of you with backyard veggie gardens may have an abundance of eggplants, and if you haven't a garden you'll find them in ready supply at your local market or vegie shop put them to good use in Flip's 'Cheat's Vegetarian Moussaka'.

Flip's recipe is made in four serves in ramekins. I made mine in a large rectangular baking dish. Below is the recipe as per Flip's book, my version in the photo includes a few roughly chopped capsicums I happened to have in the fridge and to the top I poured over the white sauce then dotted it with semi-dried tomatoes I also just happened to have then sprinkled the grated parmesan over. I increased the garlic because we are a 'one clove is never enough' kind of family and because I was making it for grown ups only I was generous with the chilli. This dish is so warming and delicious it almost makes me look forward to winter. Almost.

Flip Shelton's Cheat's Vegetarian Moussaka
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, grated or finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional)
2 eggplants (approx 400grams) diced
1 zucchini (200 grams), diced
6 button mushrooms (150 grams), cut into quarters
400 gram can diced tomatoes, drained
several sprigs fresh parsley or oregano (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
salt and pepper, freshly ground
20 grams parmesan cheese grated

Basic white sauce
30 grams butter
30 grams (1/3 cup) plain flour
500ml (2 cups) milk
salt and pepper, freshly ground

Preheat oven to 180C. Warm oil in a heavy-based saucepan before adding onion, garlic and chilli flakes (if using) and saute for about 5 minutes.

Add eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, tinned tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes or until veggies have softened.

White sauce
Over a medium heat, melt butter in small saucepan and heat until foaming.

Add flour and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly add milk, whisking constantly, until mixture is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly until sauce thickens.

To assemble
Divide vegetable mix into ramekins.

Add a thick layer of white sauce but don't fill ramekins to the very top as mixture can bubble over.

Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.

For even more veggie inspiration these places are well worth a click:
My New Roots
Green Kitchen Stories and
The Vegie Belly 

And finally, if you're tired of recipes and reading go view the art of vegetables at Marvelous Kiddo

Happy meatless Monday.

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