For National Vegetarian Week, who better to help you get your five-a-day than cook, food stylist, writer and all-round vegetable fanatic Anna Jones
We’ve fallen in love with food from the Med this summer and so, it seems, has Anna, with three recipes full of the flavour of the Mediterranean coastline taken from her book A Modern Way to Cook.
It’s no secret that Anna Jones is a bit of a fan of all things green, which is why she was the perfect person to show us three fresh, unfussy recipes for National Vegetarian Week (15-21 May) that put vegetables centre stage. “I have always loved vegetables, but becoming vegetarian made me see them as the main event, and ingredients worth putting just as much time and effort into as meat,” Anna explains.
“I'm very much led by the joy of food – the spritz of freshness when you peel an orange or the crackle and waft of deep savoury spice when you add curry leaves to a pan of hot oil – and I really think that healthy eating is as much about pleasure as anything else.
“I want to eat in a way that satisfies but leaves me feeling light and happy at the same time. I use spice, texture, flavour and easy-eating grains to satisfy without heaviness. I genuinely get excited about good ingredients – tomatoes in traffic light colours, fresh spring greens,
sweet, earthy beetroot, and this really comes through in the three recipes [below] I’ve picked to showcase from my cook book, A Modern Way to Cook (Fourth Estate, £25).
“The past five years have seen avocado on toast elbow its way onto every breakfast and lunch menu in the land. So I thought it was time to mix things up a bit by adding some more unusual flavours in my avocado smash recipe.
“Pasta and gluten sometimes get a bad press, but I think there is a time and place for a good bowl of it. So the sauce in my recipe for one-pot pasta is magically made from the pasta water and tomatoes as the pasta cooks all in one pan. No fuss, one pan and a killer bowl of pasta.
“To finish, my cannellini lemon cake. A cake made of beans? Yes, I thought it sounded absolutely rubbish too. But I gave it a go anyway, and when a springy, light, well-crumbed sponge appeared 30 minutes later it was a revelation.”
Avocado, tahini and
olive smash flatbreads
“This is equally good on toast. I often double the recipe and serve it in bowls with home-made tortilla chips, to make an amazing snack for a crowd.”
2 ripe avocados
1 clementine, or ½ an orange
2 tbsp tahini
2 handfuls kalamata olives
½ small clove of garlic
4 flatbreads or tortillas
toasted cumin seeds
fresh green herbs like dill, basil or parsley
feta cheese (optional)
Halve and de-stone the avocados and scoop the flesh into a bowl with
a good pinch of salt and pepper. Squeeze over the juice of the lemon and the clementine or orange. Add the tahini and roughly mash until you have a half smooth, half chunky mixture.
De-stone and roughly chop the olives and add them to the bowl. Very finely chop or grate the garlic and add that to the bowl too. Gently mix to combine. Heat the flatbreads either in a dry frying pan or on an open gas flame, turning them with tongs once they have browned a little. This will take a few seconds on a gas hob and more like 30 seconds to one minute in a pan.
Cut the flatbreads into quarters and pile on the avocado mixture. Top with a scattering of chilli flakes, toasted cumin seeds and a few delicate herbs. If you like, you can add a crumble of feta.
Kale, tomato and lemon
magic one-pot spaghetti
“The key to this recipe is to measure your water carefully and to use the right pan: you need a large shallow sauté pan or a casserole large enough to fit the pasta lying down. A large deep frying pan or wok would work well too.”
400g spaghetti or linguine
400g cherry tomatoes
zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons
100ml olive oil
2 heaped teaspoons sea salt (if you are using fine-grain table salt, add a bit less)
400g kale or spinach
Parmesan cheese, optional (I use a vegetarian one)
Fill and boil a kettle and get all your ingredients and equipment together. You need a large shallow pan with a lid.
Put the pasta into the pan. Quickly and roughly chop the tomatoes in half and throw them into the pan. Grate in the zest of both lemons and add the oil and salt. Add 1 litre of boiling water, put a lid on the pan and bring to the boil. As soon as it comes to the boil, remove the lid and simmer on a high heat for six minutes, using a pair of tongs to turn the pasta every 30 seconds or so as it cooks.
Meanwhile, remove any tough stalks from the kale or spinach and roughly tear the leaves. Once the pasta has had six minutes, add the kale and continue to cook for a further two minutes.
Once almost all the water has evaporated, take the pan off the heat and tangle into four bowls. If you like, top with a little parmesan.
“This cake is pretty great. It’s totally grain, gluten, refined sugar and dairy free and it tastes as indulgent and amazing as any cake should.”
Serves 8-10 For the cake
2 × 400g tins of cannellini beans
150ml set honey
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
4 free-range or organic eggs
100g ground almonds
2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
100g melted coconut oil
good pinch of sea salt
For the lemon icing and candied lemon
200g silken tofu
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
juice and zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 tbsp set honey
1 tsp orange blossom water
2 tbsp maple syrup
For the candied lemon peel, peel the zest, drop into boiling water for a few minutes, then transfer to a pan
adding a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup. Place over a high heat for a couple of minutes, until translucent. Leave to cool on a greaseproof-lined plate.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/gas 5. Grease and line a 20cm spring-form cake tin. Drain the cannellini beans. In a food processor blitz the beans, honey and vanilla seeds until smooth, then add each egg, pulsing as you go. Transfer to a mixing bowl and gently fold in the almonds, baking powder, coconut oil and salt. Bake for 30-40 minutes in the tin until golden brown, firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean.
For the icing, blend all the ingredients for three to four minutes until smooth and shiny. Place in the fridge to set. Remove cake from the oven and leave for five minutes, then cool completely on a rack before topping with the icing and finishing with the candied lemon.