PUBLISHED: 06:51 07 April 2014
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2014
Cooking for your vegetarian is no longer an after-thought. Chances are a close family member or one of you dinner party guests has decided to forgo meat, joining the growing band of 1.2 million in the UK who will choose one of the many alternative diets and follow a path where lentils will replace the lamb, cheese the chicken and hummus the ham.
Don’t be dismayed , with a plethora of great vegetables from the Fens, farm shops and local allotments you shouldn’t be short of inspiration. Fresh vegetables benefit from simple preparation and cooking, concentrating on the tastes and texture that are so attractive.
March is the time when many begin to arrive, but this should become a recipe to use throughout the year, just adapting to what’s available. I’m not a fan of the meat substitutes on the market - I think there’s something wrong with a food stuff that’s made to look like a sausage but doesn’t taste like one - but I understand their convenience, not every vegetarian lives from their allotment.
This is a savoury version of the classic apple tarte tatin, it tastes as good as it looks and, of course, you can use whatever toppings you have to hand. They can be made in advance, and simply popped in the oven to re heat. Try them out on your carnivorous friends, but don’t blame me if they become converted!
Richard Hughes is chef proprietor of the Lavender House at Brundall and the Richard Hughes Cookery School. He is also director of The Pigs pub at Edgefield and The Assembly House, Norwich.
Shallot tarte tatin
Makes two tarts
1 sheet of pre-rolled puff pastry, enough for two 8ins discs
8 banana shallots
100g Chantenay carrots
150g butternut squash
1 dessert apple
Small bunch of sage
2 dessertspoons of honey
Salt, black pepper
1 Bring the shallots to the boil, in their skins, and simmer for five minutes.
2 Peel the Chantenay carrots, peel and dice the squash. Place in cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for three minutes.
3 Refresh the shallots, peel and cut into half. Cut the apple into thick slices.
4 Cut a disc of puff pastry to fit the chosen frying pan.
5 Approximately an 8ins disc is ideal for a main course.
6 Heat 25g butter in a heavy frying pan until it begins to foam.
7 Add a dessertspoon of honey.
8 When the butter begins to colour, add the shallots and the apple. Fry gently to colour the shallots.
9 Add the drained carrots and squash.
10 Add the chopped fresh sage.
11 Season with freshly milled black pepper and salt.
12 Top with the puff pastry.
13 Tuck in the edges of the pastry. Place in a hot oven 200C/Gas Mark 6 until the pastry is crisp and coloured. This should take approximately 15 minutes.
14 Shake the pan to ensure the topping is free from the base of the pan. Be brave and quickly invert on to the serving plate.
15 Spoon any of the topping that doesn’t come away from the pan cleanly on to the top.