A Meat-Free Feast from The Hairy Dieters Go Veggie
Hey folks – would you believe that we, the Hairy Bikers, well-known lovers of Sunday roasts and meat feasts, are going veggie? Well, at least for some of the time. We know this latest book will come as a big surprise to you. You’re used to us as lads who love our meat, and for years we’ve been busy sharing our recipes for chicken pies, lamb curries and meaty casseroles.
We still love all that – it’s part of who we are – but we also know that if you ignore the veggies you’re missing out big time. As cooks, we’ve always appreciated our veg and they’re a hugely important part of our cooking. And lately, without really thinking about it, we’ve been eating less meat. We’re not giving it up altogether, but the more we learn about cooking great food, the more we enjoy making use of all the amazing produce that’s on offer and creating dishes where vegetables, pulses and other plant foods are the stars of the show. This also fits well with our desire to keep eating healthily and maintain our weight loss.
For this book, we’ve taken great delight in coming up with dishes that are just as tasty, hearty and satisfying as ever – but without meat. Cut the calories but never the flavour is always our mantra. We’re loving this latest exciting step along the way in our culinary adventure and we hope you come with us and enjoy these recipes as much as we do.
SOCCA AND SALSA
We have to warn you: these chickpea flour flatbreads – socca, also known as farinata – are addictive! You can leave them plain, just seasoned with salt and pepper, or jazz them up with lots of herbs and caramelised onions as here. Either way you’re going to love them – try them with a cold beer once the diet is over! Cut them into wedges or serve whole for people to tear off pieces and enjoy with the tomato salsa below or either of the dips in this chapter.
Serves 4 | 262 calories per serving | Prep: 15 minutes | Cooking time: about 30 minutes
Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and add the red onions. Fry them over a medium heat for at least 10 minutes until they have softened and started to caramelise. Set aside.
Put the chickpea flour in a bowl with a generous pinch of salt and whisk to remove any lumps. Gradually pour in 250ml of water and continue to whisk until you have a smooth batter with the consistency of thick double cream. Stir in the remaining olive oil and whisk to emulsify. Set the batter aside.
To make the salsa, mix all the ingredients in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper.
You can make 2 large socca in a 25cm non-stick pan, or 4 in a smaller pan. If making 2 large socca, heat the pan and spritz with oil spray or pour a few drops of oil into the pan and rub it over the base with kitchen paper. Pour half the batter into the pan and swirl to cover the base. Sprinkle over half the
onions and half the rosemary, then cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until browned and crisping round the edges. Flip the socca over to cook the other side or put the pan under a medium grill to finish the cooking. Transfer it to a board or a large plate and repeat.
If you are cooking 4 socca, split the batter into 4 and proceed as above, using a quarter of the onions and rosemary each time. Cut the socca into wedges or serve whole with the salsa.
There’s nothing like a meatball and these veggie versions have just the same lovely comforting mouthfeel as the meaty kind. This makes a fab supper dish that all the family will love.
Serves 4 | 249 calories per serving; 337 calories with sauce
Prep: 25 minutes | Cooking time: up 50 minutes
First cook the brown lentils according to the packet instructions and set them aside in a bowl. If using ready-cooked lentils, you need 250g.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion and carrot. Cook them over a low heat until the onion has softened, then add the spinach or chard. Continue to cook until the greens have wilted and softened – if using spinach, cook it until any liquid evaporates.
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