Review: The Part-Time Vegetarian by Nicola Graimes
Nicola Graimes wrote one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks – Veggienomics. This is definitely one of my ‘go to’ cookbooks and you can see some of the recipes I’ve tried from it here, here and (my favourite) here.
In Nicola’s latest cookbook – The Part-Time Vegetarian – she confesses that, after almost thirty years of being vegetarian, she now occasionally eats meat and fish. While Nicola doesn’t go into detail about why she chose to start eating meat again, part of me dearly hopes one of the reasons is ‘got drunk and bought a kebab on the way back from the pub’ but my guess is that probably wasn’t a contributing factor and, after thirty years, deciding to re-introduce meat and fish into her diet probably wasn’t something she did lightly.
Still, whatever Nicola’s reasons, I’ve got to admit when her publisher asked me if I’d like a review copy, I was hesitant to accept. Although I’m pro-choice and, as far as I’m concerned, if people want to eat meat then that’s their prerogative, my collection of cookbooks is 100% vegetarian/vegan and I don’t want to see meat recipes while I’m flicking through a cookbook looking for something to make.
This isn’t a half-meat/half-vegetarian cookbook though – The Part-Time Vegetarian contains vegetarian recipes that can be adapted to include meat and fish. For example, it could be something as simple as sprinkling some crispy bacon on the finished dish, the addition of prawns, or a more substantial alteration such as spiced grilled lamb instead of roasted mushrooms served on a white bean mash.
So, if you’re one of the two out of three part-time ‘vegetarians’ who occasionally eat meat, chicken or fish*; you cook for a family that contains a vegetarian; or you just want to incorporate a few vegetarian meals to your weekly menu, then this book will be of interest to you. Nicola’s also included menu plans for a family vegetarian week, a part-time vegetarian week, a 7-day healthy week, part-time vegetarian meals for friends and menus for different occasions.
Recipe: Paneer, egg and potato gratin
I don’t know if it was my subconscious to blame, but the recipe I decided to try first from The Part-Time Vegetarian didn’t have a meaty alternative. I also don’t know if how it turned out was anything like it was supposed to, as there’s no photo for this recipe in the book (there are plenty of full-page photos to accompany other recipes though) and the finished result wasn’t how I’d pictured it in my head but, appearances aside, this was a tasty, filling meal, with the paneer and Indian spices giving an interesting twist to the potatoes and eggs.
[Please note: As usual, this is my simplified/altered to my preference version and not how it appears in the book.]
- 800g potatoes, halved if large - no need to peel
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 green peppers, deseeded and sliced
- 1 green chilli, deseeded and sliced
- 325ml vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
- 4 eggs
- 150g paneer, cubed
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6
- Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water with half the turmeric for 10-12 minutes, or until almost tender. Drain the potatoes and leave until cool enough to handle.
- Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large non-stick pan and fry the onions for 8 minutes until softened. Add the garlic, cumin seeds, green peppers and chilli and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
- Slice the potatoes into 1cm slices and add to the pan, turning gently until combined, then pour in the stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 5 minutes until the stock has reduced by three-quarters. Stir in half the coriander and transfer to a baking dish.
- Make four indentations in the potato mixture and break an egg into each one. Scatter the paneer over the top and drizzle with the remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper, cover with foil, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
- Remove the foil and cook for a further 5-8 minutes.
- Scatter over the remaining coriander.
Giveaway: Win a copy of The Part-Time Vegetarian by Nicola Graimes
I’ve got a copy of The Part-Time Vegetarian to give away and if you’d like to win it, just leave a comment below and I’ll pick a winner at random after the closing date of Friday 2 October 2015.
UK entries only.
*Yes, I know there’s no such thing as a part-time vegetarian. Don’t shoot me.