Thursday, 21 August 2008

Alien Nation ...

Last year was our 10th wedding anniversary. We spent the weekend at a posh hotel in Bath. And for dinner we went to a vegetarian restaurant. DeMuth's. OH! what a fantastic treat it was to be able to choose ANYTHING at all on the menu. I was almost delirious with joy!

What an absolute thrill it was to consider properly every single dish described and be stuck for choice at all the deliciousness leaping up into my mind at the thought of each and every dish presented for consideration.

There was no searching for the little green "v" signs. No disappointment at the lack of said "v's". No frustration at the banality of the "v's".

Once, upon finding no "v's" at all on one menu, we were offered "parsnip bake" and another time, on expressing disappointment at yet another goats cheese salad on yet another menu, we were offered lamb or chicken as a suitable "v" option.

When will caterer's realise that Stuffed Aubergine and Mediterranean Vegetable Tart is BORING???

Why why oh WHY, when there is so much delicious food and so much choice available to us (for good or for bad), can carnivores never reach past their meaty imaginations into veggie wonder? Why do people think that "Sunday roast without the pork" is a suitable option when frankly, it's just lazy and unkind.

Surely delicious food is delicious food whether or not it contains flesh? My grandfather was a top chef, my parents were hoteliers. My mother - after her father - is the best cook I know, but give her the challenge of cooking "vegetarian" food and what does she come up with? Frozen pizza!

It's all to do with labels.

So many every day dishes are meat free, but give them the "v" label, and they become "difficult".

Gordon Ramsay says that "vegetarians have no palate". Curses to that man! Especially as many of his "delicious recipes using the freshest, most vibrant ingredients" do not include meat!!

So tonight I am sharing with you, a recipe inspired by that wonderful restaurant in Bath.

It's a Quinoa and Halloumi Salad with Raw Vegetables and Pea Shoots:


1 cup Quinoa (or cous cous if you prefer but I find Quinoa more tasty and it's better for you)
1 red pepper sliced finely
50g sunblush tomatoes
raw salad: finely shredded cabbage, carrot, beetroot and (raw) sweetcorn kernals
2 or 3 little gem hearts
bag Pea Shoots (from waitrose - or grow your own)
1 pack halloumi cheese
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
salt and pepper

How to:

1) Cook the quinoa in twice it's volume of water and add a stock cube or a tsp marigold bouillion to taste. Fluff up when it's done (when all the water is absorbed) and leave to cool. Add chopped chives and black pepper to taste.

2) Chop red pepper and tomatoes very finely and add to warm quinoa. Dress with 1-2 tbsp olive oil and 1sp Balsamic vinegar. Set aside

3) Wash your little Gems and chop into 1 inch slices. Set aside

4) Slice your halloumi thickly (about 1cm), brush with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and griddle until the cheese is soft. Set aside to cool a little.

5) Assemble the salad: pile pea shoots, raw salad and little gem onto a plate, with some quinoa salad on top, and the halloumi on top of that.

6) Dress with a drizzle of olive oil and a splash of tamari.

Et Voila! Deliciousness on a plate ...

Additional ideas:

1) Add sprouts (sunflower or lentil for me) for extra crunch.
2) Leftovers can be stuffed into a mini pita with garlic mayo for the most delicious taste sensation ever!


Florence said...

Oh yum...and haloumi is one of our favourites too. That looks delicious.

I have missed Cranks since it closed - that was the only place I ever experienced that wonderful feeling of not having to study food trying to work out if a mushroom was in fact a piece of meat.

Gina said...

Well done you for saying that! I actually had a meal in a foreign hotel - no choice because we'd been ferried there due to a flight delay. It came up with potatoes, soggy veg and meat and gravy. When I said I didn't eat meat they just scooped the meat from the plate and brought it back and couldn't understand why I wouldn't eat it!Thank you for the recipe Julie - looks delicious!

French Knots said...

That looks delish! We had pea shoots for the firsme when we were away earlier in the year so I decided to grow some peas, the slugs said the pea shoots were very tasty!

Marmadaisy said...

Good for you! When we were in Hungary my choices were deep fried processed cheese or salad (which actually had anchovies in it). We were so relieved to find a Tesco - I have never been so pleased to see a pot of hummus.

Kathi D said...

Cooking delicious vegetarian meals takes more imagination than most of us can muster. There are too many easy ways to cook a boneless, skinless chicken breast!

We cooked vegetarian for a year once, and gave it up mainly out of (my) laziness.

Garden Girl said...

WoW! That looks amazing! I will definitey give it a go, thankyou. Unfortunately I am in love with Gordon R so cannot agree.....;)xxx

Helen said...

That looks lovely! I adore griddled halloumi with cous cous - I'll have to give the quinoa a try next time.