What's Cooking: Delicious dishes using tasty vegetables

Recipes from Root, Stem, Leaf, Flower: How to cook with vegetables and other plants by Gill Meller

What's Cooking: Delicious dishes using tasty vegetables

Beetroot soup recipe with celery and apple. Picture: Andrew Montgomery

Beetroot soup recipe with celery and apple

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

3tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4 or 5 raw beetroot (about 600g), peeled and roughly diced

4 tender celery sticks, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 dessert apples

200ml cloudy apple juice

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve (optional):

Extra-virgin olive oil

A scattering of basil leaves

Spoonfuls of natural yoghurt

4 small baked dessert apples

Method

1. Place a medium, heavy-based pan over a gentle heat. Add the olive oil and when it’s hot add the beetroot, celery, garlic and onion. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring regularly, for 12–15 minutes, or until the vegetables are beginning to soften and smell sweet and tasty.

2. Meanwhile, peel, quarter and core the apples, then slice them thickly. When the vegetables are ready, add the apples to the pan, stir, then cook for a further one to two minutes before adding 600ml of water. Place a lid on the pan and bring the soup to the simmer. Leave to simmer gently for 10 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

3. Ladle the soup into a blender. Add the apple juice and whiz until smooth. Return the soup to the pan and bring it briefly back to the simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from the heat.

4. If you intend to serve the soup cold, leave it to cool, then transfer it to a bowl. Cover and place in the fridge to chill for three to four hours.

5. You can serve the soup just as it is, but I like to finish it with a swirl of olive oil, a scattering of fresh basil, a spoonful of organic natural yoghurt, and even a small, whole baked apple, but that’s entirely optional.

Courgette flatbreads recipe with herbs and goat’s cheese

Ingredients

(Makes 3)

For the flatbreads:

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

1tsp fine sea salt

1tsp fast-action dried yeast

2tsp crushed fennel seeds

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

2tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing

4tbsp natural yoghurt

For the topping:

4tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1.2kg courgettes, sliced into 5mm rounds

1 small handful of dill, chopped

1 small handful of mint, leaves picked and thinly ribboned

1 small handful of basil, chopped

1 small handful of chives, chopped

150g soft goat’s cheese

Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1. Make the flatbreads. Place the flour, salt, yeast, fennel seeds and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the oil, yoghurt and 275ml of water and mix everything thoroughly until it forms a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, until soft and smooth.

2. (You can use a stand mixer with a dough hook for this part.) Shape the dough into a rough round and place in a lightly oiled bowl; cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for up to 24 hours.

3. When you’re ready to make the flatbreads, start the topping. Place a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add half the olive oil and when it’s hot add the garlic and sizzle for a few seconds, then add the courgettes. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Cook the courgettes slowly over a gentle heat, stirring regularly, for about 25 minutes or so, until they break down but still retain a little of their shape. They should be soft without colouring too much and almost spoonable in texture.

5. Take the pan off the heat, stir all but a handful of the herbs into the courgettes, then season again to taste with plenty of salt and pepper.

6. Place three baking sheets in the oven (alternatively, bake one at a time if you have limited oven space) and heat the oven to 240°C/220°C fan/475°F/gas mark 8.

7. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface, then cut it into three equal pieces. Form each piece into a nice neat round and leave to rest for 20 minutes or so. When you’re ready to bake the flatbreads, roll out the pieces of dough. They want to be quite thin, but don’t worry if they’re not especially round, that doesn’t matter.

8. Take the hot baking sheets out of the oven and place a rolled-out dough on each. Spread the courgette mixture evenly over the top of each. Dot the goat’s cheese over the top of the courgette mixture and trickle all over with some of the remaining olive oil. Add the chilli flakes, if using, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, too.

9. Place the trays in the oven for 12–14 minutes, or until the dough is puffed up and golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and slide onto a board. Sprinkle with a few reserved herbs and serve.

Salted chocolate pumpkin tart recipe

Ingredients

(Serves 6-8)

For the pastry:

45g icing sugar

150g plain flour

20g cocoa powder

85g unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for greasing

1 egg, whisked

1tbsp chilled water

For the filling:

100ml whole milk

250ml double cream

200g peeled pumpkin or squash flesh, cut into small dice

50g unrefined caster sugar

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

300g 70% dark chocolate, broken into small pieces

1/2tsp flaky sea-salt

Method

1. First, make the pastry. Combine the icing sugar, plain flour and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Rub in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (you can do this in a food processor, if you prefer). Add half the whisked egg and all of the chilled water, and stir through to combine.

2. Tip out the dough and bring it together with your hands, kneading lightly to achieve a smooth finish. Wrap the pastry in parchment and rest it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry until it is about 2mm thick. Grease and flour a 25cm loose-bottomed, fluted tart tin, then lay over the pastry, tucking it into the corners and leaving an overhang. Line the pastry case with baking parchment and baking beans.

4. Blind-bake the tart case for 25 minutes, then remove the baking beans and parchment, trim the overhang, give the pastry a light brush with the remaining egg and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the base is just starting to colour. Remove and set aside.

5. Make the filling. Pour the milk and cream into a pan and add the pumpkin or squash. Set over a medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring regularly for 15–20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is tender. Purée the pumpkin and cream mixture together in a blender until it is lovely and smooth and silky, then add the sugar, eggs and egg yolk and whiz for a few more seconds to combine.

6. Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt slowly, then remove from the heat. Pour the pumpkin purée into the melted chocolate and stir well to combine. Pour the filling into the tart case. Bake the tart for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and allow to cool. Sprinkle the top with the sea-salt flakes before serving.