Big & Bold: vegetarian recipes from Rich Harris
Rich Harris' new book, Root & Leaf, is about big, bold vegetarian food. While he and his family eat meat, Rich enjoys eating more veg than before "and I think our bodies and wallets are beginning to thank us for it"
Courgette Flowers with Ricotta and Black Pepper Honey
Salty ricotta, floral honey and spicy black pepper are a match made in heaven so bringing them together using sweet courgette flowers and crispy batter can only improve that union.
If you grow courgettes at some point, you'll start to be overrun with flowers but if not, then keep an eye out for them in farmers' markets or befriend a neighbour with an allotment. Make sure you pick out the bitter stamens from each flower and give them a shake to remove any bugs lurking within the folds of the petals. Don't be tempted to wash them in running water, though; the petals are too delicate and will tear when you try to fill them.
12 courgette flowers
1 tsp crushed black pepper
4 tbsp light floral honey
80g Parmesan, finely grated
Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
75g self-raising flour
175-200ml ice-cold sparkling water
First prepare the courgette flowers. Check them over for any small insects that may be hiding within the petals, then carefully pinch and twist the stamens and remove, as they tend to taste quite bitter.
Heat a small saucepan over a medium heat and lightly
toast the crushed peppercorns until fragrant. Stir in the honey, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to infuse while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Beat together the ricotta and Parmesan cheese in a bowl, then season to taste with salt. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag and pipe it into the courgette flowers until filled, then twist the tips of the petals together to seal.
Heat the vegetable oil for deep-frying in a large pan to
180°C. Mix together the self-raising flour and cornflour in a large bowl and add a good pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, then gradually add the sparkling water to the well and whisk into the flour mixture until you have a smooth batter, adding enough so that the batter is the consistency of double cream.
Dip the filled courgette flowers, a few at a time, into the batter to coat, shake off the excess and deep-fry for 2 minutes until golden and crisp. Remove from the oil and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper, then continue deep-frying the remaining flowers in the same way.
Sprinkle with a little salt, drizzle over the black pepper honey and serve.
Chargrilled Halloumi with Chilli and Mint Pesto
Somewhat controversially, I'm not a huge fan of halloumi so the inclusion of this recipe may seem a little odd. It can often be bland and the texture either squeaky or chalky. However, I'm convinced there's a sweet spot; the moment it leaves the frying pan or griddle, with its golden, crisp exterior and salty, molten middle. Right there, in that almost-too-hot-to-eat moment, it's perfect. I hardly need say then that you need to make the pesto first so that you can dive straight in when the halloumi's ready. Serves 4
750g halloumi, thickly sliced lengthways
Juice of ½ lemon
For the chilli and mint pesto:
150ml light olive oil
75g pine nuts
2 red chillies, roughly chopped
1 small garlic clove, peeled and crushed
Pinch of sea salt
50g bunch of mint, leaves picked
50g bunch of basil, leaves picked
First make the pesto. Pour the oil into a food processor, add the pine nuts, chillies, garlic and salt, and blend to a coarse paste. Add the mint and basil leaves and blend again to a smooth paste.
Preheat a dry frying pan to a high heat. Brush the halloumi slices on both sides with a little olive oil, then chargrill for 2 minutes on each side until golden and lightly charred. Lay the chargrilled halloumi on a warmed serving plate, spoon over the pesto, then squeeze over the lemon juice and serve immediately.
Flatbreads with Creamed Feta and Sticky Aubergines
Pillowy-soft, lightly charred flatbreads piled high with toppings are a great way to start a meal, particularly if you're feeding a crowd. I tend to make both the pickled carrots and the sticky aubergines, put everything in the middle of the table and let everyone dive in. These also make a great main course; double the recipe and serve with larger flatbreads, barbecued lamb or veggies and a simple herb salad. Serves 4
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tsp ground sumac, plus extra to serve
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
100g feta, crumbled
75ml double cream
50g cream cheese
For the sticky aubergines: Olive oil
2 medium aubergines, cut into 2cm cubes
2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
1 tbsp dark brown soft sugar
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
4 thick white flatbreads, to serve
Whisk together the garlic, sumac, extra-virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt, then leave to infuse. Put the feta in a small food processor and whizz to a fine crumb consistency.
With the motor running, gradually add the cream and whizz until smooth, then add the cream cheese and whizz again until thickened. Tip into a bowl, cover and chill in the fridge.
For the sticky aubergines, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan, add one quarter of the aubergine and fry over a high heat for 5 minutes until softened and caramelised.
Tip onto a plate lined with kitchen paper and squeeze to remove as much excess oil as possible. Repeat with the remaining aubergine, then return all of it to the pan. Add the cumin seeds and sugar, and fry for a couple of minutes.
Pour over the vinegar and continue to cook over a high heat until all the vinegar has been absorbed and the aubergines are dark and sticky. Season to taste with salt.
When you're ready to serve, heat a heavy-based griddle pan over a high heat and lightly toast the flatbreads until warmed through. Brush with the infused oil, then spread generously with the creamed feta. Spoon the aubergines on top and garnish with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sumac.