When I was growing up my parents often had friends over for dinner. The vegetarian 80s classics always came into play: there would be brown rice salad with curry-powder dressing, a big green salad using vegetables from our garden, if I was lucky Mum’s famous kumara and carrot slice would also be on the menu and dessert was often crumble or cake with whipped cream. To me, cooking vegetarian is all I know, but I’m aware that for many the idea of cooking a solely vegetable-based dinner can feel a little overwhelming. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of trying to replace meat with soy-based vegetarian substitutes, but I prefer to celebrate vegetables in all their simple flavoursome beauty, with just a few little extras such as crispy chickpeas for added protein. So, whether you’re vegetarian or would simply like to try something a little different the next time you have friends over, I hope you’ll love these flavour-packed dishes. A couple of these dishes use sumac – it can be found in the spice section of some supermarkets or at specialty food stores.



Make hibiscus-rose syrup for the soda and store in the fridge
If you’re soaking and cooking dried chickpeas, soak these today
Soak cashews for ‘cheesecake’
Make preserved lemon dressing and store in the fridge
Make babaganoush and store in the fridge
Make bitter chocolate sauce, cool and store in the fridge
Pickle shallots



Chill soda water
Make ‘cheesecake’
Cook chickpeas if you’re not using tinned
Make crispy chickpeas, cool and store in an airtight container


Prepare sumac cucumbers (without the herbs) and store in the fridge, fold through herbs just before serving
Prepare black pepper strawberries, cover and chill until needed
Roast carrots and zaatar cauliflower and keep at room temperature
Cook saffron basmati and keep warm until needed
Braise fennel
Re-melt bitter chocolate sauce and cool slightly before serving