THERE’S LOTS OF ❢ BRASSICAS

Cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts – the brassica family isn’t the most effortlessly romantic of vegetable groups but there are many reasons to love them. Whether you get your vegetables from a market, supermarket, greengrocer or straight from your own garden, there’s bound to be a brassica available and it’ll most likely be abundant, cheap, nutritious and delicious no matter the season.

TRY THESE

COLD KALE WITH SESAME, GINGER & SOY

Remove the spine from some kale leaves, cut leaves into ribbons and blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and cool. Crush a 1cm piece ginger with 1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 tablespoons water. Toss the kale with dressing and serve as a fresh starter or side dish.

JERK CAULIFLOWER

Combine 3 shallots, 2 cloves garlic, 2 Scotch bonnet or habanero chillies, ½ tablespoon five spice, ½ tablespoon ground allspice, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a blender. Pulse to a coarse paste. Cover a cauliflower in sauce and refrigerate overnight. Either cook over the grill on low for 45 minutes, turning regularly and basting with jerk sauce or bake for 40 minutes at 180°C.

STIR-FRIED CABBAGE WITH QUICK CHILLI & MUSHROOM XO SAUCE

Put ¼ cup sunflower oil (or similar neutral oil) into a pan on medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add 4 diced shallots, 2 garlic cloves, 3 diced shiitake, 5 field mushrooms, 1 carrot diced into small cubes and 1 teaspoon each cumin and fennel seeds. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 diced chilli, 1 tablespoon gochugaru, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and continue to cook for 5 minutes, before turning heat to high and adding half a sliced white cabbage. Cook for 5 minutes, tossing or stirring constantly, until cabbage just wilts.

SHAVED BRUSSELS SPROUTS & TOASTED SESAME SALAD

In a pan, toast ½ cup of sesame seeds until they are golden brown and set aside to cool. In a food processor, combine sesame seeds, ½ cup soy sauce, ½ cup rice wine vinegar, ¼ cup mirin, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, ⅓ cup rice bran oil and a bunch of coriander roots and blend until sesame seeds have broken down a little. Finely slice brussels sprouts into a bowl. Top with the dressing and toss.

MAKE IT YOURSELF ❢ VEGAN CHEESE

Vegan cheese – really? Don’t worry, we’ve thought that many times, too. We’re big fans of the real deal and have always assumed a dairy-free replacement would be a bit of a fiddle to make. We were wrong. This is a simple, firm-textured, coconut milk-based cheese that is to be eaten cooked (melted in burgers, empanadas etc – see our ideas below). It gets a bit stretchy when melted and has a subtle, savoury flavour.

TRY THESE

CAULIFLOWER CHEESE WITH HIDDEN JEWELS

Soak ½ cup sliced jalapeños, ½ cup sultanas and a sliced white onion in vinegar and set aside. Cook cauliflower florets in boiling, salted water for 5 minutes. In another pot, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and heat to medium before stirring in 2 tablespoons flour. Bit by bit, pour in 1½ cups water, stirring with a whisk. Remove from heat and add 1 block grated or diced vegan cheese and stir until melted. Add 1 teaspoon each cayenne pepper and paprika. In a baking dish, stir cauliflower and sauce with the drained jalapeños, sultanas and white onion. Bake at 200°C for 25 minutes.

POTATO, HERB & CAYENNE GRATIN

Finely slice 4-5 medium potatoes into a bowl. Add 1½ cups coconut milk, 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, ½ cup each chopped fresh oregano, sage and rosemary, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to coat the potatoes. Put into a baking dish, the potatoes roughly layered. Top with a generous amount of cheese and cook at 190°C for 30-40 minutes.

Makes: approx 2 litres
Preparation: 10 mins plus overnight soaking
ALMOND MILK
20210409105636

CELEBRATE THE STAPLES ❢ NUTS

Unfortunately, nuts regularly miss out on being used in our cooking at home. It is often Will’s mum who reminds us of their impact with very clever placement of them in some of her cooking. They offer depth and body to dishes and can’t be beaten for their textural properties.

TRY THESE

CRACKERS

Nut crackers are a great way to use the leftover pulp from making nut milk. Mix the pulp with approximately ⅓ cup wheat flour, 3 tablespoons tapioca flour, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon caraway, fennel or cumin seeds and a generous pinch of salt. Mix until a wet dough forms – you may need to add some water, more oil or more flour. Spoon the dough onto a tray lined with baking paper and drizzle with olive oil, then use your hands to press the dough out to approx 4-5mm thickness. Sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 150°C for about 15 minutes or until crispy.

HAZELNUT & MISO BUTTER

In a food processor, combine 2 cups skin-on, toasted and cooled hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons miso paste. Blend until the nuts have released their oil, gone through the wet, crumbly stage and combined into a smooth paste. Season with a pinch of salt if needed. You could also sweeten with 1 tablespoon honey.

CASHEW CAESAR-Y DRESSING

In a food processor, add 1 cup raw cashew nuts, ¾ cup water, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, juice of 1 lemon, 1 teaspoon nutritional yeast and blend until smooth. Serve as a dressing for fresh salads or even roasted vegetables, fish or meat.

PECAN PANFORTE

Toast 1½ cups pecan nuts in the oven. In a bowl, combine nuts with 1 cup dried fruit (such as apricots or citrus) with ½ cup flour, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, ½ teaspoon mixed spice, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and mix to combine. In a pot, heat ½ cup sugar and ½ cup honey until dissolved and foaming. Pour foaming mixture over dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon. Once cool, dampen your hands and knead until all flour is incorporated. Press into a lined cake tin and bake at 150°C for 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

REINVENTING THE MEAL ❢ MEATLESS MEATBALLS

Our friend Tom is a meatball master, and it was his mushroom and cannellini bean balls that sparked the inspiration for this meatless meatball section. So comforting, so delicious. The mushroom balls can be frozen in an airtight container so you might want to double the batch and keep some for later.

TRY THESE

SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS

In a hot, oiled pan, put 2 diced onions, 2 garlic cloves, 2 anchovy fillets, 1 teaspoon tomato paste and 1 teaspoon fennel seeds and gently fry for 10 minutes. Add 2 cans tomatoes and 1 heaped tablespoon honey. Cook on a low-medium heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. In another pan, fry the meatballs to give them some colour and crust. Serve on fresh al dente pasta with a heaped spoonful of tomato sauce and a grating of cheese. Any leftover sauce freezes really well.

MEATBALL SUB

Make a tomato sauce such as the one from the spaghetti and meatballs recipe and set aside. In a long bun of your choice, layer butter, mayonnaise, hot sauce, pickles then fried meatballs and spoonfuls of sauce. Also put a smear of sauce on the top bun and top with grated cheese. Place both sides of bun, cut side up, under the grill until the cheese melts and gets some colour. Eat over a large plate or the sink and have ready a means of cleaning your hands, face and forearms.

MEATBALLS THE NEXT DAY

If you’ve made a tomato sauce for one of the previous recipes, use that: otherwise add a can of tomatoes to a hot, oiled pan with a diced onion, 1 clove garlic, 1 teaspoon honey and some fennel seeds. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to low and add the uncooked meatballs. Make little wells in the tomato sauce and crack in 4 eggs. Cover with a lid and cook until egg white is cooked through. Eat from the pan with a loaf of warmed crusty bread.

GRILLED MEATBALLS WITH SALSA VERDE

In a food processor, blitz a large bunch parsley, some mint, juice of 2 lemons, a good grating of parmesan, toasted pinenuts, 1 tablespoon sugar and a drizzle of olive oil. Blend to combine into a loose sauce. Over the grill, cook meatballs until nicely coloured all over, being careful not to break when turning. Alternatively, cook under the grill in the oven. Serve hot with spoonfuls of salsa verde.