Vegetarians – I like them, but I couldn’t eat a whole one.
A very good friend called to see if she could stay over for one evening this week, as she’s working for a couple of days in London. I haven’t seen her for months and our spare room is always welcome to travellers passing through, so I was looking forward to seeing her.
But the fact that she’s a vegetarian, who would be here in time for dinner sent me into a complete spin.
I have no vegetarian repertoire. All my signature dishes are hearty stews and pies, all made with meat or fish, without which they’d just be soup with a crust.
I toyed with a pasta bake – but decided that was too studenty. I thought she’d probably be utterly sick and tired of risotto, whether it’s made with mushroom, or pea, or asparagus, risotto is the token vegetarian dish on any mainstream restaurant menu.
Flicking through cookbooks for inspiration, I stumbled upon a recipe for Sag Aloo. Would you believe I’ve never made a vegetarian curry in my life? How does a keen cook get to 44 without being able to make curry. Time to learn.
So I compared a few recipes, realised I had very little of what was required in my kitchen, and made up the rest in my usual Lazy Cooking style.
Here’s the result, a lazy version of vegetable korma.
- 500g potatoes, peeled and chopped into large cubes
- 500g sweet potatoes or butternut squash, peeled and chopped into large cubes
- 3 spears of sweet stem brocolli (discard the woody end)
- 3 spears of asparagus (discard the woody end)
- 200g spinach, roughly chopped
- 3 large spring onions, trimmed and chopped
- 400g tin of chickpeas
- 400ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 heaped tablespoons korma curry paste
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Small bunch coriander, chopped
- 40g feta cheese
- Salt and pepper to season
Simmer the potatoes and sweet potatoes in a large pan of salted water, on a medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the asparagus and brocolli for the last couple of minutes.
Take the asparagus and brocolli out of the pan to cool before chopping into small pieces.
Drain the potatoes and sweet potatoes. Heat the oil and korma paste in a large frying pan. Add the potatoes and sweet potatoes and fry for 10 minutes. It doesn’t matter if the potatoes break up and stick to the pan, the brown crispy crumbs are the best bit.
Tip the potatoes and sweet potatoes into the large saucepan you used to cook them earlier. Leave them off the heat while you gently fry the spring onions in the frying pan. Add a little more oil if the pan is dry. A handful at a time, add the spinach until it wilts.
Add the spring onions and spinach to the saucepan containing the potatoes. Add to that the chickpeas – including the juice from the tin, the milk, the broccoli and asparagus, salt, pepper, coriander and smoked paprika.
Simmer for 15 minutes.
This curry is warming and comforting, but doesn’t have the very thick sauce usually accompanying takeaway korma. Which is a good thing.
Serve with rice. Crumble feta cheese on the top. Feel smug.
With love, Vx[Disclosure: nothing to declare here, please move along.]