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Well, it’s high time I posted something without meat.  And a good thing too given that our New Year Resolution is to give up meat during the week (and booze, but that’s another story.)  “Hurrah!”, say my vege friends who have loyally read every blood-thirsty meaty post just to answer my stat-boosting pleas.  This post is for you, with many more to come.

And apologies to Minnie who has made her disappointment clear “WHY?”, she said over email, “I can understand booze, but what the hell did meat do?”.

Anyway, I got Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new River Cottage Veg book for Christmas and we have trialled a few recipes over the past week or so.

This meat-free nibbley supper comprised garlicky flat breads using Hugh’s magic dough recipe*, his carrot hummus and some Dahl**.  It turned out to be a super tasty, light mid-week dinner for two and Molly loved the left overs which was a real bonus.  We made extra Dahl to freeze in batches and she’s still hoovering it up. And the hummus also solved the problem of what to do with growing colony of carrots squatting in the bottom of the fridge.

The magic dough was a bit of a revelation.  Time spent prooving aside, It didn’t take long to make and, even though mine failed to rise, it still worked out well.  If the same happens to you, roll the flat breads extra thin before popping in the pan. The magic dough recipe makes at least 8 flatbreads (enough for Tom and I for two dinners and also a lunch with Minnie where we got together with our leftovers for an impromptu lunch-time feast). We’re looking forward to more meals featuring flatbreads.

If you haven’t got the book, recipes are reproduced below with any notes on tweaks or corner-cutting to be aware of.  I’ve tried to simplify a bit.

* So called because the same dough does pittas, pizza bases etc.

** I’ve just realised I’ve mis-spelt Dhal the entire way through this post.  I’m blaming the Australian film The Castle for this.  I’ve had a ‘darl’ joke rolling around in my head ever since I ate the bloody Dhal.  ie. Q: “whaddya call that dahl?” A: “Dhal”. I’m keeping the mistake in for posterity.

Garlicky flat Breads (from River Cottage Veg Everyday)

Magic Dough

  • 250g plain white flour
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon olive or rapeseed oil, plus a bit extra for oiling the bowl.

Garlic oil

  • 1 finely sliced garlic clove
  • A few glugs of olive oil

In a large bowl, combine and mix the flour, salt and dried yeast.  Add the oil and 325ml of warm water.  Mix to a rough dough then turn out onto a floured surface and knead for 10minutes with floured hands. If the dough feels quite sticky, try not to add flour and let the kneading do the work.  The more you knead, the less sticky it will become.  When ready, form into a bowl and place in another clean bowl that has been oiled up a bit.  Drape with a tea towel and place in a warm spot to rise.  Apparently it will double in size.  Mine didn’t.

While you’re waiting for the dough to rise (or not), make some garlic oil by simply warming some thinly sliced garlic in the oil over a low heat.  Remove from the heat as soon as the garlic starts to sizzle but before it colours.

Once the dough is ready, knock it back a bit and form into lemon-sized balls and use rolling pin to roll them into rough circles.  Hugh says about 2-3mm thick.  Because my dough didn’t rise, I found rolling it as thin as possible resulted in better flat breads.  Once ready, place in a smoking-hot pan.  When the top bubbles and the underneath has started to blacken slightly, flip. Once done, remove and place on a warm plate.  Brush with garlic oil, sprinkle with flakey sea salt and cover with a tea towel until they’re all done.

Carrot Hummus: Essentially this is carrot and garlic roasted in spices and honey and then whizzed up with tahini and citrus.

  • 1teaspoon each of cumin and coriander seeds, toasted and ground in a pestle and mortar
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of clear honey
  • 500g carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, bashed
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Juice of one orange
  • 3 tablespoons of tahini or smooth peanut butter

Combine toasted and crushed cumin and coriander seeds in a large bowl with the honey and oil. Throw in chopped carrots and a few bashed garlic cloves and coat the carrots with the spices etc. Roast in a hot oven til tender. Blitz up with the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice and some tahini and/or peanut butter.  The recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of tahini but I find tahini too ‘tacky’ on the roof of my mouth so used less and added some peanut butter instead. My garlic went black in the roasting tin but I still blitzed it up.  The hummus had a lovely sweet smokey flavour as a result.

Dahl [sic]: You are aiming for the consistency of baby food.  A thick puree.

  • 250g red lentils
  • 1 teaspoon of ground tumeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • We added coriander powder to this and also used a combination of brown and red lentils. The brown take longer to cook so bear this in mind.

Bring the lentils to the boil then turn down to a summer.  Add the tumeric and the salt and cook until soft. Stir or whisk vigoruously every now and then to help the lentils break down.  Whilst cooking, heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the cumin seeds til brown and fragrant. Add the onion and fry until golden brown or even a tiny bit burnt.  Combine with the hot lentils, adjust seasoning accordingly and serve with chopped coriander (or any other green leafy herb you like).