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Planning balanced vegetarian meals is a great deal easier than some people believe. A vegetarian food (which excludes meat and fish but includes dairy produce) can easily provide all the nutrients you need; a stricter vegan diet (which excludes meat, fish and dairy produce) can also do so as long as you eat some products that are fortified with vitamin B 12 (such as some breakfast cereals and yeast extracts) or take a B 12 supplement. One of the reasons a vegetarian food is so health-giving is that it includes such a high proportion of fresh fruit and vegetables, which makes it easy to reach the 500 g (1 lb) of fresh fruit and vegetables each day advocated by the World Health Organization. Sometimes people wonder how to put together a vegetarian meal but really there's no mystery about this: a vegetarian meal can be structured in a similar

way to a conventional one except that instead of 'meat and two vegetarian’ you have 'a vegetarian savoury and two vegetarian, with a starter and/or a pudding as well, if you wish. I must say that I don't usually rise to both: during the week we generally just have a main course with vegetables and/or salad and possibly some fruit to finish. But if there's time it is nice to serve a starter and pudding and I've included some of my favourite quick recipes for these.


Getting Organized

The standard good advice when you're trying to save time is to make a week's menus in advance, but as I never do this and tend just to make a meal according to my whim and what I've found in the fridge or in the shops, I'm not in a position to recommend this! I think it's more important to have a well-organized kitchen and some key ingredients in stock, so you can cook what you fancy with the minimum of effort. A little time spent organizing your kitchen can save hours in the long run. It's a good idea to look at it critically, visualizing yourself cooking, to see how you can make things more streamlined. One basic rule is to have your main work surface between the stove and the sink, with cooking equipment and gadgets easily to hand. Open shelves and hooks on the wall can help to achieve this and I like to have shelves of spices nearby, arranged in alphabetical order. You don't need   any   special equipment for vegetarian cookery: just a good sharp knife and a chopping board, a potato peeler, a box grater and a small rotary grater, plus the usual wooden spoons and other kitchen      basics. You'll need a whisk - preferably an electric one if funds will allow; and a food processor is a real boon and makes cooking a lot more fun. If possible, keep it on the work surface, assembled, plugged in and ready to go. A freezer is useful in the vegetarian kitchen as in any other, and a fridge, of course, is essential. I store all perishable fruits and vegetables in mine, including carrots, cabbage, celery, leeks ... just about everything, in fact, except potatoes, onions, apples, uncut melons and citrus fruits; also pears and avocados which I'm ripening, but once they reach their peak, in they go!


Storecupboard Essentials

The recipes in this book are all simple to prepare and based mainly on fresh ingredients. However, there are certain store cupboard basics that it's useful to have in, such as lemons, onions, garlic and potatoes. Other staples are bread, several types of pasta, plain and self-raising flour, split red lentils, caster sugar and a packet of dried breadcrumbs. Tins of beans are invaluable, as are canned tomatoes - whole plum tomatoes in juice are the best. I like to keep in a bottle of light olive oil for general cooking and a better-quality one for salad dressings, plus a neutral oil such as groundnut for frying. Red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and -my favourite - rice vinegar are also useful, as well as good-quality soy sauce and jars of honey and mustard. I always keep a piece of root ginger in the fridge, plus a supply of butter and some free-range eggs. Now that if s possible to buy beautiful fresh herbs (hurrah!) the only dried ones I keep in stock are bay leaves, thyme, sage, rosemary and oregano, plus a range of spices including cardamom, chilli, cinnamon (sticks and ground), coriander, ground cumin, mixed spice, whole nutmeg (to grate when required), paprika, turmeric and vanilla pods. Keep a vanilla pod buried in a jar of caster sugar to turn it into delicately flavoured vanilla sugar. Black peppercorns in a grinder and some delicious crunchy Maldon sea salt complete the list of basics.

If you have these ingredients to hand, then all you'll need to do to make the quick and easy recipes in this book is buy whatever fresh ingredients are required, plus any special flavourings.



   Ingredients are given in both metric and imperial measures. Use either set of quantities but not a mixture of both in any one recipe.

• All spoon measurements are level: 1 tablespoon = one 15 ml spoon

1 teaspoon = one 5 ml spoon

• Fresh herbs are used unless otherwise stated.

  Eggs should be free range and a standard size 3 unless otherwise stated.

• Many cheeses are now available made with vegetarian check the label or inquire at the delicatessen counter.







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