Vegetarian Recipes: Minestrone, Polenta Pie And Tomatoes Provençal

Vegetarian recipes get a swish new re-vamp in Elizabeth David's book On Vegetables, published by Quadrille. From gorgeous gnocchis to pies fit for a blustery day, fresh salads for when the weather holds out to soups for all seasons, we're tempted to lock ourselves away in the kitchen indefinitely.


125g of white haricot beans

2 large aubergines

500g of tomatoes

One cabbage

2 or 3 courgettes or a piece of pumpkin

90g of fresh mushrooms or a few dried mushrooms

3 tablespoons of olive oil

90g of pastine or vermicelli

2 tablespoons of pesto

grated Parmesan

  • Boil the previously soaked haricot beans until they are three quarters cooked. Strain them and put them into 1.87 litres / 3 pints of fresh water.
  • Add the peeled aubergines cut into squares, the peeled and chopped tomatoes, all the other vegetables cut into small pieces, and the olive oil. When the beans and the vegetables are all but cooked put in the pasta, and when it is tender stir in the pesto.
  • The vegetables for this minestrone can naturally be varied according to the season; carrots, cauliflower, French beans, celery, and potatoes can be added. The pesto makes Genoese minestrone one of the best of all. Enough for eight.


  • Cook 250g /½ lb of fine polenta in 900ml of water, and leave it to cool.
  • In the meantime prepare a béchamel sauce with 45-60g of butter, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 725ml of warmed milk.
  • Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. When the sauce has cooked for a good 15 minutes, stir in 40g of grated cheese.
  • Wash 250g of mushrooms and cut them into fine slices.
  • Cook them for 3 or 4 minutes in a little butter. (In Milan white truffles are used, when in season; which is one way of turning a peasant dish into a rich man’s feast.)
  • Butter a wide, shallow cake tin or fireproof dish.
  • On top of the layer of polenta spread some of the béchamel, then some of the mushrooms. Two more layers of polenta, mushrooms and béchamel, and on top of the béchamel spread 30g of grated Parmesan or Gruyere.
  • Bake in a fairly hot oven for about 30 minutes until there is a bubbling golden crust on the top of the dish. Serve as it is.
  • Enough for six to eight people.


  • Cut large ripe tomatoes in half. With a small knife, make several incisions crosswise in the pulp of the tomatoes, and in these rub salt, pepper and crushed garlic.
  • Chop finely a good handful parsley and spread each half tomato with it, pressing it well in.
  • Pour a few drops of olive oil on each and cook under the grill for preference or in a hot oven, 200C/gas 6.
  • To be quite perfect, the tomatoes should be blackened on the cut surface.

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