If you fancy a taste of Thai vegetable curry this evening - or perhaps a delicious aubergine casserole with pomegranate - then you've come to the right place.
Still not convinced? We guarantee you will be once you've reached the bottom of this page.
Thai Vegetable Curry
In just a few decades, Thai food has grown from relative obscurity into one of the most popular cuisines on Earth. This vegetable curry has many of its classic tastes and textures.
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1 small aubergine, cut into chunks
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into dice
8 chestnut mushrooms, halved (or quartered if large)
400ml can coconut milk
6 okra, cut on the diagonal into 3 pieces
8 baby corn, cut on the diagonal into 3 pieces
150g canned bamboo shoots, drained
handful of sugar snaps, cut in half on the diagonal
2 handfuls of beansprouts
palm or soft light brown sugar to taste
For the curry paste:
2 shallots, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 stick lemongrass, finely chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
zest of 1 lime
small bunch fresh coriander
fresh coriander leaves
1) Prepare the curry paste first. Place the shallots, garlic and ginger in a food-processor.
2) Add the lemongrass, chillies, lime zest and coriander stalks (reserving the leaves) and whizz the mixture until finely chopped. You can also make this paste using a pestle and mortar if you prefer.
3) Heat the sunflower oil in a large saute pan.
4) Add the curry paste and cook over a medium heat for 1 minute until the mixture smells fragrant.
5) Add the aubergine, red pepper and mushrooms and cook for 1 minute stirring frequently until starting to become tender.
6) Add the coconut milk to the pan with 150ml of water and bring to the boil.
7) Add the okra, baby corn and bamboo shoots and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes or so until the veggies are tender.
8) Finally add the sugar snaps and beansprouts to the pan and cook for another 30 seconds.
9) Taste and add a dash of soy sauce or teaspoon of sugar if needed.
10) Serve the curry in bowls, garnished with coriander leaves and with jasmine rice and lime wedges to squeeze over.
Aubergine Casserole with Pomegranate
Verjuice, which is made from unripe grapes, was an important cooking ingredient in medieval times. It has recently been re-popularised by Australian chef Maggie Beer. Being acidic, it can be used in much the same way as vinegar or lemon juice, for instance in salad dressings or marinades, but it has a mellower, fruitier flavour.
200g organic lentils
160ml extra virgin olive oil
3 medium aubergines, sliced
1 large onion, roughly diced
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, roughly chopped
70g pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons rinsed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons roughly chopped flatleaf
3 tablespoons roughly chopped mint leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2.
2) Place the lentils and 1.5 litres water in a saucepan, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.
3) Meanwhile, place a heavy-bottomed casserole dish over a high heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and fry the aubergine in batches until golden. Remove and set aside.
4) Add the onion and cook for 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally.
5) Add the garlic, and a good pinch of salt and cook, stirring every now and then to prevent the onion from burning, for 3–4 minutes or until the onions are a golden brown colour.
6) Then add the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil and bring the mixture back to temperature.
7) Pour in the verjuice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute until the liquid has reduced by two-thirds, then remove from the heat and set aside.
8) Add half of the aubergine slices, then sprinkle over half of the lentils, then add the rest of the aubergine and top with the rest of the lentils.
9) Pour over the remaining olive oil and the pomegranate molasses.
10) Cover and place in the oven to cook for 1 hour, then stir through the preserved lemons.
11) Return to the oven for another 45 minutes–1 hour or until the aubergine is cooked through.
12) Check for seasoning and serve warm with the parsley and mint stirred through.
13) Serve on individual plates, top with quark and drizzle with a last dash of olive oil.
Almond Sweets | Makes 30
1) Place 75g stoned dates, 75g dried apricots, 50g seedless raisins and 2 tablespoons apple juice in a food-processor or blender and work together until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary.
2) Form the mixture into balls the size of a cherry, then roll them in 50g chopped and browned almonds until completely coated.
The Meat Free Monday Cookbook by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney is published by Kyle Books, priced £19.99. Photography by Tara Fisher.