Meat Free Monday: Paul McCartney is making his own cookbook?

I know, I know, it’s not a Monday, but today I am going to pay a little homage to Paul McCartney’s latest endeavor, convincing people to go meatless one day a week.  He and his daughters are creating a cookbook celebrating the vegetable.  I love it, it is a simple suggestion to focus on the glory of the vegetable at least once a week.  It’s a great coincidence that the post I was writing over the weekend is inspired by one of Stella McCartney’s favorite London restaurants, Ottolenghi.

Accredited online colleges offer culinary classes for those of you who also dream of making your own cookbook.

I have been reading Yottam Ottolenghi’s Plenty with a veracity I normally reserve for mystery novels.  It’s a really inspiring book: the pictures are beautiful and the recipes are unique.  I also love that it is completely vegetarian.   But have no fear, if you are a devoted meat eater, you will be pleased to find that many recipes have such great flavors that meat won’t be missed at all.  Hey Paul McCartney, does this sound familiar?

While the book has been available in the U.K. for ages, it was only translated to American earlier this year.  This book is now on the shelves here in the U.S., using our silly customary units.  I have seen it featured in several bookstores and places like Anthropologie.

In addition to being entirely vegetarian, the book also eschews some other cookbook traditions, such as the standard courses set up (i.e. soup or pastry sections).  Instead, the recipes are divided into categories by the central ingredient: tomatoes, pulses (beans), roots, onions, etc.

Ottolenghi has so inspired my cooking that I am going to try to convince Husband to make sure our next trip to the U.K. coincides with one of their few cooking classes.

Plenty’s recipes are easily changed a little here or there and still produce fabulous results.  I found one of my favorite recipes, a quinoa and broad bean salad reproduced on thebroadbean.com, a cute blog on the wonders of urban gardening.  They made a few changes themselves, mostly adapting from U.K. (metric) to U.S. (silly) measurements.  This is my version of the same recipe, adapted for those of us without access to a garden and unusual varieties of vegetables.

Just a side note, this is also the best way to cook quinoa.  Comes out perfect every time.

Slicing radishes is super painstaking if you don't have a mandolin slicer, but the result is so worth it!

Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty, using both the more sensible metric units and standard US measurements:

200 g | 1 heaping cup quinoa

500 g | a little over ½ pound shelled edamame (I buy the pre-shelled frozen stuff at Trader Joe’s)

2 medium lemons

2 garlic cloves, crushed

100 g | scant 1 cup radishes, thinly sliced (comes out to about half a small bunch)

25-50 g | a small handful (or two) basil, arugula or parsley also work well here, you just want something that is bold and flavorful (the recipe calls for more, say a large handful, but Husband prefers less, I suggest starting with a small handful and tasting before adding more)

2 tsp ground cumin (Ottolenghi suggests more, but since I am not a huge cumin fan, I suggest starting with less and adding by the ¼ tsp)

75mL | 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ tsp chili flakes

salt and pepper, to taste

2 ripe avocados

1. Bring a large sauce pan of water to boil.  Add the quinoa and reduce the heat to a heavy simmer.  Cook 9 minutes.  Drain using a sieve (not a colander).

2. Allow the frozen edamame to come to room temperature.  I stick the beans in a colander and rinse with cold water.  They defrost quickly.

3. Cut the rind off the lemons.  Over a large bowl, using a paring knife, cut between the pith to release the lemon segments.  Squeeze the cut segments with your fingers to break up the segments.

4. Pile up the basil leaves and then roll them into a cigar-like shape.  Cut into thin segments.

5. Add the quinoa, edamame, cumin, chili flakes and olive oil to the bowl with the lemon juice.  Toss together.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the basil leaves and toss some more.  Taste and see if you need more basil.

6. If you are using the whole salad in one sitting, chop both avocados into small pieces and add them to the rest of the ingredient.  Toss and serve.  If you are not serving the whole salad at once, I recommend slicing one avocado and use as a garnish on top of the salad.   Save the other one for lunch the next day.

6-8 servings, stays well in the fridge for about 3-5 days.

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