Roasted brussels sprouts

A quick seasonal plea: please don’t boil your brussels. It’s bad and wrong. Imagine how much happier everyone will be if you can cook your sprouts in a way that doesn’t have the sulphurous tang of a tramp’s arse.

I posted a recipe for mashed brussels with chestnuts a couple of years ago, but this is easier, cheaper (no chestnuts) and is my new favourite way of cooking sprouts.
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Emergency vegetarian gravy

So your son/daughter has a new special friend. Anxious to impress, you issue an invite for Sunday lunch, but when the day arrives you discover at the very last moment that said friend is – gasp! – vegetarian.

Don’t panic. Honestly, any vegetarian will be happy with a standard roast dinner minus the meat. Chuck on an extra potato, assuming you didn’t do something crazy like cook them in the juice of a slaughtered animal (why would you do that?).

But plain veg can be a little dry, and no, sieving out the giblets doesn’t mean the gravy you’ve made counts as vegetarian. Here’s how to make an impressive veggie gravy that can be cooked in the 10 minutes between finding out your guest won’t eat meat and having to dish up.
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Orzo pasta bake with aubergine

Because I’ve never had a clue about what to do with orzo pasta – and because I barely have time to think of new recipes at the moment – I pinched this from Yotam Ottolenghi’s latest book. Orzo pasta is the one that looks like grains of rice, and that’s pretty much how you use it. I should have known. My contribution to this recipe is to swap the specified hard processed mozzarella, which they don’t seem to sell anywhere near me, for the real thing. Also, I swapped the original celery for green beens because, you know, celery.
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Camargue red rice salad

I’ve used a couple of moderately unusual ingredients in this salad. Camargue rice comes from a beautiful mosquito-infested region of France, and I’ve heard it’s technically not really ‘rice’ but that’s what they call it. It has a brilliant nutty taste and can be found in supermarkets (well, Waitrose in Bath at any rate).

Dukkah spice is something I’d never heard of until I saw it on a menu in a swanky pub restaurant a couple of months ago. Then I went in Sainsbury’s and it turns out they actually have their own brand version of it, so it’s either the latest trendy ingredient or something really common that completely passed me by. Anyway, it’s sort of crunchy, with a taste of coriander seeds and dried garlic, and works well in all sorts of salads. Including this one.
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Fatteh with aubergines and tahini yoghurt sauce

Although it doesn’t have the most appealing title, fatteh is a pretty special dish. The Arabic name comes from the crumbled bits of pitta bread that form the middle part of this multi-textured layered concoction. Warm spicy chickpeas beneath crispy bread and cold tangy yoghurt. It’s basically the delicious Middle Eastern chickpea dish balila with a yoghurt dip and some croutons, all in one, but there are many variations. This one adds aubergine to the chickpeas and tahini to the yoghurt. Anything goes, really.
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