The other day, when TheBookPeople made their monthly visit to our office canteen, I bought a book. I know, stop the presses! She's out of control! Somebody tell the President! But honestly, this is quite an event. Normally their stall is overflowing with tatty stocking-fillers, children's books about Hairy Harriet or Naughty Nick and his Nine Ninnies or whatever, and naff tv cookery books. When I say naff, I mean properly useless. The Hairy Bikers (shudder), Gok Wan, Rachel Khoo and their ilk. Incidentally, I opened up the Khoo book in three random places just to see if it was any good. What did I find? Three full double-spread pictures of her. I appreciate that there may be a market for such things, but this is not what I want from a cookery book (no matter how winsome her lipstick).
But the other day, as my eye flicked desultorily over the table, I spotted Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Veg Every Day" - and wanted to eat everything in it. Every single thing. I snapped it up for a bargain tenner, and was accosted by no fewer than four women on the way back to my desk. Each one swarmed up to me, grabbing my arm and saying with the hushed voice of a convert, "oh I've got that, it's very, very good, you must try XYZ". Honestly, it was like a cult where I was a newly-inducted member, not quite sure what I'd got myself into. But I liked it!
So basically, what I'm saying is that there'll be many more HFW recipes around here from now on. And although he seems to suggest making up for the lack of meat with either a) pastry, b) cheese or c) both, I'm still assuming the recipes are healthy - don't disillusion me. This particular one was the first we tried and although it was perfectly nice, I think we gave it an impossible job - no vegetarian chilli could ever live up to our tried and tested favourite. But my enthusiasm and appetite are no whit abated, and we've already got another recipe lined up for tomorrow. Welcome to the cult! There's no going back.
Courgette and Pinto Bean Chilli
From Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's "Veg Every Day"
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, ditto
- 2 green chillies, seeds removed, ditto
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon all spice
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- two courgettes, cut into chunks
- a red pepper, also cut into smallish chunks- red wine
- 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
- a tin of tomatoes
- a tin of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 100ml red wine
- fresh parsley and oregano
Add some oil to a large pan over a medium heat and cook the onions gently until they're soft but not too browned. Add the chillies, garlic and spices and stir for a minute.
Chuck in the courgette and pepper and stir, then add the tomato (puree and tinned), pinto beans, wine, herbs and some salt and pepper. Pour in 200ml of water and simmer the whole thing for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the veg are soft and the sauce is thick.