After a long winter of stodge, I am craving healthy, nutritious and delicious food. Step forward Swedish foodie Nina Olsson, whose new book Bowls of Goodness had me at hello. The recipes – all vegetarian – look amazing, which is why we thought you’d like a sneak peak at two of the most tempting….
Polpette with Garden Pesto
Veggie neatballs with basil, dill and spinach sauce
GARDEN PESTO SAUCE
handful of fresh dill
small handful of mint leaves
2 handfuls of basil leaves
1-2 garlic cloves
5cm leek, chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 handfuls of baby spinach
200ml vegan crème or dairy crème fraîche
50ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
water, to thin to desired consistency
30 neatballs (see below)
VE Use vegan crème fraîche, and toppings.
Choose egg-free pasta.
GF Choose gluten-free pasta and breadcrumbs or panko for the neatballs.
This ‘amazeballs’ pasta dish is your regular meatball and pasta turned into a lusher green version. The pesto sauce is full of herbal flavour and so easy to make that I use it both cold and warm with all sorts of food other than pasta – grilled vegetables, salads, potatoes. In the summer I go round all the herbs in the garden and grab a handful to blend with olive oil, salt and lemon juice. In this recipe, I’ve added vegan crème fraîche (you can use dairy crème fraîche too) for a creamier sauce.
Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, drain, and leave a little cooking water in the bottom of the pan. Blend the ingredients for the garden pesto sauce in a mixer and set aside. Follow the recipe for the neatballs below. When you have finished frying the neatballs, transfer the balls to a warm but low temperature oven to keep the balls warm, while heating up the garden pesto sauce in a pan. Divide the pasta, sauce and neatballs in serving bowls.
Preserving herbs: When herbs are growing in abundance, faster than you can enjoy them, extend the time you can use them in your cooking by turning to pesto making. Tender herbs such as basil, parsley, mint and coriander are better for pestos than the sturdier herbs, but mix and match according to taste. Chop as fine as you can – the flavours are hidden in the cellulose of the plants and the finer they are blended, the more flavour is released. Olive oil and a little salt further enhances the flavour of the herbs. That’s the very simplest and purest type of pesto to make. From there on you can add ground nuts, lemon juice, grated parmesan or nutritional yeast for more interest.
Universal Veggie Balls Flavoured by Umami Potion
There are no longer any excuses for sad veggie balls. These ones are made using an umami potion to create a powerful fl avour that will have you coming back for more! And they are just as good in a tomato sauce as they are in a masala. You can use this as your basic recipe for all kinds of veggie neatballs. Customise the flavour by adding your choice of spice, such as taco spices for Mexican or ras el hanout or harissa for North African. They are the perfect party food but also a lovely addtion to a weeknight pasta or curry.
Mix the ingredients for the umami potion in a small bowl. Mix the oats, salt, oregano and nutritional yeast in a large bowl. Add the rice and pine nuts and mix well. Heat a frying pan over a medium– high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and fry the onion, mushrooms and tarragon for 5 minutes, stirring. Transfer to the bowl with the rice mix. Add the carrot, spring onions and parsley to the bowl and mix everything thoroughly with a spoon. Pour the umami potion over the mixture and work in with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Roll the mixture into small balls using the palms of your hands. If the mix is too wet, add a little more dry oats. Roll the balls in fi ne breadcrumbs or panko.
Heat a frying pan over a medium– high heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan and fry the neatballs for a couple of minutes to get a lovely browned surface (you may need to fry in batches, so keep the fi rst batch warm in the oven on its lowest setting). You can turn up the heat for the last minute to get a crispier crust. Add more cooking oil as and when you need it. Remove from the heat, lightly salt and serve straight away.
VE ✓ GF Choose gluten-free pasta and bread crumbs or panko.
SERVES 4, MAKES 30
250g oatmeal, plus extra if needed
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chopped oregano leaves
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast or parmesan
300g cooked brown rice
100g pine nuts, ground to fine crumbles
olive oil, for frying
1 red onion, finely diced
150g mushrooms, chopped
11⁄2 tablespoons chopped tarragon leaves
1 small carrot or 1⁄2 large one, finely grated
2 spring onions, finely chopped
handful of finely chopped parsley
200g panko or breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon tahini paste
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a paste
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
The Loyal Lentil Chilli
Lentil chilli with butternut squash, coconut milk, pepper and lime
Do you have a dish that never fails you, like a loyal friend, who keeps showing up and impresses you by always being top-notch? I have a few and this lentil chilli has been the star of my regular repertoire for years. This is also one of the most made and loved recipes from my blog. Lentils can come across as a bit dull sometimes, but this dish is nothing like it. With flavours that really sing together – earthy cumin and cinnamon, tangy lime and coriander, hot chilli and garlic – it harmonises perfectly with sweet butternut squash and chewy lentils. Instead of butternut squash you can use cooked pumpkin, aubergine or any other fleshy vegetable you have.
250 puy or beluga lentils
1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil
5–7 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped to a paste with 1 teaspoon salt
11/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 red pepper, halved, deseeded and finely chopped
1-2 red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
2 tomatoes, finely chopped
400g butternut squash, cooked and chopped into small pieces
400ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoons honey or agave syrup
juice of 1 lime
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
SIMPLE YOGURT SAUCE
200g yogurt or vegan yogurt (soygurt or coconut yogurt)
1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
QUICKEST CUCUMBER SALAD
½ cucumber, shaved into ribbons
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
hot sauce, like sriracha
cooked brown rice or other
VE Use agave syrup not honey and vegan yogurt.
Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions, rinse, drain and set aside. Heat a frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add the oil and gently fry the shallots until transparent. Add the garlic, spices, pepper, chilli and tomatoes and fry for a few minutes over a medium–low heat.
Stir in the lentils, squash, tahini and honey. Pour in the coconut milk and stir, then let the chilli simmer over a medium–low heat for 5 minutes, adding a little water if needed and stirring regularly. Add the lime juice and soy, then let it simmer for a further few minutes while stirring. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.
Mix the ingredients for the yogurt sauce. Make the cucumber salad by combining the shaved cucumber and rice vinegar. Drizzle the chilli with extra virgin olive oil, top with freshly chopped coriander and serve with the cool yogurt sauce and salad. Serve with a hot sauce, rice and lime as extras on the table.
Recipes taken from Bowls of Goodness by Nina Olsson. Published by Kyle Books. Photography by Nina Olsson.