I’ve mentioned before that the household has an organic veg garden. First things first, I’m not the gardener. I have never and will never have green fingers. However, I can definitely enjoy the garden, because it goes into the pot. The garden has supplied us with loads of vegetables already. We very rarely buy vegetables, other than potatoes and onions. There is always something in the garden that can be used as the veg for the evening. The result is that we don’t have those packets of vegetables stuck in the back of the fresh drawer in the refrigerator that took on another shape because you’ve forgotten about it.
You never think these little plants will actually produce something. Then it turns out there are loads of produce and you have to plan what to do with it. Note, that you do have to obviously plan a bit when you have some produce at hand, rather than decide on the recipe first. So you start from what’s available, rather than what’s on paper. It’s a bit more of a challenge and also makes sure you get your share of vegetables. Almost like my grans used to cook (see my post on nasturtiums). And remember, the vegetables might be a bit mangled, THEY ARE NOT THE CREATED stuff you buy at shops. They do taste a lot better though.
In your search for interesting things to do with what’s available you realise that vegetables can be more than the obvious steamed, boiled or salady dishes. And above all, there is nothing as satisfying as walking through the vegetable patch in the evening and getting the smell of the herbs as you pick what you need for the pot and table.
Naturally, after the merry eating time of the holidays, we also try and cut down a bit. Meat is one of those things that we try to steer clear of for a couple of weeks. Just to give the system a bit of a breather. Meaning meatless Monday happens more during the week.
However, we’ve grown up on meat, so I can’t just bang a simple salad together for dinner. It won’t be much appreciated. It has to be something with a bit of substance. Normally, for inspiration I re-visit my Indian cookbooks. Indian cuisine has a way of imparting so much flavour, even without adding any chillies. (There is a bit of chilli intolerance at home.)
So, coming from the garden, I had these enormous patty pans. Yes, it’s a patty pan. In the process, they have almost changed into a squash. Therefore, I decided to handle it like a squash, which immediately made me think of pumpkin fritters. To get the fritter to qualify for a full dinner, I added some lentils, a nice yoghurt sauce and serve with pita breads to stuff the cakes.
Lentil and squash cakes in pita breads, with a yoghurt and tomato sauce
Yoghurt and tomato sauce
(I know the tomato might sound weird, however trust me, it works!)
1 medium to large tomato, roughly chopped
16 fresh mint leaves
15 ml (1 T) roasted fennel
200 ml plain yoghurt
2.5 ml (½ t) salt
1.25 (¼ t) pepper
5 ml (1 t) lemon juice
Lentil and pumpkin cakes
600 g cooked lentils or use canned lentils
310 cooked pumpkin, mashed up
(These volumes aren’t cast in stone, it all depends on how much you have. Just adjust your flour. It is always good with these kind of recipes to add your flour, almost tablespoon by tablespoon until you get the right consistency.)
5 ml ground coriander
10 ml ground cumin
5 ml ground cinnamon
2.5 ml salt (or to taste)
2.5 ml black pepper
125 ml fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
135 ml self-raising flour
15-30 ml cooking oil for frying
Make the sauce first
Place the tomato, mint leaves and roasted fennel in a blender and mix until smooth.
Add this mixture to the yoghurt and add the salt, pepper and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Pop into the fridge until you need it.
Make the cakes
Mix the lentils, cooked pumpkin, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, salt and black pepper together. Make sure everything is well mixed.
Now add the flour spoon by spoon.
You want to get a consistency that will drop off slowly from a spoon. In the case of the pumpkin, you won’t need any fluid to help with combining the mixture, as the pumpkin has quite a bit of fluid. If you feel that your mixture becomes too dry, add a bit of water. However, this should not be necessary.
Now heat the oil in a pan until it’s hot. Add spoonfuls of the mixture to the hot pan and press it down a bit so it’s flattened out a bit.
Fry until it’s golden brown on the one side, then turn over and fry on the other side.
Simply pop some pita breads in the oven or in a toaster to toast.
Arrange on a plate and serve next to the cakes with some good crunchy salad leaves and the yoghurt sauce.
Simply open the pita, stuff it with leaves, 1 or 2 cakes and top with the sauce.