Meat Free March adventure – part one

Earlier this month, Becs and Fay invited me to participate in Meat Free March. Well to be specific, since every month is meat free for me, they invited me to their MFM recipe swap. The idea was simple: tell them your food loves and hates, and get paired with another blogger. Send each other a vegetarian recipe (plus an ingredient), and blog about making it!

A little later, I was very excited to receive my parcel from Evan: a recipe for Warm Pumpkin and Chickpea Salad with Tahini, plus a bonus recipe for flatbreads. Evan had photocopied the cover of the book the recipes are from – Casa Moro – the second cookbook – in all its colourful glory. Check out the link, it’s beautiful! He’d also kindly included some yeast for the bread, plus another bonus: some miso soup for me to try. I was totally spoiled. Thanks Evan!

So Good Friday rolled around, and a day off work combined with two hungry parents made it seem like an auspicious time to give this recipe a try. Off I toddled to Tesco, where I found everything I needed, except for the tahini. Uh oh, this was a key ingredient. I asked one of the shop assistants where I could find it, and was met with a look of complete blankness.

“Tallini? What’s that then?”

“Er, tahini, it’s sort of sesame paste. You use it to make houmous.”

“That’s a new one to me dear, you’ll have to ask customer services.”

Somehow the idea of marching up to customer services and enquiring about tahini seemed too petit-bourgeois¬†to contemplate. Or perhaps I’m just a wuss. Anyway, I opted for skulking around the ‘ingredients’ (aka exotic/obscure stuff) aisle, studiously avoiding eye contact with the lady whose advice I’d spurned, and scouring the shelves for the elusive tahini. And success! There was the shelf tag I wanted – Belvini tahini (v pleasing rhyme no?). But no, defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory as I realised it was sold out.

Back to a different shop assistant to ask if they’d mind checking the stockroom for tahini.

“Tallini?”

Ho hum. Did I mention that my sister had been practising wedding prep and that I was therefore sporting some very extravagent ‘wedding hair’? And that I’d hoped to nip in and out of the shop unnoticed? Well, I was, and I had. Never mind. I explained again and pointed to the shelf tag, and she very kindly went and looked for me. (Or went out back and laughed with her colleagues about the weirdo with inappropriate hair asking for obscure ingredients, who knows?) But nothing doing.

So no pumpkin with tahini that night! But I’d promised my parents flatbreads, so flatbreads there must be. Luckily, I’d also been planning to make a different squash salad this week: a BBC Good Food one with Puy lentils which I reckoned would go nicely. So here’s part 1 of my MFM adventure, part 2 to follow when I lay my hands on some tahini!

Warm roasted squash with Puy lentil salad, and quick flatbreads

The salad recipe was pretty straightforward – I won’t reproduce it here as you can see it on the BBC Good Food site, which if you haven’t yet discovered is well worth a visit. I started off by peeling, de-seeding and dicing the squash: the only thing about squash I don’t like is how arduous the preparation is! While that was in the oven I built the salad base:

Note the tupperware – this is for lunch today, yum!

With the salad ready and just waiting for its squash, I turned my attention to the flatbread recipe.

Flatbread recipe

I went for the ‘quick’ recipe since we were hungry, and Evan mentioned in his note he’d had success with it in the past. I also doubled it to feed four instead of two.

260g flour and 1/2 tsp salt in one bowl, 200ml warm water and 1/2 tsp dried yeast in another:

Bread mix

Yeast and water stirred, then gradually added to the flour, incorporating with fingers in a ‘slapping motion’:

Adding water

2 tbsp olive oil beaten in with fingers. The dough had a great stretchy texture at this point but seemed VERY oily. I was a little worried, but the recipe clearly said 2tbsp so I decided to trust it.

Dough and whiskey

Dough needing to prove for 20 minutes and whiskey in hand (thanks Dad), time to help Lara Croft out of a pickle:TR

Enemies despatched, back to the dough, which is shaped with floured hands into a sausage, then cut into four equal pieces. Each piece is then rolled out into a very thin, rough circle shape on a floured surface, then placed into a large frying pan over a medium heat.

bread in pan

Previous worries about oiliness proved unfounded: the dough seemed perfect! Note my ‘rough circle’ shape is really just ‘rough’ – I’m an impatient soul, and this unfortunate trait tends to extend to my cooking technique I’m afraid. Anyway, doesn’t the roughness make them look more authentically home-made? Yeah.

Flatbreads cooked for a couple of minutes (just enough time to retrieve the roasted squash and top the salads with it), then flipped and cooked again until brown spots appear but the bread is still pliable.

And…serve!

Meal

(Sorry for the absolutely rubbish photo, I appear to be the Death of Cameras in human form, and am therefore currently limited to using my camera phone, which is pretty poor.)

This was delicious. The warm bread was so satisfying, and went brilliantly with the salad, which was sweet and fresh and the perfect antidote to a couple of days filled with Easter chocolate and cake. I’ll definitely be making it again, and when I get some tahini for MFM the flatbreads will definitely be out for round two. Big thanks to Becs and Fay for organising this, watch this space…

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