Elly Pear’s Let’s Eat: Simple, Delicious Food for Everyone by Elly Curshen, EPUB, 0008219516

July 28, 2017

Elly Pear's Let's Eat: Simple, Delicious Food for Everyone, Every Day by Elly Curshen, EPUB, 0008219516

Elly Pear’s Let’s Eat: Simple, Delicious Food for Everyone, Every Day by Elly Curshen

  • Print Length: 256 Pages
  • Publisher: Harper Thorsons
  • Publication Date: June 15, 2017
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0008219516
  • ISBN-13: 978-0008219512
  • File Format: EPUB





Title Page



Storecupboard and Staples

1: Freeze for Ease

Lentil, tomato and coconut dhal

Mean feat no-meat meatballs

Tuscan-style cannellini bean stew

Black beans – refried if you like

Mushroom, lentil and walnut ragù

2: Building Blocks

10-minute flatbreads


Bread pudding

Marinated peppers

Satay dressing

Poached salmon

Green harissa

Roasted butternut squash

Roasted spiced plums

3: Menus

Baby shower brunch for a crowd with breast-feeding mums who could eat a horse

Lunch for six when sandwiches just won’t do

Dinner for four when you want to show off a bit but not stress

Kitchen table dinner for four, thinking of Jerez

Romantic dinner for two when you’re just sussing each other out

Dinner for two when you need to eat now and there’s no time for prep

Weekend brunch for four people with slightly sore heads

Family lunch for six – eat your greens or there’s no pud

List of searchable terms


List of Recipes

About the Publisher





Let’s Eat! celebrates simple, delicious food. The sort of food I cook day in, day out. Food that brings me joy. It’s nutritious (along with some stuff that can barely make claims on the nutrition front but makes me happy). It’s centred on vegetables, pulses, grains and dairy with small amounts of fish and seafood. It’s inspired by world cooking and the seasons.

This is also, on the whole, quick food, I hate washing up with a passion so I’ve tried to use as little equipment as possible. I don’t have a stand mixer or a microwave or a giant flashy food processor so none of these recipes will require you to have them either. You’ll rarely need to put the oven on either – most of these recipes are cooked on the hob. A knife, a chopping board, a mixing bowl, one big saucepan, one small saucepan, a frying pan and a baking tray – that’s pretty much it.

It’s modern food for the way I live and I hope it fits into your lives too. My two best mates have kids now and spending time with them, cooking together and getting an insight into how this has affected the way they cook, has taught me so much. I think there are lots of recipes here that will be useful if you, too, have the demands of a young family.

My approach to food has been consistent for as long as I can remember – from when I first started cooking as a kid. Deliciousness and joy are my driving force. Texture and flavour, my main concerns. Ease and satisfaction, my aims. None of this has changed, so, add to this useful methods of planning and creating dishes I’ve picked up along the way, and the result is here … Let’s Eat!



I am much more adept at making dinner quickly without sacrificing deliciousness – by far the most important factor in any meal.

I’m sitting at my kitchen table in Bristol and the last few months have been full of cooking, recipe development, eating, writing, washing up and endless trips to the greengrocer. My thoughts have been dominated by applying the learning from my first book, Fast Days & Feast Days, and all my readers’ feedback and making this the best, most useful book possible. Let’s Eat! is the next step for anyone who has enjoyed Fast Days & Feast Days, but this book will also stand alone for those of you who didn’t buy it. (What the hell? – sort that out right away.)

Although you won’t find any recipes labelled as ‘fast day’ dishes in this book, if you are following the 5:2, you can use the skills you learnt from my first book to calculate the calorie counts, if you want to* The recipes in the first chapter of this book, with all the various serving suggestions provided, are particularly well suited to this, meaning you can cook for yourself and others at the same time and use a calorie-counted component as part of a bigger meal for all.


I want to show you how a little advance prep can mean dinner on the table really quickly and easily, any day of the week.

This has been one of the best bits of feedback from Fast Days & Feast Days; following the 5:2 but being able to eat the same food as others is key to keeping the diet up. Who wants to sit and eat a sad ‘diet dinner’, entirely different from your family or housemates?

While doing the 5:2, I recalibrated my ideas about what it meant to really feel full or hungry. I curbed my tendency to mindlessly eat and got a grip of what a sensible portion size was. I also became much more experienced in finding ways to make dishes more interesting, textured and exciting. My garnish game was strong. Crucially, too, I’d discovered the benefits of batch cooking. I’d started using my freezer for more than ice and peas. I’d sorted out my dry stores and was much more adept at making dinner quickly without sacrificing deliciousness – by far the most important factor in any meal. I’d become an expert in using up bits and pieces after the fast days had created an abundance of half-used packets and produce. Now, I want to show you how a little advance prep can mean dinner on the table really quickly and easily, any day of the week.



*A ‘fast day’, for those who don’t know, is the ‘2’ bit of the 5:2 way of eating – two days a week when you restrict your calorie intake to 500 calories.



How to use Let’s Eat!

The first chapter of this book contains five freezable batch-cook recipes. Each is accompanied by four recipes to serve up each base in imaginative and wholly different ways, so you’re not eating the same thing over and over again.

The second gives you nine building-block recipes, each forming the main component for three delicious dishes – make the base once, serve it three ways, The third and final chapter is full of quick and easy menus – whole curated sets of recipes for all sorts of occasions. It’s all covered, from romantic dinners for two to brunch parties and family weeknight dinners. Elements from the previous chapters combined with new recipes and also some bought-in bits. Cook from them as intended, as set menus, or pick and choose individual dishes as you like.

I want to show you some ideas for cookery building blocks that you can then build on in your own way. Lots of inspiration and creative combinations that I hope will get you trying new things, mixing it up and feeling confident to take things in a new direction. These are recipes to make your life easier. Food to be proud of – whether there’s anyone else there to see it or not! Let’s go. Let’s eat.


These are recipes to make your life easier. Food to be proud of – whether there’s anyone there to see it or not!



Storecupboard and Staples


There’ll be very little in this book that you won’t find easily in your local shops or a supermarket.

Apart from fresh produce, the following items are all the things you need to cook the recipes in this book. If there’s anything you have trouble sourcing in your neighbourhood, I can’t recommend souschef.co.uk highly enough. They won the Observer Food Monthly award for Best Independent Retailer. You’ll see why. A treasure trove of the world’s delights, just a click away.

Storecupboard basics


I use olive oil for nearly everything – a cheaper one for cooking and fruity, strongly flavoured, top-quality extra-virgin ones for dressings. I keep a cheap vegetable/ sunflower oil in stock for deep-frying (straining, cooling and reusing it a couple of times) and love having other interesting things like argan oil or smoked olive oil on hand for using on salads and to dress vegetables while still warm. My (organic, virgin) coconut oil generally lives in my bathroom, where it makes an excellent face cleanser and moisturiser; it only makes occasional forays into my kitchen.


I love the wide variety of vinegars available and they all have their uses. I have shedloads nearby at all times, but the ones I use most frequently are sherry, balsamic, white wine, red wine, apple cider and rice wine.

Other condiments

Mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, hot sauce, honey, American-style mustard (like French’s), English mustard powder, pomegranate molasses, Dijon mustard, wholegrain mustard.

Spices and dried herbs

Bay leaves, cloves, cardamom pods, chilli flakes, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, garam masala, mustard seeds, pul biber (Turkish mild chilli flakes, AKA Aleppo pepper), smoked paprika, star anise, dried thyme, ground cumin, whole nutmeg, vanilla pods, ground cinnamon, Chinese five-spice, turmeric, mixed spice, curry powder, allspice berries, cayenne pepper, chipotle chilli flakes, celery salt, dried oregano.

Nuts and seeds

Blanched almonds, cashew nuts, ground almonds, hazelnuts, nigella seeds, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds.

Salt and pepper

Black peppercorns in a mill, Maldon sea salt flakes, smoked salt, vanilla salt, pink peppercorns.

Rice and dried pulses

Black beans, red lentils, green lentils, brown rice (short grain is my favourite).


If I could only choose two, I’d pick linguine and rigatoni. Hopefully I’ll never be called upon to make such a huge decision.


Coconut milk, tinned tomatoes (chopped, cherry and whole plum), cannellini beans, sweetcorn, chickpeas.


Pickled jalapeños, passata, pickled turnips, preserved lemons, roasted peppers, capers, olives, chermoula, anchovy fillets. They can live happily on the shelf until opened, then move to the fridge.

Asian ingredients

Miso, udon, thin rice and soba noodles, soy sauce (I use Kikkoman), Sriracha chilli sauce, rice paper wrappers, sesame oil.

Middle Eastern ingredients

Orange blossom water, tahini, sumac, dried rose petals, dried barberries.




I always use fresh breadcrumbs, never the toasted shop-bought kind. Whenever I buy bread I slice it at home, freeze it and then blitz the crusts in a food processor and pop in a freezer bag. Whenever a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, use these.

Other random bits

Vegetable bouillon powder (stock), plain and self-raising flour, caster sugar, both dark and light soft brown sugars, tomato purée, freekeh, giant couscous, sultanas, marmalade, cornflour, dark chocolate, peanut butter, baking powder, porridge oats, instant polenta, cocoa powder, maple syrup, golden syrup, coconut flakes, desiccated coconut, panko breadcrumbs.

Fresh staples


I always buy organic. It is better in so many ways: for you, the cows, the farmers and the planet (look at organicmilk.co.uk for loads of interesting info), and it only costs a few pence more a pint than non-organic milk. I truly believe it also tastes so much more delicious.


Butter is something where it really pays to buy the best you can afford. It tastes so much better.


I use thick Greek-style yoghurt most often and regular natural yoghurt sometimes too. Buy both organic wherever possible.


My most used ingredient and I make sure I never run out. Always free-range, organic if you can. Happy chickens lay much nicer eggs. Remember that if you want to poach eggs, they need to be super, super fresh. As they age, the white breaks down inside the shell and you’ll find it very difficult to make a neat poached egg.


Long-life sliced bread makes me feel terrible. Proper, real bread (preferably sourdough) makes me feel happy. Simple as that. I buy a loaf, slice it up and stick it straight in the freezer. No bread ever gets wasted and I toast it straight from frozen. I have been known to buy bread while I’m away on a trip and carry it home in my handbag, slices emerging from my freezer for weeks to come, reminding me of my time away. What better holiday memento is there than one you can eat?

Salad leaves

Buy whole lettuces rather than bags of mixed leaves and wash them as soon as you get them home. Follow these instructions (as we do at The Pear Café) and your lettuce will last at least 4 days … Buying whole lettuces rather than prepped leaves will save you money, too. We use oakleaf and little gem lettuce at my café, but the same technique works for any lettuce. Fill your sink with ice-cold water. Cut the base off the lettuce, cut out the hardest section of core with the tip of your knife and separate the leaves. Plunge the leaves into the cold water and swish them around with your hand. Transfer to a large bowl, drain the sink and refill with Ice-cold water. Rinse the leaves a second time. Take a double handful of leaves and shake them as dry as you can over the sink. Move into a salad spinner and spin really well, pouring away the water every few seconds. The leaves must be totally dry before you continue. Lay a few sheets of kitchen paper inside the largest zip-lock bags you can find. Keeping the leaves whole (cut edges will turn brown quickly), fill the zip-lock bags up to the top, but don’t overfill them. Gently lay the bags flat In the bottom of your fridge (or the crisper drawer) and avoid putting anything on top. Change the kitchen paper every day if it looks wet.

Fresh vegetables and fruit

I’m incredibly lucky when it comes to shopping for food in my Bristol neighbourhood. I’m spoilt for choice and have a number of greengrocers within walking distance. I prefer shopping for veg at my local shops rather than in a supermarket for a number of reasons. Supporting local businesses is essential to me but the biggest draw is the selection of produce available. My favourite local grocer’s has a brilliant selection and everything is sold loose, so I can buy exactly what I need. Whether it’s a single chilli or a lone lemon – supermarkets tend to package things designed for families and that’s not how all of us live. If I buy just what I need, I avoid waste and unnecessary expense.


Tofu: lots of people are a bit scared of where to start. What do you look for on the packet? How do you prepare it? What – even – is it?

A beginner’s guide to tofu

I use tofu regularly. As I don’t eat meat, my protein sources come from elsewhere (mainly lots of pulses, dairy, eggs and tofu), and I’ve been using various kinds of tofu for years.

Tofu has been around in Asia for over a thousand years, but it’s still finding its way into Western kitchens and lots of people are a bit scared of where to start. What do you look for on the packet? How do you prepare it? What. Even. Is it?

The last question is simple to answer. Tofu is just like cheese but is made with soya beans rather than milk. Fresh soya milk is curdled, the curds and whey are separated, and the curds are then pressed into blocks. How firm the tofu is will depend on how much water is pressed out, The blocks are sometimes then smoked, which will make them firmer, as well as obviously giving them a smoky flavour!


(I like the Organic Smoked Tofu from Dragonfly, which is handmade in Devon.) This is the type you need for the nuggets. You’ll find it in the chiller cabinet in a cardboard box, inside which there’s a shrink-wrapped block of tofu with a bit of liquid. Cut open the pack and pour away the water. Sandwich the tofu between a few layers of kitchen roll or a clean tea towel and gently press down for about 20 seconds to get rid of the excess moisture. If you’re using it for a stir fry, it won’t crisp up until you’ve got it really dry, so change the paper a few times and press for longer. For the nuggets recipe, you don’t need to worry so much as the moisture is actually essential for puffing up the crispy shell.

Smoked and marinated

This sort of tofu is what I call ‘beginner’s tofu’ and you can’t go wrong. It also comes in a shrink-wrapped packet but is not at all wet. It can be eaten hot or cold, doesn’t need pressing and it has a stronger flavour than plain tofu (so more interesting for those who consider tofu a wobbly, bland blob). I’ve used this type with the lentil dahl. (I like the Taifun brand, the one with almonds and sesame seeds.)



This chapter contains 25 recipes – five different freezable base recipes, each with four different ways to serve them.



These ways to serve aren’t just ‘serving suggestions’ but proper, full recipes that incorporate the base recipe as a main element. The idea is that you can make big batches of the base but avoid eating the same thing over and over again. The bases are all ‘wet’ things that freeze well and then defrost and reheat quickly and easily. Some of the ways to use them are casual and perhaps best suited to a weeknight dinner or a speedy lunch when you’re just cooking for yourself. Others are smarter and would certainly be up to scratch if you have guests. They’re all simple, easy and nothing takes very long. You’ve invested the time in batch-cooking the base, so the ‘serving suggestions’ are designed to be quick and stress-free.

If you’ve got a big enough pot and enough freezer space, you can, of course, double or even triple these recipes. Just don’t forget to alter your cooking times accordingly.

So, equip yourself with plenty of plastic tubs and a permanent marker to label everything, stick the radio on, grab a drink and let’s cook!



Lentil, tomato and coconut dhal


As a soup with roasted peppers and toasted cashews

With a 6-minute egg and toasted breadcrumbs

With wilted greens, lemon and yoghurt

With seared tofu, avocado, pickles and seeds



Lentil, tomato and coconut dhal

Learn how to make a dhal (a lentil-based curry) and you are opening up a whole world of nutritious, delicious, cheap meals. It is quick to make, so you can whip this up from scratch after work even if you’ve not had time to batch-cook in advance. All the warming spices make this ‘spiced’ (think fragrant and aromatic) not ‘spicy’ (think chilli heat). Add extra chilli flakes if you like it hot.

I’ve used whole tinned plum tomatoes in this one, to add a nice contrast in texture. You can use a ready-made garam masala spice blend or make your own. Either way, make sure your spices are fresh and not from an open packet, shoved in the back of your cupboard, six years out-of-date. Mentioning no names.


Makes 6 portions (approx. 460g each)

4 tbsp oil (vegetable, sunflower, olive or coconut) or ghee

2 medium onions, peeled and finely diced

5cm piece of root ginger (approx. 30g), peeled and grated or finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or finely chopped

3 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

2 tbsp garam masala (make your own, see here, or buy)

1–2 tsp chilli flakes, to taste

2 tbsp black mustard seeds

500g red lentils, rinsed

2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes

1 x 400g tin coconut milk

flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Garam masala

2 tsp coriander seeds

2 tsp cumin seeds

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

½ tsp black peppercorns

4 cardamom pods

2 star anise

2 bay leaves

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the onion, ginger, garlic and a big pinch of flaked sea salt and cook for 10 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, if you’re making your own garam masala, toast the ingredients in a dry pan over a low heat for 1–2 minutes until smelling fantastic, keeping the spices moving. Tip into a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.

Dissolve the bouillon powder in 1 litre of boiling water for the stock. Add the garam masala, chilli flakes and mustard seeds to the onion mixture in the saucepan, stir thoroughly, then add the lentils. Give everything a good mix. Add the tomatoes and the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to low and cook for 20–25 minutes until the lentils are tender and retain no bite, stirring frequently and deeply so the lentils don’t stick and crushing the tomatoes a bit as you go. Add the coconut milk, remove from the heat and season to taste with flaked sea salt and pepper.

To freeze

Divide the dhal evenly between 6 sealable containers or freezer bags and leave to cool completely at room temperature. Label each portion with the recipe name and date made, then place in the freezer and use within 3 months. Defrost in the fridge (it will take approximately 8 hours to defrost), then gently reheat in a saucepan over a medium-low heat until piping hot.

To chill

The dhal will be fine for 3 days in the fridge. Keep it covered and when you are ready to reheat, gently simmer in a saucepan over a medium-low heat until piping hot. Adding a squeeze of lemon before you plate it up is a nice idea too.



Lentil, tomato and coconut dhal

As a soup with roasted peppers and toasted cashews

Two portions of dhal turn into six portions of soup, with the simple addition of a jar of roasted red peppers and some stock. You could swap the cashews for any other toasted nuts or seeds, but I think the creamy cashews work particularly well with the spiced soup.


Serves 6

2 portions of Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Dhal

1 x 450g jar roasted red peppers, drained and roughly chopped, (350g drained weight)

1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

1 small handful of cashew nuts

2 naan breads, to serve (optional)

Tip the dhal into a large saucepan, add the chopped roasted peppers and place over a medium heat. Add the bouillon powder and 400ml boiling water and bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, toast the cashews in a dry pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden brown, shaking the pan often. Remove from the heat and roughly chop.

Remove the dhal from the heat and blitz with a hand-held or stand blender until smooth.

Pour into bowls and top with the toasted cashews. Serve with the naan breads (if using).



Lentil, tomato and coconut dhal

With a 6-minute egg and toasted breadcrumbs

The dhal heats up in exactly the same time as the egg takes to cook. It’s like the universe wanted them to be together in the bowl. The silky egg yolk and the creamy dhal are shouting out for some crunchy texture, however, and these toasted breadcrumbs are exactly what you need. I rarely cook with coconut oil but I think it works really well here. The nutty toasted crumbs on top of the egg and dhal is a frugal, simple, delicious and quick supper. Pretty perfect.


Serves 1

1 free-range egg

1 portion of Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Dhal

1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil

10g fresh breadcrumbs

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves (optional)

¼ red chilli, finely sliced (optional)

Make sure the egg is at room temperature. Fill a small saucepan with boiling water and bring to a continuous boil over a medium heat – this is for the egg. Stick the dhal in another small saucepan and place over a medium-low heat until piping hot; stir occasionally.

Gently lower the egg into the boiling water and immediately set your timer for 6 minutes. While the egg cooks, heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the breadcrumbs and toast for about 1 minute until golden brown, shaking the pan often. Remove from the heat and keep to one side.

When the timer goes off, remove both pans from the heat. Pour away the hot water, holding your egg back with a spoon. Sit the (now dry) pan in the sink and turn the cold tap on, blasting the egg until totally cold. Roll the egg on the counter, pressing down gently, until the shell cracks all over. Peel very carefully and use a very sharp knife to cut it in half, lengthways.

Put the dhal into a bowl, sit the egg on top and sprinkle over the breadcrumbs, chopped coriander and sliced chilli (if using, which you totally should), then serve.



Lentil, tomato and coconut dhal

With wilted greens, lemon and yoghurt

I adore spring greens. They’ve been 99p for a huge bag in my greengrocer’s for as long as I can remember. Does inflation not affect greens? I take off the outside leaves if they’re grotty and then cut the whole cabbage up into ribbons, widthways. Dump them in a sinkful of water, as hot as a bath, and swish them around a bit. When they hit the butter in the pan, they’ll already be half-cooked.


Serves 1

25g salted butter

1 lemon, ½ juiced, ½ left whole

1 big handful of chopped spring greens or any other greens you like (approx. 250g)

1 portion of Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Dhal

1 heaped tbsp Greek-style yoghurt

1 pinch of pul biber (mild Turkish chilli flakes)

½ spring onion, finely sliced

flaked sea salt

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat, along with the juice of half a lemon. Wash the greens but do not shake dry, then add to the pan, along with a big pinch of flaked sea salt. Cover with a lid and cook over a medium heat for a few minutes until al dente, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, reheat the dhal in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat until piping hot, stirring occasionally.

Put the warmed dhal into a bowl and using tongs, add the buttery, lemony greens. Add a dollop of yoghurt and sprinkle with the pul biber flakes and sliced spring onion. Wedge of lemon on the side and you’re done.



Lentil, tomato and coconut dhal

With seared tofu, avocado, pickles and seeds

Smoked, marinated tofu is what I would call ‘beginners’ tofu’ – you can’t screw it up (see here). It doesn’t need pressing, it is ready to eat (hot or cold) and it is already flavoured by the smoking, so if you’ve never cooked with tofu, here is where you should start. All those benefits mean it is a bit more expensive than other tofus, so once you’ve tried it, move on to other types and learn how to use them. There’s a whole world of tofu out there!


Serves 2

2 portions of Lentil, Tomato and Coconut Dhal

1 tbsp mixed seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy and nigella)

1 tbsp olive oil, ghee or coconut oil

1 x 200g packet of smoked marinated tofu, sliced (see my guide to tofu)

1 ripe avocado

a few pickles (any kind, homemade or shop-bought. Middle Eastern pickled turnips are particularly good for this)

Reheat the dhal in a small saucepan over a medium-low heat until piping hot, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, toast the seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until starting to burst, shaking the pan often, then tip into a bowl and return the pan to the heat. Add the oil and turn the heat up to high. Once hot, add the tofu slices and cook for a couple of minutes until browned on both sides.

Peel, stone and slice the avocado. Stick the hot dhal in a bowl, add the tofu slices, avocado and pickles, then sprinkle over the toasted seeds.



Mean feat no-meat meatballs


In a wrap with hummous, soft herbs, toasted pine nuts and yoghurt

With tomato-butter sauce and pasta

Squished into a burger, in a bun with Dan’s fry sauce

Baked with tomatoes, basil and lemon ricotta



Mean feat no-meat meatballs

I wanted to create a veggie meatball recipe that would be really versatile. The flavourings go well with Italian-style dishes like the first two serving suggestions, but are also happy in a more Middle Eastern setting (inside a wrap with hummous and lots of fragrant toppings) or made into a burger with my mate Dan’s special Fry Sauce.

By the way, I tried frying them and they fell apart. Baked on an oiled tray, they cooked evenly and stayed perfectly spherical. So, learn from my experience. Baked balls. Now, that’s an alternative title idea …


Makes 22 balls

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

1 aubergine, cut into 3cm chunks

½ tsp chilli flakes

1 heaped tsp chopped rosemary leaves

1 heaped tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

½ tsp hot smoked paprika

1 lemon, zested

1 onion (approx. 100g), peeled and finely diced

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed or finely grated

75g fresh breadcrumbs

flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Add the aubergine chunks and 3 tablespoons of water. Season and cook for 10 minutes until browned, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, put the chilli flakes, rosemary, parsley, paprika and lemon zest into a food processor.

Tip the cooked aubergine into the food processor and wipe out the pan with kitchen paper. Return to a low heat. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil, add the onion and the garlic and fry for 5–7 minutes. Tip into the food processor and blitz everything into a rough purée. Add the breadcrumbs and blitz again. Chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes.

Line a baking tray with foil and lightly grease. Wet your hands and roll the mixture into 22 ping-pong-sized balls. Now, lay them on the lined tray, cover them with cling film and leave in the fridge or freezer until you’re ready to cook. The following recipes require the balls to be uncooked but you can cook them straight away and eat as you like. Simply preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4 and bake the tray of meatballs in the hot oven for 30–35 minutes.

To freeze

Lay the balls on a tray, cover with cling film and place in the freezer until frozen. You can then tip them into a freezer bag. Label with the recipe name and the date made, then place in the freezer and use within 3 months. Defrost in the fridge; overnight is fine, or take them out in the morning and they’ll be defrosted once you’re ready to make dinner.

To chill

If you don’t want to freeze them, the balls are fine, uncooked, for 3 days in the fridge. Keep them covered, then, when ready to eat them, bake as above.



Mean feat no-meat meatballs

In a wrap with hummous, soft herbs, toasted pine nuts and yoghurt

I’ve not included exact quantities for the toppings because it’s really up to you. Use all or some of these, pile up as much as you like and make your own Wrap of Dreams. Cooling yoghurt and some sort of hot sauce are pretty essential in my opinion and I love to use loads of herbs, almost as a salad rather than a garnish. Swap hummous for aïoli if you’ve made some and, if you’re really hungry, add a couple of slices of seared halloumi to make this even better!


Serves 1

olive oil, for greasing

3 uncooked Mean Feat No-meat Meatballs

1 tsp pine nuts

1 large flatbread, wrap or pitta bread

a dollop of hummous

a couple of leaves of little gem lettuce, shredded

a dollop of natural yoghurt

1 tbsp chopped mint, coriander and flat-leaf parsley leaves

pomegranate molasses and/or chilli sauce, for drizzling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Line a baking tray with foil and grease with the olive oil. Stick the meatballs on the tray and cook in the hot oven for 30–35 minutes.

When the balls are nearly done, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 1–2 minutes until golden brown, shaking the pan often. Tip into a bowl and return the pan to the heat. Warm the flatbread, wrap or pitta through in the pan on both sides. Smear the hummous over the middle of the flatbread or wrap (if using a pitta, carefully slice open and spread the hummous inside). Pile the shredded lettuce onto the flatbread or wrap, or stuff into the pitta. Remove the balls from the oven and sit on top of the lettuce. Add the yoghurt, top with the chopped herbs and toasted pine nuts, drizzle with a little pomegranate molasses or chilli sauce (if using), then roll up and shove in your face.



Mean feat no-meat meatballs

With tomato-butter sauce and pasta

I found a pasta shape called ‘fusilli lunghi bucati’ when I first made this dish and it’s the most ridiculous thing: very thin, tightly curled tubes, about 60cm long. If you can find it, I highly recommend it for a bit of fun, but I think linguine or spaghetti would be my next choice.

The sauce is based on the famous Marcella Hazan recipe for tomato sauce. Whereas Hazan discards the onion half before serving, I like to keep the onion and blitz the whole lot. Don’t reduce the amount of butter. You’ll thank me.

Serves 2

1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes

50g salted butter

½ onion, peeled, unchopped

6–10 uncooked Mean Feat No-meat Meatballs, depending on how hungry you are

pasta (spaghetti, linguine, fettucine … whatever kind you like and as much as you want)

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing

flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a few fresh basil leaves, to serve

finely chopped rosemary leaves, to serve

Parmesan cheese, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. Line a baking tray with foil and grease with a little olive oil.

To make the sauce, tip the whole tin of tomatoes into a small saucepan. Add the butter, the onion half (unchopped) and a big pinch of flaked sea salt. Place over a medium heat until it starts to blip, then turn the heat right down. Cook for 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally and mashing up the tomato with the back of a spatula.

After the sauce has been cooking for a few minutes, stick the meatballs on the lined tray and bake in the hot oven for 30–35 minutes. While the meatballs are baking in the oven and the sauce is bubbling away, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.

After the sauce has been cooking for 45 minutes, use a hand-held blender to blitz the whole lot, onion and all.

Drain the pasta, drizzle with the olive oil and place on plates or in shallow bowls. Place the cooked balls on top and cover the whole lot with sauce.

Sprinkle over the herbs, grate over some Parmesan and season with lots of black pepper … use any or all of these to make it just how you like it. Devour.



Mean feat no-meat meatballs

Squished into a burger, in a bun with Dan’s Fry Sauce

One of my biggest peeves as a non-meat eater is restaurants thinking that if you want a burger, you want a wholemeal bun and none of the good stuff. If I want a burger I want it ALL, just not the meat. I want cheese (there’s a time and place for sliced cheese and it’s here and now), I want pickles, I want lettuce and I want plenty of sauce. My mate Dan created this ‘Fry Sauce’ recipe. Originating in Utah, this is used as a sauce in burgers, as a dip for fries and even as a dressing for salad. The standard version is simply one part ketchup to two parts mayonnaise (so that’s basically prawn cocktail sauce, right?), but most burger joints have their own closely guarded recipes, with additional bits. Inspired, Dan knocked up his own version, which is, as he would say, ‘frigging superb’. Tangy and spicy, yet smooth.


Serves 4

2 tsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

12 uncooked Mean Feat No-meat Meatballs

4 burger buns

a few leaves of little gem lettuce, shredded

½ red onion, peeled and finely diced

2 dill pickles, sliced

4 slices of burger cheese

4 portions of chips, to serve (optional)

For the Fry Sauce

1 tbsp French’s classic yellow mustard

1½ tbsp Heinz ketchup

2 heaped tbsp Hellman’s mayonnaise

1 tsp Colman’s English mustard

2 heaped tbsp finely chopped gherkins or cornichons

2 dashes of Tabasco

1 dash of Worcestershire sauce

freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Line a baking tray with foil, grease with a little olive oil and set to one side. Use wet hands to combine 3 of the Mean Feat No-meat Meatballs to make 1 burger patty. Repeat until you have 4 patties. Place the patties on the lined tray, use your finger to brush the tops with the oil, and place in the oven to cook for 30–35 minutes, turning halfway through. You could stick some chips in the oven at the same time. I won’t stop you.

While the burgers are cooking, make the sauce. Just mix everything together in a small bowl with a pinch of black pepper. That’s it. Set to one side and toast the buns cut-side down in a dry frying pan over a medium heat until lightly golden.

Assemble the burgers. I’d suggest: Fry sauce on the base bun, lettuce, onion, pickles, burger, cheese, more sauce, top bun. But it’s up to you.



Mean feat no-meat meatballs

Baked with tomatoes, basil and lemon ricotta

The balls nestle into the cherry tomato sauce and dollops of cool, lemony ricotta fill the gaps. The tops of the balls crisp up as they bake, while their hidden bottoms stay soft. Delicious. You could swap the ricotta for torn-up mozzarella or even bits of feta. Keep the lemon zest though – it really lifts the dish. This is a real crowd-pleaser and I’m sure you’re going to end up making it loads …


Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing

½ onion, peeled and finely diced

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed or finely grated

½ tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp tomato purée

1 x 400g tin cherry tomatoes in tomato juice

1 small handful of basil leaves, plus a few extra, to serve

½ tsp sugar

6–10 uncooked Mean Feat No Meat Meatballs, depending on how hungry you are

6 tbsp ricotta

1 lemon, zested

flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a few slices of quality bread, to serve

crisp green salad, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5–7 minutes, or until translucent. Add the chilli flakes and the tomato purée and cook for a further 1–2 minutes. Add the tinned tomatoes, handful of basil leaves and sugar and season well with flaked sea salt and black pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease the base of a baking dish with a little olive oil and sit the balls in, evenly spaced. Stick in the hot oven for 20 minutes while the sauce cooks.

After the sauce has been cooking for 15 minutes, check the seasoning then remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the sauce over and around the balls. Mix the ricotta with the lemon zest and spoon little teaspoonfuls of lemony ricotta into the spaces between the balls. Drizzle the whole lot with a little olive oil and stick it back in the oven for another 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, top with the remaining basil leaves and serve with crusty bread/garlicky toasts or a crisp green salad. Or both.


Sunday Times bestselling author Elly Pear shares over 90 of her new pescatarian recipes all centring around vegetables, grains, pulses and dairy.

Her approach to food and cooking perfectly suits the modern-day cook and is packed with innovative fresh flavours, interesting textures and a strong garnish game to boot. Crucially, Elly believes that food should be simple and special, whatever the occasion – the two go hand-in-hand.

Let’s Eat contains everything you need to know to enjoy incredible meat-free dishes in a straight forward, cost-effective way. You don’t need a stand mixer, a huge processor or oodles of obscure ingredients. These are the cookery building blocks which will help you try new things, mix it up and feel confident in the kitchen. Elly covers:

• Batch cooking, where you’ll learn how a little advance preparation can make for effortless dinners, whatever day of the week.

• Freezeable dishes, where Elly provides 4 innovative ways to use your defrosted portions. Repetitive leftovers are a thing of the past.

• Quick and easy menus containing curated sets of recipes perfectly suited to a whole host of occasions, whether it’s a romantic dinner for two, a brunch party or weeknight family teatime.

Elly appreciates the challenges of being a modern cook. Hers is simple, tasty food – that sort that you can cook day-in, day-out, with ease. It’s nutritious but not spotless, and always brings joy.


Related posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply

Notify of