1 July 2022
4 delicious recipes from the Kew Gardens Cookbook for you to try at home
Take a sneak peek at our brand-new cookbook, celebrating plants in the kitchen with leading chefs and food writers, including Yotam Ottolenghi and Ching-He Huang MBE.
Our new anthology of vegetarian recipes from celebrity chefs and food writers celebrates fruits, nuts, vegetables, fungi, grains, and their potential to broaden our palates and prevent biodiversity loss.
'The kitchen is where we connect with plants in a very special way', said Jenny Lindford, editor of The Kew Gardens Cookbook. 'They literally sustain us.'
We're sharing a sneak peek of the recipes with you; recipes from around the world that will provide inspiration when cooking with plants, everything from simple midweek dinners to show-stopping bakes.
Yam and plantain peanut curry
The floury texture of boiled yam makes it akin to the famous Irish potato and it can be a great addition to curries and potages. This recipe combines my love of nkatsenkwan (groundnut stew) with the two simple Ghanaian staples of yam and plantain.
This was the way I ate it as a child, when the lamb had gone from the pot and there was always leftover peanut sauce (both my mum and dad cooked it in great vats), which you could then add to some boiled yam and plantain. It makes a great alternative veggie curry!
300g puna yam
2-3 medium-ripe plantains
1 quantity peanut sauce, prepared up to the stage of adding the peanut butter and blending
For the chale sauce
400g can tomatoes or 250g fresh tomatoes 30g or 2 tbsp tomato purée
1 onion, roughly chopped
5cm fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 red scotch bonnet chilli, deseeded
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp sea salt
3 garlic cloves (optional)
For the peanut sauce
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp extra-hot chilli powder
1 tbsp curry powder
1 garlic clove, crushed
5cm piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)
1 red scotch bonnet chilli, pierced
3 tbsp crushed roasted peanuts
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
500ml good quality vegetable stock
100–200g organic peanut butter, depending on how thick you want the sauce
chopped red chillies
sliced spring onions or puréed basil
Have a bowl or pan of water ready before you start, as you’ll need to put each peeled yam piece straight into water as you go to prevent them oxidizing and turning brown. Peel the yam and cut into slices, then rinse thoroughly in cold water to remove the starch.
Chop the yam, add to a large saucepan of lightly salted boiling water and cook for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the plantains and cut into chunks slightly larger than bite size. Add to the boiling yam at the 10-minute point and cook together for about a further 10 minutes until fork tender – they will continue to cook in the peanut sauce.
Strain, reserving the cooking water to use as vegetable stock for making the peanut sauce. Set the yam and plantain aside.
Place all the ingredients for the chale sauce in a blender and blend together until you have a fairly smooth paste.
Make the peanut sauce. Heat the groundnut oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and sauté over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the chilli powder and curry powder, then add the garlic, ginger, scotch bonnet, crushed peanuts, sea salt and black pepper and stir well – lots of punchy aromas should be rising from the pot at this point.
Stir in the chale sauce and vegetable stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes.
Add the peanut butter 1 tbsp at a time, while stirring, until it has all dissolved, then use a stick blender to blend all the ingredients to a smooth consistency. Add the boiled yam and plantain to the sauce and leave to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring in a little water as necessary to prevent any sticking.
Serve in a bowl garnished with chopped red chillies and a touch of greenery such as sliced spring onions or puréed basil.
Tomato and ricotta salad with coriander seed and lemon oil
This is a celebration of summer tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes work well, because they are so sweet, but use whatever you have to hand. The dressing and oil can be made in advance.
First published in the Guardian's Feast Magazine.
For the salad
8 plum tomatoes (750g), cut in half
250ml olive oil
3 unpeeled garlic cloves
Salt and black pepper
3 tbsp PX sherry vinegar, or any other sweet vinegar such as moscatel
1 lemon, 3 wide strips of zest pared off with a peeler or sharp knife, then squeezed, to get 2 tbsp juice
800g heritage cherry tomatoes
20g picked basil leaves, roughly chopped
70g spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced at an angle
100g ricotta dura (hard ricotta), thinly sliced
For the sourdough croutons
360g sourdough bread, crust removed, then torn into medium chunks
60ml olive oil
For the coriander seed and lemon oil
45ml olive oil
3 strips lemon zest
1½ tbsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
Heat the oven to its highest setting ~ 240°C/220°C fan. Put the plum tomatoes skin side down in a roughly 23cm x 17cm x 7cm high ovenproof dish, then add the oil, whole garlic cloves and a teaspoon of salt.
Roast for 25 minutes, until the tomato juices are running and the skins are blistered, then remove and leave to cool. Turn down the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.
Once cool, peel and discard both the tomato and garlic skins, then, using a fork, mash them into the oily juices in the dish until completely broken up. Add 2 tbsp of the sherry vinegar and the lemon juice, stir well and put to one side.
In a colander set over a bowl, mix the cherry tomatoes with a ½ tsp salt and the remaining tablespoon of vinegar and set aside to steep.
Put the chunks of sourdough on a large baking tray, drizzle over the olive oil, toss to coat, then bake for about 25 minutes until golden and crunchy. Remove and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, make the coriander seed oil by heating the olive oil and lemon zest in a small frying pan on medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add the coriander seeds, cook for another minute, until they become fragrant, then take off the heat and leave to cool.
To assemble, spoon the dressing on to a large platter, scatter the croutons on top, then scatter over half the basil, spring onions and ricotta.
Tumble the cherry tomatoes on top with the remaining basil, spring onions and ricotta, drizzle over the coriander oil and serve.
Dried fruit compote with custard (zurracapote con crema pastelera vasca)
Zurracapote, also called marmelada de frutos secos, is a New Year’s Eve special in the Basque country and in Navarre. It is great served with the Basque custard below that can be flavoured with rum or Cognac.
For the compote
250g dried peaches or apricots
250ml red wine
100g lightly toasted flaked
Almonds or coarsely chopped
For the crema pastelera vasca
500ml whole milk
6 large egg yolks
3 tbsp plain flour
3–4 tbsp rum
Soak the dried fruits in water for 2 hours, then drain and put them in a pan with the wine, water and sugar and simmer, covered, for 20 – 30 minutes, until they are very soft.
For the crema pastelera vasca, bring the milk to the boil in a heavy bottomed pan. In a bowl beat the egg yolks with the sugar to a light pale cream with an electric hand beater, then beat in the flour.
Gradually pour in the milk, a little at a time, beating vigorously until well blended. Then pour the mixture back into the pan. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula over very low heat until the custard thickens. If any lumps form at the start they will disappear as you work the custard vigorously. Add the rum and mix well.
Serve cold in little bowls, the custard at the bottom, the cooked fruits on top with their wine sauce sprinkled with almonds or walnuts.
Ching-He Huang MBE
Ching’s Buddha’s Veggie Chow Mein
This is the kind of dish that allows you to use up any leftover vegetables and is so easy using store cupboard ingredients.
I love adding some slices of smoked tofu for texture and protein. Of course, use whichever noodles you like but I love organic soybean noodles which are high in protein, are gluten free and high in fibre too. They have a slight beany flavour too.
This dish is not only packed with more than your five-a-day veggies, it’s aromatic and delicious. It’s perfect as a mid-week supper or a feasting dish for family and friends.
(Serves 4 to share)
For the chow mein
200g (dried weight) organic soybean noodles
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
2.5cm of freshly grated root ginger
2 large red chillis, deseeded, sliced into julienne strips
10 fresh shiitake mushrooms sliced
1 large carrot, topped, tailed, sliced into julienne strips
1 small handful of mangetout, washed, sliced into julienne
200g baby corn, sliced in half on the angle down the middle
2 baby pak choy, washed, halved down the middle
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
200g smoked tofu with sesame seeds, (optional), sliced to julienne
1 tbsp tamari
2 large spring onions, julienne, placed in cold iced water to give ‘curls’
1 large handful of toasted cashew nuts
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
For the sauce
100ml cold vegetable stock
1 tbsp tamari or low sodium light soy sauce
1 tbsp vegetarian mushroom sauce
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp cornflour
Chiu Chow chilli oil, to serve
Combine all the ingredients for the sauce, mix well and place in a jug.
Cook the organic soybean noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh the noodles in cold water. Dress with 1 tsp toasted sesame oil, mix well and set aside.
Prepare all the rest of the ingredients.
Heat a wok over high heat and add the rapeseed oil. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the carrot and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the shiitake, mangetout, baby corn and pak choy leaves and toss, cooking for a few seconds. Add in the rice wine. Stir gently for 1 minute. Add the smoked tofu slices.
Pour in the sauce and bring to the bubble, cooking for less than a minute until the sauce is shiny. Toss the noodles and gently fold them in, mixing the noodles with the ingredients and sauce together in the wok, but being careful not to ‘stab’ at the noodles or ingredients. Season with 1 tbsp tamari.
Finally sprinkle in the beansprouts and give it one last stir together.
Spoon out and sprinkle over spring onion curls, toasted cashew nuts and black sesame seeds. Place on the table and serve with other dishes or spoon into individual serving plates. Serve with Chiu Chow chilli oil on the side.