“I don’t think you should give up meat,” Rachel Phipps explains to her readers. “I’m certainly not going to, but it is an unavoidable truth that the amount of meat we consume in this country is bad for our health, bad for the environment and also actually quite bad for our bank balance.
“We live on an island, and the amount of our amazing fish and seafood we eat at home – whilst improving – is still minimal.” Her second cookbook, One Pan Pescatarian, aims to change that, drawing on a host of global influences for 100 simple vegetarian, vegan and pescatarian suppers, all using only one pot or pan. “I wrote it with one goal in mind,” she explains. “To get people to eat less meat, and to eat more plant-based or seafood inspired meals. I wanted everything to be simple, easy to follow and accessible, and of course delicious!”
Here, Phipps shares three mouthwatering meals ideal for lazy weekends when you want big flavour, minor the major kitchen commitment…
Creamy Butternut Squash Risotto
Every time I have butternut squash in the fridge, this is the thing I want to make the most. It is basically one big – rather elegant – autumnal hug in a bowl.
If this is your first time making risotto, don’t panic, it’s really easy. Take cooking times with a pinch of salt and gradually add the stock until you’re happy with the consistency. I’ve included measurements and timings here but, depending on how hot your hob is, and the size and thickness of your pan, you might need more or less stock than that. It’s okay to add more if your rice still has a bit too much bite to it. Once you’ve made a couple of risottos, you’ll know what works best.
1 small onion, finely chopped
150g butternut squash, grated
100g butternut squash, cubed
150g risotto rice
100ml dry white wine
800ml hot vegetable stock
15g Parmesan shavings (make sure you use a vegetarian version if this matters to you), plus extra to serve
½ tbsp fresh sage
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a knob of butter in a shallow casserole dish or large frying pan over a medium heat. Gently fry the onion, along with a good pinch of sea salt, for roughly five minutes, until it has softened and darkened in colour, but has not yet started to brown.
- Add both the grated and cubed squash and cook for a further 15 minutes until the grated squash is tender and the cubes have started to soften.
- Stir in the risotto rice and cook for another couple of minutes until the rice is hot.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low. Stir in the white wine and allow to bubble away. Add a ladle of the hot stock and again allow it to bubble away, stirring every few minutes. Keep going for 35 to 40 minutes until all the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Stir in the Parmesan and another small knob of butter, then season to taste with more salt and pepper. Stir in the sage just before serving in two warm bowls, topped with a little more cheese.
Mediterranean Salmon Parcels
It sounds simple, but a piece of salmon baked in tin foil is one of mine and my mum’s favourite dinners to enjoy together when I’m home. I’ve made this Mediterranean-inspired version a single serving because you do have to cook each portion individually, but feel free to scale it up to feed as many people as you like! I like this – as always – served with lots of crusty bread to mop up the cooking juices, but some brown rice would also work well.
100g cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil
1 salmon fillet
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. Lay out one large piece of foil per portion of fish.
- Halve the cherry tomatoes, roughly chop the sun-dried tomatoes and place them in the middle of the foil. Lay the salmon fillet, skin side down, on top and drizzle with the olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle the top of the salmon with Aleppo chilli flakes.
- Gather the sides of the foil up around the salmon and the tomatoes to make a little boat, then fold and scrunch the foil at the top and at both ends to create a sealed packet. Try to leave as much room for the salmon to steam as possible while keeping it sealed. Transfer the parcels to a baking tray.
- Bake the salmon packet for about 30 minutes until the salmon is just cooked – it should be tender and flaky, but still slightly pink in the middle.
California Kale, Orange, Almond and Mushroom Salad
There is a chain of healthy food canteens in California called Lemonade that do the most incredible fruit-flavoured lemonades (the guava flavour is out of this world), rainbow salads and some of the best slow cooked brisket I’ve ever had. My favourite Lemonade dish is their kale, orange and mushroom salad. It took me a while, but I’ve managed to recreate it at home, adding toasted almonds for extra crunch and to further invoke the taste of California.
2 small banana shallots
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp maple syrup
2 tsp light olive oil
1 tsp soy sauce
8 large oranges
300g chestnut mushrooms
300g curly kale
80g flaked almonds
- To make the dressing, peel and thinly slice the shallots. Stir into a small bowl along with the rice wine vinegar, toasted sesame oil, maple syrup, olive oil and soy sauce.
- Segment the oranges. To do this, slice a little off the top and the bottom of the orange, so you can sit the orange flat on the chopping board. Holding the orange flat, cutting downwards, slice off the skin with a sharp knife, working clockwise. Turn the orange over and trim off any excess skin and pith. Then, gently remove the orange segments by gently slicing either side of the membrane to release the slivers of flesh. Roughly chop the segments and add them to the bowl. It is tempting to include the juice from the chopping board to the dressing, but resist: this will make your salad too wet.
- Halve the mushrooms down the middle then slice each half very thinly. Add the mushroom slices to the dressing, and stir so they are well coated. Set aside.
- Roughly chop the kale, removing the tough stems, and transfer it to a large bowl. If you’re using pre-chopped kale, I tend to pick out pieces of stalk as I measure the kale into the bowl. Toss with everything else and serve – or refrigerate until later. This salad is great to make ahead, as the kale holds up to sitting in the dressing in a way that regular salad leaves never do.