Autumn harvest: slow and warming vegetarian recipes from Justine Schofield (2024)

Fennel polpette

Meatless meatballs? Yes, they can be done and they work a treat! I tried these in the south of Italy a few years ago and have since recreated them at home. Initially you’ll think it’s not possible for fennel to form polpette but, after blending with the breadcrumbs, parmesan and ricotta, they hold their shape well. They are truly delicious and great served simply with toasted sourdough.

Serves 4
Special equipment: food processor

1 large fennel bulb (about 500g), cut into 6 wedges, fronds reserved
1 large onion,
cut into 6 wedges
3 tbsp olive oil
salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp pine nuts
160g (2 cups) fresh breadcrumbs
60g parmesan
, grated, plus extra to serve
125g (1/2 cup) fresh ricotta
1 egg
1 garlic clove
500g tomato passata

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Arrange the fennel and onion wedges on a large baking tray and drizzle over one tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelised, turning the vegetables halfway through so they colour evenly. About five minutes before the end of cooking, scatter over the pine nuts to toast until golden.

Reserve half the roasted onion and add the remainder to a food processor along with the fennel and pine nuts. Pulse to finely chop, then add the breadcrumbs, parmesan, ricotta and egg. Season with salt and pepper and pulse again until a rough “mince” forms and the mixture is slightly sticky.

Wet your hands with water (this makes rolling easier) and shape the fennel mixture into walnut-sized balls. Place the polpette back on the tray and drizzle over a little more oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden.

In the meantime, finely chop the garlic and reserved roasted onion, place in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the remaining oil. Add the passata and 180ml (¾ cup) of water and season to taste.

Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes until thick and rich. Add the fennel polpette and turn to coat. Scatter over the reserved fennel fronds and a good sprinkling of extra parmesan.

Serve with toasted sourdough or pasta.

Meatless meatloaf

Autumn harvest: slow and warming vegetarian recipes from Justine Schofield (1)

This meatless loaf is full of goodness with the addition of three pulses that you probably already have in your pantry. And, in keeping with the pantry theme, this smoky barbecue sauce – made with common condiments – really takes it up a notch and makes the loaf utterly delicious.

Serves 8
Special equipment: food processor

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot
, cut into chunks
10cm piece of celery
, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
150g day-old sourdough bread
, roughly torn
60g (½ cup) walnuts
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
400g can chickpeas
, drained, liquid reserved
400g can kidney beans
, drained and rinsed
400g can lentils
, drained and rinsed
200g (1 cup) cooked quinoa
flat-leaf parsley sprigs
, to serve
rocket leaves
, to serve

For the sauce
125g (½ cup) tomato sauce
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce or vegetarian alternative
1 tsp Chinese five spice
1 garlic clove
, finely grated
tomato relish
, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Grease and line a 1.5 litre-capacity loaf tin with baking paper, allowing the excess paper to overhang the sides (this makes removing the loaf much easier once it is cooked).

Combine all the barbecue sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil for one minute. Stand until required.

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Place the onion, carrot and celery in a food processor and whiz until finely chopped. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add the vegetable mixture and sauté for five minutes, or until softened.

Add the bread and walnuts to the uncleaned food processor and process until crumbs form. Add to the vegetable mixture along with the dried oregano and smoked paprika. Sauté for a further two minutes, or until aromatic. Remove from the heat.

Place the chickpeas and reserved chickpea liquid in the uncleaned food processor and process until smooth. Add to the vegetable crumb mixture. Add the kidney beans, lentils and quinoa to the food processor and pulse to roughly chop. Add to the vegetable crumb mixture along with three tablespoons of barbecue sauce. Stir to combine well.

Transfer the lentil and bean mixture to the prepared tin and press down evenly. Brush with half the remaining barbecue sauce and bake for approximately one and a half hours. Halfway through baking, brush with the remaining barbecue sauce. The loaf is ready when a skewer inserted in the centre of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from the oven and rest for 30 minutes.

Thickly slice the lentil and bean loaf and serve with the parsley scattered over the top and some rocket leaves and tomato relish on the side.

Slow-baked sweet potato with smoked tofu cream

Autumn harvest: slow and warming vegetarian recipes from Justine Schofield (2)

I used to avoid tofu whenever possible but, after developing fun ways to use it with flavours like chipotle in adobo sauce and lime, I have a new-found love for it.

It’s a wonderful carrier of flavour and a great vegan alternative to dairy when you’re still wanting that creamy effect. Pair with slow-baked whole sweet potato and it’s a winner.

Serves 4
Special equipment: blender

4 small-medium sweet potatoes (350-400g each), washed and patted dry
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
, plus extra for drizzling
salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
80g (1 cup) corn chips
lime wedges, to serve
smoked paprika, to serve

For the tofu cream
300g packet silken tofu, drained
1 tbsp chopped chipotle in adobo sauce (including sauce)
1 lime
, zested and juiced
1 garlic clove
, finely chopped
1 tsp brown sugar
1 spring onion
, white part roughly chopped, green part finely chopped
salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper

Start by preparing the tofu, which can be done a day ahead of time. Wrap the tofu in paper towel or a clean cloth and place on a small plate. Weigh down by placing another small plate on top, then refrigerate for at least two hours to drain as much liquid as possible.

Preheat the oven to 150C. Line a baking tray with foil, then baking paper. Arrange the sweet potatoes on the prepared tray, rub all over with the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Bake the sweet potatoes for two hours or so, turning halfway through, until soft when the thickest part is pierced with the tip of a knife. The cooking time will vary depending on the size of your sweet potatoes.

Autumn harvest: slow and warming vegetarian recipes from Justine Schofield (3)

To finish the smoked tofu cream, place the drained tofu in a small blender, add the chipotle in adobo sauce, lime zest and juice, garlic, brown sugar and white part of the spring onion and whiz until smooth. Season with a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Spread the smoked tofu cream on a platter, then cut the sweet potatoes on an angle into thick slices and arrange on top. Drizzle with the extra olive oil, scatter over the green part of the spring onion and serve with corn chips, lime wedges and a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

This is an edited extract from The Slow Cook by Justine Schofield, published by Plum, RRP $39.99, photography by Rob Palmer

Autumn harvest: slow and warming vegetarian recipes from Justine Schofield (2024)


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