Plant-based dishes are the stars of this collection of practical, delicious recipes
by Anna Jones
When Anna Jones steps into her London kitchen to prepare food in the evening, the food stylist and cook is motivated by the same factors that drive so many of us today: she wants to create a meal that is healthy, delicious, sustainable, and affordable—and not time-intensive.
Sound like an impossible list? Take a look through Jones’s cookbook, A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes (That Will Make You Feel Amazing) (Ten Speed Press, 2015; $35), and you’ll find a host of recipes that prove these priorities can be met much more easily than you might think.
Led by a desire to create plant-based dishes characterized by interesting textures and flavors that highlight seasonal ingredients, Jones offers recipes that speak to her love for satisfying, delicious food that leaves one feeling full—but not heavy. Banana, blueberry, and pecan pancakes include oats and only a small amount of coconut oil in place of the standard white flour and vegetable oil and are flavor filled and nutrient packed; avocado and lemon zest spaghetti combines the rich, creamy avocado with the salt of capers in brine, the citrus of lemon, and the fresh taste of basil.
The collection is singularly unfussy, which is perhaps the greatest draw. The recipes (many illustrated with beautiful photographs by Brian Ferry) are accessible, appealing, and clear, reflecting Jones’s mission to offer up the joy of simple, delicious ingredients combined to create meals that fill us body and soul.
Speedy Sweet Potato Quesadillas
Quesadillas are an anytime meal. They take just 5 minutes to make, and everyone loves them. You can snack on them at a party, they make a late-home-from-work dinner, and they even work at breakfast with an egg inside.
These quesadillas are a bit different— the regular, white flour, cheese-loaded version doesn’t do it for me. Instead, these are filled with a superquick sweet potato and white bean mash. You will never look back.
Two types of chiles feature here, though don’t worry—they are not superhot. I don’t like that intense chile burn feeling. To me any food that sends your body into panic or out of balance can’t be good. But I do crave heat, and this blend of the deep smokiness of the chipotle and the sweet raw heat of the fresh chile packs a well-rounded punch.
Many places have started to stock chipotle paste, which has made its sweet smokiness more easy to come by. If you can’t get your hands on chipotle, a ½ teaspoon of hot smoked paprika will do.
It is worth mentioning what chiles have hidden in their colorful little packages. They are superhigh in antioxidants and vitamins, and they boost the immune system and help speed your metabolism: chile magic.
Serves 2 as a dinner or 4 as a snack
1 sweet potato, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon maple syrup
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon chipotle paste
1 red chile, seeded and finely chopped
1 (15-ounce) can navy beans, rinsed and drained
Half a lime
A few sprigs of fresh mint or cilantro, leaves picked and chopped
4 corn tortillas
Heat a small amount of olive oil in a pan, add the sweet potato and the maple syrup, and season with salt and pepper. Add the chipotle paste and the chopped chile and cook for a few minutes until the potato has softened and lost its rawness. Transfer to a bowl and add the beans, then use a potato masher to mash everything a little—you will still have some flecks of unmashed sweet potato.
Season if needed.
Mash the avocado with a little lime juice and stir in the herbs. I use the potato masher again here.
Now heat a frying pan big enough for your tortillas. Lay a tortilla flat in the pan, spoon a quarter of the mixture onto one half of it, then fold over the other half. Dry-fry on one side until it’s blistered and golden brown, then flip over and do the same on the other side. Keep the quesadilla warm in a low oven while you do this with the rest of the tortillas.
Serve straight from the pan with the mashed avocado.
As Part Of A Bigger Meal
- Serve with a couple of handfuls of lemon-dressed salad leaves.
- Serve with a crunchy salad of radishes, salad leaves, shaved fennel, and cilantro and a quick tomato salsa.
Lemony Lentil And Crispy Kale Soup
I love this simple soup, which is somewhere between a dal and a soup—it reminds me of the curry that is served in southern India with dosas. This soup is cleansing and clean, thanks to being spiked with turmeric and a lot of lemon. It’s what I crave if I’ve overindulged or been around food too long (an occupational hazard—a very nice one). I serve this with a kitchari.
Turmeric is a favorite spice of mine. If I am feeling out of sorts, I stir a teaspoon into hot water and sip it as a reviving tonic. I love the vibrant, deep, saffron-gold color; the clean, sharp, savory acid note; and the hard-to-put-your-finger-on flavor. It’s a real star on the health front, as it is an anti-inflammatory and has anticarcinogenic properties—what a spice.
Serves 4 to 6
A splash of olive or rapeseed oil
1 leek, washed, trimmed, and finely sliced
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
Juice of 2 to 3 lemons
1¼ cup split red lentils
1 vegetable-stock cube or 1 tablespoon vegetable stock powder
4 handfuls of kale (or other greens), washed, trimmed, and shredded
Place a large pan over medium heat. Add a little oil. Add the leek and fry for a few minutes until it has softened and smells sweet. Then add the spices and fry for another couple of minutes. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon and stir to scrape up all the spices from the bottom of the pan.
Next, add the lentils to 6⅓ cups of water, add the stock cube or powder, and allow to bubble away for 20 to 35 minutes, until the lentils are cooked and the soup has thickened.
Turn off the heat and, if you like, you can blend with an immersion blender to a thin dal consistency, then squeeze in the juice of the remaining 2 lemons, tasting as you go to make sure it doesn’t get too lemony. It may seem like a lot, but you really want the lemony tang to come through.
Just before you are ready to serve, sauté the kale in a little olive oil until it slightly softens but begins to crisp at the edges. Ladle into bowls and top with the salted yogurt and crispy kale.
To Serve (Optional)
Yogurt, mixed with a little sea salt
Mint Stracciatella Frozen Yogurt
Anyone Who Knows me will know about my infatuation with mint chocolate chip and stracciatella cream, which luckily is shared by John. I may have taken it a step too far.
Second to mint chocolate chip comes my love of frozen yogurt, a passion born of a childhood spent in California, where a cup of chocolate frozen yogurt heralded a sunny day. Here my fascinations come together. I urge you to make this—it’s really easy, really healthy (for ice cream), and really, really good.
I have used just fresh mint here because I like the gentle sweetness. For a more classic mint taste, add ½ teaspoon of natural mint extract. This also works well with coconut yogurt (though it’s a bit more expensive).
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk or coconut milk
A large bunch of fresh mint
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 pints good Greek yogurt or coconut yogurt
2 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped up small
First, put the milk into a pan and add most of the mint leaves, keeping a couple of sprigs back. Bring to a boil and then immediately turn off the heat. Stir well, add the agave syrup, and allow to steep for at least 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes or so, the milk should be cool and will have taken on the flavor of the mint. Pour through a sieve into a large bowl and throw away the mint leaves—they have done their job.
Stir in the yogurt, then cover the bowl and let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes for all the flavors to meld. Taste for sweetness and add a little more agave syrup if needed, remembering that once it’s frozen it will taste less sweet.
Pour into an ice-cream maker and churn for 30 minutes or until it is well frozen. Then finely chop the remaining mint leaves and stir them into the mixture with the chopped chocolate. Scoop into a freezer-proof container, cover, and freeze for an hour before serving. If the ice cream is frozen hard, leave it out for 10 to 15 minutes before eating.
Reprinted with permission from A Modern Way to Eat: 200+ Satisfying Vegetarian Recipes (That Will Make You Feel Amazing) by Anna Jones, copyright © 2015. Photography by Brian Ferry. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.