Since vegetarian food is often cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and (to some) even more delicious than meat, a lot of companies are starting to feed their employees meatless meals – even if it’s just once a week, as part of the Meatless Monday initiative. One of those companies is Ovo Energy, based in Bristol, who are serving up a delicious vegetarian meal to their employees once a week from March, with the help of Friska. Their aim is to raise awareness of the effects of meat consumption vs. vegetarianism. Take a look at their infographic about going meatless – did you know that if just 500 people gave up one portion of meat each week, 5000 road miles of carbon dioxide would be saved?! Ridiculous.
Anyway, Ovo have kindly let me share one of their vegetarian recipes with you – this stunning butternut squash and black bean dopiaza – and it’s kind of making me wish I worked in an office so that I had someone to make all this stuff for me every day instead of having to do it myself.
My husband and I love Indian food, and we get an Indian take away once every couple of weeks (okaaaaay, okaay, maybe once a week), but until now I’ve not known how to recreate the thick and creamy, slightly sweet sauce that a lot of Indian curries have. I always assumed they contained heaps of double cream and maybe even some sugar, so I’ve always stuck to making tomato-based curries instead. Making curries with double cream and sugar sounds delicious (understatement of the year), but probably not the best habit to get into.
Revelation: this curry sauce contains no cream! There’s no sugar either! All it takes is a bit of coconut milk and (get this) some sweet potato, blended right up into the sauce. Complete and utter genius. The blended sweet potato adds the perfect touch of sweetness, and makes everything nice and thick and rich. This sauce is absolutely perfect, I’m telling you. The spices are spot on too – I don’t think I usually use enough spices, because it felt like there was heaps going into this, but it all balanced out perfectly.
Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients, though. If you don’t have one or two of the spices, I’m sure you’ll still end up with a delicious curry. I wouldn’t go jumping in your car just to buy half a teaspoon of onion seeds. In fact there are very few things that I would recommend going out especially for (an entire curry, yes, half a teaspoon of onion seeds, no).
As you may have noticed, I usually use tinned beans in my recipes, but since I was following Ovo’s recipe, I decided to give dried black beans a go this time. They were delicious, I’ll admit, but the sight of them bubbling away in black liquid wasn’t particularly appetising, and I did have to get out of bed the night before because I’d forgotten to put them in a pan of water to soak overnight. So, I’ll probably stick to tinned beans in the future. Yes, I’m lazy. If you’re less lazy, feel free to use dried beans. I haven’t included these steps in the recipe, but you can just soak them overnight, then boil them for about 40-50 minutes until they’re soft.
So, do you like the look of the curry? Ovo‘s chef is a genius, no?
- 1 large butternut squash peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp oil divided
- Black pepper
- 1 onion diced
- 2 sticks celery sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- piece Small of ginger thumbnail-sized, minced
- 1/2 medium sweet potato ~250g
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 2/3 tsp madras powder
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1/2 tsp onion seeds
- 2/3 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp tomato puree
- 400 ml tin coconut milk ~1 1/2 cups
- 10 cherry tomatoes halved
- 250 ml water ~1 cup
- 450 g cooked black beans ~3 cups
- Small handful fresh spinach
- Small bunch fresh coriander cilantro, chopped
Toss the diced butternut squash in about 1tbsp of oil with some salt and pepper, and spread it out in a single layer on a baking tray. Roast at 190°C (Gas Mark 5 / 375°F) for around 30 minutes, until soft and slightly crispy.
Heat the remaining 1tbsp of oil in a large pan or wok, and add the diced onion, celery, garlic, ginger and sweet potato. Cook over a medium-low heat for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the vegetables are soft.
Turn the heat down to low, add the spices (ground cumin to turmeric) to the pan, and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring constantly, to toast the spices. Then add the tomato puree, coconut milk, halved cherry tomatoes, and water. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes have begun to break down, and all the other vegetables are soft.
Carefully transfer the sauce to a blender (I used my trusty Froothie blender), and blitz until smooth. Return to the pan, and add the cooked black beans and roasted butternut squash.
When you're ready to serve, stir through the fresh spinach and chopped coriander - the heat of the sauce will wilt the spinach. Serve with rice or naan bread.
Love a curry? Here’s another option – weeknight tikka masala: