Dinner for Two: A Romantic Vegetarian Three Course Menu
Deliciously Easy Curry
This menu is one most can enjoy. I have friends that are vegetarians and they moan from time to time about the lack of choice when it comes to eating out or planning a special menu. I grow my own vegetables and have some fruit trees and I am always looking for new ways to cook and present them. These dishes have rated highly among my friendly tasters, I hope you'll agree. I appreciate people may have different ideas on vegetarian foods. This menu is for those who don't eat meat but do eat dairy. Substitute non dairy products where dairy products are used to suit your preference.
I chose this Indian dish as a main because I love this curry and it has lots of flavour. It is also easy to heat up (add more spice) or cool down (add more coconut milk). The strawberries are a welcomed dessert and the mushroom parcels make a great little starter. The menu is simple and it follows while not being a traditional menu. I hope you enjoy.
Make and Rate
The Starter: Breadcrumb Stage
Crispy Mushroom Parcels with Radicchio Salad Leaf and Chive Flowers
These parcels are superbly simple.
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 1 tbsp of flour
- 100 ml of milk
- 3 ounces of field mushrooms thinly sliced
- chopped thyme sprigs
- 6 tbsp of plain flour
- 6 tbsp of breadcrumbs
- 6 tbsp of grated Parmigiano cheese
- 1 ounce of Gruyere cheese
- 4 to 6 cannelloni tubes
- 1 beaten egg
- oil for frying
- salt and pepper to season
- radicchio salad leaf, thinly sliced red salad onion rings and chive flowers to serve
- Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a pan and lightly fry the mushrooms till just coloured. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and leave to one side.
- Wipe the pan and heat the last tbsp of butter. Add in the flour, stir and cook for 1 minute.
- Turn down the heat and slowly pour in the milk. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and keep stirring.
- Add the mushrooms to the milk once the mixture has thickened. Add in the Gruyere, thyme and season. Stir to mix.
- Bring a large pot of water with a splash of oil to the boil. Drop in the cannelloni tubes and simmer for a few minutes. Strain and pat dry.
- Using a teaspoon fill each cannelloni tube with the mushroom mixture. Pinch the end edges so they stick together.
- Mix the breadcrumb and Parmigiano cheese in a bowl.
- Dip the cannelloni into the flour, followed by the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumb. The breaded tubes can be left in the fridge to chill for a couple of hours.
- Heat the oil (for frying) in a deep pot or fryer and fry the breaded cannelloni tubes till golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to kitchen paper to drain.
- Serve hot; arrange the parcels on a plate and garnish with the radicchio salad leaf and sliced red onion rings. Sprinkle the chive flower petals over the dish. The pinky red leaf and lilac blue chive petals compliment the golden parcels beautifully.
*Serve a good quality dry white wine to accompany your dish.
*If chive flowers are difficult to find use another herb flower like thyme or the lovely yellow lovage.
The Main: Simmering Vegetable Curry
Pumpkin, Spinach and Chickpea Yellow Curry
This dish is one of my favorite curries. Last year I was the proud grower of loads of pumpkins. I was desperate to make more than just pumpkin soup: Hence the dish.
- 1 lb of pumpkin or squash chopped into medium chunks
- 200g of chick peas, rinsed and drained
- 200g of coconut milk
- 100 ml of vegetable stock
- 1 onion finely diced
- 3 tbsp of yellow curry paste
- 2 handfuls of spinach
- 1 tbsp of vegetable oil
- juice of 1 lime
- lime leaves (keep a few to garnish)
- chopped coriander leaves (keep a few to garnish)
- lime pickle, sour cream, poppadoms and naan bread to serve
- Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion till soft. Add in the curry paste and fry for a few minutes.
- Stir in the pumpkin. Pour in the coconut milk and stock. Bring to a low simmer and add in the chickpeas, lime and coriander leaves.
- Simmer till the pumpkin is just cooked with a bit of bite to it. The dish can be made to this stage earlier in the day.
- Add the spinach and lime juice, cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the spinach is wilted and the dish is warmed through. Garnish with a few chopped lime and coriander leaves.
- Serve with lime pickle and sour cream (in heart shaped pots) poppadoms and warm nann bread (use heart shaped baking cutters to cut your nann bread into little heart shapes or trim the breads into heart shapes). Deliciously easy.
*Enjoy a good bottle of chilled fruity but dry white with this dish.
*Cannellini beans can be used instead of the chic peas.
*Use your favorite green vegetable if spinach is off the menu. I have used bok choy instead of the spinach. Green beans, broccoli even shredded cabbage works well.
*If you want to add a little sweetness to this curry, pop some chopped tomatoes (canned are perfect) into the dish at the same time as the chickpeas.
Champagne and Strawberries
This dessert can be made earlier in the day.
- firm ripe strawberries (keep a couple back to put in your champagne)
- 200g dark chocolate
- 200g white chocolate
- 100 ml of milk
- 50 ml of Drambuie
- 50 ml of Kirsch
- Melt the white chocolate in bowl over a pan of warm water. Do the same with the dark chocolate.
- Add 50 ml of milk to each and stir. Pour the Drambuie into the the dark mixture and the Kirsch into the white mixture. Stir to mix.
- Dip the strawberries into either chocolate mixture, allow to cool slightly.
- Drizzle the white chocolate dipped strawberries with the dark chocolate and drizzle the dark chocolate dipped strawberries with the white chocolate. Place each strawberry in a paper cup cake case (heart shaped cases look great). Put in the fridge.
- Pile the chocolate strawberries into a heart shaped dish and serve with a glass of sparkling wine. Follow with heart shaped truffles (vegetarian of course) and a coffee liquor ie Tia Maria to really push the boat out.
Preparation is the crucial rule to easy dining. Make sure you prep your crispy parcels to breadcrumb stage. Once your ready to eat the starter all you have to do is fry them.
Prep your curry earlier too. Just before you eat your starter put the curry on a low sitting to gently heat through. Finish off the last touches when ready to serve.
The strawberries should be ready to go straight from the fridge. Allow 10 minutes for the strawberries to come to room temperature.
Do you see any hassle here? Nope!
Remember the magic word PREPARATION and your dining experience will excel all expectations.
© 2011 Gabriel Wilson