Many recipes say they’re “quick and easy,” but all too often the “quick and easy” part comes after you’ve diced the vegetables and dirtied all your dishes. Rachel Demuth means business when she cooks in a hurry. At her Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath, England, Demuth teaches time-pressed students how to cook phenomenal meals in 30 minutes or fewer from start to finish. Now, Demuth shares some of those time saving tips that make her course so popular.
Monica Shaw: You started as a chef in London. What brought you to the Vegetarian Cookery School?
Rachel Demuth: I wanted to move out of London and open a vegetarian bakery. I chose Bath because it’s a beautiful small city that has the bonus of a booming tourist trade. Uniquely too, the people of Bath have wide and varied interests and tastes that are clear in the in the exciting shops and architecture. I started Demuths Restaurant in 1987 with a shop in the front and a café selling quick healthy meals. I put all my energy into it and now it’s 22 years on. In 2000, I needed a new challenge and started the Vegetarian Cookery School.
MS: What makes your Fast and Delicious cooking course so popular?
RD: Everyone seems to not have time to cook so a course offering fast, delicious, and seasonal food is very popular. We aim to make dishes that can be prepared in a hurry and focus on essential cupboard ingredients, how to achieve a balanced diet, and tips to increase confidence in the kitchen.
MS: What kind of “essential ingredients” do you always keep on hand?
RD: The basics should enable you to rustle up a risotto, tasty snack, or warming stew without having to go shopping for special items. For starters: olive oil, canned tomatoes, canned beans, quinoa, couscous, lentils, and a good spice rack.
MS: What are the most important tools that every kitchen should have?
RD: A sharp knife and a chopping board.
MS: What “shortcuts” do you use to making cooking easier?
RD: If I have a spare afternoon, I like to cook up to three times the quantity, eat one, and freeze two. It’s great when you want an evening off and all you need to do is take a homemade dish out of the freezer—it’s much cheaper than buying convenience meals, and you know what goodies went into it.
MS: What is your favorite “fast and delicious” meal?
RD: For a quick solo supper, I love couscous with stir-fried seasonal veggies, topped with haloumi or marinated tofu and a sprinkling of seeds. I am happy to share it with VegNews readers!
Slow Roasted Red Peppers with Smoky Chickpeas
Sweet, savory, and stunning to look at, these peppers really pop on any fall plate.
What you need:
- 2 large red peppers, halved and deseeded
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 4 sage leaves, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
What you do:
- Pre-heat the oven to 390 degrees. Oil a baking dish and rub olive oil all over the peppers. Place them, cut side up in the baking dish on top of the thyme.
- Divide the chickpeas between the peppers (extras can be placed around the peppers).
- Divide the tomatoes and garlic between the peppers and push in between the chickpeas. Sprinkle with the chopped sage. Mix together the paprika and olive oil and drizzle over and around the peppers.
- Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. The skin of the peppers should be just starting to blacken and be soft but still holding their shape. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and season to taste. Recipe from Green Seasons Cookbook by Rachel Demuth.