Culture: Maria Broadbent from Casa del Mar says 'Feed the world'
It is around 34 years since Bob Geldof and a bunch of 80s pop stars took to the recording studio to perform the first incarnation of this Christmas song. Watching news stories recently it seems little has changed. More natural disasters, continual regional conflicts – and the result still remains human suffering.
I know this is meant to be a jolly page about all that is delicious to eat and I will get to that soon I promise. Surely though, the recent research on what we eat and the impact on the environment must be piquing the conscience of those of us with children and grandchildren?
The current consumption of meat and dairy by the western world is unsustainable for the planet. Previous research has been alluding to this for many years, however recent figures released and published in Nature – International Science Journal make uncomfortable reading. The report covered over 40,000 farms across 119 countries, it encompassed 40 different food products that equate to 90 per cent of all food consumed. What is interesting is that 80 per cent of land only produces 18 per cent of global calorie consumption.
What should we do? What can we do? What do we want to do?
This of course will depend very much on the individual – what is clear is that it would certainly help if we all did something. So where to start?
There are some truly excellent plant-based products that you can substitute without compromising on taste. Choose meat that has been reared properly and humanely – yes, this may cost more but perhaps eat it less frequently. The same applies to eggs, choose free range eggs just not necessarily every day! There are many additional benefits to incorporating meat free and vegan days in to your diet. Reduction of saturated fats, usually a reduction in calorie consumption, but as with any change in your eating plan it is essential to ensure you are getting a proper mix of vitamins and nutrients. The NHS website gives some excellent advice on nutrition – whatever your chosen route.
I don’t think anyone would argue with the advice that eating lots of vegetables is good for us – so whether you get your protein from meat, dairy or plants the following recipes are a great way to up your vegetable consumption. Taste is and should always be the element that determines a meal – that this can be done without harm to our bodies or the planet is important too. My recipes at CASA and the ones here are designed by me, an omnivore who loves vegetarian food too. Do not give veggie food the V sign until you’ve tried some!
The good news appears to be that all the diet and farming options being recommended are all being implemented somewhere in the world. The Netherlands and Israel are making better use of fertilisers and water. There is also a visible and dramatic reduction in meat consumption amongst young people in larger cities.
"Feeding a world population of 10 billion is possible, but only if we change the way we eat and the way we produce food. . . Greening the food sector or eating up our planet: this is what is on the menu today." - Johan Rockström at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany,
Creamy curried pumpkin soup
2 tablespoons of oil
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
700ml vegetable stock
150ml coconut milk
Salt and pepper
Peel and finely chop the onions – cook gently in the oil for 5 minutes, add the curry powder and cook for another 2 minutes.
Scoop out your pumpkin and separate seeds.
You can roast the pumpkin first for extra flavour for 15-20 minutes at 18C or simply add it to the onions and cook.
You may also toast the seeds in the oven on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes at 180C or fry without oil in a pan until they start to pop.
Add the stock and bring the soup to the boil and then turn the heat down until it just gently bubbles – keeping a lid on uses less electricity or gas! Bubble gently for 10 minutes or until the pumpkin is totally soft. Blitz the soup with either a hand blender stick or in a liquidiser – make sure lid is on tightly.
Add the cream or coconut milk plus season with salt and pepper to your taste. This will freeze for up to two months.
I will be on the market on Wednesday 24th demonstrating and handing out free samples of this. Come and try it and then make it at home instead of chucking away the flesh when making pumpkin lanterns!
CASA yummiest ever vegetable tagine
This new tagine recipe has gone on our menu this week after fine tuning on Tuesday evening. It was popular with all the team, including confirmed carnivores. It has an earthiness that is often lacking in vegetarian tagines, curries and stews. The absence of chickpeas makes a pleasant change too – as almost every recipe I came across had them in it!
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for frying veggies
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1cm cubes
1 medium-sized aubergine, cut into 1cm cubes
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
½ tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp ground cardamon
½ tsp ground ginger
4 cloves garlic
4 sun-blush tomatoes
8 cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 cinnamon stick
3 bay leaves
12 pitted dates each cut into 3
100 ml orange juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
12 dried apricots – cut in half
Water and salt
In a food processor, process the shallots, garlic, sun-blush tomatoes and spices (except the turmeric and cinnamon stick) with your olive oil, until you have a little paste.
Put olive oil into a large non-stick pan, and start frying your sweet potatoes and aubergine.
Now add the onion paste together with the cinnamon stick and the turmeric, and allow all this mixture to fry into the vegetables, so that all the spices and their flavours are released into the vegetables – it starts to smell great at this point!
Add the remaining ingredients – adding the water gradually until the tagine is a thick stew consistency. Cover the tagine, turn the hob as low as you can (a diffuser is a good idea) Keep stirring regularly. It takes around 30 minutes on a low heat for the sweet potato to cook through and the flavours to mingle and develop. Check the salt level is to your taste. Garnish with fresh coriander and pomegranate seeds.
Delicious with rice, couscous or flatbread. You can add chilli flakes if you like it spicy.
It will freeze for 2 months.
Maria Broadbent is owner of Mediterranean restaurant Casa in Risbygate Street, Bury St Edmunds. Tel 01284 701313. casabse.co.uk