You don't have to miss out on pho, bagna cauda or "caviar" as a vegetarian - try these clever remixes of meat dishes from Neighbourhood, Hetty McKinnon's book of gorgeous salads inspired from all corners of the world.
Pho noodle salad recipe with tofu, wombok and broccolini
350g thick dried rice noodles
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
400g broccolini, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 2.5cm pieces*
120g wombok cabbage, finely sliced*
220g five-spice tofu (about 1 packet), finely sliced into thin strips
180g bean sprouts
1 cup Asian herb leaves (Thai basil, coriander, Chinese shallots, Vietnamese mint or perilla)
1 long red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges
sea salt and white pepper
2 onions, peeled and halved
7cm piece of ginger, peeled and halved lengthways
1 cinnamon stick
5 white peppercorns
3 star anise
3 whole cloves
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1.5 litres (6 cups) vegetable stock or water
1 tablespoon tamari
6 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 dried shiitake mushrooms
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil sea salt
*You can substitute broccoli for broccolini and green cabbage for wombok
1. To make the dressing, place the onions and ginger pieces directly on the flame of a gas hob or under a very hot grill until they are slightly blackened all over. Heat a large saucepan over a medium–low heat. Add the cinnamon, peppercorns, star anise, cloves and coriander seeds and toast, stirring to prevent burning, for 30 seconds until aromatic. Add the vegetable stock, tamari, carrots, mushrooms, charred onion and ginger to the pan and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 60–80 minutes until reduced by a third. Strain. Season with salt to taste and whisk in the olive oil.
2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the rice noodles and cook for six to eight minutes until tender. Drain and refresh under cold running water.
3. In a frying pan, add the olive oil and pan-fry the broccolini for about five minutes, until just tender and lightly charred.
4. Combine the noodles, wombok, broccolini, tofu, bean sprouts and herbs and pour over some of the dressing. Mix together well, making sure everything is coated in the dressing and season with salt and white pepper. Serve topped with chopped chilli (if you like) and lime wedges.
Serve this salad with some crusty Italian bread to mop up the salty, lemony goodness. Photo: Luisa Brimble
Chargrilled broccoli, zucchini, peas and radish with cannellini beans and caper bagna cauda
This salad is as green as they come, brimming with the vitality and colour of summer's most abundant vegetables. It features my take on Italian bagna cauda, a traditional Piedmontese dip using capers in place of anchovies. I like my bagna cauda very lemony but vary the amount of juice according to your desires.
2 small broccoli heads (about 800g), cut into florets
3 zucchini, sliced diagonally into 5mm pieces
2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
150 g garden peas (fresh or frozen)
500 g cooked cannellini beans (about 2 cans), drained 2 radishes, shaved
½ cup basil leaves, torn
½ cup mint leaves, torn
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped 1 crusty Italian bread loaf, to serve (optional)
sea salt and black pepper
Caper bagna cauda
3 garlic cloves
80 g (⅓ cup) salted capers, rinsed
125 ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
100 g salted butter*
zest and juice of 1 lemon
*For vegans, use olive oil in place of butter
1. Start by making the caper bagna cauda. Place the garlic cloves and capers in a large mortar and pound with a pestle until you have a chunky paste. Add the caper–garlic paste to a small frying pan along with the olive oil and butter, bring it to a simmer and gently cook for a further 3–4 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest and juice, adjusting the amount of citrus according to your personal preference. Keep warm.
2. Heat a griddle pan or barbecue to high. Coat the broccoli and zucchini in the olive oil and season with a big pinch of salt. Add the broccoli and zucchini to the pan or barbecue and cook, turning occasionally, until tender and slightly charred on all sides.
3. Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil, add the peas and blanch until just tender, about 1–2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water.
4. Combine the broccoli, zucchini, peas, cannellini beans and shaved radishes in a large bowl. Add the herbs, a big sprinkle of salt and pepper and toss everything together well. Spoon the warm caper bagna cauda over the top and serve with crusty Italian bread, if you like.
The French-inspired smashed eggplant salad. Photo: Luisa Brimble
Smashed eggplant with lentils and maple-roasted radish
While in Provence, I heard about a regally monikered local dish called 'eggplant caviar' that immediately sparked my interest. While it is actually just a simple eggplant dip, this dish encapsulates the respect shown to fresh produce in regional French cuisine. My take on eggplant caviar is lighter than baba ghanoush and is a lovely accompaniment to these rather spectacular roasted radishes. Sneak some of the smashed eggplant aside to use as a dip!
400 g lentils (any variety), rinsed
1 bay leaf
1 small garlic clove, peeled (optional)
30 radishes (about 1 kg), trimmed and quartered
1 tablespoon maple syrup juice of 1 lemon
2 cups baby spinach leaves
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil sea salt and black pepper
3 eggplants (about 1.2 kg)
125 ml (½ cup) extra-virgin olive oil
1 small garlic clove, grated
juice of 1 lemon, plus extra if necessary
1 eschalot, finely diced
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped mint leaves sea salt and black pepper
1. To make the smashed eggplant, place the eggplants directly on the flame of a gas hob, over a very hot barbecue, or in an oven preheated to 220˚C. Cook, turning often, until they become very soft and the skin is charred all over (this process takes a while, especially when using an open flame, so be patient!). When cool enough to handle, carefully peel the charred skin off the eggplants. Place the eggplant flesh in a large bowl and break it up with a fork. Add the olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, eschalot, paprika, chilli powder and a large pinch of salt and mash everything together, then stir in the parsley and mint. Taste and add more lemon or salt as necessary (the eggplant needs liberal seasoning, so don't be afraid of adding more salt if needed). Alternatively, place everything in the bowl of a food processor and whizz it together.
2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, add the lentils, bay leaf, whole garlic clove, if using, and a big pinch of salt and cook for 20–25 minutes until just tender. Drain.
3. Place the radishes on a large baking tray and drizzle over the maple syrup and half the lemon juice. Toss to combine and roast in the oven for 20–25 minutes until the radishes are tender.
4. Combine the radishes with the lentils, spinach leaves, parsley, olive oil and the remaining lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. To serve, spread the smashed eggplant over a large serving dish and top with the radishes and lentils.
Recipes extracted from Neighbourhood by Hetty McKinnon (published by Plum, $39.99).