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Vegetables – precious vitamins and minerals

Gnocchi with Spinach and Basil Sauce

These tender little Italian dumplings are much nicer when home-made and make a delightful alternative to pasta dishes. You can use fresh or canned tomatoes.

Serves 6

1 kg potatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
175 g wholewheat flour
water or oil for mixing (optional)
grated vegetarian cheese, to serve (optional)
basil leaves, to garnish

1½ tablespoons olive oil
1–2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
600 g plum tomatoes, chopped
1½ tablespoons tomato purée
350 g finely chopped spinach
25 g chopped fresh basil or 3 tablespoons dried basil

1) Cook the potatoes in a pan of salted boiling water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain and press through a sieve. Stir in the tablespoon of basil and gradually add the flour. Mix to a soft dough, adding a little water or oil if the mixture is too stiff, or more flour if it is too wet.

2) Cool slightly, then knead the dough lightly until smooth. Divide it into quarters and shape each portion into a roll, 40 cm long and 2.5 cm in diameter. Cut the dough into 2 cm lengths and press a fork lightly into each one to make a pattern. Place them on a floured surface and leave to dry for 10–15 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the olive oil and sauté the celery until softened. Add the tomatoes, tomato purée and spinach; cook uncovered over a medium heat for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

4) Cook the gnocchi, in batches, in boiling water for 2–3 minutes, or until they rise to the surface. Keep warm until they are all cooked. Top with the sauce and serve at once. Sprinkle with a little cheese, if desired, and garnish with basil leaves.

Curried Vegetables

The name 'curry' can be used to refer to any dish of vegetables cooked in a spicy sauce. In northern India, the spices are usually cooked in a tomato base. In the south, grated coconut is frequently used instead of tomato. This basic recipe can be adapted to use whatever vegetables you have to hand. It can be served as part of a simple Indian meal with plain rice, Lentil Dal and chapatis.

Serves 4–6

2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tomato, chopped
1 cauliflower, separated into small florets
2 potatoes, cubed and par-boiled
50 ml water
lemon juice to taste (optional)
1 teaspoon salt

1) Heat the oil in a large pan and roast the mustard seeds over a high heat until they 'pop'. Add the turmeric and curry powder and stir well. Reduce the heat, add the chopped tomato and cook for 3–4 minutes, until soft.

2) Add the cauliflower, stirring gently to coat the florets with the spices. Stir in the potatoes, water, lemon juice and salt. Cover and cook for 15–20 minutes, until the potatoes and cauliflower are just tender. Add a little more water if necessary to prevent the mixture drying out. Serve hot.

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