Any meal is only as good as the company with whom it's shared, which is why Clare Scrine's The Shared Table unites food and its local community. This cookbook is a celebration of shared homes and their most iconic dishes - the food designed to feed the crowd, without breaking the bank or spending hours in the kitchen. It is a book about community, warmth, love and the unique connection of a nurturing home, where shared meals are central to the environment. Plus, without getting preachy or "clean 'n green eating" about it, all the recipes in the book are vegetarian and vegan.
- Recipes extracted from The Shared Table by Clare Scrine, published by Smith Street Books. Photography: Savannah van der Niet.
Beetroot and labneh savoury tart
A beautiful tart is the perfect picnic centrepiece. Roasting the beetroot and finishing it with honey creates the most lovely sweetness, which is offset by the slight sourness of the labneh. This tart is super flexible. Soft feta or goat's cheese would be equally delicious if you can't get your hands on labneh; you could also try other topping combinations, such as roasted tomatoes, pumpkin (winter squash) and pine nuts; garlic and thyme mushrooms with feta; or simply caramelised herby onions with cheddar.
Nailing the pastry is the trick. Make sure the butter is super cold, and leave in some slightly bigger chunks of butter for a lovely, flaky pastry. When handling the pastry, only use your fingertips (because your hands are very warm), and avoid touching the pastry as much as possible. Also, make sure it's seasoned well. Of course, you can also use pre-made pastry, which is a great quick option and quite often vegan too.
3 medium beetroot, peeled and cut into thin wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
zest of 1/2 lemon
25g walnuts, roughly chopped
1 tbsp rosemary leaves
225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
75g chilled butter, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp iced water
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Arrange the beetroot slices on a baking tray and drizzle half the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with the salt and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the beetroot slices are beginning to soften and crisp up. Remove from the oven and drizzle with the honey. Set aside and keep the oven warm.
2. While the beetroot is roasting, make a start on the pastry. Combine the flour, butter and salt with your fingertips until small crumbs form. Add the egg yolk and iced water and bring the dough together with your hands into one ball. Place in a bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Chill for at least 15 minutes.
3. While the pastry is resting, mix the ricotta, lemon zest, egg and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper together in a small bowl.
4. Line a round baking tray with baking paper. On a well-floured surface, roll out the pastry dough into a large, thin circle, no more than 5mm thick. Transfer carefully to the lined baking tray; don't worry if it hangs over the sides of the tray for now.
5. Pour the ricotta mixture into the centre of the pastry and spread evenly to about 3cm from the edge. Arrange the beetroot slices on top, then add the labneh, swirling it or placing blobs evenly around. Scatter the walnuts and rosemary over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
6. Fold the rim of the dough up and over the edge of the filling, then work around the whole tart, crimping the edges up and over.
7. Bake the tart for 20-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and cooked on the bottom. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Makes 1 tart.
Leftovers friendly, freezer friendly.
Browned butter, double choc chip bikkies
Inspired by traditional Italian-style almond biscuits and born from a desire not to waste egg whites at a café I was working at, these bikkies were a bit of a fluke creation. The expression "perfect chocolate chip cookie" gets thrown around a lot these days, and I know everyone likes their cookies a little bit differently, but look ... I reckon these are pretty close. A slight crunch, a bit of bend, a real chew and a beautiful caramel flavour from the browned butter and sugar - they're definitely my perfect cookies, that much I can say.
I like my chocolate chip bikkies seriously chocolatey: as in a one-to-one ratio of chocolate to dough. If this isn't your style, feel free to use less chocolate. I also like to use a mixture of milk, dark and white chocolate chips, but, again, it's up to you. Beauty is in the mouth of the beholder.
230g brown sugar
2 egg whites, whisked
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
125g almond meal
75g self-raising flour (or use gluten-free)
250g mixed chocolate chips
1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When the butter is almost coming to the boil, reduce the heat and cook slowly, stirring often, until it is beginning to brown and smells very nutty; this should take about five minutes.
2. Pour the browned butter into a large mixing bowl and add the sugar. Mix well to combine and let the mixture cool for five to 10 minutes.
3. Add the whisked egg whites and vanilla and whisk well. Add the almond meal and flour and stir together with a wooden spoon. The mixture might seem slightly wetter than other biscuit doughs you've made, but don't stress.
4. Add the chocolate and fold until combined. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one to two hours, or up to two days. This ensures the bikkies hold their shape when baked.
5. Around 20 minutes before you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180C, and line a large biscuit tray with baking paper.
6. Roll the dough into 15 balls of equal size and arrange evenly around your baking tray. Press each ball down slightly with your fingers.
7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the bikkies are beginning to turn golden. Be careful not to overcook them, unless you like them super crunchy. When the bottoms are golden and the tops are just the slightest shade darker, they're done. They'll feel super soft to touch when straight out of the oven, but will harden considerably as they cool.
8. Best eaten with a glass of milk, many would say.
Makes 15 big bikkies or 24 smaller ones.
Gluten-free option, leftovers friendly, freezer friendly.
Herby haloumi and zucchini fritters
These fritters are a really quick and easy way to escape a routine toast-based brekkie. They're delicious served with sour cream and chutney, with chilli sauce, on their own, or as part of a brunch spread - however you like! I love them with eggs, rocket (arugula), avocado and hollandaise sauce. They're even pretty good cold the next day.
3 medium zucchini, grated
250g haloumi, grated
1/2 bunch dill, chopped
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 eggs, whisked
100g self-raising flour (or gluten-free flour)
1 tsp salt
100-200 ml olive oil, for pan-frying
1. Put all the grated zucchini in a colander. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let it sit for 10 minutes.
2. Rinse the salt off, then squeeze all the water out of the zucchini; this is essential for crispy fritters. Pat dry with a clean cloth.
3. Transfer the zucchini to a bowl and add all the remaining ingredients, except the cooking oil. Stir well to combine.
4. Heat a large frying pan with a big glug of olive oil, enough to cover the pan by at least 5mm. Once the oil is sizzling hot, add the fritter mixture in heaped tablespoon quantities.
5. Allow each fritter to fry until golden brown underneath (about one to two minutes), then flip. Press them down slightly to ensure the middle is cooking. Reduce the heat and cook for a further two to three minutes. Transfer to a plate.
6. The fritters are best served fresh and hot, but are easily brought back to life in a frying pan or warm oven once chilled.
Note: I grate the zucchini and haloumi using the grating attachment of a food processor, which makes it incredibly easy. A box grater will do fine, though.
Makes about 15 fritters.
Gluten-free option, leftovers friendly, freezer friendly.
Roasted pumpkin mac 'n' cheese with walnuts and sage
Slow-cooked caramelised onion, roasted pumpkin and a hint of spice give this mac 'n' cheese a subtle sweetness, with crunchy walnuts and crispy sage making it just a little bit more special. The flavour combination is perfect. The trick to making this dish super delicious is to roast the pumpkin until it is brown and very soft, and to caramelise the onions properly - be patient! This version contains a lot of sauce, as the pasta tends to soak up a lot of liquid while it is being finished off in the oven.
1.5 kg butternut pumpkin, cut into 2cm chunks
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 large brown onions, sliced
25g butter or margarine
500g macaroni or curly pasta
3 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp dried tarragon
375ml milk (or nut milk)
500ml vegetable stock
60g grated cheddar (or vegan cheese/nutritional yeast), plus extra for topping
25g grated parmesan (or vegan cheese/nutritional yeast)
1 handful sage leaves, thinly sliced
60g walnuts, roughly chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 220C. Arrange the pumpkin chunks on a large baking tray. Drizzle with two tablespoons of the olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, or until soft to touch and dark brown in colour.
2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the remaining olive oil over low heat and slowly caramelise the onions, stirring often, for about 15 minutes, until browned. Stir in the butter, cook for a few minutes more, then set aside.
3. While the onions are slowly caramelising, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted, boiling water until almost al dente, but drain it one to two minutes before you normally would, as it will continue to soften in the oven. Drain the pasta in a colander, run cold water over it and set aside.
4. Add the flour, nutmeg and tarragon to the caramelised onion mixture and stir well. Pour in the milk and stock, and stir the sauce until it comes to a simmer and begins to thicken. Add the roasted pumpkin and mix well.
5. Using a stick blender, whiz the onion and pumpkin mixture until it is completely smooth. Alternatively, you could transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender.
6. Add the cheddar and parmesan to the sauce and stir until melted. Taste and season to your liking.
7. Combine the pasta and sauce in a large baking dish. Top with the sage, walnuts and extra cheddar. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
8. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cheddar is melted and the sage is crispy. Serve garnished with fresh herbs if desired.