âWeâve had to become more flexible cooksâ: one-pot dishes by Anna Jones
W hen Anna Jones looks back at her first three cookbooks, starting with 2014âs A Modern Way to Eat, she wonders if she might have been too âgentleâ. She was a cook, after all, not a campaigner or a climate scientist. On a video call from her home in east London, Jones smiles: âAt the beginning Iâd not even mention they were vegetarian, and hope people would get halfway through, then realise and be like: âOh, itâs actually a nice vegetarian cookbook!â
âIâve never really been a soapbox person,â continues Jones. âIâm much more a people-pleaser. But as you write, and as you age, you definitely have more confidence now to stand up and say what you think. And now Iâm saying: âNo. This is what I think you should do.ââ A pause, âIf you can.â
Jonesâs new cookbook, One: Pot, Pan, Planet, doesnât, at a cursory skim, appear too different from her previous books. There is still page after page of bright vegetarian recipes with punchy flavours that casually globe-trot from Laos to Greece. There are plenty of delicious juxtapositions (saag aloo shepherdâs pie!), but by now weâve learned that few writers are so adept at celebrating vegetables and creating showstopper dishes that manage to be easier than you expect.
In the written asides to the 200 recipes, though, there is a new steeliness. She is clear in the introduction that we are at âa turning point, in a moment of crisisâ and âthe most powerful thing we can do is eat fewer animals and more plantsâ. She has spent almost three years on One and that time has gone into simplifying recipes, attempting to minimise food waste, and offer sustainable choices and value for money. One is also her first cookbook where 99% of her recipes have a vegan alternative.
âItâs quite a natural way of cooking for me because my brother and sister are both vegan, and me and my husband, weâre vegetarian,â says Jones. âI always set myself a challenge because it meant double the recipes to test. But I think my neighbours and my family were quite pleased. They got a lot of food over the past two years.â
The new book was well under way before the pandemic, but Jones found herself tinkering with and even entirely reworking some of the recipes because of her experiences in lockdown. âI went back through everything with a completely different eye,â she says, âbecause we have all had to become more flexible cooks and I think flexible cooks are better cooks.â
Better cooks maybe, but Jones also admits there have certainly been moments during the past year where she has felt jaded in the kitchen. âI love to experiment, but having had my son [five-year-old Dylan] at home, it hasnât been quite so free and easy, you know, squeezing fresh yuzu over things. Itâs been much more a case of getting our dinner ready.â
The recipes here are some of Jonesâs favourites; in particular, she has a soft spot for the saag aloo shepherdâs pie. âThereâs always a few standout recipes in the book that, when you get them out of the oven, you do a little fist pump,â she says.
Jones â who began her career working with Jamie Oliver â says she is âan ambitious person â¦ quite bad at celebrating my successesâ. At various points, she has considered opening cafes or restaurants, but for now she thinks she can make the greatest impact through her books.
âThe great thing about this book is I can already congratulate people,â she says, âbecause if they bought a vegetarian book, then they are doing the most impactful thing they can, in terms of a diet to help the climate. So itâs a nice positive place to start.â
Crispy tofu and broccoli pad thaiCrispy tofu and broccoli pad thai. Photograph: Issy Croker
I am a sucker for a pad thai. I know itâs predictable but I canât seem to bypass it on a menu. This version brings together all the things I love about it: crispy tofu, lots of greens, a tamarind-heavy sauce, roasted peanuts and crispy onions. In my mind, a pad thai is pointless without them.
For the tofu and broccoli
flat wide rice noodles 250g
firm tofu 250g block
purple-sprouting broccoli 250g
neutral oil for frying (I like odourless coconut oil or another neutral-flavoured oil for cooking)
soy or tamari sauce 2 tbsp
garlic 3 cloves, peeled and finely chopped
ginger 2cm piece, peeled and grated
spring onions 6, thinly sliced
organic eggs 2 (optional)
For the sauce
tamarind paste 4 tbsp
vegetarian fish sauce 1 tbsp
rice vinegar 2 tbsp
maple syrup 3 tbsp
light soy sauce 4 tbsp
crispy shallots a handful (shop bought, or see directions)
roasted unsalted peanuts 100g, roughly chopped
red chillies 2, finely chopped
Thai basil leaves a small handful, shredded
mint leaves a small handful, shredded
limes 2, unwaxed
To make your crispy shallots, heat 1cm of vegetable oil in a large frying pan or wok until a sliver of onion dropped into it sizzles immediately. Fry 6 peeled and thinly sliced shallots in batches, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes for each batch, or until they are crisp and lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain in a colander lined with kitchen paper. Let them cool. They will keep in an airtight container for about a week.
Soak the rice noodles in cold water for at least 10 minutes until softened. Lay the tofu between 2 sheets of kitchen paper on a plate or clean surface. Place a small plate over the top and a jar or weight on the plate to press down. Leave the tofu like this to dry out for half an hour.
Mix all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl with 4 tablespoons of cold water. Set aside. Cut the broccoli into florets and thinly slice the stalks, keeping them separate.
Slice the tofu into 1cm-thick pieces about half the length of your little finger. In a large non-stick frying pan or wok, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over a medium-high heat, then fry the pieces of tofu for 6-8 minutes, turning them every minute, until golden all over. Add the soy sauce and stir for another 30 seconds (be careful here, as the sauce may spit). Lift the tofu out of the pan with a slotted spoon on to a plate. Keep warm in a low oven.
When cool enough, wipe the pan out with kitchen paper and add a couple more tablespoons of oil. Heat over a medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the broccoli stalks, drained noodles and 6 tablespoons of water and cook for 3-4 minutes until the broccoli stems are tender and the noodles are beginning to cook and crisp up. Add the broccoli florets, sauce and most of the spring onions along with 2 more tablespoons of water. Stir and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the noodles are soft enough to eat.
If you are using eggs, push the noodles to the side of the wok and add a little more oil, then the eggs. Pierce the yolks and, when starting to set on the bottom, scramble, then mix into the noodles.
Take the pan off the heat and fold through the beansprouts, then spoon the noodles between four warm plates. Sprinkle over the peanuts and the rest of the spring onions. Scatter over the chillies, herbs, and crispy shallots. Squeeze over the juice of a lime, and serve immediately, with wedges of the other lime.
Golden turmeric and ginger udon noodle soupGolden turmeric and ginger udon noodle soup. Photograph: Issy Croker
I love the uncomplicated simplicity of the golden broth with chewy udon noodles. You could add seasonal vegetables, too: shredded greens, sugar snap peas, even roast squash, if you like. I eat this when I feel under the weather, and also when I want something satisfyingly warm and straightforward.
Turmeric is as delicious as it is nourishing, bringing sunshine yellow to everything it touches. We are used to jars of the bright yellow ground stuff, with its earthy flavour, but if you can get it use fresh turmeric. Its light, almost citrus notes adds freshness here.
coriander seeds 1 tsp
black peppercorns 5
onion 1 large, peeled and halved
carrots 2 small, halved
garlic 1 small whole head, halved
ginger 1 large thumb-sized piece, sliced
fresh turmeric root 1 small thumb-sized piece, sliced, or 1 tsp ground turmeric
red chilli Â¼, deseeded
clear vegetable stock 2 litres
spring onions 6, thinly sliced
unwaxed lemon juice of Â½
soy sauce, or salt to season
thick udon noodles 300g
chilli oil 4 tbsp, to serve
In a large lidded saucepan, toast the coriander seeds and peppercorns over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, apart from 2 of the spring onions, the lemon juice, soy sauce, noodles and chilli oil. Pour over a litre of boiling water.
Bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer for 25 minutes, to allow the flavours to infuse, adding more hot water from time to time if needed. Strain the broth if you are serving straight away, or if you plan to eat this later cool with the vegetables left in for a more intense flavour, and strain before reheating.
To balance the broth, squeeze in the lemon juice, taste and add more, if youâd like, and add soy or salt as needed. You should have a delicately flavoured, fragrant broth.
When almost ready to serve, cook the noodles according to the packet instructions and drain well. Divide the cooked noodles between deep bowls and ladle the broth over the noodles. Serve on its own or with the remaining sliced spring onions and a little chilli oil.
Saag aloo shepherdâs pieSaag aloo shepherdâs pie. Photograph: Issy Croker
I could tell before I ate it from the smell, from the bubbling filling and crispy top, that this was going to be everything I had wanted it to be.
For the rajma masala base
ghee or coconut oil 2 tbsp
onion 1, peeled and finely chopped
garlic 4 cloves, chopped
ginger a small thumb-sized piece, peeled and finely chopped
green chilli 1, finely chopped
ground turmeric Â½ tsp
chilli powder Â½ tsp
garam masala 1 tsp
cumin seeds 1 tsp
pinto or borlotti beans 2 x 400g tins
tomatoes 1 x 400g tin
For the saag aloo top
small new or red-skin potatoes 1kg, large ones cut in half
cauliflower 500g, broken into small florets, stalk roughly chopped
cumin seeds 1 tsp
ground turmeric 1 tsp
baby spinach 200g, washed
melted ghee or coconut oil 50g
Add 1 tablespoon of the ghee or coconut oil to a large pan, add the onion and cook for 10 minutes over a medium heat until soft and sweet. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the spices to the pan and stir for a couple of minutes until all smells fragrant. Next, add the tinned beans and their liquid, the tomatoes and 400ml (a tinâs worth) of water.
Simmer for 25 minutes until the tomatoes are broken down and you have a thick, flavoursome gravy.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C fan/gas mark 6. Put the potatoes into a large pan (leaving enough space to add the cauliflower later). Cover with boiling water, add half a tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are almost cooked, then add the cauliflower for the last 6 minutes. Drain well.
Put the empty pan back on the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of ghee or coconut oil and the cumin and turmeric, cook for a minute or so, then add 100ml water, the potatoes and cauliflower and half the spinach. Stir to wilt the spinach and use the back of a spoon to crush the potatoes a little.
The rajma masala should be thickened by now. Stir in the other half of the spinach then spoon into a baking dish. Top with the potato, cauliflower and spinach mixture, drizzle with the melted ghee or oil and put into the oven for 30-40 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top is brown and crunchy in places.
Chocolate and almond butter swirl browniesChocolate and almond butter swirl brownies. Photograph: Issy Croker
Chocolate and nut butter, a flavour friendship rarely bettered. If you canât have nuts, then sunflower seed butter will work here, too. To make your own nut butter, blitz raw or roasted nuts for a minute or two until you have a coarse powder, scrape down the sides and blitz again until you have a smooth paste. If it looks dry at that point, add a little coconut or groundnut oil, and blitz again. Sweeten with a little honey, maple syrup or vanilla, if you like.
For the chocolate batter
dark chocolate 200g, chopped into 5mm chunks, 150g for melting, the rest for the top
coconut oil 100g
white spelt flour 100g
golden caster sugar 100g
baking powder Â½ tsp
organic eggs 2, or 8 tsp flaxseed
vanilla extract or paste 1 tsp
For the almond butter batter
golden caster sugar 75g
baking powder Â½ tsp
organic egg 1, or 4 tsp flaxseed
vanilla extract or paste 1 tsp
smooth almond butter 100g
Heat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4 and line a 20cm x 20cm brownie tin with baking paper.
For non-vegan brownies, make the chocolate batter by melting 150g of the chocolate (saving the rest for the top) with the oil in a small pan over a low heat. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Create a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add the eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour in the melted chocolate and give the batter another stir until the chocolate is mixed through.
Make the almond butter batter by whisking together the sugar, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla, whisk again, add the almond butter, stir until well combined and set aside. The batter will be thick.
For the vegan brownies, follow the steps above, replacing the eggs with the flaxseed. For the chocolate batter, mix 8 teaspoons of flaxseed with 6 tablespoons of warm water in a separate bowl. For the almond butter, mix 4 teaspoons of flaxseed with 3 tablespoons of warm water in a separate bowl. For both mixtures, leave to thicken for 15 minutes before using.
Dollop alternate heaped spoonfuls of each batter into the tin. Once it is all in, use a butter knife to swirl it in figures of eight. Top with the remaining chocolate, pressing each piece slightly into the batter, then sprinkle with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies are just set with a little wobble and the almond butter swirls are golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the tin completely before cutting.
Double ginger and apple cakeDouble ginger and apple cake. Photograph: Issy Croker
Iâm cheating a bit here, as this isnât strictly a one-tray dish but more a cake cooked in a tray. Itâs my favourite cake of the last couple of years, so I had to find a way to get it into this book. This is such an easy cake, with a double hit of ginger. This way of using the apple to top the cake is inspired by the brilliant cook and writer Anja Dunk. If you are a ginger-lover like me, you could add another couple of balls of stem ginger.
Makes 1 cake, to serve about 8
plain flour 200g
baking powder 1 tsp
bicarbonate of soda 1Â½ tsp
ground ginger 2 tsp
unsalted butter 200g, or 150g coconut oil, plus extra for greasing
dark brown soft sugar 150g
stem ginger 5 balls (75g), finely chopped, plus 2 tbsp syrup from the jar for brushing and drizzling
organic eggs 3 medium, or 180ml sparkling water
eating apples 5-6 small
demerara sugar 1 tbsp, for sprinkling
Grease a deep 23cm square springform baking tin. Heat the oven to 160C fan/gas mark 4. Put all the dry ingredients, except 1 teaspoon of the ground ginger and the dark brown sugar, into a bowl. Whisk to combine.
For the non-vegan cake, melt the butter in a pan, then whisk in the dark brown sugar and chopped stem ginger. Leave to cool slightly, then beat in the eggs one by one, until emulsified. Fold through the dry ingredients and pour into the prepared cake tin.
For the vegan cake, melt the coconut oil in a pan, then whisk in the dark brown sugar and stem ginger pieces. Add the coconut oil mix to the flour mixture and whisk to combine. Now, with the whisk running, add the sparkling water and mix until the batter is smooth and light. Pour into the prepared cake tin.
Peel, halve and core the apples, then very thinly slice about two-thirds of the way down each half, leaving the last third uncut to hold the apple together. It is much like a hedgehog or a hasselback potato. Arrange the apple halves cut side up on top of the batter, brush with some of the ginger syrup, then sprinkle over the demerara sugar and the remaining teaspoon of ground ginger. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45-50 minutes, until golden and cooked through. Test the thickest part of the cake with a skewer: if it doesnât come out clean, put the cake back in for another 5 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and pour over the remaining 2 tablespoons of syrup. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then remove and serve. This is best eaten on the day but will keep well for up to 3 days, wrapped inside a tin.
Rhubarb and stem ginger foolRhubarb and stem ginger fool. Photograph: Issy Croker
This fool, spiked with ginger, is so light and pillowy, and so pleasingly neon. I find it hard to think of a dessert Iâd rather eat. The rhubarb brings a welcome sharpness and pop of bright pink. Vegan cream may not whip to soft peaks â just whip it as much as you can.
For the rhubarb
rhubarb 2 stems, thinly sliced (see below for seasonal alternatives)
caster sugar 1 heaped tbsp
For the fool
double cream or vegan cream 300ml
thick Greek or coconut yoghurt 100ml
stem ginger 6 balls, 4 finely chopped, 2 thinly sliced, plus 1 tbsp syrup from the jar
unwaxed lemon zest of Â½
In a pan, cook the rhubarb and sugar for 2 minutes, until the juices turn the sugar into a pink syrup but the rhubarb still holds its crunch. Set aside to cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
Whip the cream or vegan cream a little shy of soft peaks, then fold in the yoghurt. Add the finely chopped stem ginger and stir it through with the ginger syrup and lemon zest.
When the cooked rhubarb has cooled, stir half of it into the cream.
Top the dessert with the thinly sliced stem ginger and the rest of the cooked rhubarb.
strawberries raw, sliced
raspberries raw, crushed
pear raw, thinly sliced
plums cooked with a little sugar
gooseberries cooked with a little sugar
You can adjust the amount of sugar to the sweetness of your fruit.
From One: Pot, Pan, Planet â a Greener Way to Cook For You and Your Family (4th Estate, Â£26), published on 4 March. To order a copy for Â£22.62, go to guardianbookshop.com