Food For Friends

Vegetarianism and meat-free eating continues its inexorable rise in the national diet. Eschewing the classic tactical misstep of serving dishes that pretend to be meat in favour of vegetarian creativity, Food for Friends restaurant has spent nearly thirty years garnering acclaim in the South East and beyond. They've spread the gospel so much that nearly 70% of their repeat diners don't even consider themselves vegetarian!

Food for Friends: Modern vegetarian cooking at home is an inspiring cookbook lavishly illustrated with 118 colour photographs from one of Britain's landmark (and truly original) vegetarian restaurants.

Bringing together an innovative and refreshing approach to both everyday and occasion dining, this is a significant addition to the cookery shelf. Based on the restaurant's seasonal menus and daily specials, these are the restaurant's most loved recipes and signature dishes fully adapted for the home. Ideal for cooking meals that are meat-free or that cater for special dietary requirements such as dairy-free or gluten-free diets.

For nearly three decades, Food for Friends restaurant - located in Brighton's Lanes - has become synonymous with delicious vegetarian cooking. Its success and longevity is founded upon scrumptious vegetarian meals (loved by vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike) using the freshest, finest and, wherever possible, locally sourced ingredients.

Ramin and Jane Mostowfi are the husband and wife duo behind the Brighton restaurant Food for Friends. A real love affair with food encouraged them to leave their corporate London careers behind them, upping sticks and moving to Brighton with a baby and toddler in tow, to embark on life as restaurateurs.

Panzanella salad with roast vegetables

Serves 8–10

There are various ways of serving this dish. It is a beautiful salad to look at, and ourfavourite way is to serve it in a large glass bowl so you are able to see all the layers – it is great for parties. If you want to make it more of a meal, then you can put a layer of couscous at the bottom before layering in the salad; otherwise you can make sculpted salads on individual plates, up to you… To make this dish vegan, don’t add the mozzarella;it’s not essential, but it does provide a different colour when layering the salad. For a gluten-free option, use gluten-free bread.

  • 5 yellow peppers
  • 5 red peppers
  • a little olive oil (for roasting peppers)
  • 3 large red onions, each cut into eight
  • segments
  • 500g stale Italian bread, cut into chunky cubes
  • 4 large beef tomatoes
  • 2 large white onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium bunch of chives, chopped
  • 1 medium bunch of basil, chopped (but leave
  • some whole)
  • 170ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 50ml balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 500g buffalo mozzarella
  • 450g cherry tomatoes, skinned if possible
  • a handful of pitted black olives
  • 1 bag of mixed baby salad leaves
  • 40g caper berries
  • 1 bunch of basil leaves, stalks removed

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6.

Slice the stalk ends from the peppers and then scoop out the white parts in the middle and the seeds. Rub them with olive oil and place on an oven tray. Place in the oven for 20 minutes to roast. Put the red onion segments in another roasting tray, drizzle them with olive oil and salt, and roast them for 10–15 minutes or until coloured and soft. Put the chunks of bread on a baking tray, drizzle them with olive oil too and roast them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Chop the beef tomatoes into cubes and place in a large bowl. Add the chopped white onion and herbs, the two oils, the garlic and the vinegar. Using a hand blender, create a smooth sauce (they can also be pulsed in a food processor). Season with salt and pepper, and stir this sauce over the bread when it comes out of the oven.

When the peppers have cooled down, peel the skin off and cut them into quarters. If you are using mozzarella, cut it into cubes.

Assemble the salad. Take a large tall bowl or individual ones and layer the peppers, mozzarella, bread, cherry tomatoes, roasted red onions, black olives and whole basil leaves. Then scatter the salad leaves and a few caper berries on top, and serve immediately to stop the leaves wilting.

Thai sweetcorn fritters with a sweet chilli dipping sauce and mango salad

Serves 6

These fritters are delicious when served with our tom-ka soup. Galangal can be bought in Asian and Oriental food shops, and is well worth finding for the flavour it imparts. It is similar to ginger but has a less peppery taste.

  • 2 sticks of lemon grass
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1½ tbsp chopped galangal
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 4 lime leaves (destalked)
  • half a bunch coriander, stalks only (the leaves go in the salad)
  • 1 tbsp vegetarian Thai green curry paste
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 600g frozen or canned sweetcorn, defrosted and drained
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • a little plain or gluten-free flour (optional)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

For the mango salad:

  • 1 unripe Thai mango, peeled and cut into 3mm strips
  • 2 hard mangoes, peeled and cut into 3mm strips
  • 2 bunches of spring onions, cut into fine diagonal strips
  • 1 large red chilli, cut into very fine strips
  • 1 bunch of coriander, leaves only, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful of Thai sweet basil leaves, finely chopped

Make the mango salad by mixing all the ingredients together and set it to one side.

Cut the bases from the lemon grass sticks and remove the outer leaves. Hit the sticks with the handle of a heavy knife, crushing them, then chop them finely. Put the lemon grass, ginger, galangal, garlic, lime leaves, coriander, green curry paste and lime juice in a blender and blend them well. Put the mixture in a large bowl and add the sweetcorn. Season with salt, and stir in the sugar.

Form the sweetcorn mixture into patties; if they fail to stick together then add a small amount of flour, but use as little as possible. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and cook the fritters for 3–4 minutes on each side. Serve, accompanied by the mango salad and some sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Food for Friends, Modern vegetarian cooking at home
By Jane and Ramin Mostowfi with Kalil Resende

Photography by Adrian peacock
ISBN: 978-1-906821-54-8
Hardback: RRP: £16.99

For a printable version of the recipes, click on each recipe photograph