Healthy food from The Happy Pear
I’m going to have to confess to some serious jealousy of the people of Greystones in Co. Wicklow as I start writing this feature.
They are lucky enough to have the Happy Pear café on their doorsteps, while the rest of us have had to make do with living vicariously through the lovely food pictures provided by David and Stephen Flynn by way of social media.
Over the years, I’ve often scrolled through twitter, stumbled across the latest picture of some delicious looking offering from the Happy Pear duo and thought “they really should do a cookbook” – well, thanks to Penguin, my wish has been answered!
This is a bit more than a cookbook, detailing the story of the Happy Pear from greengrocers to fully-fledged café and how Stephen and David made it all happen.
However, it’s the food that makes this book. Not only is there page after page of delicious ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, but unlike a lot of cookbooks you could cook day and night from these recipes and come out of the experience a lot healthier.
As a pretty healthy eater and vegetable lover, I was surprised by how many more vegetables I ate using this cookbook for a week.
All the recipes use a wide variety of different vegetables with lots of flavour, so there is not even a whiff of wholesomeness about them (in case that kind of thing turns you off!)
We loved the Spanish chickpea and potato bake (we used a sweet potato topping instead). The leftovers were put in lunchboxes the next day with crusty bread and went down a treat. Add in the Thai coconut, sweet potato and lemongrass soup, the Vietnamese sweet almond curry and the aubergine, fennel and bean stew – the list is endless.
One small caveat – the Flynn boys are ardent vegetarians and we are not. However, this is a vegetarian cookbook worth the investment and if you want to eat more vegetables, this book will ensure you do.
Enjoy these recipes from the book and let us know what you think…
VIETNAMESE SWEET ALMOND CURRY Serves 6
Vietnamese food is among the healthiest in the world, full of fresh veg, spices and herbs. This curry goes well with short-grain brown rice.
1 medium butternut squash
2 red peppers
1 fresh red chilli
3 cloves of garlic
1 cm cube of fresh ginger
2 stalks of lemongrass
4 tablespoons oil
6 tablespoons tamari, Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
4 tablespoons almond butter
1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons agave syrup or honey
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 x 400g tin of black beans
6 scallions or 4 spring onions
1 x 227g pack of beansprouts
flaked almonds [optional]
Peel and deseed the butternut squash and cut it into bite-size pieces. Deseed the red peppers and the chilli, then cut the pepper into strips and finely slice the chilli (include the seeds if you like it hot]. Cut the aubergine into bite-size pieces and slice the leek. Peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger. Crush the lemongrass.
Preheat the oven to 200°C / 400°F / gas mark 6.
Put the squash, aubergine and peppers into a mixing bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil together with 2 tablespoons of tamari and mix well. Transfer the mixed vegetables on to a baking tray and spread out evenly. Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
Put the remaining oil into a large pan over a low-to-medium heat and let it heat up for 2 minutes. Add the leek, garlic, chilli, ginger and lemongrass and cook gently over a low heat for 10 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally.
Mix the almond butter with 500ml of water in a blender, or whisk with a fork in a bowl until smooth. Add to the pan along with the coconut milk, lime juice, agave syrup, turmeric, paprika, coriander, cumin, salt, black pepper and the remaining tamari and mix well. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, drain and rinse the black beans, slice the scallions or spring onions into small rounds and rinse the beansprouts. Add the black beans to the pan along with the roasted squash, peppers and aubergine and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Add the scallions or spring onions and beansprouts just before serving and, if you fancy, sprinkle some flaked almonds on top. (Don’t add the beansprouts too early, otherwise they go soft and limp, and lose their crunch very quickly in heat.)
AUBERGINE. FENNEL AND BEAN STEW Serves 4-6
This has lovely hints of aniseed from the fennel, musky undertones of cumin and the subtle aromas of cardamom. It tastes even better the next day!
2 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 a thumb-size piece of fresh ginger
1 fresh green chilli
1 1/2 aubergines
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons tamari, Bragg Liquid Aminos or soy sauce
1 teaspoon paprika
3 teaspoons salt
1 x 400g tin of black beans
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
a small bunch of fresh coriander
100g baby spinach
Peel the onions, garlic and ginger, then finely chop the onions, and crush or chop the garlic and ginger. Deseed and finely chop the chilli. Cut the aubergines and pumpkin into bite-size pieces, leaving the skin on the pumpkin.
Put the cumin and fennel seeds into a dry frying pan and cook on a medium heat for a few minutes, until they start to release their aroma and start crackling. Transfer the seeds to a pestle and mortar or coffee grinder and grind them to a fine powder.
Put the oil into a large pan over a high heat and let it heat up for about 2 minutes. Once it is hot, add the onions and turn the heat to low-to-medium. Saute the onions for 5 minutes with the lid on, stirring regularly. Add the garlic, chilli, ginger and the ground cumin and fennel and cook, covered, for a further 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
Add the aubergines, along with the tamari and paprika. Leave to cook, covered, for 10-15 minutes on a low-to-medium heat, stirring regularly. Add water a tablespoon at a time if anything starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. After a few minutes the aubergines should start to break up.
Put the pumpkin into a separate pan with 1 teaspoon of salt and enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender. Drain and set aside.
Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly. Stir the cardamom, turmeric and 2 tablespoons of water into the pan of aubergines and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans, tinned tomatoes, honey, pumpkin and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and turn the heat up high. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.
Five minutes before serving, finely chop the coriander and add to the pan with the spinach. Great served with brown rice or flatbreads if you have time to make them.