Vegetable Heaven & the perfect lunch...

One of my very favourite cookbooks, when I'm in need of inspiration, is the wonderful 'Vegetable Heaven' by Catherine Mason. It's what I would call a 'non-vegetarian vegetarian recipe book' in that it isn't full of worthy wholemeal dishes, just amazingly different meals that are colourful, simple & really tasty. It is also beautifully illustrated with original paintings (no photographs) by Elda Abramson (you can even buy prints of the pictures, so gorgeous are they!) So today, a thaw set in...but it was a little bleak & cold, so we had a day completely at home and I made Spinach & Mushroom Pie topped with Parsley Mash from the book...and I HAD to share it with you, so good was it! Paul had thirds!

To serve 2 (greedy) or 3 normal people!

The Spinach & Mushroom Layer....
15g (1 tbsp) butter - or similar
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
200g mushrooms (I used a mixture of chestnut & field) roughly chopped
180g cleaned spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic, smashed & chopped
juice of 1/2 lemon (i used a few splashes of dry white wine)
salt & pepper
120g creamy Gorgonzola, in chunks (I used Bleu d'Auvergne)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (I used flat leaf as it was in the fridge!)

Warm the oil & butter in a large, deep saute or frying pan. Fry the mushrooms & onions gently, stirring from time to time. When they are just about tender, add the spinach & garlic & cook until the spinach is wilted (I just crammed the leaves in & put the lid on, so they wilted in the steam!) Add the lemon juice (or wine) & salt and pepper to taste. Remove pan from heat and allow to cool slightly before stirring in the cheese & parsley. It should be cool enough that the cheese doesn't melt totally. Spread into a baking dish (approx 22cm x 7cm deep but I used a bigger one as it was all I had handy) Preheat oven to 220c (425f, Gas 7)

Parsley Mash

400/450g (approx 1lb) plain mashed potato
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 egg, lightly beaten (this lightens the mash & makes it slightly 'moussey' so don't be tempted to omit it)
2 tbsp milk (I used some left over creme fraiche)
salt & pepper

Mix all together well & use to top the mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with 30/40g fresh grated parmesan cheese & bake in the hot oven for approx 20/30 mins until golden & bubbling.

We had ours with a winter chicory salad, but you could cook an additional green veg (peas would be lovely) or just have it plain!

It tasted so savoury & good. But everything I've tried in this book has been. It was given to me by my oldest friend, Isobel - friends since we were 6 - and I am ever grateful to her. Never more so than this afternoon when we ate this delicious, warming lunch! x


  1. Ooo YUM!
    I wish my husband liked vegetables so I could make these!
    Maybe as the side to steak or roast?
    Thanks for sharing, looks delicious!!!

  2. Hello Rachel dear, YES, we met at Sue Branch's 60th, but only for a split second. We drove Sue, Joe, and her mother over from our house where we served wine and pretended we were all going out to dinner.

    I just missed you this October. We live in Maine for five months a year and had to leave a bit early or we would've seen you on your visit.

    Sue always talks so lovingly of you and she always sayd, YOU HAVE to get to know Rachel. So here we are, getting to know each other from thousands of miles apart.

    Wish you could attend the "do," which will be very Californiaish and fun.

    I'll add your lovely, lovely blog to my roll this afternoon. I adore browsing through all of it.

    Sending a warm waft of roses and mint across the miles,

    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  3. P.S. OH MY GOODNESS-your SWEET, SWEET, SWEET heartbeat of a friend, ALICE. I love her.


  4. Rachel, OK, we got your blog loaded onto my blog roll. Hope many, many more people discover you and enjoy your writing and photos.


    Sharon Lovejoy Writes from Sunflower House and a Little Green Island

  5. Rachael....this dish looks so good..i am making it this week....and i am off to Alibris to look for the book...

    gosh..what web of the same friends....Dawn, Sharon, Susan...this internet thing is kinda weird..but Dawn says...we're all like little lights sparkling around the world.....

    more later, dear one
    kary and buddy

  6. Just had to stop by to say how much I like that Alice was all cozy in her bed while you that...Buddy is curled up right by my side here on the couch as i sip my chai tea....finally rainy here. John and I are going to ride to Pismo Beach for clam chowder for lunch today. Did I see you were at Susie B.'s 60th B day. You must be familiar with this area. How did you end up living in England? I would LOVE to see England some day....LOVE that British Country Living favorite.....

    stay cozy...both you and Alice

    Kary and Buddy

  7. P.S. I just saaw that your run a BAKERY ! My DREAM.....


  8. Gorgeous post Rachel :) The pie and cookbook look amazing I shall definitely be investing in the book and making the pie.

    You have won an award! Take a peek at my latest post to find out all about it

    Lots of love Morwenna xoxo

  9. Dearest Rachel,
    How amazing I have that book too! My darling sister gave it to me. I agree, it's just brilliant and it's made me resolve to use it more often rather than just revolving my same old tried and trusted recipes, one of which is the silverbeet and feta fritata in the book, absolutely divine! Lovely to read everyone's comments, such great people around the world. Love love love


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