If you haven’t heard about Meat Free Week, read on. Running March 18 – 24, it’s not about giving up meat forever – at ILVE we could never recommend this! – it’s about thinking about the amount of meat you eat and most importantly, where that meat comes from!
We think it’s a great initiative, and we’re lucky enough to have the Meat Free Week team provide us a guest blog, as well as a delicious meat free recipe from renowned foodie Belinda Jeffrey!
Meat Free Week – over to you… Buon appetito!
Asking people who love food to cut down on meat seems a bit of contentious issue. Yet with Meat Free Week we recognised the importance of reaching those who are passionate about food. Why? Because we believe that it’s “foodies” who can influence the way we view meat and specifically, how much of it we eat. And when we’re talking foodies, we’re not just talking chefs, we also mean people like you, because you’re most likely to be inspired to create delicious and exciting meat free meals, ones that expand our palette and are celebrated in their own right.
We also believe that change is needed. As our population and affluence have grown, so too has the amount of meat we eat. We’ve seen the tradition of eating meat every day, and often at every meal, become widespread and commonplace. We believe that modern farming and retailing has resulted in a disconnect between what we eat and where it comes from. It has also created the need for factory farming – the industrialised farming of animals, namely chickens, pigs, ducks, turkeys and rabbits.
Meat Free Week is not about encouraging people to become vegetarian or give up meat for life. Rather it’s an opportunity for people to sign up for the challenge of taking a seven day break from eating meat and discover some fantastic meat free meals. It’s also a chance to consider the impact excessive meat consumption has on animal welfare, the environment and human health.
We have secured the support of some Australia’s most celebrated chefs and home cooks who have donated delicious meat free recipes https://meatfreeweek.com/recipes. So whether you’re looking for an easy mid-week dinner or something a little more challenging, you can’t go past this great collection.
By understanding the benefits of eating less meat, we hope people will choose to make a commitment to reducing their meat consumption. And that when they do eat meat, only choose meat that is ethically produced and sourced.
We hope you enjoy this fabulous Saffron, Basil and Ricotta Tart from renowned foodie Belinda Jeffery.
Visit meatfreeweek.com for information on the campaign as well as delicious meat free recipes. Get involved by signing up for the challenge and in doing so raise funds for Voiceless, the animal protection institute. Thanks, Lainie & Melissa – Meat Free Week.
Belinda Jeffrey’s SAFFRON, BASIL AND RICOTTA TART
“At one stage in my career, I was very fortunate to work in a wonderful Italian restaurant in Sydney, called Taylors. I spent much of my time making desserts and antipasti, including this wonderful tart. It’s perfect for this time of year when lovely, fat bunches of basil appear in the markets. And with its gorgeous sunshine-yellow filling flecked with vivid green basil, it makes a fabulous main course with a tomato salad.” – Belinda Jeffrey.
P.S. Just remember to use the best ricotta that you can buy – I usually try to get it from a deli where they sell it fresh from the hoop colanders – as the flavour is all-important.
Ingredients – serves 6
-100ml dry white wine
-2 generous pinches (about ¾ teaspoon) of saffron threads
-1 pre-baked 25-26cm pastry shell
-3 x 70g eggs
-700g fresh ricotta
-100g freshly grated parmesan cheese
-¼ cup (about 15g) firmly packed basil leaves or 2-3 heaped tablespoons basil pesto, or more to taste
-Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
-100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
-Small basil leaves, to garnish
-Before you do anything else, gently warm the wine (I do this in the microwave in a heatproof jug) and add the saffron threads to it. Mix well, then leave the mixture to steep for 30 minutes.
-In the meantime, preheat your oven to 180C. Sit the tart tin with the pastry shell on a baking tray.
-Pour the saffron mixture into a food processor. Add the eggs, ricotta, parmesan, basil (or pesto), sea salt and pepper and whiz everything together. With the motor running, pour in the melted butter. Mix it in, stopping and scraping down the sides once or twice as you go, until the mixture is thick and smooth. (I use a large food processor for this, which will mix it all in one hit, however if you don’t have a large one, it may be best to do it in batches.)
-Scrape the ricotta mixture into the tart shell and shake it gently to even out the top. Pop the tray with the tart into the oven and bake it for 30 minutes or so, until it is puffed and a speckled dark-golden brown on top, and feels set when you gently press your fingers on the surface and jiggle it.
-Remove the tart tin to a rack and leave it to settle for 5 minutes or so before sliding the tart onto a serving platter. Garnish with a sprinkling of small basil leaves. Although it looks rather resplendently puffed when it comes out of the oven, I’m afraid it sinks as it cools, however the flavour is wonderful.
Desserts is Belinda Jeffrey’s newest cookbook. Published by Penguin Australia. RRP$49.99. Available in all good bookstores from November 8.
Recipe image courtesy of Rodney Weidland.