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Anna Jones' late summer corn and tomato curry, which can be made with cherry tomatoes and frozen corn at other times of the year.Handout

Anna Jones began to write her fourth cookbook at the end of 2018 when, as she puts it, “the world was a very different place.” There was no pandemic. She was not home-schooling her five-year-old son. And quarantine bakers had not yet emptied store shelves of flour and quick-rising yeast.

Her plan, as with all her other cookbooks, was to fill the pages with delicious vegan and vegetarian meals that could be sourced locally and made with little fuss. This time, however, she also wanted to stress the importance of shopping, eating and cooking in a more planet-friendly way.

“My books have previously been gentle in their approach to putting plants at the centre of your table,” says Jones, whose bestsellers include A Modern Way to Eat, A Modern Way to Cook and The Modern Cook’s Year. “And while food and cooking, for me, are absolutely about the joy and the connection and beauty of sharing a meal, I felt it was time to stress the changes we need to make. I wanted to make it clear that how we eat can actually help to shift the world we live in.”

She wrote in her parent’s garden shed (she and her husband were renovating their Hackney home in East London), and her latest cookbook, One: Pot, Pan, Planet, is filled with 200 eclectic recipes as well as easy-to-digest tips on a greener way to shop, eat and cook.

Featured dishes include Persian noodle soup, Korean carrot and sesame pancake and a baked dahl with tamarind-glazed sweet potato. “This year, I’ve travelled using the food I make in my kitchen,” she says. It details small changes we can all make in planning menus and shopping, as well as ideas for using vegetables that most often get thrown away.

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“In the U.K., we waste 30 per cent of the food we buy. That’s a huge amount of food, money and wasted resources,” Jones says. “Along with eating mostly plants, reducing the amount of food we waste is one of the most impactful things we can do to reduce our food footprint.” According to the UN’s 2021 Food Waste Index Report, the average Canadian wastes 79 kilograms of household food every year. Suggestions to minimize food waste include using vegetable peelings to make stock, soured dairy to add welcome acidity to some recipes, and chickpea water in cakes and vegan mayo.

“The past 12 months has changed us all as cooks. We learned we can waste less and we can be creative with recipes and ingredients. We came to value food for the miraculous life-giving stuff it is, and we learned to make meals more of an event because it’s the thing we have to look forward to everyday,” says Jones.

“This year, with all its incredible tragedies and challenges, has also proven to us as human beings, and collectively as a human race, that we are capable of really fast, really radical changes in behaviours. We can shift how we live. I hope this book plays some small part in making our collective kitchen as planet-friendly as it can be.”

Late Summer Corn and Tomato Curry

Serves 4

  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • Coconut or groundnut oil
  • 2 leeks, washed and roughly shredded
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 green chili, roughly chopped
  • 1 400 ml tin coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 kg tomatoes, small ones halved, big ones quartered, or 2 400-gram tins cherry tomatoes
  • Kernels from 1 large corn on the cob, or 175 grams tinned/frozen kernels
  • 2 large handfuls of chard or spinach, washed, leaves roughly shredded, stems sliced

Put the fennel and coriander seeds into a spice grinder or pestle and mortar and grind until you have a rough powder. Put your largest frying pan or wok over a medium heat, add the ground spices and mustard seeds and push them around the pan, toasting for a couple of minutes, then tip into a bowl.

Put the pan back over a medium heat, add a little oil, the leeks and a pinch of salt, then cook for 10 minutes until soft and sweet. Put the toasted spices back in the pan and stir.

Add the garlic and chili and stir around the pan for about another 5 minutes or so. Next, pour in the coconut milk, add the tamarind, tumble in the tomatoes and cook for 20 minutes on medium-high heat. You want the tomatoes to lose some of their liquid and the coconut milk to intensify and thicken.

Next, add the corn and greens (sliced stems and leaves) and cook for another couple of minutes until the greens have wilted. Serve with lime-spiked yogurt and rice, or rotis, or chapatis.

Seasonal Variations

To make this in fall or winter use tinned cherry tomatoes, frozen corn and some roasted or very thinly sliced raw butternut or winter squash.

One: Pot, Pan, Planet by Anna Jones. Copyright © 2021 by Anna Jones. Published by 4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

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