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Vegan Pie

Vegan Pie

Vegan recipes often get bad press, not helped by the poor offerings of restaurants. This dish has bags of flavour and doesn’t require any extras to make it a whole meal. A big splodge of ketchup on the side doesn’t go a miss if you’re that way inclined.

Wine Suggestion: not all wines are Vegan, but there are no standards on stating this on a bottle or to say what fining agents (which determines if it is Vegan friendly) have been used in making the wine.

Fining agents are used by winemakers to make a bright, clean coloured and tasting wine. Naturally most wines begin quite cloudy or hazy because of proteins, tannins, tartrates and phenolics. Winemakers traditionally add fining agents to rectify this and these include casein (a milk protein), albumin (egg whites), gelatin (animal protein) and isinglass (fish bladder protein) as well as others like various clays. These bind with the proteins etc which then fall out of the wine. So by the time it reaches the bottle and then your glass there are no traces of these products. However they have been used and part of Veganism is not only if the product is not in the food, but also the use in the production.

A lot of wines are potentially Vegan friendly, but quite often don’t say on the label and aren’t obliged to so don’t dismiss a wine for not being Vegan if it doesn’t say so, it may still be.

Look online on the winery sites if you are in doubt and even email the winemakers – they love to discuss their wines and are happy to answer questions on how each wine is made.

We drank some Domaine du Joncier Lirac Blanc from a wonderful, biodynamic and natural wine maker Marine Roussel. A blend of Roussanne, Marsanne and Bourboulenc and fined naturally with time and gentle handling this is both round, fresh and full of depth.

Vegan Shepherd’s Pie – serves 8 (make in 2 dishes and freeze one for later)

  • 1.2kg floury potatoes, such as Maris Piper
  • 50ml vegetable oil
  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 mins, then drained (reserve the liquid)
  • 2 large leeks, chopped
  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 4 medium carrots, cut into small cubes
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • a handful of marjoram or oregano, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • a handful of thyme, leaves picked
  • a handful of sage, leaves picked and roughly chopped
  • 4 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • 300g frozen peas
  • 300g frozen spinach
  • 20ml olive oil
  • a handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • tomato ketchup, to serve (optional)

Put the unpeeled potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30-40 mins until the skins start to split. Drain and leave to cool a little.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large casserole dish. Add the mushrooms, leeks , onions, carrots and stock cube and cook gently for 5 minutes, stirring.

Add the garlic, tomato purée, paprika, squash and herbs. Stir and turn the heat up a bit, cook for 3 mins, then add the celery and continue to stir and cook for a few more mins.

Tip in the chickpeas along with the water in the can and reserved mushroom stock. Add the peas and spinach and stir well. Cook for 5 mins, stirring occasionally, then season, turn off and set aside.

Peel the potatoes and discard the skin. Mash 200g with a fork and stir into the veg. Break the rest of the potatoes into chunks, mix with the olive oil and parsley and season.

Divide the filling into two pie dishes and top with the potatoes. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5 and bake the pies for 40-45 mins, until the top is golden and the filling is heated through.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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Turkish carrots with lentils & herbs

We seem to permanently have a half-empty bag of carrots in the bottom of the fridge. This side dish puts them to excellent use and any leftovers are perfect for lunchboxes.

Turkish Carrots & Lentils with Herbs – serves 4-6 as a side dish

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1½ tsp coriander seeds, crushed
  • ¼-½ tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 100g green or Puy lentils
  • 6 large carrots, sliced
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 275ml vegetable stock/water
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint, parsley or dill
  • good squeeze of lemon juice
  • extra virgin olive oil, to serve

Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until soft and pale gold. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2 minutes. Then add everything else except the herbs, lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.

Bring to the boil and cook until the carrots are tender and the liquid has been absorbed – about 30 minutes.

Taste, add the herbs and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Add a generous slug of extra-virgin olive oil and serve warm, hot or at room temperature.

(Original recipe from Food From Plenty by Diana Henry, Mitchell Beazley, 2010.)

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Burnt Aubergine salad

Not quite a Baba Ghanoush, but you can drizzle on some tahini paste to make it one. This was really delicious and we loved the freshness from the lemons and the burst of fruity pomegranate. You need to start this many hours in advance but the process is very straightforward and the result is worth it.

Burnt aubergine with garlic, lemon & pomegranate seeds – serves 4 as a meze plate

  • 4 large aubergines (about 1.5kg before cooking)
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • grated zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped mint
  • 80g of pomegranate seeds (about ½ a large pomegranate)

If using a gas hob, line the base with foil and keep only the burners exposed. Put the aubergines on 4 separate moderate flames and roast for about 15-18 minutes or until the skin is burnt and flaky and the flesh is soft. Use metal tongs to turn them now and then.

Alternatively, score the aubergines with a knife in a few places, a couple of centimetres deep, and place on a baking tray under a hot grill for about an hour (we do ours on a gas barbecue). Turn them every 20 minutes or so and continue to cook even if they burst.

Allow the aubergines to cool slightly, then cut along each one and scoop out the flesh and divide it into long strips with your hands. Throw away the skin. Drain the flesh in a colander for at least an hour or longer if possible to get rid of as much water as possible.

Put the aubergine in a medium bowl and add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, ½ a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Stir and allow the aubergine to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, mix in most of the herbs and adjust the seasoning. Pile onto a serving plate, scatter on the pomegranate seeds and garnish with the rest of the herbs.

We served ours with some barbecued flatbreads.

(Original recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem, Ebury Press, 2012.)

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This is not the most attractive dish in the world and we definitely didn’t do the best job of cutting the aubergines. It nonetheless tasted delicious and we’re sure to do it again.

Wine Suggestion: We’d recommend finding a juicy red from Spain. Look out for well made wines from the smaller and lesser known areas as these offer great value; this dish doesn’t need a refined and suave wine, some rusticity is good. We tried  a juicy and smooth Tempranillo called Biberius from the Ribera del Duero and thoroughly enjoyed it!

‘Swooning Imam’ Stuffed Aubergines – serves 2

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • 3-4 tomatoes, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • about 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh mint, shredded

Leave the stem on the aubergines, score the skin and peel it away in thick stripes. Cut down the length of each one (without cutting completely in half) and scoop out the seedy bits. Chop these and set aside. Sprinkle the cavities with salt, and leave to drain on kitchen paper for half an hour, then wipe dry.

Heat a good splash of oil in a frying pan. Add the aubergines and fry for about 7 minutes, until lightly browned and softened. Remove from the pan and leave to drain.

Add some more oil to the pan and fry the onions, garlic and with the reserved seedy bits of the aubergine. After about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes, paprika, sugar and lemon juice, stir well and season.

Put the aubergines into a deep frying pan with a lid. Stuff the cavities with the onion mixture and drizzle the rest over the top. Add the rest of the olive oil and 100ml cold water, then put on the heat. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat to low, cover and leave to cook for about 45 minutes or until completely tender.

Serve warm or at room temperature with the mint sprinkled over the top and serve with crusty bread.

(Original recipe from Veggiestan: a vegetable lover’s tour of the middle east by Sally Butcher (Pavillon) and published in The Guardian.)

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One of those dishes that was even better than expected.We served this with lamb chops with seven spices but it would make a nice mezze dish or a side for any grilled fish or meat.

Giant Couscous & Chickpea Salad – to serve between 4 & 6

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 120g giant couscous
  • 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • juice of ½ a lemon

Heat the oven to 200ºC/Fan 180ºC/Gas 6.

Put the tomatoes on a baking tray, drizzle with 1 tbsp of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about 20 minutes or until soft.

Pour the vegetable stock into a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the couscous and simmer for about 10 minutes or until tender (check it as it may not take the full 10 minutes). Strain, tip into a bowl and add the chickpeas.

Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan, add the onion, and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in the spices and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat and stir the spiced onion into the couscous and chickpea mixture.

Add the coriander, parsley, and roasted tomatoes, and season well with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

(Original recipe from The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage, Phaidon, 2012.)

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A stir-fry of Sprouts; Brussels & Bean. A delight and a real treat as a healthy midweek supper.

Sprouts with Sesame & Spring Onions – to serve 2 (or 4 as a side)

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • thumb-size piece ginger, cut into matchsticks
  • 300g Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 250g beansprouts
  • small bunch spring onions, sliced diagonally
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce, plus extra to serve
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

Heat the oil in a wok. Fry the ginger and Brussels sprouts, tossing, for 5-6 minutes, until slightly browned. Add a few tbsp water while they’re cooking if you need to stop them sticking, though the odd crusty bit will only improve things.

Add the beansprouts, spring onions, honey and soy sauce, then stir-fry for 1 minute. Sprinkle over the sesame seeds and serve with some extra soy sauce.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

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A Lebanese twist to tomato sauce with gentle spices and almonds; a lovely variation on a theme. The proportion of sauce to spaghetti is also very different to how the Italian’s make pasta so there is a lot of sauce for this dish. This worked for us but you could use the same amount of sauce for a greater quantity of pasta and therefore serve more people if you’d like.

The spices are subtle and warming and the pinches can be generous if you like.

Spaghetti with a Rich Tomato Sauce & Toasted Almonds – serves 2 generously

  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground allspice
  • pinch grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pinch ground pepper
  • 200g spaghetti
  • 50g flaked almonds, toasted
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley

Put the tomatoes, tomato purée, garlic and sugar into a pan and simmer over a low heat. Stir frequently and simmer for 30 minutes.

Stir in the olive oil, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, salt and pepper and cook for a further 20 minutes.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions (usually between 10-12 minutes). Reserve 3 tablespoons of the cooking water and then drain the cooked spaghetti.

Return the spaghetti to the cooking pot with the reserved cooking water and the tomato sauce.

Toss well and then serve sprinkled with the almonds and parsley.

Wine Suggestion: we drank a Valpolicella Ripasso with this dish and the ripe, juicy spices went well with the warming spices of the sauce.

(Original recipe from The Lebanese Kitchen by Salma Hage, Phaidon, 2012.)

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