Vietnamese summer rolls with tofu

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First of all I feel I need to apologise to anyone reading this from Vietnam – I realise that in comparison to the little works of art that appear on the table in Vietnam and Vietnamese restaurants around the world these are a little slap-dash to say the least!  BUT they do taste amazing plus they’re really healthy and quick to prepare.  

They make a great starter at a dinner party  – you can just stick all the ingredients on the table and let everyone assemble their own – nothing like getting your guests to do the hard work!  Personally, I think these make a great TV dinner.

(Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a light meal)

  • 8 vietnamese rice paper wrappers/spring roll wrappers – You can buy these from Asian supermarkets, health food shops and some regular supermarkets
  • 2 organic carrots – sliced into thin batons
  • Half an organic cucumber  – sliced into thin batons
  • 3 organic spring onions – sliced lengthways 
  • Small pack of organic marinated firm tofu – thinly sliced
  • Handful of fresh mint
  • 1 portion of vermicelli rice noodles
  • Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
  • Splash of soy sauce – I use a low-sodium one
  • Hoisin sauce for dipping
  1. First of all pop the vermicelli rice noodles in a bowl with boiling water to soften
  2. Heat the toasted sesame oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the tofu
  3. Splash a few drops of soy sauce over the tofu and fry for a few moments each side until it turns a golden brown
  4. Pour some boiling water into a large, flat-bottomed plate – this is to soften the rice paper wrappers – they just need a couple of seconds immersed in the water
  5. Place the water-softened wrapper on a plate and fill with ingredients
  6. Fold opposite ends in and then roll up, lengthways, as tightly as you can – this does require some practise!
  7. Serve with a small bowl of hoisin dipping sauce

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Maple syrup and chilli roasted new potatoes

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These make a really tasty side-dish (although I love them so much that given half the chance I could probably just sit and demolish the lot, all by themselves!)

(Serves 4)

  • Medium sized bag of new potatoes
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Generous drizzle of maple syrup
  • Sea salt
  • Dried chilli flakes
  1. Wash the new potatoes and pop in the oven, with the olive oil, at 180º for 30 minutes
  2. Remove the potatoes from the oven, drizzle over the maple syrup and sprinkle over the a generous pinch of sea salt and dried chilli flakes
  3. Stir and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes, before serving

Pesto and yoghurt dip

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OK, so calling this a ‘recipe’ is a little far-fetched as it contains precisely two ingredients and a teeny tiny amount of stirring but I make it a lot and it makes a great healthy dip.

Delicious as a traditional dip or on veggie burgers with tonnes of salad in a bun.

  • 2 small post of unsweetened soya yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons of vegan pesto (you can make your own but I just used a ready-made one here)
  1. Mix ingredients and serve!

Chilli ‘beef’ in lettuce shells

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This Asian-inspired dish is really simple to make and super-tasty.  Sweet and spicy with an extra something from the ginger, spring onions and fresh mint.

Good as a starter, a light main or to share with friends.

  • Bag of frozen soya mince (I used the one by Fry’s)
  • 1 red onion – finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger – finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies – finely chopped (with or without seeds depending on how spicy you like your food)
  • Drizzle of toasted sesame oil
  • 2-3 tablespoonfuls of sweet chilli sauce
  • 2-3 tablespoonfuls of hoisin sauce
  • Handful of fresh mint – roughly chopped
  • 3 spring onions – sliced
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 small romaine lettuces
  1. Warm the sesame oil in a wok
  2. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and chillies and fry for a few minutes to soften
  3. Add the soya mince, sweet chilli sauce, hoisin sauce and water and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally
  4. Remove from heat and stir through the mint and spring onions
  5. Fill the lettuce leaf ‘shells’ with the mixture and serve

NB you can vary the proportions of chillies vs hoisin and sweet chilli sauce depending on how you like the spicy – sweet mix