Creamy hazelnut pâté

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This is so easy to make that I’m a little embarrassed to call it a recipe but it’s so delicious that I thought it was well worth including!  It makes a great starter for a dinner-party (plus the super-quick preparation time means that you can spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen) or a nice tasty lunch or snack.

(Serves 4)

  • One tub of Tofutti vegan cream cheese
  • 3-4 large spoonfuls of hazelnut butter
  • Sprinkle of sea salt
  • Slices of fig to garnish
  1. Blend the cream cheese, hazelnut butter and sea salt together (you can do this really easily with a spoon)
  2. Serve with slices of fig and crusty bread

Vegan pizza breads

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These are so simple and quick to make and they’re an ideal way of using up day-old French stick.  You can be as creative as you like with the toppings.  I tend to use whatever we have in…

(Serves 2)

  • 1 French stick
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • Passata
  • One organic red onion – peeled and sliced
  • Couple of handfuls of organic mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 organic green pepper – sliced
  • Green olives – de-stoned and sliced
  1. Fry the onions on a low heat with a drizzle of olive oil and maple syrup to caramelise
  2. Cut the French stick in half and slice down the middle
  3. Grill the crusty side of the bread under the grill for a few minutes
  4. Spread the passata over the bread
  5. Meanwhile gently fry the peppers and mushrooms in a little olive oil
  6. Assemble the onion, peppers, mushrooms and sliced green peppers on the bread
  7. Pop back under the grill for a few minutes
  8. Serve with a green salad

Smashed potato and rocket cake with tomato and celery sauce

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This meal came about because we were running low on fresh food before we did the weekly shop and needed to use up potatoes, rocket, tomatoes and some celery…  My husband decided to make himself a tomato soup and I opted for potato cakes – the soup was thicker than planned and so became a sauce and I decided that my potato cakes needed a little of something extra.  Hey-presto – a new meal was born!

Somewhat surprisingly it actually tasted really good so has now become a bit of a regular!

For the smashed potato cakes:

  • Small bag of organic new potaotes
  • Half a bag of organic rocket (roughly chopped)
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

For the sauce:

  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 medium organic onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 6 organic tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1 tin of organic chopped tomatoes
  • 1 stick of celery (roughly chopped)
  • Approximately 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon of agave syrup
  • Salt and pepper to season

To make the sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic and the onion, fry for a few moments to soften
  2. Add the celery for a further few minutes
  3. Add the tomatoes (tinned and fresh), stock and agave syrup to the pan and simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Season to taste
  5. Blend to a smooth consistency (I use a hand-held blender)

To make the potato cakes:

  1. Boil the potatoes for approximately 10-12 minutes, until cooked (I leave the skins on)
  2. Drain the potatoes and then add the chopped rocket, olive oil and salt and pepper to the pan
  3. Roughly mash all the ingredients together
  4. Shape the mixture into chef rings to make patties and then fry in a little olive oil for a few minutes each side

Serve the potato cakes with the sauce and enjoy!

Crab-friendly ‘crab’ cakes

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I heard about a vegan restaurant in California using hearts of palm to make ‘crab’ cakes a few weeks ago and have been keen to experiment ever since.  These were my first attempt and they were really tasty but I personally think I may add a bit of potato to the mix next time as the texture was quite crunchy and I think a combination of soft/crunchy may work better.  I also found that although they looked quite ‘crabby’ the taste and texture was quite different to the crab-unfriendly version (from what I can remember!) Having said that, these are still well worth a try for something a little different plus they taste good in their own right and they’re healthy!

If anyone else has experimented with crabless ‘crab’ cakes then please do post a comment to let me know how you got on and to share any tips or ideas you might have.

(Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main)

  • Tin of hearts of palm – roughly chopped into small pieces and make sure you buy it with salt, not sugar!
  • 1 small bunch of radishes – topped, tailed and grated
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic – peeled and crushed
  • Drizzle of organic sunflower oil
  • 5 teaspoons of paprika
  • 6 teaspoons of dill – fresh or dried
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Panko breadcrumbs to coat
  1. Once prepared place the hearts of palm, radishes and garlic into a sieve and using the back of a spoon force out as much of the liquid as possible (for the mixture to hold together in the pan later you don’t want too much moisture)
  2. Add the oil, hearts of palm, radishes, onion and garlic to a pan and gently fry for a few minutes to soften
  3. Add the paprika, dill, lemon juice and salt and pepper
  4. Leave the mixture on the side to cool down to room temperature and then place in the fridge for 20 minutes to chill further
  5. Using either your hands or chef rings mould the mixture into patties and coat in panko breadcrumbs
  6. Fry in a little oil for a few minutes each side until nicely browned
  7. Serve with a green salad, dill sauce (mix soya yoghurt, dill and lemon juice) and a wedge of fresh lemon

 

Carrot and orange soup

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I love making soups – they’re so simple to do and there are unlimited numbers of combinations of flavours and ingredients.  Also, most soups keep well in the fridge for a few days and make great healthy snacks and lunches or as a starter for a dinner party – simply warm them up when needed.

We’ve been getting huge bunches of carrots (carrot-tops included) over recent weeks in our veg box so I’ve been basing a lot of our meals around them (sorry G!)  Today’s lunch was a very simple carrot and orange soup, which literally took me about twelve minutes from walking through the door to sitting down to eat.  

(Serves 4)

  • Bunch of organic carrots – approximately eight, scrubbed, topped and tailed and roughly chopped
  • 2 organic oranges
  • 2 gloves of garlic – peeled and crushed
  • Drizzle of organic sunflower oil
  • 5 teaspoons or ground coriander
  • 2 pints of vegetable stock (I use Kallo organic stock cubes)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add the ground coriander and garlic together with the carrots
  3. Sauté for about 3 minutes
  4. Grate the zest and the juice of the oranges to the pan (I also often add the remaining peel and flesh for additional flavour and then just remove before blending)
  5. Add the veg stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 8 minutes to soften the carrots
  6. Blend and return to the heat (I use a hand-held blender most of the time as it’s much quicker and makes far less washing up!)
  7. Season to taste and serve

Loaded potato skins

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Although the potatoes need quite a while in the oven the actual time needed to prepare these is very short, making them a great mid-week supper option.  I used a Vegusto vegan cheese for this but any vegan cheese that melts would work well.

(Serves 4)

  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 1 red onion – chopped
  • Small pack of vegan cheese – I used Vegusto (No moo, melty)
  • Handful of fresh thyme
  • Sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  1. Prick the potatoes with a fork and drizzle over some olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt
  2. Bake for around 90 minutes (until fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside) at 180°C
  3. Remove the potatoes from the oven, cut in half and scoop out the potato inside
  4. Mix the potato in a bowl with the red onion, cheese, thyme, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil
  5. Stuff the mixture back into the skins and return to the oven for a further ten minutes
  6. Serve with a salad and soya yoghurt or sour cream

 

 

Jamie Oliver’s Vegan Keralan Curry

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I’ve really noticed in the last couple of years more mainstream celebrity chefs are including plant-based meals in their cookery books and TV shows, which is fantastic.  This delicious Keralan curry is one of Jamie Oliver’s 15 Minute Meals – it’s deliciously fragrant with a great fruity twist from the addition of the pineapple and a wonderful variety of textures. This dish really takes me back to a wonderful few weeks spent in Southern India sampling the amazing light and fragrant curries – A great part of the world to visit if you’re vegan!

I didn’t actually make the minty yoghurt this time but you could easily make it with unsweetened soya yoghurt to make the entire meal dairy-free.

The link to the recipe is below: 

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/vegetables-recipes/keralan-veggie-curry-with-poppadoms-rice-minty-yoghurt

Mushroom and pepper Stroganoff

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Despite it still (officially) being British summertime the weather here has been decidedly wet and windy today.  This vegan Stroganoff is perfect comfort food for rainy days but also holds its own at dinner parties if you’re entertaining.  You can make it ahead of time (meaning more quality time with your guests) – just warm through on the night and don’t add the soya cream or fresh parsley until you’re ready to serve.

(Serves 4)

  • 1 punnet of organic closed cup mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 punnet organic chestnut mushrooms – sliced
  • 1 organic red pepper – sliced
  • 1 organic green pepper – sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic – chopped
  • 1 organic white onion – chopped
  • Sunflower oil
  • 2 tablespoons of paprika
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed spice
  • 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use one by Biona)
  • 1 dessertspoon of Marmite
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup soya cream (I use an Alpro one)
  • Bunch of fresh parsley – chopped
  1. Add the sunflower oil to a large pan and warm
  2. Add the paprika and mixed spice and allow to dissolve in the warmed oil (be careful not to burn)
  3. Add the garlic and onion to the pan and cook for a few minutes to allow the onion to soften
  4. Add the mushrooms, peppers, Worcestershire sauce, Marmite, brandy and a generous sprinkle of freshly ground black pepper
  5. Stir and cook for approximately 10 – 15 minutes
  6. Stir the soya cream and fresh parsley through just before serving

I served it here with long grain rice but it’s equally delicious with tagliatelle

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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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