Caramelised red onion and cranberry gravy

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I love this gravy.  It’s rich and sweet and goes amazingly well with bangers and mash!

  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • 2 red onions – peeled and sliced
  • Drizzle of maple syrup
  • Half a pint vegetable gravy (made with veg gravy granules)
  • Large handful of frozen cranberries
  • Sprinkle of fresh rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to season
  1. Heat the oil in a pan
  2. Gently fry the onions over a low heat for 15 minutes
  3. Add the maple syrup and fry for a further 2-3 minutes
  4. Add the gravy, cranberries, rosemary and salt and pepper
  5. Heat through for a further 5 – 10 minutes until the cranberries start to burst
  6. Serve with vegan sausages and kale and potato mash

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Homemade cranberry sauce

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This is so easy to make and so delicious that I can’t quite believe I ever bought the stuff!  Stored in jars it will keep well in the cupboard (or fridge once opened) and makes a great present around Christmas-time.

  • 300g frozen cranberries (you can use fresh but these aren’t always easy to find)
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Generous drizzle of port or cherry brandy
  • 50 ml of water
  1. Add all ingredients to a pan and heat through, stirring occasionally
  2. After a few minutes the cranberries will start to burst, give them another stir to crush the berries further and then place into jars

NB Because cranberries are so rich in pectin the sauce will appear much runnier than you think it should but will solidify as it cools

Pan-fried sprouts with chestnuts and a hint of chilli

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This is one of my favourite side-dishes at Christmas-time.  Although not popular with everyone I absolutely love sprouts and personally I could happily eat them at any time of the year!

(Serves 4-6 as a side dish)

  • 450g of sprouts – with stalks and any brown leaves removed
  • 200g of chestnuts – roughly chopped (I bought mine from Merchant Gourmet)
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Sprinkle of dried chilli
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Steam the sprouts for 5 minutes to soften
  2. Heat the olive oil in a pan and then add the sprouts and chestnuts
  3. Pan-fry for approximately 6-7 minutes
  4. Add chilli, salt and pepper to taste

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

Spinach and rocket salad with oven-roasted tomatoes, avocado, capers, red onion and pan-fried gnocchi

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We eat so many salads in the summer and despite what some people think they really, really don’t have to be boring!  To be honest we rarely eat the same salad twice as it normally depends on what is in the fridge at the time…

I usually pop gnocchi in boiling water for a couple of minutes but this time I pan-fried it for a slightly different taste and texture.

(Serves 2)

  • 2 large handfuls of organic rocket
  • 2 large handfuls of organic spinach
  • Punnet of slow-roasted tomatoes (see previous recipe)
  • 1 bag of gnocchi
  • 1 ripe organic avocado – peeled, stoned and sliced
  • 1/2 red onion – finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of capers
  • Handful of toasted almond flakes and pumpkin seeds
  • Generous drizzle of olive oil
  • Tablespoon of vegan pesto (I often make my own but Zest do a great one)
  1. Pan-fry the gnocchi in a little olive oil allowing to lightly brown on the outside
  2. Assemble the rocket, spinach, tomatoes, gnocchi, avocado, onion, capers, almond flakes and pumpkin seeds in a bowl
  3. Mix the olive oil with the pesto and drizzle over the salad
  4. Toss and serve

If taking this on a picnic then just take the pesto and olive oil separately and drizzle over at the last minute to avoid the salad leaves going soggy

 

Slow-roasted tomatoes

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I adore these tomatoes.  They’re really easy to prepare, will keep for a few days in the fridge and are great added to salads, served on toast with a drizzle of olive oil or thrown into a pasta sauce.

  • Punnet of organic, on-the-vine cherry tomatoes – Halved
  • 1 garlic clove – sliced
  • Drizzle of olive oil
  • Sprinkle of seasalt
  1. Assemble all the ingredients in an ovenproof dish and pop in the oven at 100°C and bake for about an hour
  2. If not eating immediately then they can be stored in the fridge in an airtight jar for a few days

 

Vegan Spanish tortilla

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I’m always on the lookout for ways to “veganize” foods that I enjoyed before I stopped eating animal products.  This is a recent discovery and I love it!  Tortilla is often served in tapas bars around Spain in small cubes but this is equally delicious served hot or cold with a big green salad.  It keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days and frequently pops up in our picnic hamper over the summer.

I’ve substituted the eggs for silken tofu flavoured with kala namak and nutritional yeast for a subtle “eggy” taste.  Although I adore the taste of turmeric I initially added it to this recipe for the colour as much as anything else.

(Serves 4)

  • 2 packs of silken tofu
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large potatoes (thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
  • 3 teaspoons of dill (dried or fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon of ground kala namak (black salt)
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • Sea salt and pepper to season
  1. Blend the tofu, turmeric, kala namak, nutritional yeast, dill, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil to a smooth consistency.
  2. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a non-stick frying pan and heat it up
  3. Add a layer of the tofu mix followed by a thin layer of potato
  4. Continue this process until all the ingredients are used up.  Make sure you finish with a layer of the tofu mix
  5. Put on a low heat for 40 minutes to cook through
  6. Finish off with a few minutes under a hot grill to brown off