So we’re going on holiday in a weeks’ time with some great friends of ours who aren’t vegan. They’re cool folk and have never been anything other than inquisitive and supportive of our decision to switch to a vegan lifestyle. On a practical front – she is an amazing cook so isn’t remotely phased by the challenge of vegan cooking so that is half the battle won. Most friends’ look of abject horror when we tell them we’re vegan, isn’t actually a reaction to our choices but more a panic-stricken reaction to wondering what the hell they are ever going to cook us when we come for supper.
So we’re conscious that we want to be able to cook really tasty, hearty, healthy meals which don’t leave them craving rib eye steak and a chicken bucket by the end of the week!
Here’s a recent article from the Guardian website with 10 vegan recipes which I’ll be printing off and taking with me as they all look delicious and remarkably straightforward to make:
Chocolate and pecan tart (above)
The rich fruitiness (and extra vitamins) provided by the avocados, dates and coconut oil here add hidden depth to this chocolate tart. Best served from the fridge, within two days of making it.
Jordan Bourke, jordanbourke.com
150g pecans, plus extra for decorating
10 dried pitted dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
3 tsp cocoa powder
Pinch of sea salt
For the filling
3 large ripe avocados, peeled and destoned
6 tbsp pure maple syrup
3 tbsp date syrup (or more maple syrup)
6 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt
5 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil, melted
100g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and roast the pecans for about 4 minutes, or until they are a shade darker and aromatic – watch them carefully as they burn very quickly. Leave to cool completely.
2 In a food processor, blitz the dates for a few seconds, then add the rest of the ingredients for the base and blitz until everything is very finely chopped and sticks together when pressed between your fingers. Very firmly press the mixture into a 20cm-diameter springform tin, so that you have an even, smooth and compacted base for the tart. Place in the freezer to set for 15-20 minutes.
3 For the filling, place all the ingredients into a food processor, apart from the coconut oil and dark chocolate, then blitz until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as you go. This could take a few minutes, depending on the strength of your machine.
4 With the processor still running, pour in the melted coconut oil until just combined. Pour the mixture on to the set base and smooth out the top. Place in a fridge to set for at least 4-5 hours.
5 When ready to serve, remove the tart from the springform tin and place it on a large white plate. Liberally grate the chocolate over the tart and scatter with extra pecans.
Sprouting kachumbar salad
This super-quick salad proves on one flavour-packed plate that the supremely healthy can also be incredibly delicious. If you’re making it for lunchboxes, put the dressing in a separate container and drizzle over just before you eat.
Meera Sodha, meerasodha.com
For the salad
250g baby plum tomatoes, chopped
200g radishes, topped, tailed and finely sliced
½ cucumber, deseeded and finely diced
A bunch of spring onions, finely sliced
40g coriander, chopped
2cm ginger, peeled and finely cut
250g sprouted mung beans and mixed pulses
For the dressing
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Juice of ½ lemon
1 Toss all the salad ingredients into a bowl.
2 Combine all the dressing ingredients in a separate bowl. Whisk with a fork and drizzle over your salad just before serving.
Peanut butter cheesecake with maple bananas
Free-from products are widely available in supermarkets and health food shops. Vegan desserts don’t always have to be virtuous – just add a dollop of dairy-free ice-cream or coconut sorbet. Make sure you check the biscuit packet, as some digestives are vegan, others are not.
Andrew Dargue, Orchard Vegetarian Kitchen, orchard-kitchen.co.uk
50g dairy-free margarine
100g dairy-free digestive biscuits, crushed
50g dairy-free dark chocolate, finely chopped
225g dairy-free cream cheese
30g soya milk
25g icing sugar
270g crunchy peanut butter
For the bananas
4 tbsp maple syrup
Smoked paprika, for sprinkling
1 Gently melt the margarine in a saucepan over a low heat. Mix the biscuit crumbs into the margarine, stir, then fold in the chocolate.
2 Line a 15cm loose-bottomed or springform tin with baking paper, then add the crumb mix. Use the back of a metal spoon to spread and press down the crumbs to form a base. Allow to cool while you make the filling.
3 Combine the cream cheese, soya milk and icing sugar. Fold the peanut butter in lightly so as to keep a marbled effect. Add the mix to the base and spread evenly.
4 Put the cheesecake in the freezer and leave until firm, but not fully frozen. This should take around 30 minutes, depending on your freezer. When set, remove from the freezer and slice into portions immediately.
5 Set aside for around 10‑15 minutes at room temperature, to let it soften a little before serving.
6 Meanwhile, insert a knife just under the skin of each banana and make an incision from one end to the other. Prise open the banana so the fruit is exposed, but keep the skin on. Spoon 1 tbsp syrup into each banana, making sure they are well coated. Sprinkle a pinch of smoked paprika along the length of the banana and syrup. Wrap the bananas in foil, but scrunch it up so the syrup stays in the bananas. Make sure the foil is well sealed.
7 Bake the bananas at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and serve with the cheesecake.
Poppy seed and black onion crisps
These are fast to make, and last for up to a week in an airtight container. Try serving them with a tomato-based dip.
Bread, Cake, Doughnut, Pudding, Justin Gellatly (Fig Tree)
Makes about 50
200ml rapeseed oil
4 tsp black onion seeds
4 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp caster sugar
600g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 Whisk the oil and water together in a large jug or bowl. Add the other ingredients to another bowl, add the liquid and mix. Once it has become a dough, turn out on to a floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and rest overnight, or continue.
2 Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6 and line two large baking trays with parchment.
3 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 3mm thick. Cut into 4cm rounds. Roll out each round until 1mm thick. Brush off excess flour and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Watch them, as they turn from golden to burned quite quickly.
Lime and turmeric tofu steaks with fresh chilli sambal
Many people think they hate tofu, but it’s an absorbent ingredient – so as good as the flavours you give it. This zingy marinade will wash away any previous bad experience.
Fired Up Vegetarian, Ross Dobson (Murdoch Books)
60ml lime juice
60ml rapeseed oil
¼ tsp ground turmeric
600g firm tofu, divided into four equal portions
Lime wedges, to serve
For the sambal
1 tsp vegetable stock (bouillon) powder
2 makrut lime leaves, thinly sliced
2 lemongrass stems, pale part only, finely chopped
2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp lime juice
1 Combine the sambal ingredients in a bowl, then stir until the stock powder has dissolved. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight.
2 Combine the lime juice, rapeseed oil and turmeric in a bowl and stir until the spice has dissolved and the oil is vibrantly coloured. Coat the tofu with marinade. Set aside for 30 minutes.
3 Preheat the barbecue or a grill to high. Cook the tofu for 2–3 minutes on each side, or until heated through and slightly crusty. Serve warm, with the sambal spooned over and lime wedges on the side.
Linguine with edamame pesto
Edamame (soya beans) are available in the freezer sections of supermarkets, but if you can’t find any, you can also use frozen peas or broad beans.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Post Punk Kitchen, theppk.com
300g spinach linguine or other pasta
1 tsp olive oil
Small red onion, thinly sliced
200g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
Basil leaves, torn, to serve
For the pesto
2 garlic cloves, chopped
A large handful of basil leaves
A small handful of coriander leaves
400g frozen edamame (soya beans), thawed
100ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 To make the pesto, pulse the garlic and basil in a food processor. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until relatively smooth. Scrape the sides with a spatula to make sure you get everything. Add more stock if needed.
2 Cook the pasta to al dente, following packet instructions, while you cook the mushrooms. Fry the onion slices over a medium heat for 5 minutes until softened, but not browned. Add the mushrooms, garlic and season. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 When the mushrooms are cooked, add the pasta and pesto to the pan. Heat through, stirring, for a couple of minutes; if the pesto is too thick (not spreading out and coating the pasta) add a little water. Check the seasoning, then serve immediately with the torn basil leaves sprinkled over the top.
Cinnamon pull-apart brioche
This brioche takes a little time to make, but is more than worth it and freezes well. Try serving with fruit salad or drizzled with maple syrup for brunch.
Celine Steen, havecakewilltravel.com
1 tbsp cornflour
120ml full-fat coconut milk, at room temperature
3 tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp fast-action yeast
50g dairy-free spread
Vegetable oil, to grease the tin
For the filling
2 tsp ground cinnamon
75g light brown sugar
Flour, for rolling out
Water, to brush the rolled-out dough
1 Put the cornflour in a small bowl. Add 30ml water and stir to dissolve. Add the remaining water, and boil in a small saucepan until slightly gelatinous and cloudy, which takes about 1 minute. Set aside to cool completely.
2 Combine the cooled cornflour mix with the milk, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add flour and yeast, then knead either in a mixer for 2 minutes, or by hand for 4 minutes.
3 Add the dairy-free spread, 1 tbsp at a time, as you knead the dough. Once all of the spread has been slowly added, knead in the mixer for 4 minutes, or by hand for 8-10 minutes. The dough will look like batter, be sticky and not form a ball, even after this much kneading.
4 Put back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm then allow to rise for 45 minutes. Punch the dough back down, cover with clingfilm again then chill for 2 hours, until cold and stiff.
5 To make the filling, mix the cinnamon and sugar in a bowl, then set aside. Generously flour a work surface, then roll the dough into a 20x30cm rectangle. Lightly brush with water, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar.
6 Using a sharp knife, cut the dough lengthwise in four strips. Place the strips on top of each other, sugared-side up. Cut into six stacks, width-wise. Transfer the stacks into a greased 900g loaf tin, with the cut edges facing up.
7 Cover with clingfilm, and let rise for 1 hour in a warm place, or until doubled.
8 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Remove the clingfilm. Bake the brioche for 40 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.
Sweet and sour courgettes with sesame noodles
You can swap the courgettes for other crunchy green veg when not in season, or serve them simply with steamed rice.
Rosie Reynolds, The Cook Team
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4cm piece ginger, peeled and shredded
3 courgettes, chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp cider vinegar
For the noodles
250g medium rice noodles
4 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp agave syrup
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
4 spring onions, shredded
1 Cook the rice noodles according to packet instructions until just tender. Drain and refresh under cold water.
2 Combine the tahini with the agave syrup and soy sauce. Toss the noodles through the sauce, scatter with sesame and spring onions.
3 Heat the oil in a wok, or frying pan, once hot add the garlic and ginger and sizzle for a few minutes, stirring frequently until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
4 Add the courgettes to the pan and fry for 4-5 minutes until they start to colour and soften. Sprinkle in the sugar and vinegar. Toss the pan to dissolve the sugar. Return the garlic and ginger to the pan and heat through. Serve the noodles with courgettes.
A Deep South classic with all the spicy Creole flavours, but none of the meat.
Leon Fast Vegetarian, Henry Dimbleby and Jane Baxter (Octopus)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bay leaf
A pinch of dried oregano
A pinch of dried thyme
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
220g long-grain rice
1 aubergine, cut into 1cm dice
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
400ml vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
1 Heat the oil in a large pan, then add the onion, pepper and celery. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat. Add the garlic, herbs and spices and cook for 2 minutes.
2 Add the rice, aubergine, tomato puree and tinned tomatoes. Stir well, season and cook for a further 2 minutes.
3 Add the stock, bring to a simmer, then cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to steam for 5 minutes. Fluff up the rice and serve with a green salad.
Lentil and apricot soup
A winter favourite gets a summer makeover. This recipe also freezes well, so you carry the sunshine through to colder months.
Three Sisters Bake, Gillian, Nicola and Linsey Reith (Hardie Grant)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 white onion, roughly chopped
2 large white potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
4 carrots, chopped
2 celery sticks, tough strings removed, chopped
1 large leek, topped and tailed, chopped and rinsed
200g red lentils, rinsed until the water runs clear
200g fresh apricots, de-stoned and chopped
1 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
Salt and black pepper
2 tsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
1 Fry the veg for 10 minutes until soft. Add the lentils and apricots, then cover with water and bring to the boil. Add the bouillon and stir. Reduce to a simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered. Top up the water halfway through, if necessary.
2 Check the lentils are completely soft before removing from the heat. Allow to cool a little.
3 Liquidise with a blender until smooth, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed. Stir through the chopped parsley and serve.