Tag Archives: nuts

How to make vegan pesto out of anything*

3 May

(*almost)

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I can’t claim that there’s anything groundbreaking about my pesto recipe. It’s just the list of ingredients that I have stuck to my fridge that I tweaked a few times until I was happy with it. I’ve wanted to post the recipe for quite a while now to show how versatile it can be if you mix it up a little bit. Fresh herbs can be quite expensive unless you grow your own or find them in the reduced section, as can pine nuts. It’s really easy to switch out the ingredients for other things to suit your meal or your budget.

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In case you can’t read my writing, here’s the recipe (makes a generous amount for two):

  • One clove of garlic, mashed to a fine paste with a pinch of salt (don’t rely on your food processor to do this for you, pesto is best a bit chunky, and chunky raw garlic is not particularly pleasant)
  • 40g leaves
  • 20g nuts/seeds/legumes
  • Half a tablespoon lemon juice
  • Another pinch of salt and plenty of pepper
  • Two tablespoons of oil
  • One tablespoon (or more) of nooch

First, put just the nuts (or whatever you’re using) in the food processor on their own and pulse a couple of times to get them started.

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Then add the rest of the ingredients…

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… and pulse a few more times until it’s just blended (i.e. not a purée).

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Here are a few examples. First, the pea-sto mark 2 – peas, a 50:50 mix of mint and basil, and olive oil:

 

The super-vegan – pumpkin seeds, kale, and hemp oil:

Pasta with kale pesto and more kale #vegan

A post shared by Mrs Veg (@mrs_veg) on

 

The classic – toasted pine nuts, basil, and olive oil:

Pesto pasta with roast cauli, peppers, white beans and broad beans.

A post shared by Mrs Veg (@mrs_veg) on

 

The English – podded and cooked broad beans, watercress, and cold-pressed rapeseed oil (here it’s mixed in to some risotto and served with more watercress):

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A very veggie Christmas

21 Dec

“So, what do you eat for Christmas dinner?”

It’s the one question all meat-eaters want to ask vegetarians and vegans at this time of year. It’s no surprise they’re curious, food seems like one of the most important aspects of Christmas, and for many people the idea of Christmas day without a massive dead bird in the oven seems a bit weird. To answer their question, and to make a few suggestions, here are a few things I’ve had for my veggie Christmases over the years.

Nothing

I don’t mean nothing at all. What I mean is nothing extra. Pile your plate high with roast potatoes, parsnips, sprouts, stuffing balls, Yorkshire puddings, and drown the whole lot in some lovely vegetarian gravy. I’ve read comments from other vegetarians complaining about being forgotten at Christmas meals and being given a plate of side dishes, but when the side dishes make the meal you don’t really need anything else!

Nut roast

The mainstay of the office Christmas lunch has a terrible reputation, but when it’s done right it’s a fab choice. It’s tasty, satisfying and super healthy, and it’s brilliant for leftovers. Don’t go for a dull, brown packet-mix. Instead, scour the internet for a festive recipe that has things you like in it. To name just a few:

Pie

I’m the only vegetarian in my immediate family, so when I spend Christmas day with them I tend to make my own meat alternative, usually a pie of some sort. Making something different for just one person does sound kind of lonely, but I see it as a real treat, a chance to have whatever I want. Unfortunately I am a creature of habit and tend to always want the same thing – a brie and mushroom parcel. I’ve recently cut out dairy completely, so next time I’m with my parents for Christmas I’ll probably make a mushroom and something else parcel (pine nuts would be lovely). As a rough guide, 100g of puff pastry to 100g of filling makes a generous pie or pasty for one person.

Speaking of mushrooms, one of the nicest meals I ever had was a beautiful mushroom strudel. It was probably nothing more than wild mushrooms cooked with garlic, wrapped in filo pastry, but despite its simplicity it was so special.

Fake meat

I don’t eat an awful lot of fake meat. It’s high in protein but nutritionally it doesn’t have a lot else going for it. I prefer whole foods. However, it is a fun option if you fancy a nostalgic treat, and you can use it to make a very traditional-looking Christmas dinner. A fake meat extravaganza is the usual choice for Christmas dinner in the Veg household, where the vegetarians (me, Mr Veg and his little bro) outnumber the one meat eater (my mother-in-law, AKA Southern Mum). There are several brands of vegetarian chicken-style roasts now, we normally have a couple of these so there will be plenty of leftovers.

I love making veggie pigs in blankets to go with it. Just brush some vegetarian bacon slices with a little oil, and wrap around your favourite vegetarian sausages, hold together with cocktail sticks and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes.

A slightly unusual alternative to this that I’ve tried very recently is a shiitake and leek stuffed seitan roast from Isa Chandra Moskowitz: http://www.theppk.com/2011/11/seitan-roast-stuffed-with-shiitakes-and-leeks/. It’s dense and chewy and really tasty, and the best thing is you can adapt the stuffing and other flavourings to suit you.

The only bad Christmas meal I ever had

I’ve written more than once about chefs who don’t have a clue about what to cook for vegetarians and this is probably the worst experience I’ve had in that respect. The vegetarian option for the office Christmas lunch a few years ago was described only as a vegetarian suet pudding. It could have been lovely, but sadly it was suet pastry wrapped around unseasoned, mealy lentils. It probably would have been ok if there was some gravy or other sauce but sadly there wasn’t. It was dry and bland and a real disappointment.

I’d love to hear what other vegetarians and vegans have for Christmas dinner, please let me know your best and worst experiences.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas and New Year!

Come back nut roast, all is forgiven!

2 Oct

Nut roast. It’s one of those dishes that vegetarians and vegans dread. Usually the domain of unimaginative chefs (see my stuffed pepper post for the full rant) or boring old hippies that only eat bland, brown food and probably crochet their own underwear (let’s face it, we all know at least one). I’ve decided to reclaim nut roast for the mainstream. Nuts are tasty and nutritionally dense, it’s a travesty to waste them on something boring. Here they are in a delicious, colourful roast. Rich chestnuts are paired with crunchy walnuts and seeds, and jazzed up with herbs and a hint of spice. As well as forming the centrepiece of a traditional Sunday roast, alongside a mound of roast potatoes and a gallon of gravy, it can be used to stuff vegetables (I think squash would be amazing), or cold as a sandwich filling.

Before...

Before…

... and after

… and after

Recipe (serves 6-8)

  • 1 tablespoon oil, plus extra for oiling the tin
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped (a food processor will do a fine job of this, seeing as you’ll be using it anyway)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed then chopped
  • 200g cooked chestnuts
  • 50g walnuts
  • 100g fresh breadcrumbs or ground crackers
  • 50g mixed seeds
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • a big handful of fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley and thyme on this occasion)
  • half a teaspoon of hot chilli powder
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Lightly oil a small loaf tin.

Fry the onion in the oil over a medium heat for about five minutes, until softened and starting to brown. Add the garlic and carrots, and cook for a further five minutes or so.

Put the chestnuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Tip into a large bowl, then repeat with the walnuts. It’s easier to control the consistency if you blend the two different kinds of nuts separately.

Add the fried vegetables and the rest of the ingredients to the nuts in the bowl. Mix well, and check the seasoning. Press this mixture into the loaf tin. Bake for around 30 minutes until nicely browned. Enjoy hot or cold.

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