Tag Archives: spicy

Three quick and easy vegan pasta sauces

22 Mar

When I get back from work late, or tired, or both, it’s hard sometimes to motivate myself to cook something proper for dinner. I often find myself eating freezer junk or having a takeaway, when I’d much rather have something healthy. Here’s my solution. Pasta, whatever random ingredient I find in the fridge, and a quick and easy sauce. These three sauces take about a minute each to prepare, and can just be heated in the pan the pasta was cooked in, meaning no extra washing up. I can be slobbing in front of the TV in my tracky bottoms with some dinner within 20 minutes of getting home.

 

Garlic tahini sauce (serves 1):

  • 1 tablespoon each tahini, cold water, and nooch
  • 1 small clove of garlic, mashed to a fine paste with a generous pinch of salt

Mix all of the ingredients together in a little bowl or cup. Leave to stand for a few minutes while you cook some pasta and veggies. It might be a little lumpy at first but it will become smooth. Mix with the cooked pasta and veggies and serve.

 

Harissa and tomato sauce (serves 1):

  • 1 heaped teaspoon harissa paste
  • A handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered

Cook some pasta, and drain, reserving some of the liquid. Leave the pasta in the colander and put the pan back on the hob over a high heat. Throw in the cherry tomatoes, a splash of the pasta water, and the harissa paste. Let it bubble for a minute or so, until the tomatoes are beginning to break down and the harissa paste is mixed in with the water. Return the pasta and any other ingredients back to the pan, stir until everything is well coated with the sauce, and serve.

This recipe also works well with chipotle paste instead of harissa.

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Creamy mustard sauce (serves 1):

  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes
  • Half a tablespoon of plain flour
  • 75ml of cold water
  • A pinch of salt
  • Up to 1 tablespoon of grainy mustard

Before cooking the pasta, mix together the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl or cup. Leave to one side while you cook the pasta, so the flour can start absorbing the water. Cook some pasta, and drain. Leave the pasta in the colander and put the pan back on the hob over a high heat. Pour the sauce into the pan and stir it until it comes to the boil and thickens – this should take less than a minute. Return the pasta and any other ingredients back to the pan, stir until everything is well coated with the sauce, and serve.

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Chilli con seitan

16 Oct

Awesome tasty chilli with beans and seitan #vegan

A post shared by Mrs Veg (@mrs_veg) on

Chilli was one of the first proper dishes I learned to cook. When I became vegetarian in my early teens I started helping my mum out in the kitchen by making the vegetarian version of whatever she was doing for the rest of the family. Chilli con carne is part of her regular repertoire, and I have particularly fond memories of her giving me a bit of onion, half a tin of beans, half a tin of tomatoes, and letting me be creative with my dinner while we sang along to the radio together and chatted about our day. Over the years I’ve been making it I’ve learned three important things:

  1. While you can knock up a half-decent chilli in 10 minutes or so, if you simmer it for a lot longer the flavours will develop.
  2. Use more herbs and spices than just chilli powder for a greater depth of flavour. I like to use both fresh and dried chilli, together with cumin, oregano, and cocoa powder.
  3. It’s seemingly impossible to take a photo of it that will do it justice.

This is the perfect way to try seitan if you’ve never had it before, for me this shows it at its best. It’s chewy, meaty, satisfying, and stands up well to the complex flavours without either dominating the dish or getting lost in there. It’s a good way to satisfy any meat cravings you have, and it’s crammed full of protein – the seitan and beans alone give you about 30g.

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Recipe (makes two generous portions):

  • 1 tablespoon or more vegetable oil
  • 200g seitan, cut into approx. 1cm cubes
  • 1 large onion, sliced into thin half moons
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 x 400g tin of tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained (240g drained weight)

In a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, fry the seitan in the oil until browned on most sides, about five minutes. Transfer the browned seitan to a bowl and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add more oil if needed. Fry the onion for about five minutes, until it is softened and starting to brown round the edges. Add the garlic and fresh chilli and fry for a further 30 seconds or so. Add the cumin and chilli powder and cook for another 30 seconds. Then add the rest of the ingredients including the browned seitan. Simmer over a low heat for 30-40 minutes. Taste for seasoning and serve over rice, quinoa, or a baked potato.

 

Drying red chillies

27 Sep

I’ve been growing my own chillies at home for a few years now. If you look after the plants well, they can keep fruiting from spring all the way through to autumn and beyond. There’s always a bit of a glut around late summer though, and if you preserve that glut well you can have home-grown chillies all year round. They freeze fairly well, and you can use them to make things like sweet chilli sauce or chutney, but my favourite way to keep them is to dry them. You don’t need any special equipment, just a needle, thread, and somewhere cool and dry for them to hang out for a few months. Here’s how you do it:

Pick all of your red chillies. They should still have the stalk and be fairly firm, if there are any soft bits it won’t work. Cut a long length of cotton and thread the needle. Pick up a chilli and pass the needle through the fleshiest part of the stalk. Repeat with all of the chillies, spacing them a couple of centimetres apart. They shouldn’t slide down, but if you’re worried you could loop the thread around and put it though the same hole again.

Tie a loop in each end of the thread, and hang it up somewhere. Here are my chillies in my pantry:

Leave for a few months until the chillies are fully dried out. They should be fairly hard, and you shake them you should be able to hear the seeds rattling around inside.

Once completely dried, you can remove them from the thread and put them in a jar, ready to be crumbled into your favourite spicy dishes. Alternatively, you could make your own chilli flakes by quickly pulsing the dried chillies in a blender or pounding them in a pestle and mortar. Either way, they will last for months.

 

Spicy roasted squash and chickpea soup

10 Nov

It’s Sunday, it’s cold outside, yes… I’ve been making soup again. I could probably fill my entire blog with soup recipes and never run out of ideas or get bored. Here. squash is roasted to bring out the full depth of the flavour. Chickpeas add texture and balance the sweetness and richness of the squash. My two favourite spices, cumin and chilli, make it lovely and warming for a chilly autumnal day.

I used one of my Mum’s home-grown butternut squash for this, but any squash or pumpkin will do. You could roast the squash when you happen to have the oven on for something else, and then keep it in the fridge for when it’s time to make soup. The soup itself is very quick to put together.

Recipe (serves 4)

  • About 500g squash, roasted (about half an hour at 200ºC should do it)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed and finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • Half a tin of chickpeas, about 120g
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a low-medium heat. Fry the onion with the lid on, for about five minutes. Add the garlic, chilli and cumin and fry for a couple more minutes, still covered.

Add the rest of the ingredients and then blend until smooth. Heat through, check for seasoning, and serve.

Chilli and corn stuffed peppers

29 Aug

There are many things a vegetarian might see on a restaurant menu that will make their heart sink. Dishes that can be satisfying and delicious, but when made by a begrudging meat-eating chef in a busy kitchen will invariably be a stodgy, tasteless disappointment. Common failures include risotto, vegetable lasagne, and mushroom stroganoff.

I was reminded of this recently when watching an episode of Celebrity Masterchef. The contestants were asked to produce food for a college canteen. One of the vegetarian options they made was stuffed peppers, which consisted of peppers stuffed with plain cous cous and vegetables. Nothing else. I love vegetables more than anything, but if I was presented with that for my lunch I would feel really let down. It shows real lack of imagination. Most vegetarians I know have as healthy an appetite as anyone else and they like their food to taste of something. We’re not ill, we’re not on a diet, and most of all we love good food!

So in response to the Masterchef non-recipe, here are my own stuffed peppers, using the classic combination of chillies and corn. It’s tasty, it’s filling, and most of all it’s not disappointing. You could add a bit of grated cheese if that floats your boat, but I choose not to.

Recipe (makes four half peppers)

  • 2 bell peppers
  • 75g polenta
  • 1 hot chilli
  • a sprig of thyme
  • 150g sweetcorn
  • half a teaspoon of salt

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Cut the peppers in half, and remove the seeds. Try and keep the stalk attached, it helps the pepper halves keep their shape and stops the filling from spilling all over the place. Put the peppers in a roasting tin.

Bring 350ml water to boil in a non-stick saucepan. Slowly pour the polenta into the boiling water, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to medium and keep stirring for two minutes. When the polenta is thick and fairly smooth (kinda like mashed potato), add the finely chopped chilli, thyme, sweetcorn, and salt. Stir well.

Divide the filling between the peppers. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pepper is cooked and the stuffing is starting to brown.

Note: if there is any filling left over, let it set, cut it into cubes and fry it up. Or just eat it.

Spicy thai curry noodles

9 Aug

This recipe is adapted from a Jamie Oliver 15 Minute Meals recipe for chicken laksa (you can see the original recipe here). I can’t really take any credit for this, all I’ve done his taken his soup recipe, turned it into a sauce and vegetarianised it. I love the flavour profile so much – it’s spicy, fresh and zesty and it makes a really sexy accompaniment for noodles and stir fried vegetables.

Recipe (serves 2)

For the sauce:

  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • About 2cm root ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, as hot or mild as you like, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • ½ tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 15g fresh coriander, stalks and all
  • ½ tablespoon peanut butter
  • ½ tin coconut milk (200g)
  • The juice of one lime

Everything else:

  • Two nests/bundles noodles of your choice, cooked according to packet instructions
  • Stir fried vegetables
  • Some kind of protein –I normally go for marinated tofu, but I think toasted cashews could be even better
  • A good sprinkle of sesame seeds

While the noodles, veg and protein are cooking, throw all of the sauce ingredients in a blender and whizz until completely blended.

Briefly heat the sauce up in a pan until just hot. You don’t want to cook it for more than a couple of minutes or it will start to lose its zinginess. As soon as it starts to bubble, add the cooked noodles and toss to coat. Serve the noodles topped with the veggies and protein.

Harissa spiced roast vegetable pasta

17 Jun

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I’ve not posted very much over the last few weeks because I’ve been super busy at work, which completely saps my creativity. Things are calming down now, and I’ve finally got my cooking mojo back! I’ve been celebrating today with this simple spicy veggie pasta (recipe below).

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Recipe (serves 2)

  • A selection of veggies. I used onion, tomato, aubergine/eggplant, and courgette/zucchini. Other good options include squash, sweet potato, pepper or fennel.
  • Two tablespoons oil
  • 150g wholemeal pasta
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree

Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Chop the vegetables into roughly bite-sized pieces, transfer to a roasting tin, toss in the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and starting to brown around the edges, around half an hour.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and return to the pan. Add the harissa and tomato puree and the roasted vegetables. Mix well, adding a splash of water if it looks a bit dry.

Serve with some tasty protein, such as beans or marinated grilled tofu. We were feeling slightly less classy than that today, so we topped it with some vegetarian hot dogs. Yum.

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