Tag Archives: vegetables

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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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.

Roasted broccoli tofu quiche

15 Feb

 

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Poor old quiche doesn’t have the best reputation, people either think that (a) it’s a bit fiddly to make, or that (b) it belongs in the seventies along with vol-au-vents and cheese and pineapple on sticks. If either of these applies to you then please cast aside your doubts and give it a go! Vegan quiche is gorgeous, it’s a good balance of healthy (tofu and veggies!) and naughty (pastry!), and it works both hot or cold. Also, it’s not difficult or time-consuming to make at all. The most active part of the recipe is making the pastry, which takes, what… three minutes? You can do that, right?!

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Roasting the broccoli in this recipe was a last-minute brainwave. I was planning to microwave it, then I read an inspiring article written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz where she said roasting makes everything taste delicious (you can read the full article here for this and five other pearls of wisdom). I’m so glad I did, roasting the broccoli deepens the flavour and contributes to the slight cheesiness. Ground almonds add a little extra firmness to the filling, and increase the cheesy quality of the flavour profile.

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Recipe (serves 4)

For the pastry:

  • 50g margarine (check it is suitable for pastry)
  • 100g flour (white or wholemeal, this time I used half wholemeal spelt and half plain flour)
  • Pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 200g broccoli, chopped into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tb vegetable oil
  • A 396g block of firm tofu, drained but not pressed
  • Quarter of a cup (or 4 tb) nutritional yeast flakes
  • Quarter of a cup ground almonds
  • One clove of garlic, mashed to a fine paste
  • 1 ts salt
  • Plenty of black pepper

For the pastry, rub the margarine into the flour and salt. Continue mixing with your hands, adding some cold water a splash at a time until it comes together in a ball. Put it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.

Lightly grease a 20cm / 8 inch quiche dish. Roll out the pastry and use it to line the dish. Trim the edges but not too much, be aware that the pastry will shrink a little bit when you cook it. Prick the pastry all over with a fork, then blind bake it for 15 minutes at 200˚C. You want the pastry to be starting to go dry and golden, but not brown.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Put the chopped broccoli in a small roasting tin with the oil and roast for about 15 minutes, until softened and starting to brown round the edges. Crumble the tofu into a large bowl, add the rest of the ingredients, and mix well with a fork.

When the broccoli is cooked, remove it from the oven. Chop about half of it even more finely, then add all of the broccoli to the tofu mixture. Carefully tip this into the pastry case, pressing it into the corners and smoothing out the top. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes, until it is heated through and golden brown on top. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving, it will be much easier to get out of the dish. Serve hot or cold.

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Doners, quiche, VegFest, focaccia – a 2014 review

1 Jan

Most-read post – By quite a long way, it was the seitain doner kebab meat that I wrote back in May. I’m a tiny bit embarrassed that my most popular recipe is also one of the unhealthiest, but I’m also so proud that something we put so much thought in to came out exactly how we wanted. I hope that people who search for vegan junk food recipes find what they’re looking for on my site, but are inspired by the healthier articles.

My favourite recipe – The recipe I posted on my one-year bloggiversary in April, it’s vegan quiche with spinach, leeks, and pine nuts. Quiche was a bit of an obsession of mine in my pre-vegan days, so I was really pleased to come up with a recipe that was both delicious and satisfying, without an animal product in sight.

My favourite non-foodie article – It’s a difficult choice, but I’d have to go with the post about VegFest London from September, simply because I had so much fun “researching” it. I wrote the post as soon as I got home from VegFest. I didn’t over-think what I was going to say, so I my enthusiasm and excitement about the event are genuine.

My top foodie discovery of 2014 – the stuffed focaccia we ate on holiday in Italy, which had roasted courgettes, aubergines, and peppers baked right into it. Just a few weeks later I went on a bread-making course and learned how to make focaccia, and I’m now getting the hang of doing it at home. Watch this space, the recipe may well appear on this blog in the near future.

Still to come in 2015 – an easy, adaptable pesto recipe; vegan parkin; and my adventures with home-made tempeh.

In my veg box this week – celeriac, fennel, swede

19 Nov

I’ve chosen the three most weird and wonderful items to talk about this week. I imagine all three of them will divide opinion, some people love strong flavours, some find them freaky. I love a bit of variety, so I’m thrilled to see all three of them.

Celeriac
It’s almost impossible to describe celeriac without sounding nuts. The best I can come up with is a turnip infused with celery, but that still doesn’t quite cut it. There’s no way to know whether you’d like it or not without trying it, so give it a go! I’d highly recommend making a celeriac and potato gratin. Peel and very finely slice some celeriac and potato, then par-boil them for just a couple of minutes. Drain and return to the pan with some finely chopped garlic and plenty of salt and pepper and toss it all up to mix. Tip the whole lot into a greased casserole dish and drizzle over plenty of non-dairy cream. Bake at 200˚C for 30-40 minutes until bubbly and brown on top.

Fennel
Another one that’s difficult to describe. I suppose I’d say that the texture is similar to chunky white cabbage but with a little more crunch, and the flavour is unmistakeably aniseed, but much fresher and zingier. You can eat it raw, sliced finely and tossed with herby vinaigrette. It also roasts and steams really well, or cook it in a stew with tinned tomatoes and tonnes of garlic.

Swede
I hated swede for such a long time when I was younger, I can’t even remember why now because over the years I’ve had a complete about-turn. It’s perfect paired with carrots, the sweetness of the carrots counterbalances the bitterness of the swede, and they bring out the best in each other’s flavours. Mashed together they make a perfect bed for some veggie sausages and a bit of onion gravy… Yum!

Also received this week: tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, potatoes, mushrooms, apples, oranges, plums, bananas.

“In my veg box this week…” is not intended as a product review, simply a description of some of the fruit and vegetables that are in season and what I like to do with them. I pay full price for my vegetable box and have no affiliation with the company that delivers them or any of their suppliers.

In my veg box this week – Halloween pumpkins (well, squashes) and late summer veg

29 Oct

Last Halloween we left it really late to buy a pumpkin to carve. We went to both of our local shops and neither had any left, so we ended up carving a swede instead. Historically in Britain and Ireland it used to be swedes and turnips that were carved at this time of year, but frankly it’s a lot more effort, doesn’t look as cool, and not nearly as tasty either. I’m really pleased to have three squashes to choose from this year. I bought the large one in the middle from the market at the weekend, the butternut and the little one on the right are from this week’s veg box. Whichever one gets carved on Friday will end up roasted or baked over the weekend, and end up in any of the following:

  • with pasta, greens, chilli, seeds, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar glaze,
  • salad with lentils and loads of other seasonal veggies,
  • a creamy curry with chickpeas,
  • soup,
  • cakes or cookies.

This week I was thrilled to get some late summer courgettes and tomatoes. It has been such a long time since I had courgettes. For weeks on end I’d been saving a recipe for the next time I had courgettes (this one with fava beans if you’re interested) and I had actually given up all hope. so it’s a lovely surprise. I’ll enjoy them all the more knowing they’re almost certainly the last courgettes of the year.

Also received this week: onions, carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, grapes, bananas, oranges, apples.

“In my veg box this week…” is not intended as a product review, simply a description of some of the fruit and vegetables that are in season and what I like to do with them. I pay full price for my vegetable box and have no affiliation with the company that delivers them or any of their suppliers.

In my veg box this week – brassicas, brassicas, brassicas!

22 Oct

If the colder weather wasn’t enough of a sign that autumn is here, the sudden abundance of brassicas should be enough to convince you. Vegans are recommended to eat green leafy vegetables every day, because they’re a great source of both iron and calcium. Having three different brassicas in one veg box looks pretty extreme, but we should be eating that much in a week anyway. What am I going to do with them? Let’s see…

Cauliflower
It’s quite a small one, it will only feed the two of us for one meal. We’ll save the green outer leaves and feed them to our pet lizards and snails. I think I’ll fry the florets with Indian spices and serve then with dal and rice.

Broccoli
I don’t know yet what I’ll be doing with this broccoli, but last time I volunteered for FoodCycle we made some fab green soup, using onions, potatoes, stock, tonnes of broccoli, and some kale (you can see a photo on Twitter). It was way more delicious than I expected, so fresh and light but satisfying at the same time.

Cabbage
It’s been a few months at least since I last had cabbage. A lot of people don’t like it, but as long as you don’t overcook it it’s lovely and so versatile. I think we’ll have some of it with bangers and mash and gravy (it is October, after all), and the rest will go in a spicy stir fry.

Also received this week: a leek, potatoes, carrots, onions, mushrooms, bananas, apples, oranges, even more plums.

“In my veg box this week…” is not intended as a product review, simply a description of some of the fruit and vegetables that are in season and what I like to do with them. I pay full price for my vegetable box and have no affiliation with the company that delivers them or any of their suppliers.

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