Delights Vegan

An Introduction to Delights Vegan

(instagram: delightsvegan)

My aim is to delight your tastebuds!  I will be sharing a variety of recipes including breakfasts, lunches, salads, dinners, desserts, snacks and cakes.  In addition to some more elaborate dishes for the occasional splurge, there will be plenty of cheap recipes and suggested budget plans, so hopefully your purse will be delighted too.  Expect many fusion recipes, like this one, which happens to be thrifty too.

Mushroom and Red Onion Spring Rolls

A mushroom lover’s tribute to a Chinese takeaway favourite.  If you like Crispy Pancake Rolls and mushrooms, you’ll love these to distraction.  Serves 4.

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Ingredients

500g chestnut mushrooms, washed and halved

2 red onions, chopped fairly finely

Packet of filo pastry

2 tbs soy sauce

1 tbs oil for frying

1 tbs oil for brushing the rolls

1 pack spring onions – reserve 3 for garnish – chopped finely (including any undamaged leaves of the green part), tails removed

Method

  1. Fry the onions in a wok until translucent.
  2. Add the mushrooms and soy sauce, then stir fry until tender.  Let this cool.
  3. Put the sheets of filo under a clean, damp tea towel, otherwise they’ll dry up and won’t co-operate.
  4. Take a sheet of filo, keeping the rest securely under the towel.
  5. Add 1 tbs filling, leaving 4 cm perimeter at the top and along the sides.
  6. Fold over 4cm pastry at the short end of the rectangle, as if you were making a bed.
  7. Fold over one side, then the other.  Make sure the filling is secured within.  The pastry will still be pliable at this point so you can experiment with more or less filling until all is safely contained.  If you overfill and break a sheet don’t worry too much – there are usually plenty of sheets to play with (or you could patch it up).
  8. Gently roll it up, as if you were making a swiss roll.  Repeat 8 times for 2 rolls per person.
  9. Arrange the spring rolls on a greased baking sheet with their seams underneath.
  10. Brush each roll lightly with oil, then cook at Gas Mark 7 for roughly 20 minutes until light brown.
  11. Wash the spring onions, then slice them vertically in several places about 2cm before you reach the white root.  Place in iced water until the strands bend and curl.  Lovely with plum sauce, bought or homemade.

NB:  If you are lucky enough to live near a Thai or Chinese shop, the squares of filo they sell in packets are much easier to manipulate because they haven’t been rolled up like many of the supermarket ones; they are packed flat.  They tend to be cheaper too.

This will only set you back £4.68 for four servings if you have olive oil and soy sauce in the house.  If you need to buy these, ASDA, for example, have their cheapest bottle of soy sauce at 45p, and a 250ml bottle of olive oil for £1.30.  Better still, their filo is on offer at £1 as I write, so you’ll be able to save more if you fancy giving these a try soon.

  

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A Week of Dinners for Four for £46.89 ($61.24)

Hello everyone! I do hope you are well and happy.

As this is the week in which we celebrate World Vegan Day (November 1st) , I thought I would offer you a little gift: a week of dinners, complete with shopping list, which should cost you, with a bit of luck, under £50 (I say this because we all know prices fluctuate).

Some of the recipes have already been posted; those that haven’t follow after the menu and shopping list.  For the rest, I will give you the posting date.  Those recipes have already been costed individually, but as we all know, if you can access store cupboard items, your shopping bill shrinks.  The shopping list to follow stocks the store cupboard then the menus call upon it, which is why, as we know, a weekly budget saves you money.

Items listed in an italic font came from ASDA; the rest from ALDI.

Quick disclaimer: some were special offers, but as these change all the time, if they’re not on special when you shop, others are likely to be.

Weekly Shopping List with Rough Prices

Vegetables/Fruit

750g organic onions                                                 .95

packet of 3 garlic bulbs                                            .85

2 x 1.5kg organic potatoes at 1.39 each               2.78

one large aubergine                                                   .65

135g baby corn                                                            .95

2 x 200g button mushrooms at 85p each             1.70

4 x 250g cherry tomatoes at 71p each                   2.84

one bunch of spring onions                                       .37

2 lemons at 25p each                                                   .50

7 Granny Smith apples  

300g cooked baby beetroots                                       .62

180g baby spinach                                                     1.10

20g fresh rosemary                                                    .60

150g mixed mushrooms (shiitake, etc.)                1.50

1kg sweet potatoes                                                     .95

25g fresh coriander                                                   .95              

Fridge

 1 litre unsweetened soya milk                                                         .59          

200g vegan cheese                                                                              2.25

500g vegan yoghurt                                                                            1.50

250ml soya/oat cream                                                                        1.00

200g vegan feta cheese                                                                       2.25

70g little pot of mango chutney                                                           .40

Cupboard

soy sauce                                                                                                 .42

tomato puree                                                                                          .37

plain flour                                                                                              .45

baking powder                                                                                     .69

250g vegetable oil                                                                                .79

500g spaghetti                                                                                       .20

2 x 6 wholemeal pitta at 42p each                                                    .84

4 toasting muffins                                                                                .39

150g flaked almonds                                                                         1.39

500g sultanas                                                                                       .88

45g jar of cumin                                                                                   .49

18g pot budget dried mixed herbs                                                     .25

100g packet garam masala                                                              .60

150ml teriyaki sauce                                                                       1.00

100g whole hazelnuts                                                                     1.50

180g tahini                                                                                       1.80

100g miso                                                                                         1.50

coconut milk                                                                                      .59

200g packet egg replacer (e.g. Orgran)                                       3.25

2 x 300g tins of broad beans in water                                           .80

500g dried green lentils                                                                  .75

150g Worcestershire Sauce                                                          1.29

TOTAL                                                                                         £46.89

A Week of Dinner Menus

1.Tight Budget Tian

2.Treasure in the Tide

3.Spaghetti Plus Three Sauces (posted 27/6/2017)

4.Ethiopian Inspired Ful Mesalah (see note at the end – to stick within budget I used tinned broad beans, which will tweak the recipe originally posted Fuul Mesalah Over Rosemary Infused Mash)

5.Ful Mesalah Over Rosemary Infused Mash  (posted 20/6/2017)

6.Bobotie Two Potato Pie (posted 22/5/2017)

7.Lemony Pitta Hazelnut Loaf with Miso and Tahini Sauce (posted 17/6/2017)

Tight Budget Tian

A tian is a baking dish; like a casserole, the name of the dish is the same as the food it contains. Also like the casserole, it is a good-natured dish that will adapt to suit you and your purse.  This is a pared-down version of a traditional tian, which usually has a sauce and a least three ingredients, but if you use lots of garlic and an intensely flavoured vegan cheddar, it is still a feast, albeit frugal.  It looks pretty to match the circumference of the aubergine to those of the potatoes as closely as possible.  With the £3.10 you have left to play with before your budget hits £50 for the week, choose your accompaniments – maybe a green vegetable and some ciabatta bread?

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Ingredients

4 cloves of garlic

85g vegan margarine

115g extra mature vegan cheddar, finely grated

1 large aubergine

4 large potatoes

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 6/200C/390F.
  2. Slice the potatoes into 2cm slices and boil for five minutes.
  3. Melt the marg on a very low heat and slowly fry the garlic until translucent.  Turn off the heat.
  4. Slice the aubergine into 2cm slices.
  5. In an oval dish, arrange the aubergine and potatoes in alternate slices.
  6. Pour the garlic marg over the vegetables and sprinkle over the vegan cheese, then bake for 20 minutes.

 

Treasure in the Tide

Batter is a thrifty classic, probably because it contains a good source of both protein and calcium, and if you get it right it has a wonderfully moreish crunch.  If there is one thing I have learnt about making batter, it is that you cannot skip the stage of getting its metal container almost smokingly hot before pouring in the raw mixture if you want crispness at the end.  The genesis of this cross between Toad in the Hole and Vegetable Tempura was having a weakness for both!  As the vegetables reminded my children of jewels being washed onto the shore by the sea, they came up with this name.

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Ingredients

350 ml soya milk

the equivalent of 4 eggs’ worth egg replacer

250g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 heaped tsp mixed herbs

1/2 tsp sea salt

400g button mushrooms, washed but left whole

2 packets baby corn

1 tbs sunflower oil

vegan Worcestershire sauce

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/220C/430F.
  2. Whisk the soya milk and egg replacer together until you have a really bubbly batter.  Add the flour, salt and herbs a little at a time, whisking all the time, until the batter is as smooth as possible.  Add a few drops of Worcestshire sauce and whisk again.
  3. Put the oil into a large metal dish and oven heat until it is almost smoking.
  4. Have oven gloves, batter and veg at the ready. Taking great care, pour the batter into the hot tin and quickly add the vegetables, stirring speedily to distribute the veg fairly evenly in the batter, then pop the tin back in the oven as fast as you can. Cook for 40-45 minutes until the edges are dark brown and the middle is yellowy-brown, but firm – use a skewer to check, as you would for a cake.

Fuul Masalah Style Broad Beans

Fuul Masalah, if you’ve never had the pleasure, is an East African dish made with fava beans.  You can get these tinned at supermarkets now, and cook with them a lot, but as I needed to stick within the budget I decided to see what the recipe was like with broad beans, which is the same bean anyway.  This recipe was inspired by the Fuul Masalah I was served at an Ethiopian restaurant, with the addition of tomatoes which are still good in early Autumn.  This is great to make for a *crowd because it can be easily scaled up, when pennies allow, and is a lovely relaxed way of eating.  This uses half a pack of vegan feta. Make double of this recipe, minus the pitta bread, if you intend to cook tomorrow’s dish; then all you have to do is make the topping

Ingredients

1 packet pitta

300g tin broad beans in water

4 cloves garlic, chopped fairly finely

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp tomato puree

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

100g vegan feta

55g vegan margarine

Method

  1. Melt the margarine on a low light, then gently fry the garlic in a nonstick wok for one minute.
  2. Add the tomatoes and garam masala.  Fry until they begin to break down.
  3. Add the  beans.  Gently stir and lift to combine with the tomatoes.
  4. Simmer the sauce while you toast the pitta.
  5. Slowly stirring the sauce occasionally, cut the pitta into strips and grate the rest of the vegan feta.

6)   In each bowl, serve a portion of sauce topped with grated feta and surrounded by strips of pitta with which to scoop it up.

* It is also the perfect blueprint to which almost anything can be added if you find yourself with an unexpected guest to feed.  Peppers or tinned tomatoes can pad out fresh tomatoes if you’re short; a can of butter beans stretches insufficient broad beans; creamed corn will preserve the richness of the sauce if your butter has run out and any cheese may be used to mix in with the grated  feta.   (If you keep the vegetables:beans:creamy sauce: spices & garlic:cheese ratio roughly the same as above, it is virtually foolproof). I have used  all of these substitutions/additions on many occasions after receiving a text beginning  “Is it alright if ….?”

 

Back Door Brassica Soup

If you are a fan of Cauliflower Bhaji, you will love this soup.  Another bonus is that you are likely to get away with serving it to cauliflower- phobic guests.  I tried it on my daughter’s boyfriend who cannot abide cauliflower and he enjoyed it.  You may even be lucky with serving it to brassica-hating children.  Sneaking veg in through the back door is sometimes the only way!

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Ingredients

1 medium cauliflower

I small head of broccoli – about 150g

1 medium onion

2 tbs olive oil

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

500ml water

2 veg stock cubes

500 ml almond milk

a pinch of salt

Method

  1. Finely chop the onion and chop the cauliflower and broccoli into the smallest florets.  (I find it easiest to cut off the stalks, place the brassicas roundest side up, then slice finely, and the little florets just seem to fall away.  Then I chop the stalks).
  2. Fry the onion in the oil in a wok until translucent – about five minutes – then add the cauliflower, broccoli and all the spices.  Fry for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Put the 500ml water on to boil in the kettle.
  3. Put the boiled water into a measuring jug, then add it to two stock cubes and stir until they dissolve.  Add the stock to the onion, cauliflower and broccoli and bring to the boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes or so, until all the vegetables are tender.
  4. Tip everything in a food processor fitted with the double blade and process, pouring in the milk with the motor running.
  5. Return to the wok, reheat, and add salt to taste – you really don’t need very much because of the spices – and serve with toast or rotis.

If you have oil in the house, this should set you back about £5.24, buying everything from scratch.  This is based on an Aldi shop, with the spices and a 12p loose onion bought at ASDA.

 

 

Baby Cauliflowers in a Comfort Blanket with Cumin Flash Fried Apples

Flash fried food is not greasy because it is cooked quickly at a high temperature; because you shake off any excess margarine before serving, it is not swimming in fat.  Bretons often flash fry apples to serve with  pancakes; tart apples always enhance anything sweet or subtle, and cauliflower is both.  Cumin really intensifies the apple flavour. The coconut milk I am talking about is the type in cartons, not tins.  This may sound improbable but it was a happy accident which produced a delicious cheesy sauce.

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Ingredients

4 red-skinned apples

4 baby cauliflowers

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 litre coconut milk

1 heaped tbs plain flour

55g vegan margarine for sauce

1/2 – 1 tsp ground cumin

35g vegan margarine for apples

120g vegan extra mature cheddar

4 heaped tsp savoury yeast flakes

Method

  1. Steam the cauliflowers whole – (if they are perky and fresh you don’t need to discard the leaves) for 15-20 minutes, depending on size, until they are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, make the sauce: melt the margarine, add the flour and stir vigorously to make a smooth paste.
  3. Turn off the heat, then very gradually, drop by drop, add the plant milk, stirring for all you are worth after each addition.  It really does pay to be patient, as I have discovered to my cost after adding a big glug.  Turn on the heat and stir constantly until you have a thickened, smooth sauce.  Once it starts to simmer, add the vegan cheese and stir until melted. 
  4. Stir in the yeast flakes. Keep the sauce simmering gently while you prepare the apples.
  5. Melt the other 3og of margarine, thoroughly stir in the cumin, then fry the apples quickly; about 2 min each side.  Lift them out with some tongs, shake them, and drain on kitchen paper.
  6. Nestle the cauliflowers close to each other (see photo), pour over the sauce, arrange the freshly cooked apple slices over the mounds and serve the rest on diners’ plates.

This comes in at about £8.54, buying everything from scratch, including the yeast flakes, marg and flour. This costing is based on a purchase of apples, cumin, mustard and flour from Aldi and the rest from ASDA.

Allspice Date and Mango Cake

If any single ingredient symbolises the beginnings of fusion food in England, it is Allspice.  Allspice is ground from a single berry (of the Pimento Dioica tree from Central America to be pedantic), but in the 15th Century the British thought it tasted like the combined flavours of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, so they called it Allspice.  It often turns up in chutneys and pickles, and is especially lovely with date-based preserves, so it is natural choice for this cake.

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Ingredients

100g “ready to eat” dried mango (regular dried mango will be too chewy)

200g chopped dates (not rolled in sugar)

175ml water

280g muscovado sugar

3 tbs ground flax seeds mixed with 4 1/2 tbs water and allowed to stand for 10 minutes

450g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tsps baking powder

1 tsp allspice

pinch of salt

225ml vegan plain yoghurt

100g pecan nuts, broken into quarters (break in two vertically first)

Method

  1. Put the dates in the water and bring to the boil.  Bring down to a simmer, then cook gently until the dates soften. Beat with a wooden spoon until you have a puree.  Leave to cool. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.  Grease a silicone Bundt mould (a bit overcautious, but just in case).
  3. Cream the marg and sugar together in a large bowl using an electric hand mixer until you have a light and fluffy mixture.
  4. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking power, salt and Allspice into a large bowl.
  5. Lightly flour the mango and pecan pieces (otherwise they will sink to the bottom when baked). Alternately fold in the flax “eggs” and dry ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Stir in the vegan yoghurt, date puree, mangoes and pecans.  Spoon into the mould and level off the top.
  6. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour.  Test the cake by putting a skewer or uncooked strand of spaghetti near the middle.  If it comes out clean, the cake is done.
  7. This cake goes with just about anything: vegan cream/ice cream/custard/fruit sauce – anything works!

Mock Moussaka

This will feed four people for two days (or unexpected guests).  It has similar layers to a moussaka but the resemblance stops there; a pungent vegan cheese sauce is used and a sweet, tangy tomato and chick pea sauce replace the mince.  When I have served this to guests, without exception they have come back for seconds, even the most impassioned meat-eaters, such is its hearty depth of mixed delights.  It is quite a performance to make, so it is best reserved for your day off.  Alternatively, you can make it the evening before, omitting the baking stage,  and leave the assembled dish in the fridge until you come home the following day, but take it out as soon as you get in the door so you can allow it to come to room temperature before baking.  Turn the oven on 15 minutes before baking.

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Ingredients

1 large, or two small aubergines

2 tbs olive oil (or thereabouts)

2 tins chopped tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

2 tins chickpeas

500g mushrooms, halved

1 red pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

800g organic potatoes

4 tbs tomato puree

2 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 tsp sea salt (if necessary; taste first because the cooked chickpeas may be slightly salty)

170g vegan cheddar cheese; one block of 55g, grated with the smallest hole on the grater, and 115g for the cheese sauce

1 tbs plain flour

30g vegan margarine

1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

3 tbs nutritional yeast

500ml plant milk

Method

  1. First prepare the aubergine(s):  Line two large plates with kitchen paper. Slice into 1 cm slices, then fry in the oil until soft and lightly browned on both sides.  Aubergines are notorious for soaking up oil.  Two tricks help with this. Firstly, if you are lucky enough to have a griddle pan, you can brush the pan with oil and if you keep an eye out, turning the aubergine frequently, you should be able to soften the aubergine without needing to add more oil.  Secondly, if you fry the aubergine in two batches, once with the larger slices then again with the smaller (when you need less oil), hopefully they will cook evening and you won’t be forced to add more oil to prevent the little slices blackening.
  2. Drain the cooked aubergine on the lined plates.  When they are cool, blot them further with kitchen paper – this ensures that you extract as much oil as possible.  Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4.  Boil or steam the potatoes for about 15 minutes, until tender.  Thick slices work well in this dish, and you need to cook them first.
  4. While the potatoes are cooking, make the savoury tomato sauce:  fry the onion until transparent, then add the peppers, garlic, tomatoes, tomato puree, herbs, chickpeas and salt (if necessary).  Bring to the boil, simmer for 10 minutes, then add the mushrooms and simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the sauce into a large casserole dish.  Lightly sprinkle with a little of the 55g block of vegan cheese.  Add a layer of cooked potatoes (it doesn’t matter if they overlap as they are already cooked), then sprinkle with soft dusting of the vegan cheese.  Finish with a layer of aubergines and another smidgeon of vegan cheese.
  6. Repeat these layers, ending with the aubergine, but on this final layer do not sprinkle any cheese because you will be finishing with a covering of cheese sauce.
  7. To make the cheese sauce, melt the margarine, add the flour and stir vigorously to make a smooth paste.
  8. Turn off the heat, then very gradually, drop by drop, add the plant milk, stirring and scraping the sides and bottom of the pan after each addition. Turn on the heat and stir constantly until you have a thickened, smooth sauce.  Add the mustard, nutritional yeast and the grated 115g portion of cheese and stir until both are incorporated.
  9. Pour the sauce on the top of your layered casserole dish and bake for about 40 minutes until the top is lightly browned. 

All the ingredients for two nights for four people come in at £12.88; however, that is buying everything from scratch, including flour, marg and nutritional yeast. I had to go to a health food shop for the latter.  It can be found in Waitrose but it is usually for the same price, so if you are not near a Waitrose you’re better off going to your local health food shop, which you’ll know if you’ve used nutritional yeast before.  You’ll also know that it lasts a long time (it’s a large tub) and is extremely useful for vegan cheesiness!

Persian Rock Cakes

Birthday Persian Rock Cakes

These little light cakes are a particular favourite of mine. They are quick, supremely easy to make and are very economical. Sprinkle a classically Persian ingredient into classically English cake mix which has stood the test of time and you have an extra special breakfast fit for a birthday or another occasion worth celebrating.

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Ingredients

225g self-raising flour

3/4 tsp ground mixed spice

125g vegan margarine, cold from the fridge, diced

3 rounded tbs soft brown sugar

125g sultanas

80g tub of pomegranate seeds

2 rounded tsp apple sauce and 1 tbs plant milk, whisked together with a fork

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.  Grease a baking sheet.
  2. Sift the flour and mixed spice into a bowl.  Rinse your hands in cold water, dry them, then rub the marg into the mixture until you have little breadcrumbs.  Try just to use the tips of your fingers because you want to keep the marg as cold as possible.
  3. Add the sugar, the dried fruit, the pomegranate seeds and the plant milk/apple sauce mixture.  Gently stir until everything is just combined, like you would with muffins.  If you overmix, you’ll end up with tough cakes.
  4. Using a tablespoon (serving-spoon size, not the measurement), put 8 rock-like heaps of the mixture onto your baking sheet, making sure you have plenty of room around each cake to allow them to spread.
  5. Bake for about 12-15 minutes, until browned.  Leave to cool on a wire rack.  (The pomegranate seeds get startlingly hot).
  6. Serve with birthday candles stuck into them at odd angles.  If you happen to come across these candle holders with tiny garden forks, so much the better to shift rocks.

If you buy the apple sauce, sugar, sultanas and flour at Aldi, and the margarine, milk, mixed spice and pomegranate seeds at ASDA, the bills will total around £4.33, but of course you’ll have plenty left of all the ingredients, excepting the pomegranate seeds. But with a bit of luck you’ll have some of these items at home already!

Plum and Date Chutney

Hello food lovers! Here is a chutney which is a perfect partnership of sweet dates and tart plums.  It is unusual in that is preserved with balsamic vinegar.  Fear not about the cost!  The Pound Shop sell it for – no! – a pound and the chutney will taste just as good.

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Ingredients

2 onions, finely chopped

4 apples, chopped

300g chopped dates

4 kg plums, washed, chopped and stoned

4 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp ground cloves

6 star anise

500ml balsamic vinegar

500g soft brown sugar

 

Method

  1. Slowly saute the onion until translucent.  Add the spices and cook for about half a minute, stirring gently, just enough to allow them to be incorporated.
  2. Add the apples and dates, stir well, then put in the sugar, plums, and balsamic vinegar.  Stir gingerly, but well.
  3. Bring the chutney to the boil.  Simmer for two hours, stirring now and then, until the mixture is thickened but not runny.  About three quarters of an hour before the mixture is ready, put the oven on Gas Mark 2/150C/300F, then wash some jars in very hot soapy water.  Rinse and dry well, then put them on a baking sheet.  Add this to the preheated oven.  This will give them enough time to sterilise.
  4. When the mixture is done, take out the trays jars with oven gloves, then carefully spoon in the chutney (both need to be hot or the glass will crack) and put on the lids.  If it is easier, you can tighten them properly when the glass has cooled.
  5. Wait for at least a month before trying the chutney; the flavours need time to mature.
  6. Enjoy with salads, curries, ploughman’s or buddha bowls.  A jar of homemade chutney also makes a lovely gift!

If you’re lucky, you may find a plum tree and save a lot of money.  But if not, this will cost around £12.68, if you get the apples and sugar from Aldi and the rest from ASDA, excepting the balsamic vinegar from The Pound Shop. However, if you know anyone with a plum tree you’ll save £7.50!  I have factored in the cost of the spices, so if you have any at home you’ll be up on the deal.

 

 

 

 

 

Spaghetti Chow Mein

A Chinese friend of mine gave me spaghetti in a chow mein because she only had egg noodles in.  It worked very well, so I often copy her idea if I don’t have any vegan noodles.  Of course, you can use any vegetables you wish, but here’s a frugal one for those slim wallet days, using a 20p pack of spaghetti.

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Ingredients

1 red pepper, chopped

1 bunch of spring onions, sliced

500g chestnut mushrooms

1 bag bean sprouts

340g spaghetti

1 tbs vegan Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp cornflour

2 tbs soy sauce

2 cloves garlic

1 tsp sugar

1 tbs olive oil

Method

  1. Mix together vigorously the cornflour, soy sauce, garlic, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over the mushrooms and set aside for half an hour (or the night before if you wish). Boil the spaghetti for one minute less than the packet instructions advise.
  2. Lightly fry the spring onions for two minutes in the wok, followed by the red pepper for another two minutes, then finally add the mushrooms in their marinade and stir fry until they are tender but firm.
  3. Add the spaghetti and the bean sprouts, and heat until the bean sprouts are cooked but retain some crunch; this should only take about a minute. 

If you have sugar and oil in the house, you can do this for around £5.28, based on an ASDA shop using the cheapest versions available.

 

The Versatility of Ratatouille

Do you enjoy batch cooking? I love the freedom of having most of the meal prepared in advance, with a few tweaks required. Big pots of curry are brilliant for that, don’t you find?  They’re even better with keeping, so I often find I serve them with rice one day, jacket potatoes the next, or sometimes just chapatis.  Similarly with ratatouille. Ratatouille is the culinary equivalent of a well-mannered guest; you can take it anywhere.  It benefits from a long slow cook and tastes even better after a day’s keeping, so you will get the best bang for your buck if you make a huge pot and serve it in different ways because its ingredients are cheap and plentiful in the summer.   What follows will give you enough to put in a pie one day, and serve with couscous the next.

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Ingredients

6 tbs olive oil

4 red onions, chopped

4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

4 red peppers, deseeded (including the white part) and roughly chopped

500g aubergines, roughly cubed – the weight doesn’t have to be precise though; Sainsbury’s Basics bag is ideal, or otherwise just work on the premise of using three medium aubergines

4 courgettes, roughly chopped

3 tins chopped tomatoes

1 red chilli (or more if you like a bigger kick)

500ml water

4 tbs tomato puree

2 tsp dried Herbes de Provence

30g (ish) pack of flat leaf parsley

1sp sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

small jar (about 330-340g) of pitted green olives in brine, drained and rinsed – all supermarkets sell a cheap pot or jar, ranging from 45p at ALDI to about £1 at the higher end

Method

  1. Fry the onions in the olive oil until they turn a translucent pink colour.
  2. Add the peppers, courgettes, aubergines and garlic and fry gently for another five minutes, taking care that the garlic doesn’t burn.
  3. Add all the rest of the ingredients, except the remaining olive oil, bring to the boil, then summer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally.  Longer won’t hurt it, but obviously don’t let it boil dry.
  4. Stir in the remaining olive oil, taste, then add salt and pepper to suit you.

Midsummer Pie: Ratatouillekopita

 

“Koptita” means “pie” in Greek – perhaps the most famous example is Spanakopita, spinach pie.  But we all now how adaptable filo pastry is, so here is a ratatouille pie.

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Ingredients

Enough ratatouille to fill a 7in springform tin (drain off any excess liquid; you want a moist but firm mixture, otherwise your pie will leak)

8 sheets long filo pastry, plus a spare for garnish

30g vegan margarine, melted

a single courgette for garnish, sliced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 7/220c/430F.  Brush a 20cm springform pan with melted marg, then add the sheets one at a time, overlapping them as you go and painting with melted marg before each addition. Place them across each other, with a generous margin of pastry hanging over either side.  Make sure the bottom of the tin is completely covered, with no gaps.
  2. Add the ratatouille filling with care and spread it across the bottom.
  3. Bring up the edges of pie one by one so that they lie across the filling, brushing each sheet with melted marg before adding another the next one.  Cut out a few flower shapes to garnish your pie, and brush these with melted marg too.
  4. Cook for 20-30 minutes, until nut brown.  Towards the end of the cooking time, saute a courgette and use it to decorate the edge of your pie.

Ratatouille with Giant Couscous

Couscous is as popular in France as Indian restaurant food is here (both sadly beginning with colonisation; Algeria in France’s case).  It is almost as commonly cooked in France as it is in North Africa.  As far as I know, though, although they serve it with a vegetable or meat stew Berber-style, they don’t usually fuse French and African and serve it with the famous French country stew, ratatouille.  It must be only a matter of time though, because the couscous soaks up the flavour and sauce of the ratatouille without losing its own texture, creating that rare combination of light but satisfying eating. 

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Ingredients

1 portion of ratatouille, reserved from yesterday’s recipe.  Remove from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.  (If you didn’t cook this, follow the ratatouille recipe, but halve the ingredients).

250g giant couscous (ordinary couscous doesn’t affect the taste, but the texture and look is improved with giant couscous).

30g vegan margarine

Method

  1. Boil the giant couscous for 6 – 8 minutes, or according to the instructions on the packet.
  2. While this is simmering, reheat the ratatouille gently, until bubbling.
  3. Fork the marg into the cooked couscous, then mix with the ratatouille.

Based on a Sainsbury’s shop (minus the oil), this will cost about £13.55 for both meals (using the Basics range wherever possible) but you will have chillies, garlic cloves, vegan margarine, tomato puree and Herbes de Provence left over.  

Spaghetti Plus Three Sauces

Hope you’re doing well! If you like your sauces, this is just for you.

You may be pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the purple sauce; roasting the beetroot intensifies its sweetness and makes it far more acceptable to avowed beetroot haters.  There was a surprise conversion at  my table anyway!

Cherry tomatoes, baby beets and small spinach leaves, which are all easily available in June – both in the supermarkets or in farmers’ or street markets – have a more concentrated flavour than their full-grown counterparts, so they make the best summer sauces for spaghetti.  If you serve the sauces on the side (either in little pots or one one side of the plate) diners can choose whether they want to mix the sauces or eat them separately.

The beetroot sauce here was inspired by the soup Borscht, which originated in the Ukraine as  you know but is popular in many other Eastern European countries.  This sweet vegetable is combined with a sour liquid, which is tastebud-tingling stuff; the same principle works by combining the tomato with lime-infused coconut milk.  A contrasting flavour and colour was then needed to balance the meal; the earthy/creamy spinach sauce did it to perfection.

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Ingredients

340g spaghetti

For the Roasted Beetroot Sauce

8 baby beetroots

2 tbs olive oil

pinch of salt

a few grindings of black pepper

half of 500ml pot of vegan yoghurt

For the Cherry Tomato and Coconut Lime Sauce

500g cherry tomatoes, halved

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

1 tbs olive oil

1 lime

1 tin of coconut milk

For the Creamy Spinach Sauce

one carton of soya or oat cream

1 200g pack washed organic young spinach

2 cloves garlic, chopped finely

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the baby beetroots in a shallow baking dish, pour on the oil, then shake the pan with gusto to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  In another pan, lightly fry the garlic until translucent, very gently.  Set aside. Bake the beetroots for about 30-40 minutes, checking after 30 to see if they are tender.  About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, transfer the tomatoes to an overproof dish with the garlic and oil, shake, then pop in the oven.
  2. While the beetroots and tomatoes are in the oven, after about twenty minutes put a large pan of water on to boil for the spaghetti.
  3. Tip a tin of coconut milk into the food processor, add the juice of a lime and a little salt, then process with the roasted tomatoes until you have a pretty coral colour.  Set aside and wash the bowl of the food processor in readiness for the beetroots.
  4. With a tiny amount of water, cook the spinach with the garlic until wilted.  Turn off the heat and beat in the soya or oat cream.
  5. When the water comes to the boil, put in the spaghetti and cook for about 11 minutes.
  6. In the meantime, process the roasted beetroot with the vegan yoghurt.  (A little juggling is needed if the spaghetti water is ready too much in advance of the beetroot or vice versa.  If the beetroot is ready first, keep the veg in the oven but turn it off and cover the baby beetroot with foil.  If the water is ready too soon, turn off the heat, cover the pan, then reheat the water when needed).
  7. Reheat the sauces (very gently to prevent curdling) about 3 minutes before the end of the spaghetti’s cooking time.
  8. Drain the spaghetti thoroughly and serve the sauces alongside, either collectively or individually, depending on how much you or whoever is doing the washing up is prepared to deal with!

This will cost about £6.83, based on an ASDA/Aldi shop, but you will have yoghurt and garlic left.