Veggie Thai Red Curry

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Coconut milk is a great way of making creamy, comforting vegan food. One of my staple meals is a thai red or green curry – usually utilising whatever I have in the house. Any mix of vegetables will do here – with or without onion – or you can even make it with chickpeas, beans or other pulses.

While I sometimes make my own pastes, tonight it was a rushed effort, so I used a pre-made curry paste by Thai Taste. Always be careful when buying pre-made Thai pastes as many will have shrimp paste or fish sauce in.

For tonight’s curry, I fried half an onion (sliced) with some crushed garlic. When soft, I added one thinly sliced yellow courgette, and one thinly sliced carrot, and fried for another five minutes or so. Next, approx two dessertspoons of red curry paste were added to the mix, and fried for another couple of minutes until fragrant. Add one tin of coconut milk, two roughly chopped tomatoes and extra chilli to taste. Reduce this down for about 20 minutes while you cook your rice. Towards the end I added some chopped greens, which added nicely to the look of the dish. Check for seasoning, and serve.

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Vegan Stew and Dumplings

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How about this for a meal which doesn’t look like typical vegan food? I had the -somewhat weird – idea of making a stew in August while trying to work out how to use the veggies in my veg box. I borrowed heavily from this recipe on the Post Punk Kitchen website (which I highly, highly recommend for vegan recipes, by the way).

The only changes I made, was to use fresh chestnut mushrooms rather than dried, and to use Linda McCartney sausages (pre-cooked) rather than the home made seitan ones in the recipe. I fried the mushrooms in olive oil and garlic before throwing them in – this just gave them a bit more flavour and a ‘meatier’ texture.

For the dumplings, measure out 300ml of self raising flour in a measuring jug (I’ve no idea if you can have 300ml of flour – but up to that line!) and sieve into a large mixing bowl. Add a large pinch of salt, some pepper and the herbs of your choice. I used dried thyme today. Mix together, and then make a well in the middle. Pour in 150ml soya milk (or the milk alternative of your choice) and two tablespoons of olive oil. Mix this together until it forms a sticky dough. Then all you have to do is make rough balls the size of a ping pong ball and drop into the stew for the final 10-15 minutes of cooking (make sure the pan is covered).

This is definitely a recipe to make if you need to cook for meat eaters; it’s so rich and meaty. Delicious!

Edit – there was enough of this leftover to have for lunch the following day, and wow – it had improved even more! So much so that – although absolutely delicious on the first night – if I was to make this again, I’d be tempted to make it a day early….

Vegetable Box

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I’m always talking about my vegetable boxes, so thought I’d share this week’s one. This week we have potatoes, onions and carrots (as standard every week), some chestnut mushrooms, yellow courgettes, two aubergines, some kind of lettuce, and a bag of greens. Our boxes come from Beanies in Sheffield, and I think this is great value at £11.50 per box (large box with potatoes).

Tonight, I plan to make a vegan stew, using some of the mushrooms, potatoes, carrots and onions. I will post the results later!

Courgette, Chilli, Mint and Garlic Soup

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Here’s a lovely summer soup, which I think would also be delicious served cold (I will try that next time!). Best of all, it’s cheap as chips – as soups tend to be. I must start making them more often.

To make this soup, slice one onion, and fry in some olive oil until soft. Add two crushed cloves of garlic and some chopped chilli (I used one green and one red, but just use as many as you like to achieve the desired hotness), and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the sliced courgettes, and then cover with vegetable stock.

Simmer until the courgettes are soft, and then whizz with a stick blender. Season to taste. At this point I added the juice of one lime, because I felt it needed a certain tartness. Add one bunch of fresh mint – chopped, two more crushed garlic cloves, and some more chopped chilli – if you desire. Heat through, and serve with a dash of olive oil. 

Asparagus Risotto

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I have always been a real risotto fiend. Pre-vegan days we would eat it at least once or twice per week, and my ‘signature dish’ was smoked salmon, lemon and mascarpone risotto. When I decided to become vegan, risotto was one of the dishes I was really worried about losing – how could you possibly make a nice risotto without lashings of butter, parmesan or mascarpone?

One night I was really craving the comforting taste of a nice risotto. I set about researching whether a vegan one would in fact be feasible – and edible – and came across this blog post. What a find! This is absolutely delicious. The trick is blending the asparagus into the stock which you then use to cook the rice. This means the flavour is absorbed and blandness is prevented. And it’s dead easy!

If I didn’t know otherwise, I would really have thought this dish had parmesan in. I have no idea how it manages to taste that way – but it does. Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

Spring Greens with Cashew and Chilli

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This week’s vegetable box contained a couple of spring greens. I toyed with the idea of making a soup, but following Mr JN’s reaction to seeing the vegetable (something along the lines of ‘ew, cabbage’), I realised I probably needed to make something slightly more exciting if he was going to actually eat it.

After a bit of recipe searching, I finally found this recipe for chilli peanut spring greens from Abel and Cole. We had some cashews already, so the peanuts were substituted for cashews (everyone prefers cashews anyway – right?), and I totally forgot the lemon juice too. The greens were served with new potatoes and spring onions crushed with olive oil, and a veg box tomato on the side 🙂

Despite not being the prettiest dish out there, it was extremely tasty – and high in calcium and protein – bonus!

Hoi Sin Shredded Mock Duck Wraps

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Now here’s a recipe which will make even the most ardent carnivore happy. Wanting to use up the leftover hoi sin sauce from last night’s stir fry, I had the wonderful – if I do say so myself – idea of making crispy shredded duck wraps. With mock duck.

Mock duck – also known as seitan – is a totally vegan gluten-based food commonly used as a meat substitute due to its duck-like consistency. It comes in a tin, and can be bought from asian supermarkets, and despite not being the most visually appealing food ever, it can be delicious when properly prepared. I can sometimes find it a little sweet, but mixed with the sweetness of hoi sin sauce, it’s perfect.

Making these wraps is ever so simple, and they can be ready in about fifteen minutes. Take the mock duck from the tin, and give it a little squeeze to drain any excess water. Pull the chunks into small strips – much like real shredded duck – and put onto a lightly greased baking tray. Sprinkle with a little chinese five spice (if you have it), and some salt, and then pop into the oven for about fifteen minutes until crispy. Mix with hoi sin sauce, and then serve on warm wraps with some shredded cucumber and spring onions.

So simple, and so tasty.