The Kindly Vegan

vegan recipes - it's easy

Pasta, spinach & cherry tomatoes

Pasta, spinach & cherry tomatoes(2)

I think pasta is always at its best when kept simple – a dollop of good virgin olive oil, sea salt and possibly a dash of garlic.  However, there are times when we all crave a rich tomato sauce and that’s good too, why not?  All said and done,  pasta, olive oil and garlic have a long lasting relationship and remain best buddies.  I have added some cherry tomatoes and spinach to Conchiglie (that’s what I had in the cupboard - Penne is fine too) and the best part is this should take you very little time to put together.  I used fresh spinach which is better in a simple pasta dish - wash and cook and then chop roughly… enjoy!

Ingredients

250 grams Conchiglie
250 grams spinach, cooked and chopped
250 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon oregano
Sea salt

Method

  1. Fry the garlic in olive oil until pale golden
  2. Add halved cherry tomatoes and salt and fry on medium/high heat for about 3 minutes
  3. Add spinach and oregano and fry for a further 2 minutes
  4. Boil pasta and add to spinach and tomatoes – stir and fry for a couple of minutes to blend

Drunk ‘n’ Disorderly

Drunken stew(2)

There are times in summer when I crave a good hearty wintry stew and a drop or more of ale does it a whole lot of good.  This recipe is easy and doesn’t require an awful lot of preparation – new salad potatoes which don’t need peeling and if you can find baby carrots, that’s half the job done.  If you too are suffering from “one salad too many” syndrome, this should do the trick!

Ingredients

2 large onions, sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
125 grams chestnut or shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced (approx. 2 cups)
Carrots – I used 12 baby carrots (approx 170 grams – if using large carrots, cut each into 4 pieces)
10 baby salad potatoes, cut in half (approx. 500 grams)
1 cup dried soya chunks soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes and drained before use (I used Neal’s Yard soya chunks, available at Holland & Barrett)
200 grams white button mushrooms
1 sachet bouquet garni (or 1 heaped teaspoon of a mix of thyme, parsley and marjoram)
2 bay leaves
2 cups ale or bitter (300ml) (I used Sainsbury’s own bitter which costs £1 for a pack of 4 cans!!)
2 cups water (300ml)
1 teaspoon Marmite
1 heaped tablespoon cornflour mixed in ¾ cup of cold water to thicken the gravy

Method

  1. In a large stockpot or pan, fry the onions in olive oil until translucent and the edges start to turn brown
  2. Remove onions with slotted spoon and set aside
  3. In the same pan fry the thinly sliced mushrooms and then put the onions back in the pan
  4. Add carrots and potatoes and fry for a further 3-4 minutes
  5. Add all other ingredients except Marmite and cornflour
  6. Bring to boil, add Marmite and stir to dissolve the Marmite
  7. Turn the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 50 minutes, stirring occasionally
  8. Mix the cornflour in cold water and add to the stew to thicken the gravy – if you prefer more gravy use a little more water to dissolve the cornflour
  9. Simmer on low for a further 5-10 minutes and serve with broccoli, green beans or any vegetable of your choice

Note: You shouldn’t need salt as the Marmite should be sufficient – but please check for taste

French beans & cherry tomatoes

French beans & cherry tomatoes(2)

Here is a delicious and yet very simple and quick way to serve French beans or any other green bean.  For many years now, come Spring I sow some seeds of a variety of French beans called Blue Lake.  This is a very old variety and about the best French beans you can grow.  They are not only reliable, crop heavily, they also stay tender at every stage of growth – I have at times forgotten to pick them for a few days and some tend to go “lumpy”, yet these are very tender and in fact I prefer them – you get more for your money!

In summer I keep myself busy creating simple recipes for the veggies growing in my back garden – I only grow a few but summer wouldn’t be summer without beans and marrows.  This recipe will take you minutes to prepare and served with vegan sausages or meatballs as I have done it adds colour, flavour and makes a basic meal rather special.

Two servings

Ingredients

Approximately 200 grams French beans or any other fine bean
Approximately 12-14 cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence or similar mix of herbs
Sea salt

Method

  1. Top and tail beans and cut in half if too long
  2. Steam or boil the beans until cooked but don’t overcook
  3. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan
  4. Cut cherry tomatoes in half and add to oil and fry on high for about 1-2 minutes
  5. Add beans, herbs and salt and fry for a further 1-2 minutes

 

Iranian aubergine & tomato stew

Aubergine & tomato stew

Iranian aubergine & tomato stew is a delicious stew of grilled aubergines in a rich tomato sauce and is a very popular Iranian every day dish known as khoresht-e-bademjan.  This is the recipe used in our house right down from my great grandmother to myself and hopefully beyond!  The ingredients are few; basically aubergines, onion and tomatoes and yet every time I have cooked this for friends they cannot believe there is nothing else – I sometimes suspect they think I am hiding a secret ingredient!  The only difference between this sauce and an Italian sauce is that we use turmeric and the Italians add garlic or herbs.  But it is amazing how different it is to an Italian sauce – try it for yourself and you will see.

The aubergines don’t really need to be salted and rinsed – my mother used to do this because the aubergines available were the thin variety and could sometimes be a bit bitter.  But the aubergines we get these days, the fat plump sort, are never bitter in my experience.  Traditionally the aubergines are fried in oil, but I find grilling the aubergines is just as good and uses less oil.

I have used soya protein chunks made by Neal’s Yard but you could use any other substitute or none at all.  It is always served with plain steamed rice.

4 servings

Ingredients

1 large aubergine, first cut laterally across its belly, then slice each half lengthways into 4 (8 slices in all)
1 onion, sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup Soya protein chunks available at Holland & Barrett (soak for 30 minutes in boiling water)
4 tablespoons oil (2 for grilling aubergines and 2 for the sauce)
½ teaspoon salt (adjust according to taste)

Method

  1. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a roasting pan and coat aubergines in it, covering both sides. Grill until golden brown and set aside
  2. Fry onion in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until golden
  3. Add turmeric, chopped tomatoes and tomato puree
  4. Add 2 cups of water and cook on medium-low heat until tomatoes are soft – about 20-25 minutes
  5. If at this point the sauce is too thick, add half cup of water and the pre-soaked TVP chunks (don’t add the soaking liquid) and gently place the aubergine slices in the sauce; simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes – the sauce should now be rich and thick (see picture)
  6. Serve with steamed rice

Steamed rice

This is the basic recipe for steamed rice – it’s easy so do give it a go.  All you are doing is boiling, straining and steaming.  Doesn’t take long and even if at first you are not successful try again and soon you will be cooking perfect rice!

Ingredients

2 cups Basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour or more if you have the time
1 teaspoon salt
Water
2 tablespoons oil

Method

  1. Wash and rinse rice in a large deep saucepan (always use a large pan for rice)
  2. Add water and salt – the water should stand at least 2 or more inches above the level of the rice (cooking rice is  like cooking pasta; always boil in lots of water and that way it won’t stick)
  3. Bring to boil on high heat. Stir and lower heat to medium and let the rice cook for about 3-4 minutes. You will need to stand by and check the rice – there are many different varieties and qualities of Basmati rice and the cooking time will vary a little.
  4. When the rice is al dente, almost cooked but has a tiny bit of bite to it, strain it in a colander
  5. In the saucepan, put 3 tablespoons of water (basically a small splash – you won’t need to measure once you’ve done it a few times!) and 2 tablespoons of oil. Put the rice back in the colander.
  6. Cover the lid with a clean teacloth or napkin and place tightly on saucepan.
  7. On lowest heat or if you have one, using a heat diffuser/simmer ring (that’s what I use and couldn’t do without – you can buy it from Amazon and it costs very little - very useful for all food which requires very low heat) steam rice for 15 minutes. Bear in mind that this is on the lowest heat setting on the hob, do check after 10 minutes by carefully lifting the lid and if steam is pours out, the rice should be done

Brown lentils, squash & rice

Brown lentils & squash

Have been thinking about posting meals on a plate in addition to the individual recipe posts and this is one of them.  I am hoping it will make it simpler to have recipes for meals on plates all together in one post.  Some people enjoy cooking but there are others who just don’t or aren’t a dab hand at it, or simply don’t have the time to plan a menu and these posts should hopefully come in handy.

Brown lentils are whole orange lentils with the skin and have a sweet, nutty taste very like Puy lentils.  You can buy them at large supermarkets, Asian and Middle Eastern shops.  As always, any questions or queries, just drop me a line and I will do my best to help.

4 servings

When preparing a meal which includes rice, always soak the rice before you do anything else – it is perfectly fine for the rice to soak more than an hour, only improves Basmati rice!  That done, we can now put the lentils on!

BROWN LENTILS

Ingredients

1 cup brown lentils (these are whole orange lentils with the skin available in Asian stores and big supermarkets, similar in taste to Puy lentils)
½ medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, grated or minced
1½ inch piece of ginger, grated or minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
About 12 leaves of fresh mint or 1 teaspoon dried mint

Tarka/garnish
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 tablespoons oil

Method

  1. Wash the lentils and add all the ingredients except mint and bring to boil
  2. Turn heat to lowest, cover and cook for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and cooked
  3. Add mint (fresh or dried), uncover and gently simmer until dal is thickish, about another 10 minutes
  4. For the tarka, fry the cumin seeds and onion in oil until onion is golden brown
  5. Pour on dal and serve with rice

Tip: You can use green lentils or Puy lentils instead of brown lentils in this recipe

While the lentils are cooking, get going with the butternut squash…………..

BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin powder
3-4 tablespoons oil (any cooking oil or olive oil enough to coat the squash)
Sea salt

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl
  2. Put in pre-heated oven at 200C, 400F or gas mark 6 for 20-25 minutes until squash is cooked

Lentils simmering, squash in the oven, time to put the rice on

STEAMED RICE

Ingredients

2 cups Basmati rice, soaked for 1 hour or more if you have the time
1 teaspoon salt
Water
2 tablespoons oil

Method

  1. Wash and rinse rice in a large deep saucepan (always use a large pan for rice)
  2. Add water and salt – the water should stand at least 2 or more inches above the level of the rice (cooking rice is  like cooking pasta; always boil in lots of water and that way it won’t stick)
  3. Bring to boil on high heat. Stir and lower heat to medium and let the rice cook for about 3-4 minutes. You will need to stand by and check the rice – there are many different varieties and qualities of Basmati rice and the cooking time will vary a little.
  4. When the rice is al dente, almost cooked but has a tiny bit of bite to it, strain it in a colander
  5. In the saucepan, put 3 tablespoons of water (basically a small splash – you won’t need to measure once you’ve done it a few times!) and 2 tablespoons of oil. Put the rice back in the colander.
  6. Cover the lid with a clean teacloth or napkin and place tightly on saucepan.
  7. On lowest heat or if you have one, using a heat diffuser/simmer ring (that’s what I use and couldn’t do without – you can buy it from Amazon and it costs very little - very useful for all food which requires very low heat) steam rice for 15 minutes. Bear in mind that this is on the lowest heat setting on the hob, do check after 10 minutes by carefully lifting the lid and if steam is pours out, the rice should be done

 

Spaghetti aglio e olio

Spaghetti aglio e olio

Spaghetti aglio e olio requires no introduction – it is an Italian classic which most of us are familiar with and a favourite with purists.  When you simply don’t want a tomato sauce with your pasta and crave something truly Italian, this is the one to go for and it never fails to deliver.

Instead of going for vegetables with tomatoes, I stuck to the simple olive oil and garlic theme and served it with broccoli tips and baked courgettes which were superb and a terrific accompaniment for this simple pasta.  Let me know what you think ……

4 servings

Ingredients

400 grams spaghetti (100 grams per person)
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, sliced
Sea salt
Few fresh basil leaves, roughly torn

Method

  1. Boil water with a spoonful of salt in a large deep pan, add spaghetti and cook as per instructions on packet
  2. In a large wide saucepan gently fry the garlic slices on low heat. The garlic should be pale golden and not too brown as it will turn bitter
  3. While the pasta is boiling, take half a cup of pasta water and add to the garlic and take off heat – this will keep it from browning further
  4. Add spaghetti to garlic and oil and some sea salt to taste
  5. Stir in basil leaves and serve with courgettes and broccoli

Courgettes with mint

Ingredients

2 medium courgettes, sliced thinly (do not peel)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon dried mint
Sea salt
Chilli flakes (optional)

Method

  1. Mix courgette slices with all the ingredients except chilli flakes in a bowl
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 220C, 450F, gas mark 8 (my oven is not fan assisted)
  3. Place single slices, as much as possible, in your largest roasting pan
  4. Bake for 20 minutes – check after 15 minutes to ensure they don’t burn
  5. Sprinkle chilli flakes if using and serve with spaghetti aglio e olio

Broccoli tips with garlic

Ingredients

1 pack of broccoli tips (about 125 grams)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
Chilli flakes (optional)
Sea salt

Method

  1. Slit the broccoli tips lengthwise in two – won’t be 2 perfect halves, just slit the stem and tear apart
  2. Stir fry for about 12-15 minutes on medium low heat – I covered mine for a few minutes to cook the stems, keep stirring
  3. Serve with spaghetti aglio e olio

No-egg scramble with mushroom

Scrambled tofu with mushrooms

When I became vegan the food I missed most was egg! I was so used to having egg for breakfast; it was a lifelong habit and the best meal of the day for me.  However, cooking vegan food is an exciting journey of discover and one soon discovers wonderful substitutes and with a bit of imagination and creativity, nothing is impossible.

Here is a no-egg scramble with mushrooms made with the humble yet ubiquitous tofu – for me life without tofu is unimaginable and would indeed be very poor on the palate. It is available from most supermarkets and health food stores.   If you don’t use tofu much, I promise you that this scrambled tofu will win you over.  Have it for weekend breakfast, brunch or a light meal – works magic with the black salt (kala namak) which emits a sulphurous smell very similar to the sulphur in an egg yolk.  A pinch of turmeric adds the required colour and you have scrambled no-egg in no time!

Serves one

Ingredients

Firm or medium tofu, approximately 90-100 grams (I cut a 1 inch slice off a 350 gram block of tofu)
3 chestnut mushrooms, sliced (use any mushroom – just what you have or fancy)
1 tablespoon olive oil
Good pinch of turmeric for colour
¼ level teaspoon black salt (kala namak available from Asian stores or from Amazon)
Black pepper to taste

Method

  1. Fry the sliced mushrooms in olive oil
  2. Add tofu and break it up with a fork
  3. Add all other ingredients and cook, stirring for about 3 minutes
  4. Serve on toast!

Okra (bhindi) with red peppers

Okra with red pepper

I love okra (bhindi) but sadly it is not everyone’s favourite.  Often this is due to the fact that when cut it secretes a sticky substance (mucilage) and most people are put off by this.  The way round this is to always buy fresh, crisp okra, if it is soft and limp, leave it.  Another thing to remember with okra is that you must wash it before topping and tailing – if not, you will have your hands covered in sticky stuff and a yucky mess!  And finally, as much as possible, cook it dry or fry it separately before adding to a sauce.

In this recipe I have teamed it with red peppers and tomatoes which complement it perfectly.  I needed to cook the peppers and tomatoes before adding the okra, so I made sure I didn’t add any water and cooked it on low heat.

Ingredients

½ kilo okra/bhindi – wash the bhindi then top and tail and cut in two pieces if large
1 red pepper, sliced (I used a large long red pepper)
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder or chilli flakes
3 tablespoons oil

Method

  1. Heat oil and add cumin seeds
  2. Quickly pop in the onion and garlic and fry gently for about 3-4 minutes until translucent but not brown
  3. Add turmeric, chilli powder or flakes and tomatoes – cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn’t stick
  4. Add red pepper, cover and cook on low for further 15 minutes, again stirring so it doesn’t stick to the pan
  5. Add okra, cover and cook on low for about 15-20 minutes until okra is cooked (it won’t take longer than this but check after 15 minutes)
  6. Serve with quinoa, rice or in a wrap

Broccoli with tomatoes

Broccoli with tomatoes(2)

Broccoli is a vegetable I discovered when I came to London many years ago – hadn’t seen it in Karachi as it’s not a native vegetable in the sub-continent (please correct me if I am wrong, but I have never seen it in Karachi!).  Until recently I did what everyone did with broccoli – steamed it, baked it or on a very adventurous note added florets to pasta!  However, I discovered that cooked with tomatoes, onions and a few spices it is delicious and makes an excellent dish to go with rice and dal or in a wrap for a quick lunch.

It takes very little time to prepare and makes a change from the usual treatment; garlic and ginger give it a bit of oomph and make all the difference.  Don’t overcook it and keep checking as you don’t want mushy broccoli – keep it crisp and dry!

Ingredients

Broccoli, approximately 350g – cut into about 1-1½ inch florets
1 large onion, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
3 tablespoons oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1½ inch piece of ginger (2 teaspoons), chopped
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli flakes or chilli powder
Salt to taste

Method

  1. Gently fry onion and garlic until edges start to turn brown (don’t brown the onion completely)
  2. Add ginger, turmeric, chilli, tomatoes and salt
  3. Cover and cook for 15 minutes until tomatoes start to go squidgy
  4. Add broccoli florets, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes until broccoli is cooked – don’t overcook the broccoli
  5. Serve with quinoa, rice or in a wrap
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