Sunday, 3 August 2014

Going vegan- week 3

So things continue to go well in vegan world. I've stuck with the Bircher muesli breakfast (toast with margarine just doesn't appeal that much), but have switched up the fruit I have with it. I've been a bit pressed for time, so I thought I'd look into a few ready made options for my work lunches. I was delighted to find that Waitrose do a whole range of packaged, salad-y things which are vegan. I think they are actually all labelled as vegetarian, but they don't have any dairy in them.

I added some extra cashew nuts to the Asian slaw, which was properly zesty and sharp, with loads of lime in the dressing, and ideal for the stupidly hot weather we've had recently. Lemon and coriander humus (or indeed houmous) is pretty much a classic now, and went perfectly with the roasted cauliflower salad. These are definitely two salads I will buy again (or try and replicate at home). Anyway, with the addition of some salad leaves, tomatoes, olives, and Ryvita, these three items dealt with my weekday lunch requirements.

For dinners in the week, I accidentally made way too much Indian food. To be honest, I don't think I've ever managed to make a small amount of 'desi khanna', so this was not that surprising. I made Bengali-style greens (but with no ghee) and a Bengali-style malai curry but with mushrooms, broccoli, and baby corn instead of prawns. I also increased the spicing a bit to compensate for lack of seafood, so added in 2 tsp of ground coriander, another of ground cumin, and 1 tsp of crushed chilli flakes (mostly due to running out of fresh chillis). This was served with quinoa cooked with Indian whole spices and cashew nuts, in the style of a pilau rice, and some poppadoms. As expected this was all delicious, and the quinoa worked really well with everything else as a rice-alike neutral grain.

Weekend eating involved the appearance of a now somewhat ubiquitous Linda McCartney product (sausage rolls this time, which are actually quite nice). I also made some quinoa and mushroom stuffed, roasted peppers, which were unexpectedly tasty too (despite not having any melted cheese on top), with the sweet pepper contrasting nicely with the savoury filling.

Roasted and stuffed peppers (I'd suggest half a pepper per person as a side dish)

2 peppers (ideally red or yellow)
1 small red onion, finely sliced
2  medium cloves garlic, crushed
Around 50-75g quinoa
5 or 6 chestnut mushrooms, finely sliced
1 tblsp vegan herb cream cheese (optional)
5-6 basil leaves, torn
1 tsp Marigold vegetable bouillon powder
2-3 tblsp olive oil
Around 100ml water, or enough to cook the quinoa

Firstly the peppers- slice each one in half through it's stalk. Bring a pan of water to the boil, and then drop in the peppers. Reduce the heat a bit, and simmer for around 5-10 minutes, until the peppers are tender. Drain, pat dry, and then drizzle over a bit of olive oil. Make sure the sure the peppers are well coated in oil and then put them under a grill until they just start to char and blister a bit. Turn them at least once during the process. If you have functioning oven, you can just oil up the peppers and roast them in there on gas mark 6, but this will take around 30 minutes. While the peppers are cooking, gently fry the onion, garlic, and mushroom, in the rest of the oil. Once they've softened, add the quinoa, the bouillon powder, and hot water to cover. Simmer over a low heat for around 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is cooked, adding more water if needed. Stir in the basil leaves, and cream cheese, and spoon into the peppers. If you wanted some sort of topping I would suggest breadcrumbs, either fried in a pan first and sprinkled on top, or 'raw' drizzled with oil and then grilled.

I've also increased my snacking range, as lots of of savoury, crunchy stuff appears to be effortlessly vegan. I've never had plantain chips before, but they were excellent. And of course, it's hard to go wrong with rice crackers.

For some slightly more extravagant weekend dinners, I cooked an uber-spicy, vegan version of Ottolenghi's black pepper tofu (which has become a modern classic). Making this vegan, just means leaving out the butter, so pretty simple. I  also made quite a lot of cauliflower fried rice and a side of steamed pak choi with sesame oil. As a side note, I didn't bother blanching the cauliflower first this time (and won't bother again). I just sautéed it in a bit of oil and garlic in a non-stick pan, for a few minutes, tipped it out, cooked the other veg, and tipped it back in. This was all fantastic, and again one of those meals which I'd happily eat again, vegan or not.

So veganism so far is proving to be surprisingly delicious.

No comments: