Vegan has made it’s way into the dieting arena and is doing pretty well in terms of popularity. Despite its success die-hard-meat-lovers might find the idea of a plant-based diet downright stupid. But we have three absolutely amazing recipes for you, even the biggest meat-lover won’t be able to resist. Lee Watson demonstrates that vegan food doesn’t have to be boring but can actually be creative and colourful.
Chestnut, Millet & Sage Sausages with Homemade Raw Ketchup
Chestnuts seem to have been a little neglected of late, and you rarely see the lonely chestnut roaster on the festive street corner these days. But chestnuts are so plentiful on our island, and can be used in a variety of dishes, both savoury and sweet. They come to life when paired with the robust and earthy sage, and will live with most herbs in harmony. I like to use them in sausages and burgers because they are quite starchy and help with the binding process, which can be a major failing in many vegan sausage and burger recipes. Most vegan sausages/burgers are best cooked straight from the freezer – they hold their shape better that way. The key with vegan sausages/burgers is to be gentle with them in the pan, and don’t mess with them unnecessarily. They just need a precise flip on occasion and they are perfectly happy. To make things easy, you may like to use pre-cooked chestnuts.
Makes 15 small sausages
300g firm tofu, mashed with a fork
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes (from health food stores)
a handful of toasted sunflower seeds
3 cloves of garlic. peeled and minced
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh sage
2 tablespoons very finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 red chilli. deseeded and finely diced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
150g very fine wholewheat or gluten-free breadcrumbs
1tablespoon tamari or teaspoon sea salt
1 x homemade raw ketchup (or store-bought)
To cook the millet, put it into a small pan and cover with 2cm of cold water. Bring to the boil, then pop a lid on, lower the temperature and leave to cook for 20 minutes. Fluff up with a fork – the millet should be soft and tender but quite sticky.This is perfectly normal. Allow to cool.
In a food processor, blitz your chestnuts to fine crumbs. Add half the tofu and pulse a few times until quite smooth. In a large bowl, mix the chestnuts and tofu with the rest of the ingredients apart from the vegetable oil. The mixture should be firm enough to form into sausages, slightly tacky to the touch. Check the seasoning and add more tamari or salt if needed.
Using dampened hands, form your sausages, malting them look like big chipolatas. Roughly 15 will do, but you may prefer just a few longer ones instead. Place them on a plate and cover lightly with Clingfilm, then pop into the fridge and chill them for 30 minutes (you can also freeze them at this point).Put 1h tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan on a medium heat and fry your sausages for5minutes,turningthemregularlytogetagoodcolourallover.
Serve with a big blob of homemade raw ketchup and some warm toast. And normally I’ll have a few green leaves for the plate. Sausage sandwich, anyone?
Portobello Pecan Burger with Roasted Pumpkin Wedges
Here we have a burger that is rich, with a deep flavour from the mushrooms,cumin and miso. It is packed with heavy umami flavours, with the seaweed, pecans and miso working their potent charms. Sun-blushed tomatoes can be found in most delis nowadays and ooze fragrant tomato all over this burger. If you are struggling to find them, I know some fantastic people on the Isle of Wight who can sort you out (see Suppliers, page 338). This burger mix will keep very well in the fridge, 5 days easy. Try making it into ‘meatballs’, with a tomato sauce and pasta.
Gluten-free option: just cook 25g more rice and omit the breadcrumbs.
4 tablespoons olive oil
350g Portobello mushrooms, cut into cubes
1 aubergine, chopped into 2cm pieces
a large pinch of sea salt and black pepper
3 tabelspoons fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
20g dried seaweed, cut into very fine ribbons
175g flageolet beans, soaked overnight, then cooked with teaspoon bicarbonate of soda and cooled, or 1 x 400g tins
120g toasted pecans
100g red or brown rice, cooked and called
2 heaped tablespoons brown miso
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g fine wholewheat breadcrumbs
For the Pumpkin wedges:
750g pumpkin, scrubbed, seeded and cut into 5cm wedges
2tablespoons vegetable oil
a large pinch of sea salt
1x tarragon aioli (or vegan mayonnaise from health food stores)
8 seeded wholewheat rolls, halved (for a gluten-free alternative, use your favourite GF bread)
1 big handful sun-blushed tomatoes
butter lettuce leaves
To make the pumpkin wedges, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Put the pumpkin on a baking tray, toss with the oil and salt, and roast for 30 minutes, turning over once. The pumpkin should be tender and nicely coloured.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy frying pan on a medium-low heat and add the mushrooms and aubergines. Cook for 10 minutes, then add the salt and pepper . Cook for a further 5 minutes, until the aubergine is soft. Stir in the oregano leaves and set aside in a bowl.
In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil on a medium-high heat and cook the onion and celery for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and seaweed and cook for another 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and combine with the aubergines and mushrooms.
In a food processor, combine half the beans, pecans, aubergine mix and rice with the miso, sifting in the bicarbonate of soda. Blitz to a thick paste. Add the breadcrumbs and the rest of the beans, rice and aubergine mix, along with the rest of the pecans. Pulse until a chunky mix forms, coarse in texture but finely chopped. Check the seasoning -the miso is quite salty. Transfer the mix to a bowl, combining it all well with your hands. Form the mix into 6-8fat burgers. Put them into the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up. Meanwhile, make the tarragon aioli.
Pop an ovenproof frying pan on a medium-high heat and lightly oil it. Cook each burger for 5 minutes per side, until beautifully light brown. If they lose shape and are unruly in the pan, press them down using the back of a spatula. Veggie burgers are sensitive and need to be handled with soft hands (and spatulas).
Put all the burgers into a warm oven, 150°C/gas mark 2, for 10 minutes to finish cooking.
Cut your bread rolls in half and put them into the warm oven for 5 minutes. On the base of each warm roll, scatter sun-blushed tomatoes (with a little of their oil) and top with a lettuce leaf, the burger and a good topping of tarragon aioli. Serve with the warm pumpkin wedges.
Raw Blueberry & Macadamia Cheesecake
If you are yet to enter the magical world of raw desserts, this macadarnia cheesecake is a sensational place to start. It’s so very rich and surprisingly healthy. If you try one recipe in this book, this is the one. I have yet to meet anybody who can resist it! I like to use cashews in the filling purely because of the price difference – macadam ias are expensive – but for a special occasion, go for it! Depending on the season, any berry can be used for this recipe. Blackberries are a personal favourite -I love their bitter edge with the sweet creaminess of the cheesecake -although blueberries are delicious too.
For the crust:
200g raw macadamia nuts
a handful of pumpkin seeds
90g dates (soaked for 1 hour then pitted)
20g freshly grated coconut (desiccated is fine)
For the filling:
360g raw cashews or macadamias (soaked for at least 3 hours)
120ml lemon juice
120ml brown rice syrup (or other sweetener of your choice)
180ml coconut oil
a large pinch of sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the sauce:
45g dates (soaked for 1 hour), pitted
To make the crust, put the macadamias, pumpkin seeds and dates into a food processor and pulse together until a rough crumble is formed. Add more dates if it’s a little dry or more nuts if it’s wet. The mixture should be able to be rolled into balls and not be overly sticky.
Scatter a layer of coconut on the base of a cake tin (one of those with a pushy-out bottom). You can use a normal pie/quiche dish – it just makes it harder to extract the cake. Try lining your tins with a snug layer of clingfilm. Using your hands, press the macadamia crust on to the coconut covering the base. Press the edges down with your fingers, forming an even layer.
To make the filling, blitz all the ingredients in the now magically clean food processor (bless those kitchen elves) until you have a smooth cream-like texture. You may need a few goes to get it all incorporated, scraping the sides down with a spatula. Scrape out your filling mixture into the pie dish, bang it gently a few times on a work surface (to get rid of air bubbles) and smooth the filling down using a spatula.
Place in the freezer and freeze -for best results; eat on the day of freezing, or soon after. Remove from the pie dish using a thin cake slice around the edge and gently pushing the base out. Take it easy and slowly. Pop it into the fridge and allow it to defrost -a couple of hours will do.
Place the blueberries and dates into your food processor (now miraculously clean again) and blitz well. Add a little water to thin the sauce out if needed. Pour over the cheesecake before serving, and if there is any excess sauce, serve it in a bowl as a berry bonus.
Available on Amazon Peace and Parsnips: Vegan Cooking for Everyone (Published by Penguin) for £16.59.