Homemade Mediterranean Veggie Sausages

It’s definitely comfort food time of year; it seems dark most of the time and a bit of warming traditional food is the perfect way to keep the spirits up. Vegetarian sausages can be a great way to have a traditional meal but with a veggie twist – there are a few good varieties but some of the ones you buy can be either unpleasant tasting and trying to be like fake meat (as a veggie, I HATE fake meat) or bland spongy things which are best avoided. Time to create a homemade version!

The Food for Friends (a veggie restaurant based in Brighton) cookbook has a couple of interesting veggie sausage recipes which are definitely worth trying, they are good, but maybe not quite to my taste. So, these are my version;  flavoured with the Mediterranean in mind, using the delicious combo of rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar  – and my, they are lovely! Be warned, the mixture is quite crumbly so it’s definitely worth chilling them in the fridge for a good while before frying. But the resulting mixture is so punchy with umami flavours that we find we can forgive a bit of crumble!

Homemade Mediterranean Veggie Sausages 

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, vegetarian, and vegan)

For 2 sausages, perfect for one person – multiple the amounts for more people

  • 1 slice of wholemeal bread, made into breadcrumbs
  • 4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, chopped
  • 1-2 tbp of the oil the sun-dried tomatoes came in
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful rocket or spinach
  • small bunch of basil
  • seasoning
  1. Best to use a food processor, blend the bread to make fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the tomatoes, balsamic, rocket, basil and garlic and blend to combine. It should look like the texture of green sand
  3. Taste and adjust the seasoning
  4. Tip out onto a sheet of cling film, shape into a large sausage shape and roll tightly. Chill well.
  5. Unwrap and cut into two. Fry in sunflower oil until golden on all sides

Jamaican Jerk Roasted Cauliflower

This dish is inspired by legend and fastest man on Earth, Usain Bolt. His skill, speed and joyful showmanship have caught our imagination and everyone else’s for years. How could it not? He will certainly be a sporting figure that my children will remember fondly in the future. We so wanted to see him run at the 2012 Olympics and these 2017 World Championships but alas the ballot wasn’t in our favour. So like nearly everyone else we’ve had to live the experience through the TV instead. We were all pretty disappointed he didn’t win the 100m last weekend. With his retirement approaching I’m posting one of my favourite Jamaican influenced recipes of jerk roasted cauliflower, rice and picked pink onions. I have no idea if Usain would approve my plant-based meal, he famously claimed to eat about 1,000 chicken nuggets in Beijing so I’m guessing he doesn’t usually swap chicken for cauliflower! But, it’s Jamaican Jerk spiced so I hope it would be acceptable!

Spiced and roasted cauliflower is nothing new, especially in the blogosphere, but this jerk spiced recipe is rather unusual. Cauliflower retains spice and flavour really well, and roasting it does magical things, giving a softer centre and wonderfully charred edges . This recipe is a big hit with the girls, and the spice level can by easily upped or downed to taste – they actually like it quite spicy. I’ve served it here with some [non dairy] sour cream with chilli which makes it less dry, and some gorgeous pink pickled onions, with rice whichever way you like, here a mushroom pilaf.

Jamaican Jerk Spiced Roasted Cauliflower

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

2 tsp jerk spice

3 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp honey

1 tbs lemon thyme, finely chopped

1 dried chilli

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp olive oil

1 Cauliflower, cut into florets

  1. Mix together all the ingredients except the cauliflower to make the marinade.
  2. Coat the cauliflower florets with the marinade and set aside for at least half an hour.
  3. Make the pink pickled onions whist the cauliflower is marinading (recipe below)
  4. Roast the cauliflower for about 25-40 minutes at 180 degrees Centigrade, until its soft and browned at the edges
  5. Serve with rice, on a bed of chilli ‘sour cream’ (recipe below) and topped with the pickled onions.

Quick Pink Pickled Onions

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

2 red onions

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 tbsps soft brown sugar

1 tbsp peppercorns

  1. Finely slice the onions. Place in a colander in the sink and slowly pour over a kettle of boiling water.
  2. In a separate bowl mix together the vinegar, water, sugar and peppercorns. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add the onions to the vinegar mix. Cover and let stand in the fridge for at least half an hour before using.
  4. There will be plenty left over, so keep the leftovers in the fridge

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)
1/2 a red chilli, finely chopped
small handful parsley, finely chopped
2-3 tbsp dairyfree sour cream
seasoning
squeeze to lemon juice
  1. Mix together all the ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning to own preference.

To make a wonderful meal serve with pilaf rice, our favourite and probably the easiest way to cook flavourful rice with little fuss. I also think the additions of chilli sour cream (use Tofutti sour cream alternative) and quick pink pickled onions really work to make a well rounded plate of complimentary flavour sensations.

Mediterranean Bean Salad

 

Yay for sunshine, yay for summer and yay for the great outdoors! June and July are peak picnic time of year for us, the diary is littered with sports days, festivals, outdoor theatre showings and general outdoorsy stuff. Let’s try and forget that the recent ‘heatwave’ has sadly ended and we seem to have entered a premature damp and drizzly Autumn. But to be honest, if you are British bad weather is far from unusual and we do all the same summery outdoorsy stuff, we just wear wellies and raincoats instead of shorts and flip-flops!

I do struggle with finding interesting, portable and friendly picnic foods that please the whole family. It’s not just the varied dietary requirements, but also a good dose of general fussiness. I seem to be on a constant mission to find family friendly packable lunches.

I’m a massive salad fan, I just love the freshness, colours and textures you find in salads. In fact I could eat salad almost every day. Now, I might love salads but my children are less keen. They have some favourites, but faced with a bowl of dressed lettuce or some unusual vegetables they do spectacularly badly! Not a helpful situation when planning multiple picnics. This Mediterranean bean salad though is hard to dislike. The beans, once marinaded are such a great carrier of flavour, and the Mediterranean embellishments are like jewels of flavour, although you may want to serve the olives on the side if you have some fussy palates around 😉

Mediterranean Bean Salad

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

2 tins of beans, I used Cannellini beans

2 tbsp sherry or wine vinegar

1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

a good grind of black pepper

4 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, finely chopped

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 onion, sliced

handful of pitted black olives [optional]

small bunch of basil

  1. Drain the beans (reserving the water or ‘aquafaba’ to make meringues) and rinse
  2. Whisk together the vinegar, oil, salt and pepper. Pour over the beans and leave to marinate for half an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, place the onions in a colander and pour over a kettle of water. Place in a bowl and pour over a mixture of 1 tbsp vinegar, 1 tbsp water and a pink of sugar. Set aside to quickly pickle. If you use red onion you’ll get pretty pink onions after pickling.
  4. Add all the other ingredients to the marinated beans. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  5. Enjoy.

Brilliant Bubble and Squeak Cakes

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Brilliant bubble and squeak cakes, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free

It’s suddenly all about the leftovers. With Christmas over for another year, it’s time to think up ways of eating all the festive foods without feeeling like you’ve eaten the same meal for multiple days in a row. We’re definitely in comfort food territory, food to warm the soul on brisk chilly days, and potatoes lend themselves so well to this.

D and I are fans of the odd cabbage based dish but I’ve never managed to persuade the girls – I guess it’s always been thus with children and cabbage. But hidden in potato could work?

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The brilliant part of these bubble and squeak cakes is that they’re naturally dairy-free, with no fat included in the recipe to bind them together – sure you have to roast the mini potatoes originally, and then fry them to give a crispy outside but it’s not so naughty. The potato cake is also the most fabulous carrier of any green veg really, enrobing it in comforting mashed and roasted potato. I’ve always found the name very appealing too, the bubble and squeak being from the sound makes while cooking.

I’ve used cabbage here, but this recipe will work brilliantly with chopped up roasties from your Christmas or Sunday lunch, and any leftover veg you fancy. Try these with any left-overs or as part of a full English breakfast. Veggies and non veggies will love these.

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Bubble and Squeak Cakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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free-from potato cakes

Serves 4

2 large baking potatoes, baked and still warm

2-3 small to medium potatoes, cut into small cubes

Green or cabbage of choice, shredded and blanched

Salt and pepper

  1. Roast the potato cubes in oil and seasoning (plus any herbs optional) for about 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees centigrade, until golden and crispy. Set aside.
  2. Using a potato ricer (my preference), rice the insides of the large cooked baked potatoes. (Keep the skins to make stuffed potato skins!). Stir in the mini roasties and cabbage/greens, season well.
  3. Press into a ring that is on baking paper and then place in the fridge to firm up.
  4. Fry in flavourless oil until golden on each side and then transfer to a hot oven for 15 minutes.
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veggie full English with bubble and squeak cakes

Vegetarian ‘Swedish Meatballs’ and mustard cream sauce – dairy-free, egg-free and nut-free

vegetarian "Swedish Meatballs' dairy-free egg-free

There’s something very appealing with the coming of Autumn and a turn from bright sunny Mediterranean flavours (generally my preference) to a more Scandinavian cosy vibe. To me, it suits darker evenings and jumper wearing temperatures.

I’ve tried many times to recreate the classic Swedish meatballs (aka ‘Ikea Meatballs’!), mustard cream sauce and mash but often just missed the mark. This version, on the other hand, is totally spot on. The ‘meatballs’ made of a mix of red lentils, mushrooms, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and have a great ‘bite’ to them as well as a wonderfully savoury umami flavour with hints of the deep dark forest. The texture, whilst clearly being nothing like a meatball made of meat has a toothsome feel and enough texture that they don’t just crumble into dust!

vegan swedish meatball mix

Dairyfree cream sauces can also be tricky to get right, they often have a slightly sweet flavour which is a little unnerving in a savoury context, also reduction sometimes doesn’t have the same effect as with dairy versions. But I have the answer, a simple veloute (like a bechamel but made with stock rather than milk) is made creamy by a good dose of the cream – resulting in a perfect silky texture and creamy taste with plenty of mustard umph.

We all really devoured this dish, although the girls were suspicious of the cream sauce – if you’ve been dairyfree for your entire life it’s not really surprising that you don’t ‘get’ creamy textures! I’m going to preserve though, this will definitely be one for the regular repertoire this winter.

Vegetarian Swedish ‘Meatballs’

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

baked vegetarian Swedish meatballs

makes about 15, serves 4-5

1 1/2 cups cooked red lentils

200g mushrooms, finely chopped

1 onion, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp dried thyme or herbes de Provence

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

2 slices of bread, made into breadcrumbs

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (Henderson’s Relish is a great veggie alternative)

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp English mustard powder

1 tbsp cornflour

  1. Gently fry the onion, mushrooms and garlic with the herbs and chilli flakes until soft, fragrant and starting to turn golden
  2. Place in a food processor (or simply mix together in a bowl for a chunkier texture) and add all the other ingredients. Pulse until well combined and fairly smooth.
  3. Using damp hands roll into even sized balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle with a little extra oil and then put in the fridge to firm up.
  4. Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for 20 minutes

dairy-free egg-free mushroom and lentil Swedish meatballs

Meanwhile, make the garlic, mustard cream sauce:-

Mustard Cream Sauce

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

dairy-free mustard cream sauce, vegan

1 tbsp dairy-free margarine

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp flour

20 ml white wine

100ml vegetable stock

1 pack dairy-free cream (250ml)

1-2 tbsps Dijon mustard

  1. Melt the margarine, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant but not coloured
  2. Add the flour and cook out for a couple of minutes
  3. Over a medium heat stir in the wine and again cook out, stirring to make sure the sauce/paste is smooth
  4. Pour in the stock and stir to make a smooth sauce, next stir in the cream. Stir or whisk to ensure a smooth, silky sauce.
  5. Add mustard to taste

To serve:

Serve 3-5 ‘meatballs’ with creamy mash, greens of choice and the mustard cream sauce.

vegan swedish meatballs nut-free

Bahn Mi Salad

 

vegan bahn mi salad bowl

I’ve had this idea of turning Classic Bahn Mi baguette filling flavours into a salad for quite a while, and now the weather has turned super hot (albeit briefly!) it’s the perfect opportunity for exciting salad eating.

In my day job, I work in two different locations, so I spend rather too much time walking the streets of the City or sitting on London buses. It does give a lot of looking out the window and contemplating opportunities, and time to draw inspiration for my recipes. Just off one of my regular bus route there are two Bahn Mi shops within meters of each other (crazy, huh!), hence my thoughts turned to recreating the classic Vietnamese hot spicy, pickled, herby flavours of  a Bahn Mi baguette into a salad.

free-from vietnamese salad, no milk, no nuts, no eggs

In this salad bowl I have marinated noodles which are topped with Sriracha roasted beans, quick pickled red cabbage, cucumber and carrot ribbons, tomatoes and plenty of coriander. It makes for a delicious and very moreish bowlful. The noodles are best prepared in advance and cope very nicely with a couple of days in the fridge if need be. Same with the red cabbage. Just make sure you put all the topping on at the last minute to retain freshness and crunch.

Bahn Mi Salad

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free vietnamese noodle salad

serves at least 4 (multiple the veg for more people as there will be plenty of noodles and cabbage)

 For the quick pickled red cabbage:

1/4 red cabbage

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp vinegar

2 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp salt

  1. Massage the cabbage with the 1tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Set aside for at least half an hour. Pour away any juice which have seeped out.
  2. Combine the water, vinegar and rest of the salt. Pour over the cabbage. Cover and leave to pickle for at least half an hour.

For the Sriracha roasted beans:

1/2 tin white beans or chickpeas

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp olive oil

A few good squirts of Sriracha

  1. Toss the beans in the paprika,oil and chilli sauce and roast in a medium oven (180 degrees) for 15-20 minutes.

For the marinated noodles:

4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

5 tbsps soy sauce

3 tbsps balsamic vinegar

3 tbsps sugar

1 tsp salt

1 pack of wheat noodles (250g) or equal amount of spaghetti

6 spring onions, finely sliced

  1. Mix together the oil, balsamic, soy sauce, sugar and salt until the sugar has dissolved. Set aside
  2. Cook the noodles or spaghetti according to the pack instructions. Make sure they are slightly undercooked and then drain and run under cold water to halt the cooking process.
  3. Mix the noodles into the marinade. Add the spring onions and set aside. Marinate for as long as possible for really tasty noodles.

For the veg:

2 spring onions, sliced

1 carrot, shaved into ribbons

1/2 cucumber, shaved into ribbons

1/2 red pepper, finely sliced

Large handful cherry tomatoes, halved

Coriander

To assemble:

  1. In a bowl, cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of marinated noodles
  2. Top with strips of pickled cabbage, roasted Sriracha beans and veg
  3. Add carrot and cucumber ribbons around the edge
  4. Top with a scattering of coriander and a few squirts of Sriracha
  5. Eat straight away

vegetarian noodle salad, Bahn Mi style