Noodle Salad

Happy New Year! I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy 2019 šŸ™‚

To kickstart a fresh new start, here’s a delightfully tasty noodle salad which is perfect for a tasty lunch as it works equally at home or in a lunch box – even better it keeps for a good few days and so is perfect for making on a Sunday and tossing on a plate or in a Tupperware for the following fews days.

After ‘putting up with’ school lunches Little S has decided to try out packed lunches as we realised that although her school tries really hard and gives her a proper cooked safe lunch every day, she just wasn’t eating it as it often wasn’t to her taste. So we’re embarking on a packed lunch journey which will make life even busier but will also provide a new opportunity for creating interesting and tasty safe lunches. Expect lots of salads, snacks and lunchbox friendly baked goodies in the next few months!

Noodle Salad

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

serves 4

175g spaghetti, cooked and refreshed in cold water

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 and 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 and 1/2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chilli paste or fresh finely chopped chilli

Veg to taste: I used cucumber and carrot ribbons and sweetcorn as they’re little S favourites. But roasted aubergine cubes, peppers (roasted or raw), spring onions, coriander and baby corn all work well too.

  1. Mix together the oil, soy sauce, balsamic, sugar, salt and chilli.
  2. Add the cooked, cooled spaghetti and toss well.
  3. Add the veg just before serving and toss again.

Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Gnocchi

Where do you stand with parsnips? They seem to divide people, but for me they’re an essential part of Christmas and I absolutely love the sweet taste of a roasted crispy parsnip. In an attempt to win over the parsnip haters I’ve been experimenting with parsnip based dishes. I came across a recipe online for parsnip gnocchi and thought it sounded like a fabulous idea. All the bouncy pillowyness of gnocchi with a sweet parsnip and roasted garlic flavour – yum!

I’m also currently looking for a veggie addition to my Christmas lunch and I think these gnocchi could be what I’m looking for. We’re going to the in-laws for Christmas Day and as the only veggie in the family I end up with some vegetables or I have to sort myself out. It’s not a problem as I love to cook but it does give me yet another thing to think about as I also have to provide all safe snacks, chocolates, puddings and sauces.

I’m always keen that my veggie dish is something the whole family can dip into, as I really hate being the solitary ‘odd’ vegetarian who has their own solo meal whilst everyone else enjoys a communal eating experience (which is what Christmas lunch is all about after all). So my intention is for a veggie addition that everyone can enjoy; however, from experience everyone else will probably stick with their turkey and give my invention a wide berth! What’s your experience? Do you have a family who just want the usual traditional dishes, or one which is happy to try new additions?

The beauty of these gnocchi is that they have the flavours of Christmas in an interesting format, they’re easily reheated and they also make a pretty good nibble when bunked in a dip. They also went down well with the parsnip hating younger members of the family, and that’s no mean feat!

Roasted Parsnip and Garlic Gnocchi

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

serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as an addition to a roast meal

1 baking potato

4 medium parsnips

3 cloves garlic

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

75g OO flour

1 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)

A sprinkle of Herbs de Provence or thyme

  1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees centigrade
  2. Peel and Chop the potatoes and parsnips into even sizes large pieces
  3. Place in a roasting tin with the unpeeled garlic. Drizzle with oil and season. Roast for 30-40 minutes until soft and starting to turn golden. Squeeze the garlic out of the skins and add to the roasted veg.
  4. Cool and then blitz the veg and garlic in a food processor. Add the flour, nutritional yeast, herbs Ā and seasoning and pulse until it becomes a dough. Wrap in cling film and leave to relax for a while.
  5. Roll into 4 sausages, each about 1cm thick. Cut into 2 cm slices, gently squeezing to give a pillowy shape
  6. Bring a pan of water to the boil and in batches cook the gnocchi for 2-3 minutes until they rise to the surface. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Heat another 1tbsp oil in a frying pan and fry the gnocchi until golden and crispy on all sides.
  8. Serve drizzled with oil.
  9. To reheat just pop in a hot pan to warm through.

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!

TheĀ Food for FriendsĀ (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; Ā flavoured with the Mediterranean in mind, using the delicious combo of rocket, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar Ā – 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 SausagesĀ 

(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)Ā 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.Ā 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.

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 definitelyĀ 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.Ā 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.Ā The potato cakeĀ is also the most fabulous carrier of any green veg really, enrobing it in comforting mashed and roasted potato.Ā 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, bakedĀ 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 andĀ 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, thisĀ 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 sautƩ 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