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

Roasted Sweetcorn Chowder

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Soup is perfect January fare – after all the Christmas indulgence, we turn to healthy food which suits the fresh start of the New Year and soup feels like protection from the cold, dark days. This chowder is even better because the sunshine yellow of the corn, spiked with jewel like red and green adds a bit of colour and light to these dreary days.

This is a slightly unusual chowder in that the soup is blitzed to a smooth velvety liquid and then pan roasted sweetcorn, pepper and if you like, chilli, is stirred in at the end. This was primarily because my children still don’t like ‘bitty’ soups much but it turned out to be a great plan, the best of both worlds in one bowl!

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

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serves 4

  • 1tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 cobs of corn, kernels shaved off (you will need 4 in total for the recipe)
  • 1 medium potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 100ml oat milk, or dairy-free milk of choice
  • Salt and pepper

To top:

  • 1/2 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 cob of corn, shaved off
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)”
  • Handful of parsley

– Sweat the onion in the oil until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
– Stir in the fresh corn and thyme and continue to sizzle until it starts to look a little toasty and golden
– Add the potato
– Splash in the wine and scrape any residue off the bottom of the pan, reduce to almost nothing
– Pour in the stock and oat milk and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the potato is well cooked.
– Blitz to a smooth soup
– Meanwhile, gently fry the pepper, extra corn and chilli (if using) in a splash of oil until sweet and slightly caramelised.
– Stir some through the soup, then use the rest as a topping with some parsley

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Egg-free Yorkshire Puddings

 

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Yorkshire puddings are surely an iconic feature of the British menu and the ideal way to pep up a roast dinner for the long suffering ‘you can just have the veg’ vegetarian. I have tried so many approaches but all my previous attempts at Yorkshire puddings have been a total failure – greasy little doughy things with no noticeable rise – just not nice. Some people swear by a recipe that uses grated potato, but it didn’t work for me and I’m a bit baffled by Yorkshire puddings containing grated potato!

This recipe I devised is as true to the original ingredients as possible (if you leave out the main ingredients of milk and eggs of course!). The puddings you end up with are crisp but also light and fluffy with an airy centre, just perfect as a vehicle for some rich red wine gravy. I didn’t get the sunken in the middle effect, but am going to try egg-free vegetarian ‘toad in the hole’ and see if the puddings get the sunken thing going on when made on a bigger scale.

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

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Makes about 18 small ones

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 cup dairy-free yogurt
  • 1 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp lemon juice

– Mix together all the ingredients and set aside for at least half an hour
– Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 4 (or there abouts if already have it a bit higher for some roast potatoes in the oven)
– Pour 1/2-1 tsp sunflower oil into each cup in a cupcake tray
– Heat in the oven for 10 minutes
– Carefully remove the pan from the oven and half fill each cup with the batter
– Place back in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until risen and golden

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Smoky potato tian

 

IMG_7821I have had the idea of making a tian on my mind for a while. Tian is a baked, closely packed vegetable dish; think a Provencal style gratin with no added cream. I had been thinking of Mediterranean vegetables but they’re not quite in season, so I veered towards the large pile of potatoes in the larder. This dish manages to transform a few humble spuds and an onion into a dish of beauty (that also tastes great!)

Finely sliced potatoes are closely packed on top of some onions sweated with thyme, and then the potatoes are brushed with a smoky sweet paprika oil, before baking until the tops are crispy. Looks appealing don’t you think? Make sure the slices are snugly fitted into an attractive baking dish for full wow factor.

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

 

IMG_7820Serves 4

  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-4 waxy potatoes per person
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

– Gently sweat the onions in a little oil with the thyme and salt until soft and slippery, but not coloured
– Spread the onions on the bottom of a pretty oven proof baking dish
– Slice the potatoes as finely as possible and pack closely, sliced side upwards into the baking dish
– Whisk together the oil, vinegar, smoked paprika and seasoning
– Brush the oil mixture over the potatoes
– Bake at 180 degrees centigrade for about 1 hour until the edges are crispy and the potatoes cooked through.
– Serve in the baking dish for maximum impact!

 

Pea Croquettes with Spicy tomato relish

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I was watching Michel Roux on the BBC Food and Drink programme the other week and he made some chicken croquettes with a tomato relish – they sounded like just the kind of dish I could do something with! Apparently it’s a traditional way to use up left-over chicken in France, but here I’ve swapped it for peas and plenty of black pepper (a combination I think really works). The relish is like a speedy tomato chutney spiced up with smoked paprika (and chilli if you like). We ate these for Sunday lunch and it made a wonderfully satisfying and comforting meal. The girls were originally rather suspicious of the ‘bits’ in the croquettes, but soon changed their minds. This will definitely become a winter family staple – thank you Michel for the inspiration 🙂

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

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Serves 4 (makes about 12 croquettes)

  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 2 tbsps dairy-free spread
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, lightly cooked
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 slices of stale bread, whizzers into breadcrumbs

– Cook and mash the potatoes (I like to bake them and then rice the insides as it makes the mash very dry and fluffy and totally lump free!)
– Stir in the spread to make a silky, but not wet mash.
– Add the peas and season well with salt and plenty of ground pepper. Taste
– Whilst its still warm, roll the mix into neat cylinders.
– Roll in the breadcrumbs to fully coat (I find if you do this while the potato is warm, then there is no need for the usual flour, egg, breadcrumb combo)
– Place in the fridge for half an hour.
– Shallow fry in sunflower oil until golden on all sides, then transfer to the oven for 10 minutes to fully warm though

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

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  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 large handful of cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 dried chilli, crushed
  • Salt and pepper

– Sauté the shallot and garlic until fragrant but not coloured
– Add the tomatoes, sugar, smoked paprika and vinegar. Season with a little salt and pepper
– Simmer gently for 10 minutes until jammy and chutney like.
– Allow to cool, then taste and adjust the seasoning if required.
– Serve at room temperature.

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Vegetables au Vin

IMG_7304I spend a lot of my time on my lengthy train commute watching food programmes – for me the perfect way to unwind at the end of a busy working day! Often I get inspiration from these programmes, and on watching Simon Hopkinson the other day I felt compelled to make a vegetarian version of ‘coq au vin’.

I really wasn’t sure it would work, attempting to turn a classic French classic dish into a vegetarian alternative (sacrilege I know, particularly when removing the main ingredient!), but the result was rather pleasing – a warming, comforting vegetarian supper with a deep flavour imparted from the wine.

I chose to cook butternut squash although not my favourite vegetable, and used it with borlotti beans and mushrooms. The butternut was surprisingly delicious (it really takes a good recipe for me to say that!) but did become very soft in the long slow cooking. The borlotti beans and mushrooms on the other hand stood up well. We served it with the classic accompaniments of mashed potato and fried bread triangles dipped in parsley and it was definitely the epitome of a comforting winter meal.

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

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serves at least 4

  • 1/2 bottle red wine
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 stick of celery, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp red currant jelly
  • 4 large/8 small shallots
  • 1 pack of button mushrooms
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 tin borlotti beans
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsps herbes de provence
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp cornflour

– Pour the wine into a saucepan
– Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, garlic and redcurrant jelly.
– Bring to a simmer and reduce by a half. Strain out the veg and set aside.
– Brown the shallots in 1tbsp olive oil, then add the mushrooms and squash, cook until the veg has taken on a little colour.
– Add 2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped) and cook until fragrant
– Stir in the cornflour.
– Pour over the reduced wine and stock ( if you like chop up the marinade vegetables and add them too)
– Add the borlotti beans and herbs.
– Cover the pot and either place on a low simmer, or even better place in a low to medium oven for approx 1 hour
– Taste and adjust the seasoning. Scatter with a good handful of chopped parsley.
– Serve with the classic accompaniments of fried bread triangles (gluten-free fine of course) dipped in chopped parsley and mashed potato.