Panko Crusted Pea and Potato Cakes with Tartar Sauce

20150409-194616.jpg I was out for supper with some friends and one of them had fish cakes with tartar sauce -they looked so appealing with their crispy outer, soft centre and zippy sauce. It seemed to me that it was a type of dish vegetarians/vegans don’t get to eat; but I suddenly really fancied my own version of this fishy classic. After some research and development, here is my veggie and friendly version of a real classic, perfect for a Friday. I tried various combinations to replace the fish, but then decided to go with the other traditional accompaniment to fish and tartar sauce – peas. Perfect! I was worried that it would be too simple – potato and pea cakes, served with homemade zingy sauce and leaves. But actually we decided that, yes, it’s light but also entirely satisfying and an ultimately comforting dish perfect for spring. D had never tried tartar sauce (I know, crazy!) but he has never liked fish – as such he was sceptical of a mayo based concoction framed with cornichons, capers and parsley, but in the end really enjoyed the combination, particularly with the crispy cakes. I prefer to bake the potatoes before mashing as I find it makes the mix fluffy and dry, and therefore better for coating and frying. Feel free to boil the potatoes if you prefer but be aware the mix will be wetter and will probably need longer to firm up in the fridge. Panko Crusted Pea and Potato Cakes (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan, gluten-free if use gluten-free breadcrumbs) 20150409-194555.jpg Serves 2 (multiply as necessary)

  • 2 baking potatoes
  • Handful of frozen peas, blanched
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp dairy-free spread/margarine
  • 1 cup panko crumbs, or fresh breadcrumbs

– Bake the potatoes until totally tender scoop out and mash or rice the centres – Stir in the other ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning as desired – Form into 4 patties and whilst warm coat in the panko crumbs – Rest in the fridge for at least half an hour to firm up – Shallow fry in flavourless oil until crispy on both sides – Either immediately transfer to a warm oven to finish cooking, or put aside until ready to heat later Tartar Sauce (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, soya-free, vegetarian and vegan) 20150409-194628.jpg makes plenty for 2 potato cakes

  • 6 tbsp egg-free mayo, i like Plamil
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup cornichons, finely chopped
  • Handful of parsley, finely chopped
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

– Combine all the ingredients, taste and adjust seasoning as required – Keep refrigerated until ready to use 20150409-194649.jpg

Shepherdess Pie

I’ve always had a peculiar fondness for shepherds pie. It’s food that’s big on comfort and hard to beat as a hearty warming meal. Since last night was Guy Fawkes night (or bonfire night, always a big celebration in the UK) and we lit sparklers in the garden after school, this lentil and vegetable shepherd’s pie was just the ticket to warm up afterwards.

I have a real aversion to ‘fake meat’ products… you know the type of thing that is vegetarian but trying to look and taste exactly like its meaty counterpart. It’s just not for me.  With that in mind I tend to use lentils rather than a mince substitute for the bulk of the pie filling – turning this dish into a healthy, satisfying and unmistakably vegetarian meal. You can blitz the filling a little or not at all depending on your preference.

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

serves at least 4

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 stick celery, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red onion, deseeded and chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tins green or brown lentils
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 tomato tin filled with water
  • (optional) 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic
  • 1-2 tbsps tomato ketchup
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 baking potatoes
  • 2 tbsps dairy-free spread

– In some olive oil sauté the onion, carrot and celery until softened but not browned.
– Add the pepper, oregano and garlic and continue sautéing. Once all the vegetables are nicely softened add the mushrooms and cook briefly.
– Pour in the wine, making sure to scrape up any residue. Reduce by 2/3rds.
– Stir in the tomato purée and cook out for a minute or two.
– Add the lentils and stir so all the veg are nicely combined
– Add the chopped tomatoes and water.
– Stir well and add the soy sauce (if using), balsamic and tomato ketchup.
– Simmer over a low heat for up to an hour.
– Taste and season as desired.
– (optional) Using a hand blender, blend half the mix to give a more combined texture.
– Meanwhile, make the mash. I like to bake my potatoes, then squeeze through a ricer, then stir in the dairy free spread
– Spread the lentil mix in the bottom of an earthenware baking dish.
– Top with the mashed potatoes
– Bake for 45 minutes until the top is thoroughly browned and the pie is steaming hot.


– Serve with fresh vegetables, preferably peas!