World Vegan Month November 2020

Arcimboldo’s Feast for the Eyes Renaissance artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo

It was World Vegan Day on the 1st of November and throughout the month there will be celebrations and activities around the world to recognise how far the vegan movement has come, and to highlight how accessible and beneficial a vegan lifestyle can be. You can find more details at The Vegan Society

Before I share with you some of my favourite vegan recipes I must confess that I loathe the term vegan,*ducks for cover 😉*.

I find the word harsh, lacking in the lovely gastronomy that is plant based eating and nowhere near a positive descriptor of people that eschew the eating of animals. 

My preferred moniker is herbivore which immediately, in me anyway, conjures up visions of hearty bowls of barley soup scented with rosemary and garlic, new potatoes glistening with flakes of sea salt and tumbled with pink peppercorns and freshly snipped chives, an aromatic Cox's orange pippin apple grated on top of cinnamon sprinkled porridge. Yes, definitely herbivore.

So to honour this months celebration of plant based cuisine, my contribution are two of my favourite, and most versatile recipes for you. Both are types of dips or thick sauces and can be used on their own, as a side or to pour over any seasonal vegetables. And kids love them.

Cauliflower and Garlic Dip with Pickled Cauliflower and Smoked Almonds

Serves 10 to 12 

80 mls olive oil 
1 cauliflower 800 grams/1kg, thinly sliced ( reserve 1 quarter to use in the pickle )
1 small onion or banana shallot, diced
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
300 mls - 400mls  of plant milk to cover
a sprig of thyme
1 bay leaf, crushed
A handful of hickory smoked almonds, half roughly chopped, half whole

Pickled cauliflower

150 mls white wine vinegar
150 grams caster sugar
100 mls water
1 teaspoon ground turmeric or a pinch of saffron
2 cloves
1 star anise
1 quarter of the cauliflower, sliced

For the pickled cauliflower, stir all ingredients, except cauliflower, in a medium saucepan over medium heat to dissolve sugar. Add cauliflower, salt and pepper, and stir to combine and cool to room temperature then refrigerate

Cauliflower Purée

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, add sliced cauliflower, onion or shallot and the garlic. Lower heat .Stir occasionally until tender but not coloured and season to taste. Add the milk, to just barely cover, and herbs, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until cauliflower is very tender (15-20 minutes). Purée in a food processor or with an immersion blender until very smooth. Top with pickled cauliflower and smoked almonds and serve warm or at room temperature with char-grilled pita bread.

Note: The pickles will keep in the fridge for at least a week and the puree can be portioned and frozen to be used when needed. Great over new potatoes or swirled through a chunky veggie soup. 

Green Tahini Sauce 

Serves 4

1 bunch fresh parsley, washed and roughly chopped
1 bunch of coriander, washed and roughly chopped
Juice and zest of 2 limes
50 mls tahini
2 tsp maple syrup
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
good pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper
50 mls extra virgin olive oil
50 mls approx of cold water

Put the parsley, coriander, lime juice & zest, tahini, maple syrup, garlic, salt, and pepper to a food processor or blender. ( You can use a stick/ immersion blender too, make sure you use a high sided bowl if you do ) Process for a few seconds, scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula and process again until you have everything combined. With processor on, slowly drizzle in the extra virgin olive oil. Scrape down the sides again and pulse again the drizzle in half of the cold water. Blend on high for about a minutes and add the rest of the water if needed. Taste and adjust seasoning .

Note: Vary the herbs and the citrus, try basil, parsley and lemon, or watercress, spinach and orange. Keeps well for 3 days in fridge, not suitable to freeze . Serve over falafel as above or with shredded carrots and thinly sliced spring onions in a wrap, delicious!

If you are just dipping your toes into plant based eating or just increasing your vegetable cooking repertoire, two cook books I'd highly recommend, one an oldie but goodie and an inspiration Elizabeth David on Vegetables and the more recent Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi. 

And featured in The Guardian, from Australian Victoria based animal shelter Edgar's Mission new cookbook are some terrific vegan midweek recipes.

Have a great month experimenting!

Love Food X



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