Middle eastern bread salad

Ingredients:

2 flatbreads or flour tortillas

1 large green pepper,cored and deseeded and diced

1 Lebanese cucumber, diced

250 g (8 oz) cherry tomatoes halved

½ red onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped mint

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons fresh chopped coriander

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Salt and black pepper

Method:

Cook the flatbreads on a Preheated ridged griddle pan or under a Preheated hot grill for 2-3 minuets until toasted and charred. Leave to cool, then tear into bite-sized pieces

Put the green pepper, cucumber, tomatoes, onion and herbs in a bowl, add the oil, lemon juice and salt and pepper and stir well. Add the bread and stir again. Serve immediately

I choose not to add the sweet peppers to the bowl of salad because I’m allergic to sweet peppers.

Tofu with chilli vinegar dressing

Ingredients:

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying

500 g (1 lb) silken tofu, drained

50 g (2 oz) cornflour

2 teaspoon salt, plus extra to serve

1 teaspoon Chinese five spice power, plus to serve

For the chilli vinegar dressing

75 ml (3 fl oz) rice wine vinegar

75 ml (3 fl oz) water

2 tablespoons of castor sugar

1 tablespoon light soy sauce

1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon sesame oil

Method:

First make the dressing, combine the vinegar measurement water sugar in a bowl and stir until sugar dissolved. Bring to the boil in a saucepan, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-6 minuets until reduced by half and the syrup like. Leave to cool for 30 minuets, then stir in the soy sauce, and sesame oil. Pour in serving bowl.

Heat 5 cm (2 inches) vegetable oil in a deep, heavy- based saucepan until it reaches 180-190°C (350°f-370°f) , or until a cube of bread brown in 30 seconds, meanwhile, cut the tofu into 3cm (1 ¼ inch) Cubes. Combine cornflower, salt and Chinese five spice powder in a bowl. Dip the tofu cubes, a few pieces at a time, in the cornflower mixture, add to the hot oil and deep-fry for 2-3 minuets until crisp and golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Arrange the tofu on a serving platter and dust with a little extra salt and Chinese five spice powder. Serve with chilli vinegar dressing for dipping.

Jerk-style cauliflower steaks

Ingredients:

1 medium cauliflower

For the marinade

35 g fresh coriander

Thumb- size piece of fresh ginger

1 scotch bonnet

2 garlic cloves

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Juice of ½ lime

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.Preheat the oven to 200°c/gas mark 6

2.place all the marinade ingredients into a food processor or mini blender and blitz until coarse but spreadable

3.Remove the leaves from around the cauliflower, but don’t remove the bulb at the bottom ,as this is what will keep your steaks intact. Halved the cauliflower and, working from the cut side out, slice each steak around 1 ½ cm thick..you will probably get only get only two full steak from each half you can roast the remaining florets in the same way.

4.Generously brush the steaks with the marinade. If you want to do this ahead of time, you can leave them to marinade in the fridge until you need them.

5. Place the steak on a roasting tray and loosely cover with foil. Roast for 15-20 minuets before removing the foil for a further 10 minuets, turning once.

6.heat a griddle pan to medium high heat and finish the steaks off in the pan to mark/sear on both sides. Serve with your chosen accomplishment.

I love experimenting with spices and injecting a lot of flavours into ingredients that have very little. Cauliflower is one such vegetable, subtle enough to absorb all that luscious marinade while still retaining some necessary bite. Steaming the ‘steaks ‘ when they first go in the oven ensures the spices seep into every crevice but crucially, it is their griddle pan finish that add that necessary finesse to the dish. Serve alongside jollof rice.

Creamy pea & mint risotto with Brie

Ingredients:

.2 litre (2pints) vegetable stock

50 g (2 oz) butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

300 g (10 oz) arborio rice

150 ml (1/4 pint) dry white wine

350 g (11 ½ oz) fresh frozen shelled peas

½ bunch fresh mint leaves, torn

50 g (2oz) Brie diced

Salt and black pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Method:

Put the stock in a saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer.

Meanwhile, non dairy butter in a saucepan, add the onion, garlic and salt and black pepper and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minuets until the onion is softened but not browned, add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minuets until all grains are glossy. Stir in the wine, bring to the boil and continue to for 1-2 minuets until absorbed. Stir in the peas.

Stir about 150 ml (1/4 pint)of the stock into the rice. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until until absorbed. Continue to add the stock, a little at a time, cook, stirring constantly, for about 20 minuets until rice is al dented and the stock has all been absorbed.

Remove The pan from the heat. Stir in the mint and Brie, cover and leave to stand for 5 minuets until the cheese has melted. Serve with grated non dairy Parmesan.

Tomato & feta tart

Ingredients:

350 g (11 ½ oz) gluten free puff pastry, defrosted

If frozen

Plain flour, for dusting 3 tablespoons pesto

250 g (8 oz) baby plum tomatoes, halved

100 g (3 ½ oz) feta non cheese, crumbed

4 tablespoons freshly grated

Parmesan cheese non dairy

Handful of basil leaves

Salt and black pepper

Ingredients:

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to form a 25x 35 cm (10 x 14 inches ), using to a sharp knife, score a 2.5 cm (1 inch ) border around the edges. Transfer to a baking sheet and spread the pesto over the pastry.

Arrange: The tomatoes and feta over the top and scatter over the Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper.Bake in a preheated oven, 220°C (425°f) Gas mark 7, for 20 minuets until the pastry is puffed and golden. Remove from the oven and scatter over the basil leaves.

For Individual tartlets, roll the pastry out to a rectangle 25 x 37.5 cm (10 x15 inches). Cut in half lengthways and then across into 3, to make 6 x 12.5cm (5 inch) squares. Divide the pesto and toppings equally between the squares.and bake for 15 minuets or until puffed up and golden.

Decadent chocolate & raspberry cake

The bit about this cake is that you can lick the spoon knowing there is no raw egg involved. Don’t expect the same rise you would get for a cake with eggs- but it will still look the part one sandwiched together and piled with chocolate frosting.

Ingredients:

85g/3oz/scant ½ cup dairy free spread

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp apple cider

300g 10 ½ oz/2 ½ cups self raising flour

Self-rising flour

2 tbsp dairy-free cocoa/unsweetened chocolate powder, at least 70% cocoa, plus extra for dusting

100g/3 ½ oz/1/2 cup golden caster/superfine sugar

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda

½ vanilla pods seeds only

300g/10 ½ oz fresh raspberries,roughly chopped, leave some whole for topping

FOR THE CHOCOLATE FROSTING:

200g/7oz dairy-free dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa

80g/3oz dairy-free spread

2 tbsp almond milk or dairy-milk of your choice

6-8 tbsp icing/confectioners/sugar, sifted plus a dusting for decoration if you wish

Method:

1.Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and base-line two 20cm/8in cake pans with parchment paper.

2.Put the dairy-free spread in the bowl of a food mixer, add the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and 300ml/10 ½ fl oz/1 ¼ cups of boiling water. Mix slowly the spread has melted and everything is combined.

3.In another bowl, put the flour, cocoa,sugar,bicarbonate of soda/baking soda and the vanilla seeds and stir. Add this to the wet mixture and beat on slow until you have a smooth batter.

4.Divide the mixture between the pans, smooth the top and bake for about 20-30 minuets (check after 20 minuets),or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.

5.Leave the cakes to cool in. the pans for 10 minuets, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6.To make the frosting, put the chocolate and dairy-free spread in a heatproof bowl.Sit it over a pan of just simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. Remove from heat and leave to cool a little, then stir in. the milk and slowly add the icing/confectioner’s sugar, beating as you go, until it begins to thicken and becomes glossy. Put in the refrigerator to set.

7. To assemble the cake, remove the frosting from the refrigerator and beat until glossy. Spread generously over one of the sponge, top with most of the raspberries then top with the other sponge and cover with the remaining frosting and use a knife to neaten. Top with the remaining raspberries and dusting of icing/confectioner’s sugar or cocoa, if using.

Chickpeas & pine nut balls in hot tomato sauce

his is rather like eating a good nut roast in a rich tomato sauce. I serve these with cubed rosemary potatoes in winter, or brown rice and a rocket/arugula salad in the warmer months.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil 1 red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic, cloves, grated

1 tbsp sumac

2 tomatoes

40g/14oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo, drained

5-6 tsp fine bread crumbs

Zest of juice of 1 small lemon

1tsp tahini

a few thyme sprigs, leaves only

1 handful of flatleaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SAUCE:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red chilli,deseeded finely chopped

2 garlic, finely chopped

A pinch of dried oregano

600g/1lb 5oz jar of passata/sieved tomatoes

A pinch of chilli flakes

TO SERVE:

1 tbsp olive oil 1 red onion, finely chopped

2 garlic, cloves, grated

1 tbsp sumac

2 tomatoes

40g/14oz can of chickpeas/garbanzo, drained

5-6 tsp fine bread crumbs

Zest of juice of 1 small lemon

1tsp tahini

a few thyme sprigs, leaves only

1 handful of flatleaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE SAUCE:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 red chilli,deseeded finely chopped

2 garlic, finely chopped

A pinch of dried oregano

600g/1lb 5oz jar of passata/sieved tomatoes

A pinch of chilli flakes

TO SERVE:

Roasted rosemary potatoes, brown rice or a rocket/arugula salad

METHOD:

1.To make the balls, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the red onion and cook for 1-2 minuets. Add the garlic and sumac and cook until translucent, around 2 minuets. Set aside.

2.To skin the tomatoes, cut a cross on the base of each one and place in a bowl. Pour boiling water over and leave for 30 seconds, then plunge into cold water and peel away the skin.

3. Put the pine nut,chickpeas/garbanzo and breadcrumbs in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add the tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, tahini, thyme leaves and parsley and pulse again until combined but retaining some texture. Add the cooked onion, season to taste and pulse again.

4. With wet hands, roll into 20 balls. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange the balls on the sheet and put in the refrigerator to chill while you make the sauce.

5.Preheat the oven to 200°c/400°f/gas 6.

6.To make the sauce, heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Add the onion, season and cook for 2-3 minuets until soft. Stir in the garlic, chilli and oregano and cook for a minute more. Pour in the passata/sieved tomatoes, fill the jar with water and add to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, stir in the chilli flakes and cook for 20minutes more, topping up with hot water if it starts to thicken too much.

7. Meanwhile, put the balls in a roasting pan and roast for 25 minuets, or until golden.

8. To serve, add to the balls to the sauce and take straight to the table so everyone can help themselves. Serve with cubed roast rosemary potatoes, brown rice or a lightly dressed salad/arugula leaves.

Roasted rosemary potatoes, brown rice or a rocket/arugula salad

METHOD:

1.To make the balls, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the red onion and cook for 1-2 minuets. Add the garlic and sumac and cook until translucent, around 2 minuets. Set aside.

2.To skin the tomatoes, cut a cross on the base of each one and place in a bowl. Pour boiling water over and leave for 30 seconds, then plunge into cold water and peel away the skin.

3. Put the pine nut,chickpeas/garbanzo and breadcrumbs in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Add the tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, tahini, thyme leaves and parsley and pulse again until combined but retaining some texture. Add the cooked onion, season to taste and pulse again.

4. With wet hands, roll into 20 balls. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange the balls on the sheet and put in the refrigerator to chill while you make the sauce.

5.Preheat the oven to 200°c/400°f/gas 6.

6.To make the sauce, heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Add the onion, season and cook for 2-3 minuets until soft. Stir in the garlic, chilli and oregano and cook for a minute more. Pour in the passata/sieved tomatoes, fill the jar with water and add to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, stir in the chilli flakes and cook for 20minutes more, topping up with hot water if it starts to thicken too much.

7. Meanwhile, put the balls in a roasting pan and roast for 25 minuets, or until golden.

8. To serve, add to the balls to the sauce and take straight to the table so everyone can help themselves. Serve with cubed roast rosemary potatoes, brown rice or a lightly dressed salad/arugula leaves.

Due to allergies I exclude pine nuts.

Author HEATHER WHINNEY

VIRTUALLY VEGAN.

Mezze platter

The best kind of food informal eating or good for the lunch box, here’s a party of many small foods that you can pick from or make them all. I’ve mixed up the cuisines a little here, with Mediterranean vegetables and middle Eastern grains and hummus-all you need to add is some olive, bread and wine.

Ingredients:

FOR THE TABBOULEH

100g/3 ½ oz heaped ½ cup bulgar wheat, rinsed

6 tomatoes, deseeded and finely chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

4 spring onions/scallions, trimmed and finely chopped

1 large handful of flatleaf parsley leaves, chopped

1 handful of mint leaves, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

FOR THE HUMMUS:

2 x 400g/14oz cans of chickpeas/garbanozos, drained, juice

About 3 tbsp tahini, juice of ½ -1 lemon

A couple of pinches of paprika

2 garlic cloves, crushed

About 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

FOR THE GRILLED VEG:

4 red peppers, halved and roughly chopped

4 courgette/zucchini, trimmed and sliced lengthways

Extra olive oil

Method:

1.The tabbouleh is all about the herbs so add plenty. Put the bulgar wheat in a pan to about 2.5cm/1 in above the bulgar and add a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 10 minuets, or until all water has been absorbed and the bulgar is tender. Drain into a bowl and fluff up with a fork. Add the tomatoes, spring onions/scallions, lemon juice and herbs and season well with salt and pepper.

2.To make the hummus, put the chickpeas/garbanzo in a food processor with the tahini and lemon juice and whiz to combine. With the motor running, add a pinch of paprika and the garlic and trickle in the olive oil, then begin to add about 6 tablespoons of hot water until hummus reaches the consistency you prefer. You can make it as smooth or textured as you wish. Taste and season some more if needed. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with a little more oil and a pinch of paprika.

3.To cook the vegetables, brush the peppers and courgettes/zucchini with a little oil and season well with salt pepper. Heat a griddle pan until it’s hot, then add the vegetables, a few at a time, and cook for a few minutes on each side until char lines appear. Transfer to a serving plate.

Author is HEATHER WHINNEY

Breakfast scramble with spinach, chilli & tomatoes

This not just for breakfast time and would also make a great lunchtime dish or a quick supper for one or two, silken tofu scrambles perfectly, and it takes on the flavours of the spices and vegetables so well. It makes a good store cupboard standby.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil

1 ½ tbsp sunflower spread

3 spring onions/scallions, trimmed and finely chopped

1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

A pinch of ground turmeric

A pinch of sumac

340g /11 ¾ oz/2 2/4 cups of silken tofu

300g/10 ½ oz spinach leaves

4 tomatoes, halved, deseeded and finely chopped

1 handful of coriander/cilantro

Leaves, chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To Serve:

Soy yogurt with almond (optional) lemon wedges

Method:

1. Heat the oil and sunflower spread in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes until onions begin to soften.

2. Stir in the chilli, turmeric and sumac and cook for a few seconds, then add the silken tofu, crush it with a fork stirring to combine all the flavours, and. Cook for about 5minutes.Add the spinach leaves and keep stirring for a minute or so until they wilt.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and half the coriander/cilantro, taste and season some more if needed. Garnish with the remaining coriander/cilantro and serve with dollop of yogurt and a lemon wedge on the side.

Pot noodle

This is just a lazy no-cook noodle dish. You can layer everything up in a pot or jar, which is great to take to work with you to give you a day off from sandwiches. Or, of course, pile everything into bowls and dig in. Add whatever veg you like as long as it doesn’t really need cooking and choose noodles that just need hot water for a couple of minutes to cook. You could stir in chopped mint and coriander/ cilantro at the en, if wish.

Ingredients:

2 nests of vermicelli rice noodles or eg-free noodles of your choice

1 large handful of frozen peas, defrosted

1 large handful of beansprouts

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

5cm/ 1 ¾ in piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

1 handful of mushrooms, sliced

1 large handful of baby spinach leaves

A splash of toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar mixed with 1-2 tsp demerara/ turbinado sugar

2tsp black rice vinegar or a splash of balsamic vinegar

A splash of dark soy sauce

Juice of 1 lime

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1.Layer the noodles,peas,beansprouts, turmeric, chilli, ginger, mushrooms and spinach in a pot or bow. Mix together the sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and lime and season well with salt and pepper.

2.When ready to serve, add the oil and vinegar mix to the vegetable and pour just enough boiling water to cover, stir well and leave to stand for at leave for at least 5 minuets, or the flavours mingle and the noodles are tender. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding more soy sauce, lime juice, salt or pepper.

Due to allergies, I exclude the mushrooms and toasted sesame oil.

%d bloggers like this: