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Vegetarian Cooking Broth for Dumplings

All the most delicious dumpling and noodle broths call for animal fat or fish seasoning of some kind to boost their flavour. In my current state as a midweek vegetarian – and cooking for a boy who requires a stab to the thigh with an epi pen at even the mention of a prawn –  neither were options.

However, I happened upon frozen Itsu Vegetable Gyoza in the ready meal freezer at ASDA yesterday, so desperately wanted to knock something up to serve them in, and this was more than sufficient.

Makes enough for 1 300g pack frozen dumplings

1.5 litres vegetable stock (I used bouillon powder)
1 red chilli
1 large chunk ginger
3-5 cloves garlic
soy sauce
pinch sugar

  1. Chop chilli finely, grate ginger and garlic coarsely.
  2. Heat 1-2 tbsps oil in a pan (the more neutral the better aka sunflower or groundnut, but if you’ve only got olive it’s not the end of the world) and cook the chilli, garlic and ginger until beginning to brown.
  3. Pour in stock, add soy sauce (to taste) and sugar.
  4. If you’ve got anything else knocking about in your store cupboard that you think it might like, chuck it in – I added a glug of chilli oil and some sweeter, stickier dipping sauce (provided in the dumplings packet) to give it some extra depth.
  5. Leave to simmer for at least half an hour to let the flavours develop, then add the frozen dumplings and cook according to pack instructions (the ones I was using were to be boiled for 3 minutes).
  6. Serve.

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Baked BBQ Aubergine

There’s no direct replacement for meat come BBQ season, I myself am preparing to cave on the mostly-plant-based front as soon as it’s sunny enough to take hot coals down to the beach and smoke out anyone in a 5 metre radius. There are, however, several worthy alternatives. Aubergine is one of them.

It’s a naturally smoky vegetable, and one that gratefully absorbs any flavour you introduce it to – making it particularly susceptible to a good BBQ rub. I was in the mood for a fancy one (feel free to recommend if you have a fav) but ASDA had only the Nando’s Peri Peri BBQ rub to offer, which did me just fine.

Score as deeply as possible without cutting through the flesh for best results, and remember that aubergine’s a bastard for absorbing oil – so you’ll need more than you’d need for any other vegetable you’re used to baking in this way.

For each salad-y thing you can see pictured in the featured image, I’ve included brief instructions and method after the main recipe.

Baked BBQ Aubergine

1 aubergine
2 tbsps BBQ spice rub
4-5 tbsps olive oil

  1. Cut aubergine in half lengthways and score deeply.
  2. Rub each half with 1 tbsp BBQ spice rub. Then pour 1 tbsp olive oil over each half, gently rubbing both oil and spice into the scored grooves.
  3. Put in the oven at 180C degrees fan (200C, Gas 6) for 30-40 mins until the flesh is soft. You’ll probably need to drizzle with extra oil half way through cooking if it starts to look as though it’s drying out.

Honey, Mustard, Fennel and Garlic Potato Salad

Chop 1 bulb fennel finely and fry in butter with a few cloves of sliced garlic. Add cooked new potatoes, 1 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp mustard. Continue to cook until potatoes get a little sticky.

Quick Pickled Red Onions

Cover chopped red onions in salt and sugar, then pour over red wine vinegar. Set aside until finished cooking, drain and serve.

Dill Slaw

Add mayonnaise, salt and pepper to grated carrot and finely sliced red cabbage, as well as a few fronds of dill.

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Vegan Smoky BBQ Farfalle

Coming up with quick, easy, repeatable weeknight meals that don’t contain meat or dairy can be a massive ballache. It’s a large contributer to why I haven’t taken the plunge into actual proper vegan yet.

Therefore, whenever I happen upon one, I’ll do my level best to share it with you. This vegan cheesy pasta from back in January is dinner for me at least twice a week, so be sure to bookmark that one too if you share in my plant based dinner inspiration struggles.

This recipe yields enough for one portion for you for dinner tonight and three portions boxed up in tupperware for work – all for well under a fiver. One of the major positives to chilling out on the meat and dairy front.

Notes on ingredients:

If you’ve never used Old El Paso fajitas mix outside of its meal kit context before, you haven’t lived. That stuff is like gold dust, and deserves its own place in the kitchen cupboard alongside your other staple spices.

The best vegan mince I’ve tried to date is ASDA’s own brand soya mince, found in the freezer section next to the Quorn stuff (which, for the record, is not vegan.. last I checked).

Serves 4

300g farfalle
1/2 bag (or about 200g) vegan mince
3 peppers
2 onions
1 sachet Old El Paso smoky BBQ spice mix
1 tub salsa

  1. Boil pasta according to pack instructions, reserving a cup of pasta water just before draining. Set aside.
  2. Roughly chop the peppers and onions and cook in olive oil until beginning to brown.
  3. Add the mince and cook until defrosted, add the BBQ spice mix sachet.
  4. Finally, pour in the pasta water and salsa and stir to combine, then throw in the pasta and mix until each pasta shape is coated.

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