Oat milk, miso paste, soya sauce, coconut milk, chickpeas, lentils, olives, aubergines, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, garlic, lemons, chilli, olive oil, peanut butter, tahini and maple syrup – My essential vegan shopping list. I’ve been cooking vegan these past 10 weeks for our house guest, Willow Flynn. Willow loves Pokémon, dinosaurs, Wes Anderson, olives, all animals and especially big dogs. She is an illustrator/animator who recently moved to France – you can follow her cool art here: https://www.instagram.com/whatshernamecomics/

We have tried a lot of vegan recipes and I will share some that I will add to my personal recipe collection. Anna Jones, Gaz Oakley and Nadia Lim were essential helping hands. Nobody ‘aubergines’ like Anna and Gaz’s mushroom burger is magical, Nadia taught us how to ‘beetroot tart’ and make pizza dough. Olive oil is your friend for pastry, not coconut oil as I’ve discovered. Miso paste and tahini are amazing in soups. Pesto can easily be made with any nut really and you won’t miss the parmesan if you have good olive oil and garlic. Pizza toppings like artichokes, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and rocket win first prize, sorry pepperoni! I’m not a tofu fan, but marinated and fried had me thinking twice. Smokey beans on toast [baguette] is always a favourite. Any beans really, fava beans with cumin , lemon and garlic- yum! The humble frozen bag of peas with the help of spring onions, basil and coconut cream makes a beautiful pea soup. I love thai food, curries and soups- easy peasy ‘veganised’. Peanut sauce goes well on ANYTHING. Vegan pho? It’s a yes from Anna Jones. Poke bowls, dahl, tacos, risottos, banana bread, dumplings in curry broth, Cambodian curry, vegetable tagine, veg fritters, soups, saffron apricots and chocolate cake – to name some of the delicious vegan meals we have enjoyed. I’ve realised that Vegan cooking can be very tasty and easy and you don’t need weird ingredient substitutes – so thanks for that Willow ! X

See my favourite 3 recipes at the end of the post.

My top 3 Vegan recipes:

1. White Miso aubergines by Anna Jones [adapted]

serves 4-6

you will need: 4 aubergines, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 tablespoons white miso paste, 2 tablespoons dark miso paste, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, pinch of chilli powder, 4 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds.

Preheat grill to medium heat. Cut the aubergines in half lengthways, then cut the flesh in a crisscross pattern without cutting into the skin. Brush both sides with oil. Place on a baking tray cut side down, grill for 5 minutes then turn over and grill for a further 5 minutes, till soft all the way through.Turn the oven to 220ºC, turn off the grill. Mix the white and dark miso in a bowl with the maple syrup, chilli powder and a tablespoon of hot water. Spread the miso mixture on the cut side of the aubergine and put the aubergine back in the oven to cook for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Serve with rice and greens.

2. Pizza dough by Nadia Lim [Vegful cookbook]

Makes enough for 4 pizza bases

you will need: 250ml warm water, 1 Tablespoon active dried yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, 400-450g plain flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil

Pour warm water into a large mixing bowl and add yeast and sugar. Stir gently. Stand in a warm place for about 10 minutes till frothy. Mix well. Add salt, olive oil and flour to the yeast mixture and mix well to form a dough. If the dough seems too sticky add a little more flour. Bring together with your hands and knead dough for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic, then place in an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise until double in size- about 40 minutes.

Divide dough in 4. Preheat oven to 250ºC , preheat a pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Roll dough out on baking paper. Add pizza toppings, slide baking paper with pizza onto pre heated stone/baking sheet. Bake till edges are golden.

3. Warm beans with spinach, pesto and pomegranate by Deliciously Ella

serves 1

you will need:

pesto: 1 garlic clove, 50g pine nuts, a big handful fresh basil leaves (25g), 3 tbsp olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, salt and pepper.

salad: 1 x 400g can of butter beans, drained and rinsed, 100g spinach, olive oil, juice of 1 lemon, sprinkling of pomegranate seeds (about 30g)

Start by making the pesto. Peel the garlic and then put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside. Place the beans in a frying pan with the spinach and pesto and sauté everything in a splash of olive oil for 2-3 minutes until the spinach has wilted and everything is warm. While they cook, squeeze the lemon for the salad over the beans and add more black pepper. Place the pesto beans and spinach in a bowl and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the top.

Enjoy !

For more amazing Vegan recipes follow Gaz Oakley – the Avant-garde Vegan https://www.avantgardevegan.com