PROTEIN RICH SALAD

I am surprised how many people get stumped if they have to prepare a protein rich salad as a main for a vegan when the rest are having a barbecue. Very often it is just a standard green salad and if you are lucky maybe a vegan burger (store bought). There are a variety of beans and grains that offer high quality nutrition and personally think you can even make yummy vegan homemade burgers with a little planning.

This salad is colourful, fresh and absolutely delightful that eating a bowl won’t be that hard!

Protein Rich Salad

INGREDIENTS

1 x 400g tin of brown lentils, rinsed and drained well

½ cup sunflower kernels, toasted

1 medium zucchini, sliced thinly

3-4 small radish, sliced thinly

1 red pepper, cored and diced

6-7 spring onion greens, finely chopped

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GRILLED MISO EGGPLANT

As far as condiments and flavourings go, I love miso. I use it rather unconventionally in salad dressings and also in sauces/ marinades. The savouriness of miso lends well to eggplant. You could use the same technique with zucchini (cut it lengthways).

Grilled Miso Eggplant

INGREDIENTS

2 eggplants, cut into 2cm thick slices

2 -3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (like sunflower)

100g mozzarella, grated

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ALOO BAINGAN – EGGPLANT & POTATO STEW

I’ve seen this dish on the menu at several Indian restaurants. Ever since the potato was introduced by the Portuguese in early seventeenth century, Indians love for this vegetable has also grown. It is often added to most North Indian style vegetable dishes. What I find interesting is that the South was kind of far removed from foreign influences so much so that it took a long time for the so called “Western” vegetables to be incorporated into mainstream South Indian cooking. Sorry for my digression.

More to the point of aloo baingan – this is a lovely vegetarian dish that is not too chilli hot, yet very flavourful.

I roasted the eggplants for a bit so they retain their shape and don’t fall apart.

Aloo Baingan

INGREDIENTS

300g eggplant

250g potatoes

250g tomatoes

250g red onion, finely diced

4 plump cloves of garlic

2 green chillies, finely chopped

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SOM TUM STYLE SALAD WITH KOHL RABI

One of my favourite South East Asian dishes is Som Tum. Traditionally it is made with green papaya but here I made with kohl rabi and carrot. It is such a classic and if you get green papaya do try with it although kohl rabi works well too. The salad is slightly acidic, a little sweet from palm sugar, a little sour from tamarind contrasting the crunchy kohl rabi, green beans and peanuts.

Som Tum Style Salad with Kohl Rabi
Kohl Rabi

INGREDIENTS

1 kohl rabi

100g carrot

1 heaped teaspoon brown sugar

1 clove garlic, chopped

½ – 1 finely chopped bird’s eye chilli

8-10 French beans, halved lengthways

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SUN DRIED TOMATO, OLIVE AND CHARD FOCACCIA

One more recipe for sour dough discard! Even if you don’t have sour dough discard, you can still make this by adjusting the amounts of yeast used. You can use spinach instead of chard or silver beet. I used a Chinese cleaver to finely mince my silver beet but you can use a food processor for this.

I love making my own breads and feel so wonderful kneading the dough manually. I served it with a minestrone style soup – it is yummy on its own too.

Sun dried tomato, olive and chard focaccia bread

INGREDIENTS

For the dough

325g high grade flour

25g wholemeal flour

5g salt

5g instant yeast (use 7g if no sour dough discard)

40g sour dough discard

120g silver beet finely chopped (see note above)

1 tablespoon olive oil

200ml tepid water

For the topping

3 – 4 sun dried tomatoes, chopped

5-6 olives, sliced or halved

Sea salt crystals

Olive oil as needed

1 -2 tablespoons water

METHOD

Place all ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, combine the ingredients to form a dough mass.

You can use the dough hook on your stand mixer and knead for 10 minutes giving a 30 second break every 3-4 minutes of kneading. If you are like me and prefer to knead manually, tip dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-12 minutes, resting it for 30 seconds every three minutes. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave in a warm place for an hour and a half to two hours to allow it to double in size.

Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper and drizzle with two tablespoons of oil. Spread oil around to grease the paper. Using the palm of your hand, flatten dough to a 20cm disc and place on prepared baking tray. Using your fingertips, press dough down, leaving fingertip impressions. Cover with a wet muslin cloth and leave to prove for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsius.

Stud the dough with sun dried tomato and olive pieces. Sprinkle the sea salt and make indentations with your fingertips. Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle water. Bake in preheated oven for 12 -15 minutes.

Remove from oven and brush focaccia with olive oil. Place on a wire rack to cool for half an hour at least before slicing.

CREAMY LEEK & FENNEL SOUP

I have mentioned in some of my previous posts that I like to incorporate some protein element to my dishes to keep them nutritionally balanced. The logic is that if this is the only thing you are going to eat for that meal, you will feel satisfied and fuller for longer because of the fibre, protein and low glycaemic index of vegetables. Fennel is a versatile vegetable and you should try if you haven’t tried it before. You can roast it with beetroot for a roast salad or finely slice for a crisp coleslaw or is great in soup. Fennel also goes well with tomato and any white beans – you can make a soup out of tomato, fennel and cannellini beans.

Creamy leek and fennel soup

My recipe uses your pantry staple lentils, leek and fennel. The trick to washing leeks well is to cut them in half longitudinal and wash the layers with running water. Fennel the vegetable is mild but it lets you know that it has been used. It is not in your face flavour but in the same token it is creamy when cooked and does take on more flavours. Do give this soup a try because every time I make it, the bowls are licked clean and it is a no fuss recipe with few ingredients!

INGREDIENTS

1 leek, sliced thinly into half moons

1 large fennel or 2 medium sized (about 750g), chopped

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CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP

I know this is very retro – I loved mushroom soup in the ‘90s and now too. It is a lovely soup for a cold night or served with crusty bread, makes a great starter for your dinner party.

The flavour for this soup is enhanced by mushroom powder. I make mushroom powder by blitzing dried shitake mushrooms in a small spice blender. The mushroom powder is not limited to this soup – I use it to inject flavour into pies and pasta sauces.

Cream of mushroom soup

INGREDIENTS

60g butter

100g onion, finely chopped

3 garlic, finely chopped

800g white button mushrooms, any black bits brushed off

1 heaped tablespoon mushroom powder

750ml good quality vegetable stock

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MUSTARD BROCCOLI on CAULI MUSTARD

There is no typo here!! If you love mustard flavour as much as my family does, this is the ultimate taste explosion. Broccoli belongs to the mustard family (Brassica or Cruciferae) and so does cauliflower – initially thought it would not be balanced but let me reassure you that this was an instant hit and it’ll become your favourite way to serve. I used mustard oil – very distinct aroma of mustard and you can get in any Indian store. This recipe uses mustard oil, wholegrain mustard and hot English mustard plus broccoli and cauliflower.

I served this as a vegetarian first course / starter. Please do try as you will not be disappointed.

Mustard broccoli with cauli mustard

INGREDIENTS FOR MUSTARD BROCCOLI

1 head of broccoli, halved

100g Greek style natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

½ teaspoon chilli powder

1 teaspoon curry powder

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CARROT SHORBA

The word “shorba” is of Persian origin and almost a dozen variations of the word exist. It is traditionally prepared by simmering meat or vegetables in boiling water along with salt and flavored with aromatic curry spices and herbs.

Carrot shorba

My recipe is an oldie but a goodie from the Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor who has been the celebrity chef on one of the longest running food shows of its kind Khana Khazana. (In fact the show has been running since 2010 and has over 500 million viewers.) I remember watching this show on my visits to India. I have simplified the recipe so it is easier and you don’t have so many dishes to wash up!

This is a great soup to serve as a starter for a dinner party and I assure you will have your guests wanting more and the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

500g carrots, peeled and cut into 2 centimetre chunks

1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

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EGGPLANT MILANESE

A few weeks back Eva Longoria posted her take on Bobby Flay’s recipe of Eggplant Milanese. I had to put my own signature on the dish and the result is spectacular even though I say so myself. There is textural as well as taste contrast and I would make it again in a heartbeat. Milanese style is a fancier way of saying crumbed!

My tip choose even shaped eggplants – shouldn’t be too narrow around the neck and bulbous at the bottom. You can cut eggplants lengthwise but I prefer the rounds.

Eggplant Milanese

INGREDIENTS

2 large eggplants, cut into ½ to 1 cm thick rounds

½ cup plain flour

 Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1½ cups Panko breadcrumbs

Canola oil for pan frying

For the lemon yoghurt dressing

½ cup plain unsweetened Greek style yoghurt

60ml extra virgin olive oil

1 lemon

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