To begin, I will offer an apology for the title. The lure of the pun was just too much, but I assure you, I’ve handed in my notice*.
I indulged my middle-class alter-ego recently and held what can only be described as a somewhat chaotic dinner party. This was more difficult than anticipated, living in halls with limited fridge space and a temperamental cooker. However, it occurred and was relatively successful. (No-one was poisoned – always a success in my book.)
In preparation for this, I scoured the internet, jotting down bits of different recipes; getting carried away with daydreams of winning MasterChef. It then dawned on me that one of my attending friends was vegan. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d had a meal free from some form of animal product. Even my salads were drizzled in honey mustard dressing. (Which deceptively, has egg yolks in it.) To tell you the truth, I felt a little bit of pressure. Sure, it was a relaxed evening, and no-one was likely to judge me on my competence at vegan cookery but having never done it before I felt slightly out of my depth.
MasterChef dreams slowly waning, I took to the laptop again, this time scouting various vegan fare that I hoped I could adapt and mould into some new and tasty dishes. I needn’t have feared. There are hundreds of recipes out there, appropriate for any season, situation and mood. Vegan food can be healthy, delicious and accessible to everyone.
Here are a few tried and tested recipes, inspired by my panicked dinner-party research. Each can be prepared and cooked in under thirty minutes because quite frankly, we’re students. We don’t have time for the elaborate!
Spicy Mediterranean Pizza (Serves Two)
Picture yourself. You’re alone in your room, pyjamas on, Netflix up, and you’re tucking into one of these bad boys. Delicious and oddly healthy. (Also great for weirdos like me who *gasp* don’t like pizza that much, as it gets rid of that odd cheese bread fusion.)
- 125g wholemeal flour
- ½ tsp dried yeast
- 90ml warm water
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 100ml passata
- ½ tsp oregano (dried)
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed, or ½ tsp garlic powder if you prefer)
- ½ tsp brown sugar
- A pinch of sea salt
- A pinch of ground black pepper
- A pinch of chilli flakes
- A handful of spinach
- ½ red onion (small, cut into rings)
- Tiny bit of olive oil
- A handful of basil (ripped)
- A handful of small tomatoes
- 2-3 apricots (pitted, each cut into eight wedges)
- A handful toasted pine nuts
- Half a red chilli (diced, seeds removed)
- Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas Mark 7.
- Pop your yeast in a bowl alongside 90ml warm water and leave for a couple of minutes to dissolve. Add your (sieved) flour to the bowl, with your salt and olive oil, before mixing (with a spoon or hands, whatever you fancy) into a dough.
- Tip out onto a lightly floured worktop, and consistently knead for 10 minutes. (This will be incredibly sticky but go with it.) Cover with a tea-towel while you sort out the other bits and bobs.
- Pop your passata in a bowl, and mix in the oregano, cayenne pepper, crushed garlic, brown sugar, sea salt, ground black pepper and chilli flakes.
- Sautee your onions a hot pan drizzled with olive oil, for five minutes, until slightly softened. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cut the dough in two and squash each section into a 15 by 20cm rectangle(ish) shape. This doesn’t need to be exact, just make sure that the base is fairly thin. Pop these onto a greased baking tray. (Or two, if you can’t fit.)
- Smear the passata mixture over the dough, giving broad, even coverage. Position your red onions on top, before dotting your tomatoes, apricots, pine nuts, chilli and basil evenly.
- Bang these in the oven for fifteen minutes until the base has fully cooked, then serve and enjoy!
Cracking Coconut Curry (Serves Two)
Curry is a student staple. I’ve eaten more curries in the nine months I’ve been at Lancaster, than in the past ten years. This one is filling, healthy and easy to freeze if you want to make a couple of meals out of it.
- ½ tbsp sunflower oil
- ½ red onion (diced)
- 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 2 tbsp split red lentils
- ¼ red chilli (cut finely)
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ carrot (chopped finely)
- ½ red bell pepper (sliced)
- 1 medium-sized sweet potato (diced)
- 85g fresh garden peas
- ½ tbsp curry powder
- 200g coconut milk
- 130ml vegetable stock
- Pinch of sea salt and black pepper
- 170g basmati rice
- Heat a large pan and add your sunflower oil. Pop in the onion, garlic, ginger and curry powder, stir for two minutes until the onion is softened.
- Add the carrot, sweet potato, lentils and red bell pepper with a healthy pinch of salt and ground pepper. Stir continuously for around five minutes.
- Add the curry powder and red chilli, stirring in, before adding the vegetable stock and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, before lessening the heat, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put your rice in a saucepan of boiling salted water. Cook for around 15 minutes before draining.
- Add your peas to the coconut concoction, cooking on a medium heat for five minutes. Then serve!
Inspired by: Dana: The Minimalist Baker
Rosemary and Sea-Salt Wedges with Appleslaw (Serves Two)
The humble potato is consistently overlooked for its sweeter, hipper cousin. Celebrate the potato again with these wonderful wedges, great as a side, snack or even as a meal of their own. (Hey, we’ve all been there.)
- 330g Desiree potatoes
- 2 tbsp oil (I used sunflower, but vegetable/olive would be fine too)
- 1 tsp rosemary (dried)
- 1 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 1 tsp sea-salt
- Ground black pepper (optional)
- ¼ white cabbage
- ¼ red cabbage
- ½ small red onion
- ½ carrot (grated)
- ½ red apple (gala’s always a shout)
- ½ granny smith apple
- Zest and juice of a lemon
- 3 tsp Dijon mustard
- 4 tsp olive oil
- ½ tsp sea-salt
- Ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6.
- Wash your potatoes, making sure to scrub any dirt/sprouts from the skin. Take your clean potatoes and continue to cut in half lengthways: producing eight wedges from each.
- In hot, salted water, boil these potatoes for 5 minutes. You want them to retain their shape but be easy to pierce. Drain the wedges and pat dry.
- In a large bowl, pop your oil, dried rosemary, sea-salt, crushed garlic, and ground pepper. Add your wedges and toss around for a bit until each wedge has fairly decent coverage.
- Place the wedges on a tray (baking paper optional) and slam them in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
- While these are in the oven. Make your coleslaw. Very thinly slice your red and white cabbage, along with your red onion (into rings). Put these in a bowl along with your grated carrots. Core your red and green apples and slice thinly, before adding to your bowl. (You can drizzle lemon juice on these to keep them fresher for longer.)
- Pop in your lemon juice and zest, your Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and black pepper, mixing through. Taste to check your seasoning. (Too much Dijon is a risky business and definitely needs counteracting.)
Inspired by: Silvana Franco