Tag Archives: vegan

Forrest soup

Instantly gain +1 level in “vegan” by making your own nettle soup! This recipe requires foraging stinging nettle leaves; you can read about my foraging adventure here. I feel obliged to warn you that foraging comes with risks: Picking the wrong thing and eating it can get you sick of even kill you. So, never eat something unless you’re absolutely sure of the species of plant (or fungus, even riskier!). That said, nettles are easy to identify, so I absolutely do encourage you to look up some tips on ID’ing and picking, and having a go. Both foraging and the recipe below were inspired by AtomicShrimp’s video (and a second one, or look up the info yourself). By the way, the soup turned out fine but not amazing, so I wouldn’t be surprised if you can find a better recipe. This was just my first time cooking with nettles after all!

Nettle Soup

Ingredients

(Enough for two big bowl or three small)

Nettle leaves (a good colander full, see picture below)
olive oil
1 onion
1-2 garlic cloves
2-3 potatoes
500 mL vegetable stock
splash of oat or other plant-based milk or cream (optional)
salt, pepper, nutmeg (optional)

Topping ideas: Oatley crème fraîche, chopped nuts, peanuts, croutons, extra pepper

Method

Take nettle leaves from the stalks (wear gloves!) and remove any bits nibbled on by bugs etc (actually, just don’t pick those leaves in the first place)[1]. Rinse well.
Dice up the onion and mince the garlic. In a splash of olive oil, saute the onion on low heat such that it cooks and becomes translucent, but not too brown. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.
Meanwhile, remove any bad parts from the potatoes and wash them (you can also peel them completely if you prefer), cut in chunks. Add potatoes and stock to the pot and bring to the boil. Cook for about 10 minutes until the potatoes are fairly soft.
Add in the nettle leaves and let them reduce in about 2 minutes. Stir through the soup and cook for another 3 minutes or so. Blend it all together, and optionally add a splash of oat milk (or something similar). Add salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste.
Serve with toppings of your choice.

Notes

[1] Actually, removing the stems isn’t necessary. However, I picked my nettles quite late in the season so many of them had flowers as well, and perhaps a bit more fibrous stems. Still edible but (imo) less desirable, so I took the leaves off.

Cutting nettle leaves from the stems is a bit of a tedious job[1]. Wear gloves when you’re handling uncooked nettles! These were picked the day before btw, so some had gone a bit wilted but still good.
Rinse, rinse, rinse! Still wearing gloves.
Finished soup! You may notice that there isn’t that much left in the pan. I totally forgot to take a picture before eating… This is a bout a third of the total batch.

All Hail Seitan

A classic joke about a classic meat-replacement product. I’ve known seitan since my childhood where we used to get it from the local eco-hippy-esque store, as the vegetarian option alongside “boerenkool” or “hutspot” (traditional Dutch dishes of mashed potatoes+vegetables; kale for the first and carrot+onions for the second). We used to coat a thin slice of seitan in flour and fry it to create a crunchy layer on the outside, yum! Shortly after moving to the UK, I found myself in a pub looking for vegan options on the menu. They had a “Hail Seitan” burger, exciting and a pretty funny joke the first time! Imagine my disappointment in the tasteless thick slab of cold seitan I received…

Seitan really is a very versatile product so naturally the quality of your meal highly depends on how it is prepared. In essence, the only two ingredients needed for seitan are gluten flour (aka “vital wheat gluten”) and water. This creates a very sticky dough, which can then be boiled or steamed to cook. After that it’s edible, but usually this is the basic ingredient which can be cut and prepared in different ways (I guess this is something the “Hail Seitan” cook didn’t know about). The basic recipe of gluten flour + water is pretty tasteless, but flavours can be added in different ways: spices in the flour, soy sauce and the like to replace some of the water, and broth for boiling. After experimenting a bit I created an improvised seitan kebab which I was very pleased with, so I’ll share the recipe here.

Seitan kebab

Ingredients

(Enough for four pitas)

For the seitan dough:
150 g of gluten flour (aka vital wheat gluten)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2-3 tsp paprika/smoked paprika (you can use a mix and adjust depending on how much smokey flavour you want)
pinch of salt
~tbsp soy sauce
~250 mL water

For the broth:
1-2 garlic cloves, minced (Optional, broth without garlic will work fine as well)
vegetable cube
enough water to cover you seitan

For the sauce:
140 g tomato puree
1 tsp sambal oelek (or other spice paste. Adjust based on your desired 🌶️🌶️🌶️ level, 1 tsp sambal gives it a bit of a kick but nothing crazy)
juice of one lemon
1-2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp maple syrup

Any oil for frying

Method

Making the seitan. Mix the gluten flour with spices and salt, then stir in the soy sauce and some of the water. Add water and stir or kneed with your hands until all the flour is hydrated and you have a cohesive, lumpy dough (as in the first picture below).
In a pan that can easily contain your lump of seitan (it will expand while cooking), fry the garlic in some oil, then add the vegetable cube and some water to dissolve it. Place your lump in the pan, then add water to cover it [1].
Boil for a total of about half an hour, until the seitan is cooked (you should be able to see a colour change). To make this easier, cut into a few thick slabs about halfway through the cooking time. [2][3]

Making the kebab. Slice the cooked seitan into thin pieces. They don’t have to be regularly shaped. I like to cut the thick slabs as an angle (see the second picture below). Place the pieces between a few paper towels to drain any liquid.
Prepare your sauce by mixing all the ingredients. Taste and adjust the flavour: more lemon juice for sour, more soy sauce for salt, and more maple syrup for sweet [4].
Fry the kebab slices in some oil for a few minutes. This step is not necessary as the seitan is already cooked, but it’s nice to get a bit of browning on the outside. Then add the sauce and a splash of water. Cook the sauce down to reduce it, but also to cook the tomato puree, stirring frequently.

Serve. Serve however you like, for example in a toasted pita. The bread is mainly carbs and the seitan in mainly protein (gluten flour is 75% protein by weight), so I like to serve vegetables on the side. Bonus recipe for the salad from the picture at the bottom!

Notes

  • [1] Obviously you can make broth any way you want and cook the seitan in it, for example with herbs and salt, or bouillon powder rather than a vegetable cube.
  • [2] You can store the cooked seitan with its cooking broth in a closed container in the fridge. Not exactly sure how long it will keep, but this will allow you to split the work onto different days. You could also make more seitan to use in different recipes!
  • [3] Even if you don’t need it to store the seitan, you can use the broth as a basis for soup or stew. If you store it for too long, the seitan bits in the broth might get a bit funky, but a few days stored in the fridge is definitely not a problem.
  • [4] A smart person would not add all their available lemon juice in one go, but save some for the adjustments. The quantities given in the recipe are really just a guess so tasting is strongly recommended!
Your lump of seitan should look something like this
Cutting the cooked seitan slabs into thin pieces
Sauce cooked down for a nice and sticky coating
Seitan kebab done!

My favourite green salad (thanks mum!)

Ingredients

green beans, cooked
cucumber
avocado
olives (green or black)
good quality olive oil (we are adding this for flavour, so it had better taste good)
salt

Method

Halve the green beans and the olives. Peel the avocado (not the cucumber, do you really want to remove most of the flavour?!) and cut it and the cucumber into chunks. Mix the veg with some olive oil and salt (less salt if you’re using black olives, because they are saltier by themselves).

Nobody expects the Spanish stuffed peppers!

I recently ran a Dungeons&Dragons game for my friends, and I wanted to cook them something nice for dinner as well. I made Spanish-inspired stuffed peppers with vegan mince on the evening before the game, and put them in the oven on the day. My omni friends were really impressed – if I may say so myself – and the harshest judge (me) approved as well. Give it a go!

Ingredients

Stuffing
oil (I used coconut)
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
3-4 bay leaves
pack of meatless mince (I used the Meatless Farm Co.)
1.5 heaped tbsp of tomato puree
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/3 of 500 g passata di pomodori
70g sultanas
salt, pepper
[optional] Maggi liquid seasoning*

Tomato Sauce
2/3 of 500 g passata di pomodori
1.5 heaped tsp brown sugar (or other sugar)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt

Obviously
Potted grilled or pickled peppers**

Method

Prepare the stuffing
Finely chop onion and garlic. Put your favourite frying pan on a medium heat and add some oil. Fry the onions and bay leaves for a minute or so, then add the garlic. Fry the meatless mince separately in a non-stick pan^ (instructions on packaging).
Mix the onoins, garlic and bay leaves back in, along with the tomato puree and maple syrup. Add 1/3 of your total passata di pomodori, stir, and add salt and pepper (and maggi) to taste. Mix in the sultanas and the stuffing is done!

Meatless mince stuffing. The tomato sauce provides a nice colouring, besides keeping it from being too dry.

Make the tomato sauce^^
Heat up the rest of your passata di pomodori in a pan, then mix in the rest of the ingredients. Add salt to taste.

Stuff and grill the peppers
Pre-heat the oven to 175 °C fan oven).
Grease a roasting dish with olive oil. Take your peppers out of the pot and rinse of any brine, seeds and skin (if it peels off). Stuff the peppers one at a time with a spoon and lay them in the roasting dish. If you have leftover stuffing and room left in your dish, you can make separate heaps of stuffing that will just have to do without pepper.
Cover the peppers and any loose stuffing with the tomato sauce. Covering it well makes sure the peppers and stuffing don’t dry out in the oven.
Put in the oven for 15 minutes, then turn the heat down to 160 °C for another 15 minutes°°.

Traditionally served with rice (I think).

Stuffed peppers. It’s okay if it’s a bit of a mess, just cover it up with tomato sauce! This is about 1.5 times the recipe, with another 1/2 recipe in a different dish, and some stuffing leftover.

Notes

*Traditional Dutch cuisine is well-known for it’s complete lack of any interesting flavourings, which is why Dutch people like to add a few drops of Maggi to basically anything. It deepends the flavour, so I reckon it could be replaced by vegan Worcester sauce or some soy sauce (add less salt if using soy). If you do find Maggi, only use a few drops! It’s a really strong flavour and unlike garlic, too much really is too much.

**Grilled peppers have a bit more flavour than pickled ones and are de-skinned, but tend to be more expensive. The main thing is that you want them to be soft; with raw peppers there is a risk of them not being cooked enough when they come out of the oven. You can probably make your own grilled peppers but I haven’t tried.

^I found the meatless mince is a bit trickier to fry than actual meat, from what I remember. Frying it separately form the onions makes it easier. When they say a non-stick pan on the packaging they really mean it. I used more oil than the packaging recommended though.

^^The original recipe used “tomato frito”, a tomato sauce from grilled tomatoes that had added sugar. I couldn’t find it here so I decided to make my own sweetened tomato sauce.

°° These very specific oven instructions are courtesy of my mum.

Party food for party people

I live in a quiet neighbourhood with paper thin walls between the houses. But, once a year it’s okay to ask for your neighbours’ forgiveness, and throw a party. So we did, yesterday. And if you know me you’d know that I’d absolutely take the opportunity to go all out on making party food. I get to build up my excitement doing something I like (got to get the cleaning out of the way first), it makes the party so much better if there’s plenty of snacks, and I get to show off to people how tasty vegan food can be; I just love it!

I believe everyone had a great time and I’m sure the food helped. Also thanks to my friends who brought bread* and hummus. I’ve had a few people ask about two of the snacks I made in particular (success!), so here are the recipes. Besides those we had nachos with home-made salsa and guacamole, and plenty of store-bought snacks because I’m not the kind of maniac who is also going to make their own crisps and biscuits.

Tapenade

This is a Mediterranean dip that goes really well on bread or crackers as an appetizer (or a 5 pm snack because you had some leftover from the party and kind of forgot to eat lunch).

Ingredients
—————
one tin/jar black olives (although you could use green as well)
sun-dried tomatoes (about a third or half as much as olives)
olive oil (use some from the jar of sun-dried tomatoes with all the tastiness in it)
2 cloves of garlic
fresh parsley (I guess this is optional because I forgot to get some and it was still great without)
—————
Blend everything together with a hand mixer or food processor or the like. Add a little bit of oil and blend until you like the consistency. It should be a thick, spreadable dip.

Pizza swirls

I don’t have much to say about these, since it’s not my recipe at all. Check it out at Bosh!. I used olives, sun-dried tomatoes and a few cherry tomatoes as fillings, because that’s what I had at hand. 

* If you live or have lived in the UK you would know: the supermarket bread here is really miserable. Even the fancy looking, more expensive “seeded batch”, it’s just not that tasty and has no texture. Since I don’t have a bakery near me, I’m pretty lucky I got some freshly baked sourdough from my friend.

A stir fry of sorts

Some time ago on holiday with friends I made stir fry for dinner, and now, they want the recipe. But, I don’t remember how I made it! It’s stir fry, it could be anything! The main ingredients I remember are: some peppers (because I remembered thinking very long and hard on whether I should add them), no mushrooms (because we forgot we had them and I made soup with them later), and cashews (because we had to especially get more because someone ate them…). So, here’s an extrapolation from these parameters using my prior knowledge on what I would probably put in a stir fry.

Stir Fry

Ingredients (4-ish people)
—————
1 red chili
piece of ginger (1 cm)
~5 cloves or garlic
1 lime (we will use both zest and juice)
soy sauce (keep on the side if you have a soy-intolerant friend :p)
—————
1 broccoli
~200 g mangetout
~200 g bean sprouts
2 peppers (any colours)
handful cashews per person
bunch of spring onions
oil (sunflower or a mix of sunflower and coconut or sesame)

Make a spice base by grating garlic, ginger and zest of the lime, and adding finely chopped chili (remove the seeds unless you want it extra spicy). Cut the broccoli stalk in pieces* (keep them separate) and divide the head into medium-sized chunks. Remove the core and seeds of the peppers and cut them in strips, then cut the strips in threes to get nicely sized bits. Very roughly chop the cashews, it’s okay if there’s still some whole ones.

Put a wok (or large skillet if you don’t have one) on high heat and add your oil. When the oil’s hot, add the spice base and fry it for a minute or so. Then add broccoli stalk bits and peppers and fry for a few minutes. If using sesame oil, I usually only add it at this point because I don’t want it to get too hot and evaporate.

Add the rest of the broccoli, cashews, and mangetout. Add black pepper and salt (especially if skipping the soy sauce) and stir. Splash in some water to make the broccoli cook easier and reduce the heat somewhat.

Once everything is done or nearly done, add bean sprouts and lastly the spring onions (they don’t need to be fried). Alternatively, you can briefly cook the bean sprouts by poring boiling water on them, leaving it for a minute, and draining them. You can then add the cooked bean sprouts and the spring onions after turning off the heat.

Flavour the stir fry with soy sauce and lime juice. I recommend squeezing only half the lime and tasting, then decide if you want more lime**.  Serve with boiled rice (I prefer brown rice with this meal) or noodles.

Notes:
* Almost everyone I know throws out the stalk of the broccoli, but it’s actually perfectly fine to eat. Some time ago I had a Chinese neighbour who taught me how to cook her veggie stir fry and she would be careful to use all of the edible parts of the plant. No reason not to, just make sure you boil/fry the stalk bits a bit longer than the rest. I now feel justified using it too, although I do remove a bit off the end since it’s usually dried out.
** You’re gonna squeeze the lime, then taste a bit of veg by fishing it out of the wok with your fingers. You will then go “oh shit, this is way too limey!” Idiot, you are tasting the lime juice on your fingers. Wisdom gained from personal experience.
– I’m not telling you to wash your veggies in the recipe, but you should wash your veggies.
– Even though they are not in this recipe, you can definitely add mushrooms (brown ones  – which are grown above ground – have vitamin D and are tastier than white ones). You can skip any of the vegetable ingredients and add some others, a few suggestions: green beans (in halves or thirds), spinach, baby corn, white or red cabbage (slice very thin), carrots, … I also like making golden brown fried tofu and adding this to the stir fry.

Magical Pixie Dust (aka seroendeng)

When you’ve made your Indonesian satay sauce and you’re ready for more, here’s a good one. Seroendeng [seh-roon-deng] is an Indonesian side made from coconut and used to sprinkle over rice or other food. The great thing about it is that you can make a bunch in one go, keep it in a sealed container, and use it with a lot of rice-based, asian-y dishes to add some flavour. Or you know, just eat it straight from the bowl if you have some leftover…

Seroendeng

Ingredients
—————-
A spoonful or two of the paste as for the satay sauce recipe*
2 tbsp brown sugar (or palm sugar)
about 3 tbsp oil (coconut or sunflower preferably)
200-ish gram of desiccated coconut (or like, whatever amount you want)
[optional] handful of peanuts

Heat up a skillet with the oil. When the oil’s hot, fry the spoonful spice paste (boemboe) for a few minutes. Turn the heat low and add the coconut. Stir through the oil and spices and keep stirring the whole time. Add the sugar and peanuts, if using. Keep stirring until the coconut looks mostly brown. Take off the heat. Done.

* I recommend making seroendeng when you’re already making spice paste for something like the satay sauce.

Serving: As the last thing before eating, sprinkle a few spoonfuls over your rice (or veggies, or on top of your satay sauce, or all of the above). 

Indonesian goodness

Indonesian food is quite popular in the Netherlands (…let’s not talk about the colonizing past for a sec) and that’s wholly understandable: it’s the best. Here in the UK, I can’t find all the exact ingredients I need, but I’m pretty sure I’ve given it a good try. I really like cooking this for a group of friends and so far, reactions have been very positive.

A home cooked Indonesian meal could look something like this: some boiled rice, vegetables like green beans, leafy greens and some bean sprouts, tempeh or tofu but most importantly, satay sauce. The peanut-based sauce is really what makes it so delicious and so that’s the first recipe I’ll give you. Always make a little more than you think you need (but only do one iteration of that thought process else you’ll end up with an infinite amount of sauce).

Indonesian satay sauce

Ingredients (for two people, I think)
——————
2 small shallots
3 cloves of garlic
piece of ginger (about 1 cm)
half a red chili
ground coriander (like, 2 tsp?)
cumin (same?)
—————–
couple of bay leaves
A LOT of peanut butter (at least two scoops with a tablespoon as full as possible)
some oil (coconut or sunflower pref.)
water (maybe 50-100 mL to begin with, but you’ll add more as you cook the sauce)

Make a paste from all the ingredients between the lines (this is called a boemboe [boomboo]). You can use a food processor or spend a lot of time chopping them as fine as you can/ using a grater. Pestle and mortar is the traditional way.
Heat up a layer of oil in a saucepan and fry the paste for a few mins. Add the bay leaves and stir so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom too much. Add some water and a few scoops of peanut butter. Stir to get a homogeneous mix and let it heat for a while. Add water to thin to the consistency you want (the sauce will thicken up some as you heat it) and add peanut butter to get a thicker sauce or if you decide you want more. Best to cook the sauce for a while but not to let it boil.

Notes: For this recipe and other Indonesian cooking I usually look at the site kokkieslomo, which is great if you can read Dutch… Peanut sauce I’ve been making since forever but I took some inspiration from here.