Category: Spring

Lemon Artichoke Hearts and Asparagus

I love artichokes. Artichoke Globes that is, not those pesky Jerusalem ones, they’re gross and they make you pass a serious amount of gas…true story! I’ve never actually cooked the Globe ones from scratch before, I have just bought them covered in oil in a jar. Don’t get me wrong, jar ones absolutely have their place, but now Globe Artichokes are in season I came across them at my local market, they looked so pretty and were so cheap, I just had to grab myself a load and figured I would figure it out! Turns out they’re not too difficult to prepare, fiddly sure, but not so hard. I also grabbed a bunch of Asparagus because hello Asparagus is in season too…man Spring is the best!

This would make a great side dish, perhaps to a risotto or a pie of some sort, your side veggies definitely don’t just have to be boiled!


Artichoke Hearts and Asparagus
Serves 2

5-6 baby globe artichokes (or regular sized ones)
Bunch of asparagus
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves 
Olive oil

  • Rinse the artichokes in cold water.
  • Peel off the outer leaves until you reach the paler leaves. Trim the tops and the stem.
  • Slice them into quarters, and then place them in a bowl of cold water with 1/2 of the lemon juice, whilst you prepare the rest of them. If you’re using regular sized artichokes you need to make sure you scoop out the furry middle, you don’t need to worry about this with the baby ones, they’re just babies.
  • Steam the artichokes using the lemon water for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the asparagus by snapping off the lower part of the stalk and discard.
  • In a baking tray, place the asparagus along with the steamed artichokes. 
  • Drizzle with olive oil, the remaining lemon juice and the garlic cloves, I threw in the juiced lemon too.
  • Place under the grill for 10 minutes on a medium heat.
  • Season with salt and pepper. 

Enjoy!

Veronica x

Cashew and Sesame Purple Sprouting Broccoli [vegan]

There is more to vegetables than simply boiling them! Don’t get me wrong, boiled veg has it’s place on a plate sometimes, but this Cashew and Sesame Purple Sprouting Broccoli is one of those dishes that showcases just how an ordinary vegetable can become the star of the show. This makes an ideal side dish or serve with noodles and eat as a main meal. 

Cashew Sesame Purple Sprouting Broccoli
Serves 2

1 tbsp sesame oil
1 leek
2 garlic cloves (chopped)
50g cashew nuts
120g broccoli
Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
1 tbsp tamari
1 chilli
1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • In a wok or frying pan, heat the sesame oil on a medium heat.
  • Chop the leek and add to the pan along with the garlic and cashew nuts, and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the broccoli, grated ginger, tamari and chilli and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sesame seeds and stir through.

Enjoy!

Veronica x

Aubergine Pomegranate and Kale Salad [vegan]

Aubergine and Pomegranate are up there with my favourite ingredient combinations, and this salad pairs the two particularly well, even if I do say so myself! 

When aubergine is roasted to perfection, it melts in your mouth, not cooked enough and we all know the rubbery crunchy texture you have to endure, thinking if only we’d been a little more patient! Throw in some pomegranate to a mouthful of well-cooked aubergine and you’ve got yourself a pretty darn good mouthful of food!

This looks like one of those dishes that is far too faffy to make, but this middle-eastern inspired salad really is so simple to make and you’ll impress people with this dish fo sho!

Aubergine and Pomegranate Salad
Serves 2

1 aubergine (cut in half)
Half a pomegranate
1 tspn smoked paprika
1/4 tspn ground cinnamon
1/4 tspn cumin
1 tspn maple syrup
50g kale
100g couscous
Juice of 1 lemon 
Handful of parsley
Handful of coriander
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil

  • Cut the aubergine in half and score the flesh diagonally with a sharp knife. Pop on a baking tray and drizzle with half the olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt.
  • Place in a pre-heated oven at 180C and roast for half an hour.
  • Meanwhile, cook the couscous; cover with boiling water, add the juice of half a lemon and leave the couscous to soak up the water, fluff with a fork after a few minutes. Massage the kale with with your fingertips using half a tablespoon of olive oil (this softens the leaves and makes it easier to eat raw).
  • Chop the parsley and coriander and add to the couscous, along with the kale, and the pomegranate seeds (save some to sprinkle on top when serving).
  • In a small bowl, add the smoked paprika, cinnamon, cumin and maple syrup and stir until it makes a paste. Once the aubergine has cooked for half an hour, remove from the oven and brush the flesh of the aubergine with the paprika paste and return to the oven for another fifteen minutes.
  • In a mug, add the tahini, apple cider vinegar, the other half of the lemon juice and four tablespoons of water and mix until smooth. (Stirring thoroughly is the key with a good tahini dressing and you’ll go through a range of textures until it is ready!)
  • Serve the aubergine on top of the couscous kale salad, along with the tahini dressing and extra pomegranate seeds.

Enjoy!

Veronica x

Lemon and Blueberry Drizzle Cake [vegan]

Hands up, who would put lemon drizzle cake up there as their all time favourite cake!? Yep, me too! I would say it’s a definite crowd pleaser, and you’ll have people scraping around for the last cake crumb when you make this.

I made this for my Mum’s birthday a couple of week’s ago, it went down a storm! Mother’s Day is on the horizon (in the UK) and if you’re looking for a cake to treat your frickin’ awesome Mum, then this’ll do the job nicely! 

I’ve used maple syrup, but feel free to use normal caster sugar if you’re not worried about that, and you could totally sub the spelt flour for all self-raising. The poppy seeds give it an additional flavour and crunch, but leave them out if you want. 

Vegan Lemon and Blueberry Drizzle Cake

175g spelt flour
100g self-raising flour
1 tspn baking powder
Zest of two lemons
1 tbsp poppy seeds (optional)
100ml vegetable oil
160ml water
80ml maple syrup
Juice of two lemons
200g blueberries

For the drizzle and icing:
1 tbsp maple syrup 
Juice of 2 lemons
80g icing sugar

  • Grease and line a medium sized loaf tin. Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the flours, baking powder, lemon zest, baking powder, poppy seeds (if using) and stir together.
  • Add the vegetable oil, water and maple syrup into the dry ingredients, and mix throughly, add the lemon juice and blueberries and stir through.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. 
  • Mix together the juice of one lemon and a tablespoon of maple syrup. Using a skewer or a fork, pierce some holes in the cake and pour it over the top of the cake. Leave to cool in the tin.
  • In a bowl, sieve the icing sugar and mix together with the lemon juice until smooth, drizzle over the cake once it has cooled.
  • Keep stored in an air tight tin.

Enjoy!

Veronica x

Vegan Lentil Lasagna

For as long as I can remember Lasagna has been my favourite dish. I love a good vegetable lasagna packed full of whatever the season has to offer, but lentils provide this beaut more of a meaty texture. This dish is packed full of flavour, and a tofu topping means you don’t need to faff about with a bechamel and worry about lumpy sauce = win! 


Vegan Lasagna with lentils and kale
Serves 4-6

1/2 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
200g puy lentils (soaked overnight if possible)
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tbsp thyme
1 tspn ground cinnamon
2 tbsp tomato puree
400ml vegetable stock
80g kale
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper
6 – 8 lasagne sheets (depending on the size of your dish)

For the topping:
1 block of firm tofu (drained)
3 tbsp pine nuts (keep an extra few to sprinkle on top)
80g spinach (washed and dried)
Salt and pepper
A few cherry tomatoes
A few basil leaves

  • In a large saucepan, melt the coconut oil on a medium heat.
  • Chop the onion and garlic and add to the pan and cook for five minutes.
  • Rinse the lentils and add to the pan, along with the chopped tomatoes, oregano, thyme, cinnamon and tomato puree. Cook for five minutes.
  • Gradually add the vegetable stock, along with the kale, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar. Cook for about 25 minutes until the lentils are cooks. Season with plenty of pepper and a little salt.
  • Meanwhile in food processor, add the drained block of tofu, the pine nuts and spinach and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
  • In a large oven-proof dish add half of the lentil and kale filling and spread evenly. Lay the lasagne sheets covering the filling.
  • Spoon half the tofu mixture and spread evenly across the pasta sheet. 
  • Spread the remaining lentil mix over and top with more pasta sheets and the rest of the tofu mixture.
  • Top with sliced cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and a few basil leaves.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180C for thirty minutes.
  • Serve with some tasty salad leaves.

Enjoy!

Veronica x

 

Nettle & Wild Garlic Quiche

The weather might be all over the place but the budding leaves and green shoots aren’t fooled, Spring is most definitely here. I get pretty excited when everything starts bursting into life during Spring. The first leaves of Spring always seems extra green and vivid especially after the long grey months of winter. 

Nettle and wild garlic are an amazing Spring green combination. Last year I paired them together in these savoury Buckwheat Crepes which are just so delicious! This year I was inspired by a vegan flan I had whilst on holiday and decided to recreate something similar at home. I opted for creamy cashews and a wholewheat spelt flour topped with crunchy toasted seeds.

Nettles have to be one of the easiest wild foods to forage, they can be found pretty much everywhere and are easily recognised by most of us. Wild garlic is a little trickier to find but is also common. I always get wild garlic in my veg bag during Spring and you would probably find it at your local farmers market if you can’t find any near where you live.

Nettle-&-Cashew-QuicheVegan-Cashew-Quiche

Nettle & Wild Garlic Quiche

Nettle tips: Harvest the nettles when young and pick only the top few leaves. Wash throughly in a bowl of cold water and don’t forget to use rubber gloves when handling!

For the pastry:
175 g Wholemeal Spelt Flour
75 g Coconut Oil + Extra for Greasing
2-3 tbsp Cold Water
Pinch of Salt

For the filling:
350g Cashews 
3 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
250g Nettles
Small bunch of Wild Garlic
1 Small Onion
1 tsp Caraway Seeds
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
3 tbsp Toasted Pumpkin Seeds
3 tbsp Toasted Sunflower Seeds
3 tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds

  • Soak the cashews in water (preferably filtered) overnight.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C and grease a flan dish with coconut oil. Measure the spelt flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. If your coconut oil is melted at room temperature, place it in the fridge for half an hour first. Add the coconut oil and use you finger tips to rub together the flour and coconut oil until you get a breadcrumb consistency. 
  • Add in a tablespoon of water at a time and use you hand to bring together the mixture until it forms into a ball.
  • Roll out on a floured surface and line the flan dish with the pastry. Press the pastry down, trim off the edges and prick a few holes in the pastry with a fork. If you have them, cover the pastry with baking paper and hold down with ceramic baking beans.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
  • Whilst the pastry is cooking fry the onion on a little coconut oil for 10 minutes until it starts to caramelise. Add the caraway and fennel seeds, fry for a few more minutes then add in the nettles and stir until they begin to wilt down. Roughly chop the wild garlic and add to the frying pan, stirring until both the nettles and wild garlic have wilted. Then remove form the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Drain and rinse the cashews and add to a food processor with the nutritional yeast and lemon juice. Blitz for a few minutes until you get a smooth and creamy consistency. 
  • Stir the cashew mixture together with the nettle and wild garlic and over the pastry and spread out evenly. Top with the toasted seeds and gently press them down into the cashew mix.
  • Place in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Serve chilled with salad.

Enjoy! Amy x

 

Vegan Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake

Tis the season for rhubarb. Yes, rhubarb is starting to sprout it’s beautiful pink stalks from the ground and we can now enjoy, what I believe, is one of our most underestimated fruits. Let’s celebrate all things rhubarb!

It’s only in recent years that I have come to appreciate this delicious fruit, it was one of those things that I turned my nose up at all my childhood and avoided at all costs. That is until I actually tried it.

We had to move our rhubarb plant when we got our chickens, it now resides in our front garden and has taken a couple of years to reestablish itself, but this year it looks like we may have a bumper crop. I love the sharpness of rhubarb, and the contrast it brings to a sweet dessert.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Amy’s delicious Elderflower cheesecake? I didn’t get a chance to taste her creation, but I have adapted it and it is easily versatile to whatever works seasonally. So here is my rhubarb version and what goes perfectly with rhubarb? Ginger – obvs!

Rhubarb-&-Ginger-Cheesecake

Rhubarb-Vegan-Cheesecake

Rhubarb-Ginger-Cheesecake

Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake

For the crust:
50g almonds (soaked for 30 mins)
150g hazelnuts
150g dates
2 tspn ground ginger

For the filling:
350g cashews (soaked overnight, or for at least 4 hours)
85 ml coconut oil
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tspn vanilla extract
Juice of half a lemon

For the topping:
5 stalks of rhubarb
A thumb sized piece of ginger (grated)
2 tbsp xylitol
3 tbsp water

  • Begin by making the base. In a large, dry frying pan gently toast the hazelnuts on a medium-high heat, for around 5-10mins until the skins begin to darken and peel away. Shake the pan from time to time to prevent burning.
  • Wrap the hazelnuts in a clean cloth and rub vigorously to remove most of the skins.
  • Rinse the soaked almonds in fresh water and combine in a blender with the hazelnuts, dates and ginger. The mixture should start to come together in firm, sticky clumps.
  • Press the base mixture firmly down into a non-stick 20cm springform cake tin.
  • Set in the fridge whilst you prepare the topping.
  • Melt the coconut oil in a pan. Rinse the cashews and put in a high-speed blender along with the coconut oil and remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
  • Spoon the mixture onto the base and spread out evenly.
  • Set in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  • Gently release the springform pan and ease the cheesecake away from the base.
  • Rinse the rhubarb stalks and chop into pieces, add to a pan along with the xylitol, water and grated ginger. Cook on a medium heat for 15-20 minutes until very soft. Stir thoroughly and leave to cool. Once cooled spread evenly over the cheesecake.

Enjoy!

Veronica x

Vietnamese Vegan Pho with Grilled Asparagus

pho with grilled asparagus

Hallelujah! Asparagus is finally here!

spring asparagus

When you eat in tune with the seasons and something that you haven’t eaten in nearly a year comes back into season, it’s defiantly reason to celebrate! I choose to do so by making something extra-specially delicious. Last year Veronica shared this asparagus soup for the illusive two month asparagus window that runs from the end of April to June here in the UK. I have chosen to share one of my all time favourite dishes, a Vietnamese Pho with the addition of some grilled asparagus which is my favourite way to cook it!!

A traditional Pho is all about a slow cooked broth, normally made with beef. However, the main star of the show is really the aromatic spices not the meat so it easily adapts to create a super tasty vegan meal and this version uses a bit of vegetable stock to speed up the process. But of course if you have time, the longer you cook it for the better it’s going to taste!

Vegan pho broth

The broth makes enough to serve four which is great if there’s just two of you, as it means tomorrow’s dinner is going to super quick to make! Add more veggies and noodles if you’re making it for 4 first time round.

vegan pho vietnamese vegan pho

Vietnamese Vegan Phở with Grilled Asparagus

For the broth:

2 onions
5cm chunk of ginger
3 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
4 cloves
4 cardomon pods
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 1/2 litres of vegetable stock made with 1 1/2 tbsp vegan bouillon
1 1/2 tbsp good quality soy sauce (such as kikkoman)
3 carrots
5cm piece young garlic

To serve:

200g brown rice noodles
8 asparagus spears
Seasonal leafy greens, such as kale, chard, pak choi, wild garlic
Large handful of bean sprouts
Fresh herbs such as thai basil, coriander and mint
1 lime, quartered
1 red chilli, sliced

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180C, quarter the onions, leaving the skin on, chop the ginger into a few large chunks and bake for about 15 minutes, using a dash of oil until the edges start to brown.
  • In a large, heavy bottomed pan, dry fry the whole spices until they become aromatic.
  • Roughly chop the carrots and garlic into large chunks and add to the spices with the onion, ginger and stock.
  • Simmer for at least half an hour, when ready strain through a fine sieve or muslin and reheat.
  • Cook your noodles according to the packet instrucitons which should take about 5-10 minutes, then rinse the noodles.
  • Place the asparagus on a baking tray, season and drizzle with olive oil and grill for 5 minutes.
  • You can either lightly steam your greens or just let the broth cook them in the bowl when serving, it really depends on what you’re using. For example I would steam spring greens but not spinach.
  • To serve, divide the noodles between bowls, then pour over the stock. Arrange your raw or lightly steamed greens, bean sprouts, herbs, chilli and lime around the bowl, placing the grilled asparagus on top. Then dig in!

Happy asparagus season!

Amy x

Nettle & Wild Garlic, Buckwheat Crêpes

Last month I wrote about the impending hungry gap when I posted a recipe for a tagine using the last of Winter’s root vegetables. We’re now well into April and the hungry gap is definitely upon us. The Winter crops have come to an end and there’s little in the way of new season produce to fill our bellies. But it’s not all doom and gloom, if you happen to be partial to a spot of foraging there is plenty to be had at this time of year and fresh young nettles are just perfect right now.

I’m no foraging expert (so you’ll have look elsewhere for comprehensive guidance) but with a little know how and a little common sense you can find yourself enough to rustle up something resembling a meal in no time.

I managed to find the perfect spot of nettles that had just started to come up in a park where a hollow had been left to go wild. Pinch off just the young tops of the nettles (whilst wearing gardening or rubber gloves obvs!) as these taste better and one the nettles flower and start to go to seed, the leaves can irritate the urinary tract and no-one wants that! I’ve also included wild garlic in this recipe as it’s abundant right now. I’ve been getting lots in my veg bag at the moment so didn’t forage for mine but it’s the perfect time to go and find some whilst you’re out looking for nettles, which lets face it, won’t take long.

I should also mention that I actually wanted to share this recipe with you last year. Unfortunately I hadn’t quite perfected my vegan crêpe recipe. I have since found that buckwheat flour creates the perfect crêpe batter so don’t try substituting it out for another flour because you’ll end up in a right old mess.

Nettle & Wild Garlic Buckwheat Crepes

Vegan Buckwheat Crepes

Nettle and wild garlic, buckwheat crêpes

For the crêpes:

100g Buckwheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1tbsp ground flax seed
3tbsp water
1/2 tsp lemon juice
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
400ml non-dairy milk
Coconut oil for frying

For the filling:

1 small onion
300g young nettles
300g spinach
2-3 wild garlic leaves
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to season

  • Begin by making the crêpe batter. Whisk the ground flax seed with the water and set aside for a few minutes until it become gloopy and gelatinous.
  • Measure out the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
  • Pour in the lemon juice, oil, flax egg and a little of the milk and stir together. Slowly add in the remaining milk a bit at a time, incorporating more flour as you go.
  • Set aside the mixture for 30 minutes whilst you prepare the filling.
  • Wash the nettles thoroughly in  bowl of cold water and pinch off any thick stems. Wearing rubber gloves of course.
  • Wilt them together with the spinach in a large frying pan with a splash of water on a high heat for around 5 minutes until most of the water from them has evaporated.
  • Set aside into a bowl. Add a little oil to the frying pan, lower the heat and fry the onion until soft and brown. Add the nettles and spinach back into the frying pan along with the nutmeg and the fennel seeds after being crushed slightly in a pestle and mortar.
  • Roughly chop the wild garlic and stir in the mixture. Leave the mixture on a very low heat whilst you make the crêpes.
  • Place a medium-sized frying pan on a high heat and add a little coconut.
  • Pour in 1/4 cup of batter and quickly swirl around the pan.
  • Leave for a minute of so until it starts to brown then using one of those super awesome pancake/ crêpe spatulas, loosen the crêpe from the pan and flip over. Leave the other side to brown lightly for another minute and place on a plate and keep warm.
  • Repeat for the remaining crêpes, it should make roughly 6.
  • Take the filling mixture of the heat and spoon onto the crepes and roll.
  • Serve with a salad for a lunch or light dinner.

Amy x

 

Hot Cross Loaf

Easter wouldn’t be Easter in our house without hot cross buns. I’ve not come across any vegan ones in shops but even if I had, no doubt they’d only be made with white flour and full of sugar so we’ve come up with a super simple recipe that’s healthy and quick to make. In fact it’s so easy to make that you can be enjoying spiced Easter bread goodness in less than an hour!

Spelt easter loaf

The basic recipe is a spelt soda bread so it doesn’t require any kneading, proving or rising time. And to make it even simpler no need to even form it into buns just one giant loaf which can be torn apart and shared.

Hot cross soda bread

It’s gone down so well in our house that I’ve taken to making double the quantity then splitting the dough to form two loaves.

Spiced spelt soda bread
Hot Cross Loaf

150g Spelt Flour
100g Buckwheat Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tbsp Xylitol Sugar
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Mixed Spice
1/4 tsp Allspice
Zest of half an orange
80g Currants
Pinch of Salt
150ml Non-dairy milk or 75ml of both non-dairy milk and yogurt
1 tbsp Molasses

  • Measure out all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together.
  • Make a well in the middle, add the molasses and some of the milk. Slowly stir the molasses and the milk together, incorporating the flour a bit at a time.
  • Continue to add the milk bit by bit until the mixture just comes together into a slightly sticky dough, being careful not to over work it.
  • Turn the dough out onto a well flour surface and press it down with your finger tips into a circle about 1cm thick.
  • Fold one edge into the centre of the dough, turn the dough clockwise slightly and repeat folding the edge into the centre until you’ve formed the dough into a round.
  • Turn the dough over, flatten slightly so it is about 2 cm thick and dust with flour.
  • Place onto a backing tray and cut a deep cross into the loaf using a serrated knife.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes. Turn the loaf out onto a wire rack, it should sound hollow when you tap the base.
  • Enjoy still warm with a bit of non-dairy margarine, because it is Easter after all!

Amy x