Cooking For Vegans
Some almost-instant meal ideas for when you’ve no time to cook.
1. Beans on toast
2. Couscous, tomato and chickpea stew
3. Flat mushrooms in a bread bun with chilli sauce and salad leaves
4. Jacket potato with baked beans or houmous
5. Mixed vegetable stir fry with cashew nuts or tofu pieces
6. Pasta and baked beans with dried mixed herbs
7. Pasta and jar of sauce, vegan pesto or stir-through sauce
8. Quick vegemince spaghetti bolognese
9. Spicy spinach and chickpeas with rice
10. Tinned or fresh soup with bread (but watch out for milk and honey in the ingredients)
11. Vegan sausages or burgers with instant mash, frozen peas and vegan gravy
A soft, white Indian cheese that comes in a block and is usually fried. Although not exactly traditional, tofu works well as an alternative in various recipes, such as saag paneer.
Traditionally-made Parmesan isn’t suitable for vegetarians (or vegans) as it contains animal rennet (calves’ stomach lining). This is why you might notice seemingly vegetarian dishes in Italian restaurants not labelled as suitable for vegetarians.
There is a dairy-free version of grated parmesan available called Parmazano, which is sold in a lot of supermarkets. Particularly useful for making risotto.
Vegetarian parmesan isn’t the same as vegan parmesan – it is still made with milk, it just doesn’t contain animal rennet.
Vegan pâtés are particularly useful as sandwich fillings or as a vegan alternative to cheese and biscuits/bread. Independent wholefoods shops are the best place to find a good range of ready-made ones. Holland and Barrett sell the varieties of Cauldron pâté which are suitable for vegans, which are Chickpea and black olive and Soya and mushroom (they don’t tend to sell the vegan varieties in supermarkets). You could also use ready-made houmous, which comes in a variety of flavours and is readily available in supermarkets, or make your own houmous with tinned chickpeas.
Alternatively, pâtés are usually quick and easy (and cheap) to make – there are many vegan recipes out there for pâté made with mashed beans or vegetables and herbs if you fancy making your own.
If you’re making sandwiches, make sure the margarine is also vegan if you’re using any.
Pesto usually contains parmesan and other cheeses, so isn’t suitable for vegans (and often vegetarians – see above). Sacla’s aubergine pesto is suitable for vegans, but other than that I’ve never found a vegan pesto in supermarket Italian sections, although they often stock vegan pesto in the free from section. Otherwise it’s a trip to a wholefoods shop to find some. Suma make nice vegan green and red pesto. Some stir-through pasta sauces are suitable for vegans, which can be an alternative to pesto depending on what you’re using it for.
Linda McCartney country pies are suitable for vegans (find them in the freezers in the supermarket) – very handy for pie and pea suppers – or see if your local wholefoods shop sells Clive’s Pies. Most are vegan and they also do a range of gluten-free pies.
Not generally intended to be identical to meat sausages. Useful for taking to barbecues and using in sausage casserole, sausage and mash, cooked breakfast…
Vegan brands: Redwood’s VegeDeli range, Linda McCartney, RealEat, Fry’s, Taifun, some but not all Wicken Fen varieties.
Ones to avoid – vegetarian but not vegan brands: Quorn, Cauldron, most supermarket vegetarian sausages.
Fry’s and Linda McCartney sausage rolls are suitable for vegans. Or make your own – dead easy!
Stuffed pasta was one of my favourite foods before I went vegan, so I was very pleased to learn that you can buy vegan versions of it. The ones I’ve found in the UK are in the Biona range of products. Mail order from Goodness Direct, or some independent shops stock it.
Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies and isn’t suitable for vegans or vegetarians. Vegan worcestershire sauce is available in wholefoods shops or in supermarket ‘free from’ sections. If you’re anywhere near Sheffield, get your hands on some Henderson’s Relish instead.
Alpro is the main brand to look for, they make fruit-flavoured and plain yoghurts. Commonly available in the dairy products section of large supermarkets. Alpro also make soya desserts, which are similar to yoghurt but don’t need to be kept in the fridge.
Spicy couscous, chickpea and tomato stew
Serves 2 as a main meal
1-2 tsp chilli powder (depending how spicy you like it)
1 x 420g tin tomatoes
1 x 220g tin chickpeas
125g wholemeal couscous
1 stock cube
oil for frying
Chop the onion. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion with the chilli powder for a few minutes until softened. Add all the other ingredients. Bring to the boil, cover, turn off the heat and leave to stand for five minutes. Stir and heat through before serving.
Flat Mushroom Burgers
Make two ‘burgers’ per person as a meal, one as a snack.
Large flat mushrooms
Henderson’s Relish or vegan Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Chilli sauce or tomato ketchup
Bag of salad leaves
Brush the mushrooms with the olive oil and Henderson’s Relish if using. Heat them under the grill (or on a barbecue) for a few minutes on each side until tender. Serve in bread buns with chilli sauce or ketchup and salad leaves.
Stir fry is your friend when you need a low-effort meal that’s also tasty and healthy. They’re also a great easy way to boost your vegetable intake.
People who say they don’t like vegetables might enjoy stir fry as you can keep the vegetables slightly crunchy and full of flavour – many people are put off vegetables because they’re used to boiled, soggy vegetables and it’s the texture that puts them off. Using a stir-fry sauce also makes them taste more interesting than plain vegetables.
To make stir-fry, chop your vegetables (or buy pre-prepared ones), heat a bit of vegetable or groundnut oil in a frying pan or wok, fry your ingredients until they’re cooked and add stir fry sauce or seasoning of your choice. In the meantime, cook some rice or noodles to go with it.
For a tasty stir fry, you will need:
For an ‘instant meal’ stir-fry you can buy packs of pre-prepared stir fry vegetables from the supermarket, which often come with a sachet of stir-fry sauce.
If you have a bit more time, use fresh vegetables and chop them yourself – it doesn’t take long even then and it means you can choose your own combinations. Plus fresh veg usually tastes better than the packaged ones, especially if you use organic vegetables as they tend to have much more flavour.
Good vegetables for stir-frying include peppers, courgettes, mushrooms, carrots, broccoli, mangetout, sugar snap peas, baby sweetcorn, okra, spinach, aubergine, kale, and leeks. You could also add beansprouts, bamboo shoots or water chestnuts for more of a Chinese flavour. Pick a range of colours to make it look more appetising, for example red pepper, carrot and courgette is a simple but attractive combination. I tend to go for three or four different vegetables in a stir-fry.
Cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds or tofu pieces are great ingredients for adding to the flavour and nutritional content of stir fries. Cauldron make marinated tofu pieces which don’t need to be cooked, you can just throw them in to heat through at the end. Look for them in the chiller cabinets at the supermarket, usually near the chilled vegetarian sausages and ready meals. If you prefer, buy a block of firm tofu (again, Cauldron is the main brand sold in supermarkets), drain off the water, cut it into chunks and marinade it in soy sauce and sesame oil before cooking. Have a look at the tofu page for more detailed instructions.
Noodles or rice
If using noodles, choose wheat or rice noodles rather than egg noodles. Many stir-fry noodles only take about three minutes to cook and there’s usually a good selection in supermarkets. If using rice, go for the 10-minute brown rice for a speedy meal.
Sauce or spices
Use either a ready-made stir fry sauce or just throw some spices or soy sauce in.
Many ready-made stir-fry sauces are suitable for vegans (check the ingredients though). Blue Dragon label their vegan sachets of stir-fry sauce as suitable for vegans, which makes life easier.
Alternatively, for a lighter meal you can add flavourings such as soy sauce or tamari, sesame oil, chopped fresh chillies, garlic and ginger, ground coriander, ginger or chilli powder, tamarind paste, spice grinders with a combination of dried spices – whatever you fancy really!
For a really quick stir-fry I just use a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and ground ginger.
Quick vegemince bolognese
Makes two servings. This is a good recipe for freezing, so if you only need one portion you can freeze the other portion for later.
1 onion (optional)
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
75g-100g frozen soya mince
1 vegetable stock cube
a few tablespoons water
vegetable or olive oil for frying
Optional extras: frozen peas, dried herbs, tomato puree, vegan Worcestershire sauce or Henderson’s Relish, salt and pepper.
Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions on the pack.
If using, chop and fry the onion in a saucepan. Add the tomatoes, soya mince, stock cube and any extra ingredients, stir and cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the soya mince has softened and absorbed most of the liquid. Add a few tablespoons of water if the mixture becomes too dry. Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and serve.
If you have more time you can add vegetables to the sauce, such as courgettes, mushrooms, peppers, aubergines or carrots – chop into small chunks and cook them with the onion before adding the mince and tinned tomatoes.
Spicy spinach and chickpeas with rice
Use brown rice for this recipe, it fills you up for longer and contains more nutrients than white rice. Brown rice normally takes longer to cook than white rice but you can get pre-prepared versions that cook in 10 minutes.
1 x 220g tin chickpeas
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp chilli powder
salt and black pepper
vegetable oil for frying
10-minute boil-in-the-bag brown rice, enough for two people
Cook the rice according to the instructions on the pack.
Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the cumin, coriander and chilli powder and fry for a few seconds. Add the spinach and fry until almost wilted. Add the chickpeas, black pepper and a small amount of salt, cook gently until the chickpeas are warmed through.
Drain the rice and serve onto plates with the spinach and chickpea mixture on top.
Recipes taken from http://www.veganrecipes.co.uk