Whether you’re a seasoned vegan, are trialing Veganuary or just want to reduce your meat intake, we’ve got some great recipes for you to try! Virtually Vegan by Heather Whinney reveals how you can make delicious food that just happens to be vegan. Every recipe is designed with a sensible store cupboard in mind, to keep special ingredients to a minimum. And the recipes contain hints and tips for how you can, if you want, use dairy or meat on days when you want a day off from the vegan regime.
Chickpea & Pine Nut Balls in Hot Tomato Sauce
This is rather like eating a good nut roast in a rich tomato sauce. I serve these with cubed rosemary potatoes in winter, or rice and a rocket/arugula salad in the warmer months.
Serves 4 (makes 20 small balls) Prep: 20 mins, Cook: 50 mins
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tsp sumac
40g/1½ oz/heaped ¼ cup pine nuts 400g/14oz can of chickpeas/ garbanzos, drained, juice reserved to use in baking
5–6 tbsp fine breadcrumbs
zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 tsp tahini
a few thyme sprigs, leaves only
1 handful of flatleaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
a pinch of dried oregano
600g/1lb 5oz jar of passata/sieved tomatoes
a pinch of chilli flakes
roasted rosemary potatoes, brown rice or a rocket/arugula salad
1 To make the balls, heat the oil in a frying pan, add the red onion and cook for 1–2 minutes. add the garlic and sumac and cook until translucent, around 2 minutes. set aside.
2 To skin the tomatoes, cut a cross on the base of each one and place in a bowl. Pour boiling water over and leave for 30 seconds, then plunge into cold water and peel away the skin.
3 Put the pine nuts, chickpeas/garbanzos and breadcrumbs in a food processor and pulse until chopped. add the tomatoes, lemon zest and juice, tahini, thyme leaves and parsley and pulse again until combined but retaining some texture. add the cooked onion, season to taste and pulse again.
4 With wet hands, roll into 20 balls. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange the balls on the sheet and put in the refrigerator to chill while you make the sauce.
5 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°f/Gas 6.
6 To make the sauce, heat the oil in a deep frying pan. Add the onion, season and cook for 2–3 minutes until soft. stir in the garlic, chilli and oregano and cook for a minute more. Pour in the passata/sieved tomatoes, fill the jar with water and add to the pan. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer, stir in the chilli flakes and cook for 20 minutes more, topping up with hot water if it starts to thicken too much.
7 Meanwhile, put the balls in a roasting pan and roast for about 25 minutes, or until golden.
8 To serve, add the balls to the sauce and take straight to the table so everyone can help themselves. serve with cubed roast rosemary potatoes, brown rice or a lightly dressed salad of rocket/arugula leaves.
Courgette, Mushroom & Truffle Oil Pizza
Who needs dairy on a pizza? What you need is flavour, and this combo has lots of it. You can make the dough ahead and leave it to prove slowly in the refrigerator for a few days or wrap well and freeze for up to a month. For a change, try tossing a handful of fresh wild rocket/arugula on top to serve and give the pizza an extra drizzle of chilli oil.
Makes 4. Prep: 20 mins, plus proving Cook: 10 mins
500g/1Ib 2oz/4 cups flour or strong white flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
7g/¼oz/1 sachet of fast-action/ instant active dried yeast
4 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
For the topping:
8 tbsp passata/sieved tomatoes
300g/10½oz portobello mushrooms, finely sliced
4 courgettes/zucchini, sliced into ribbons
a pinch of chilli flakes
a generous drizzle of truffle oil
1 handful basil leaves, to garnish a few oregano leaves, to garnish
1 To make the pizza dough, put the flour, yeast and a pinch of salt in a food mixer. Make a well in the middle and slowly pour in 360ml/12½fl oz/1½ cups of warm water. Using the dough beaters, beat until the mixture comes together, then add 4 tablespoons of olive oil and continue to mix until it forms a dough. It will begin to make a slapping noise as it mixes, which means it is ready. transfer to a floured board and knead for about 10 minutes until it softens up and becomes spongy.
2 Put the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film/plastic wrap or a dish towel and leave in a warm place for 30–40 minutes until doubled in size.
3 Preheat the oven to its highest setting and put a baking/ cookie sheet in the oven to heat up.
4 Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes to knock out the air, then divide the dough into four equal balls.
5 Have all your topping ingredients ready. Roll and stretch a dough ball until you get a round, about 25cm/10in in diameter. Making one at a time, lightly oil the hot baking/cookie sheet and put the dough round on it. Add 2 Tablespoons of passata/sieved tomatoes to the top of the pizza and spread it out to cover. Top with mushrooms and courgettes/zucchini. It will seem like a lot of courgette/ zucchini but pile them high as they will shrink when cooking. sprinkle with chilli flakes and drizzle the truffle oil over the top. Bake for 10 minutes until golden. remove and continue making the other pizzas. Garnish with fresh herbs, slice into triangles and serve.
Try any non-vegan topping you like with this base and tomato sauce. It works well with dairy-free cheese, too, but you could scatter over some torn mozzarella if you prefer.
Blueberry & Lemon Muffins
A recipe for vegan muffins is great to have in your repertoire as they are incredibly easy to make and you can vary the flavour and fruit to suit. They are also very forgiving as they don’t require beating like a sponge cake. In fact, quite the opposite: lumpy batter is good. They are best eaten on the day of baking so are good to make when friends are coming over. I’ve used a mix of flours as I think spelt flour adds a delicious hint of nuttiness. Drizzle with a little icing/confectioners’ sugar for extra sweetness.
Makes 12. Prep: 20 mins, Cook: 25 mins
2 tbsp chia seeds
250g/9oz/2 cups spelt flour, sifted
125g/4oz/1 cup plain/all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda, sifted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
zest and juice of 1 lemon
a pinch of salt
125g/4oz/2⁄3 cup light soft brown sugar
250ml/9fl oz/generous 1 cup almond milk
100ml/3½fl oz/scant ½ cup rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
300g/10½oz/2½ cups fresh blueberries or blackberries if in season
icing/confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6 and line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper muffin cases/liners.
2 Mix the chia seeds with 6 tablespoons of water and leave to one side for 10 minutes or so, then mix.
3 Put the flours, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda/baking soda, cinnamon, lemon zest and salt in a bowl and mix really well together, then stir in the sugar.
4 In another bowl, mix the milk, lemon juice, oil and vanilla together, then stir in the chia seed mixture. add this to the flour mixture, then stir in the blueberries or blackberries and beat briefly with a wooden spoon to a rough batter. Divide the mixture up evenly among the muffin cases/liners.
5 Bake for about 25 minutes, or until risen and pale golden. Leave to cool slightly, then dust with icing/confectioners’ sugar to serve. These are best eaten on the day of baking and even better eaten whilst still warm.
Extracted from Virtually Vegan by Heather Whinney, published by Nourish Books, 2018.