Trying to eat meat-free and plant-based? The Guardian’s vegan cook has breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack tips to tempt your appetite
Meera Sodha’s Veganuary tips: Yotam Ottolenghi’s giant couscous with golden raisins, lemon and almonds and her own sprout nasi goreng.
The booming vegan food industry understands this, which is why there are lots of heavily processed products on the shelves, attempting to recreate it in many forms. But over time Sodha has learned there are lots of plant-based ingredients you can get this richness from – if you know where to look. For example, by using ingredients such as tahini, mushrooms, cashews, beans, tofu and miso wisely. So, in this week’s meal plan she has tried to give you recipes that are quick and easy, but that will also satisfy all your kokumi needs.
There are of couse some really impressive innovation and “substitutes” out there. Sacla produces a good plant-based mayonnaise, Violife’s cream cheese alternative is reasonable and she like’s Coyo’s yoghurt in small doses. However, many products still fall short and have a long way to go in terms of flavour.
As with last week, the key to success lies in planning and shopping in advance (here’s that link to the blank meal plan again) and also having a few failsafes in the fridge for when life gets in the way of cooking. If you’re starting to wonder about nutrition, then read this article – but in short, pop some vitamin B12 in your basket this week.
How about things on toast this week? Channel the French and buy really good bread and top with peanut butter and jam or mashed banana with maple syrup and cinnamon. For savoury toppings, there’s Marmite, or these delicious-looking mushrooms al ajillo from Barrafina’s Angel Zapata Martin. Yes, there’s always avocado, but its popularity has caused its own issues.
Weekend breakfasts demand a slower pace and Izy Hossack’s multigrain pancakes are just the ticket.
Ottolenghi can do simple! His giant couscous with golden raisins, lemon and almonds looks sprightly and perfectly portable for packed lunches. Sodha loves the idea of making a batch of his grilled and marinated sandwich vegetables at the weekend and using them throughout the week on ciabatta or stirred into wild rice.
Buy some stuffed vine leaves and falafel, or whizz up a quick batch of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s beetroot and walnut hummus. For something sweet, keep some dates on hand. Medjool are lovely, but the khudri variety taste just like sticky toffee pudding. Or else, make these carrot and apple flapjacks.
The start of the week is for good intentions, so we suggest making Matthew Fort’s Greek gigantes, butterbeans “served basking in a rich, rollicking tomato sauce”. Matthew might not agree, but we think you could sub his dried beans for two tins of butterbeans and add them with the tomatoes to speed this dish up. Eat them with a dollop of Sacla vegan pesto, flatbread and a pile of wilted chard dressed with salt, lemon and olive oil.
Tuesday night calls for something good and quick, and these stir-fried noodles with cabbage, sesame and peanuts fit the bill.
Midweek is a time to whip out something fun, so we are suggesting Sodha’s own rather filthy-tasting sprout nasi goreng – and cook extra jasmine rice just so you can make Thomasina Miers’ sticky mushrooms the day after and feel triumphant when dinner is on the table in just a few minutes.
Friday night is curry night, and Will Bowlby’s aubergine and coconut curry has our vote.
Dedicate the weekend to the perfect Felicity Cloake. Her bean burger looks delicious, and while the burgers are firming and chilling in the fridge, stick her tomato sauce on the hob to blip away. (Top with Violife parmesan, or fried salted breadcrumbs, if need be). You can then keep some out and freeze the rest for next week.