Vegan food has a bad rap for being convoluted, but as blogger Rita Serano proves in her new book Vegan In 7, excluding animal products can be both straightforward and delicious. Each of these recipes has seven ingredients or less ...
9 Salt-baked beets and spuds with aioli
There’s nothing better for a lazy chef than to put food in the oven and step back while it does all the work. This dish is a perfect example, and full of flavours inspired by Spanish and southern French cuisine. It is also full of colour – especially if you use different colours of beetroot and potatoes. You will need to soak the cashews overnight to make the aioli.
Serves 4 1.5kg coarse sea salt
750g fresh beetroot, preferably red, yellow and Chioggia varieties 750g potatoes, preferably pink and purple
For the aioli
1 pinch of saffron threads (about 20) 200g raw cashews, soaked overnight and rinsed 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar or the juice of ½ lemon 2 or 3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Set the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6. Spread half of the salt over the base of a baking tin. Pierce each potato and beetroot a couple of times with a fork. Arrange them on the tray and cover with the remaining salt. Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, or until tender.
2 While the vegetables are cooking, make the aioli. Put the saffron threads in a cup and pour over 2-3 tbsp boiling water. Leave it to steep for 5-7 minutes. 3 Meanwhile, drain the cashews then blitz with the vinegar, 1 tsp salt, the saffron water (remove the threads), an additional 150ml water and the garlic cloves, and blitz until very smooth.
4 When the vegetables are cooked, shake off the excess salt and slice in two, then serve with the aioli, accompanied, if you wish, with a fresh green salad.
10 Pistou with pasta
French pistou has the same base as pesto, but it forgoes the parmesan and pine nuts of its Italian counterpart. This version uses avocado rather than oil to create a rich, creamy texture. Pistou is normally quite heavy on the garlic, which gives it a potent taste,
Leftover pistou is great on a sandwich with some fresh tomato and avocado slices ...
although you can use less if you prefer. Broccoli and french beans work great here, but you could also use asparagus or seasonal beans. You can use red lentils, chickpeas, rice or traditional orecchiette for the pasta. Leftover pistou is great on a sandwich with some fresh tomato and avocado slices.
400g short pasta 300g french beans, cut in half or into thirds
1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets 2 large bunches of basil (each 75g), roughly chopped
¼ avocado 4–6 garlic cloves, chopped Juice of 1 lemon 1 tsp salt
1 Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions in plenty of boiling water. Bring another pan of water to the boil and add the french beans for 7–8 minutes, and put the lid on. Add the broccoli after 3–4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2 Meanwhile, make the pistou. Put the basil, avocado, garlic, lemon juice and 1 tsp salt in a blender or food processor and add about 60ml of water. Process until smooth. Add some more water, 1 tbsp at a time, if needed.
3 Drain the pasta and reserve 2 tbsp of the cooking water. Combine the pasta with the vegetables, pistou and reserved cooking water (to make the pasta creamier) and mix to evenly coat. Serve immediately.
11 Root vegetable boulangère
Boulangère is a classic French ovenbaked potato dish. The name dates from when the dish would have been made at the local bakery (the boulangerie) because of the lack of home ovens.
This version uses a mixture of winter root vegetables rather than just the traditional potato and, although it takes a while to cook, the taste is worth the wait!
1.5kg mixed winter root vegetables (such as parsnip, potato, carrot) 450ml vegetable stock
3 tbsp mixed chopped sage, rosemary and thyme
1 Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6. Peel and roughly chop your chosen vegetables and lay them in an ovenproof dish about 30x20cm in area and 5cm deep. Pour the stock over the vegetables and scatter the herbs on top.
2 Cook on the highest shelf of the oven for about 1 hour, or until the top turns golden and crisp and the vegetables are tender. If the top starts to turn too dark, cover with foil. Take out of the oven and serve.
12 Smokin’ burgers
If you have some grains and beans already cooked, then making these is really easy. The key to a tasty burger is to simply make it with strong umami flavours. Here, the caramelised onions and miso paste ensure just such as a taste explosion. Serve topped with onion rings or in a bun with avocado or lettuce and your choice of condiment.
3 red onions, chopped
300g cooked red kidney beans (400g tin, drained)
170g cooked (100g when dry) red rice 50g fine oat flakes
1 tbsp miso paste
1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp chilli flakes (or more to taste) Coconut oil, for frying
1 Fry the onions over a medium heat with a splash of water until soft, golden and caramelised. If needed, add a little more water to prevent burning.
2 In a food-processor, blend the cooked onions with the remaining ingredients, but leave some structure.
3 Divide the mixture into six balls. Press them into round patties. If you have time, put them in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes or more.
4 Fry the patties in a little coconut oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat for about 3–4 minutes each side, or until golden and crisp.
▲ Vegan in 7 by Rita Serano (Kyle books) is available now.