Smoked Tofu Dirty Burger

Vegan junk food is certainly growing and, I for one, couldn’t be happier. Yes, it’s still junk food and no it’s not healthier than ‘standard’ junk food, but it is damn tasty. You might know that I go by a flexiterian diet where I don’t eat meat every other week. A good burger is one of my biggest cravings during a non-meat eating week and I love trying alternatives. This Smoked Tofu Dirty burger definitely hits the spot! I usually make it vegetarian, i.e. I use normal mayo and I add cheese (though you can use a vegan cheese obviously as well). Delicious either way!

This is a BBC Good Food recipe which I’ve mildly adapted. The recipe calls for the burgers to be dipped twice in the coating, but I only dipped them once and made sure they were well covered – they came out really crispy so you don’t have to over do it. Also I’ve increased the sriracha in the mayo as it gives a lovely flavour, but obviously you can put less if you don’t like spicy food.

More with Tofu: Miso ramen with ginger tofuThe Vegan Kebab Experiment

Smoked Tofu Dirty Burger

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Serves 4 | Prep 35 mins | Cook 5 mins
A little effort | Vegan | Dairy-Free

You’ll need:

  • Vegetable oil, for frying;

For the burger

  • 1 small sweet potato (200g), peeled and cut into small chunks;
  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped;
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed;
  • 1 tsp cumin;
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika;
  • 1 tsp garlic salt;
  • 225g pack smoked tofu (I used The Tofoo Co.);
  • 50g roasted cashews;

For the coating

  • 1 tsp English mustard;
  • 150ml soy milk;
  • 75g plain flour
    50g panko breadcrumbs;
  • 1 tsp garlic salt;
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper;
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar;
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the slaw

  • ¼ small red cabbage, finely shredded;
  • 1 carrot, grated;
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander;
  • ½ lime, juiced;
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds.

To serve
vegan mayonnaise mixed with 1 tbsp Sriracha;
vegan burger buns, halved and toasted;
vegan cheese, pickles and whatever you love topping your burgers with.

For the burgers, put the sweet potato in a microwaveable bowl, cover with cling film and cook on high for 3 mins until soft. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan and fry the onion with a big pinch of salt until soft, around 5 mins. Add the garlic and spices and cook for 2 mins more, then set aside. Blitz the tofu with the cashews in a blender, then tip in the sweet potato and fried onions. Season and blitz again until combined. Shape into four burger patties and set aside in the fridge on a lined baking tray while you make the slaw.

Make the slaw by combining the ingredients in a bowl, then set aside until needed. When you’re ready to fry the patties, mix the mustard with the soy milk in one bowl, then mix the remaining coating ingredients in another bowl. In turn, take each patty and dip into the flour mixture, then into the soy milk mixture until well coated.

Pour the vegetable oil into a large frying pan over a medium-high heat – you want the oil to come about 2cm up the side of the pan. Once hot, use a spatula to carefully add the patties and gently fry for 1 min on each side until crispy, then leave to drain on kitchen paper. Serve the burgers in burger buns, topped with the slaw and drizzled with the mayo. Add cheese, pickles and whatever else you love in a burger.

Original recipe by BBCGoodFood magazine, issue April 2018, available online here.

Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi

As someone who has never made any kind of gnocchi before,  I found this recipe to be very easy even if you are a newbie in the process like me. These aren’t the traditional potato gnocchi that you might be familiar with, though I have to say they were just as satisfying. These were a big hit at home and were labelled as one of our favourite lockdown dinners yet! They do require a bit of attention but they really aren’t faffy at all and made for a nice lazy Sunday afternoon dinner prep.

I served the gnocchi with a couple of side salads – a Caprese and a simple lettuce green salad. Perfect for a warm spring/summer evening!

More with spinach: Jamie Oliver’s Popeye Toast and EggsQuick spinach, sweet potato and coconut stewRicotta, Spinach & Aubergine Lasagne

Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi

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Serves 3-4 | Prep 40 mins | Cook 10 mins
A little effort| Vegetarian

You’ll need:

  • 200g young spinach, washed;
  • small handful parsley leaves, finely chopped;
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed;
  • 140g ricotta;
  • 85g plain flour;
  • 2 eggs;
  • 100g freshly grated vegetarian Parmesan-style cheese, plus extra to serve;
  • ground or freshly grated nutmeg;
  • extra virgin olive oil, to serve.

Boil the kettle. Place the spinach in a large bowl and pour boiling water over it. Leave for 2 mins until wilted, then drain thoroughly. Leave to cool, then wrap a clean tea towel around the spinach. Hold it over the sink and squeeze out as much water as possible. Finely chop.

Place the spinach, parsley, garlic, ricotta, flour, eggs, cheese and a generous grating of nutmeg (or sprinkle some ground nutmeg) into a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Use a fork to stir very thoroughly until everything is completely mixed. Using wet hands, form the mixture into walnut-size balls. Place on a large plate or tray and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.

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Gnocchi ready to be chilled

When ready to cook, heat the oven to warm and bring a large pan of water to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium and drop in batches of about 8-10 gnocchi at a time. They will sink to the bottom, and when they rise to the top give them about 1 min more, then remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm while you cook the rest. Serve the gnocchi on warm plates drizzled with olive oil and scattered with rocket and more cheese. They go really well alongside a salad or two.

Original recipe from BBCGoodFood magazine, issue May 2010, available online here.

Griddled Lamb with Sweet Mint Dressing

Summer might be over but that doesn’t mean we have to eating only stews just yet. This makes a fantastic dinner for two and it might just bring some sunshine into your home. You can either griddle or BBQ the lamb (weather dependent). I cooked mine at home on my sturdy griddle pan and the whole house smelled amazing. I found that there is a fair bit of the dressing remaining. If you find the same, just use it in salads, add to roast potatoes or veg or to grilled meat!

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It really is worth using good quality extra virgin olive oil for the marinade, as well as quite a bit of sea salt flakes, as it really adds to the flavour of the meat.

This is a recipe I found in BBC Good Food magazine. Serve this with flatbread and fresh tomato and cucumber salad.

More with lamb: Spiced lamb chops with saffron yoghurt | Lamb tagine with dates & sweet potatoes | Lamb chops with pomegranate and feta

Griddled Lamb with Sweet Mint Dressing

Serves 2 | Prep 20 mins + marinating | Cook 20 mins
Easy | Gluten and Dairy Free

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Tip: If you are cooking the lamb on a barbecue, insert a skewer so that it goes from one corner to the opposite one. Do the same with another skewer in the opposite direction – this makes it really easy to turn the meat on the barbecue

You’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar;
  • juice and zest 1 lemon;
  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil;
  • 8 tbsp balsamic vinegar;

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed;

  • 4 tbsp chopped mint;
  • half boneless leg of lamb, about 400g.

Make the marinade: mix the sugar, lemon juice and zest with the olive oil, balsamic and some seasoning. Stir to dissolve the sugar then mix in the garlic and mint. Reserve half of the marinade to use as a dressing for the lamb later.

Open out the meat and lay it in a deep tray. Pour the marinade on top then turn to coat all over in the mix. Cover with cling film and leave for 1 hr or overnight in the fridge.

Remove the lamb from the fridge and shake off any excess marinade back into the tray. Heat a barbecue or griddle pan until it’s a medium heat. Cook the lamb for 15-20 mins, turning frequently for pink lamb or longer if you prefer it more done. When cooked, rest for 5-10 mins before taking out the skewers (see tip above), slicing and serving with the reserved marinade for pouring over.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food magazine, issue July 2011. Available online here.

Harissa crusted salmon with chickpea salad

This recipe worked out so much better than I thought. When I first had a look at it in an old BBC Good Food issue I really didn’t think all that much of it. But On a night where I needed something speedy and efficient I gave it a go and boy! Was I taken a back with the flavours. Turns out harissa, salmon and chickpeas go quite well together!

More with salmon: Chipotle salmon with avocado salsa and chilli broccoli | Poached salmon with Dauphinose potatoes and more | Smoked salmon & cream cheese linguine

Harissa crusted salmon with chickpea salad

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Serves 2 | Prep 15 mins | Cook 12 mins
Easy | Dairy-free

You’ll need:

  • 2 salmon fillets;
  • 4 tbsp breadcrumbs;
  • 1 tbsp harissa paste;
  • 250g punnet cherry tomatoes;
  • ½ small red onion;
  • 400g can chickpeas, drained;
  • small bunch parsley;
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil;
  • 2 lemons, one juiced and one cut in wedges.

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Mix the breadcrumbs and harissa paste. Press on top of the salmon fillets and bake for 10-12 mins until the crust is golden and the salmon is cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the salad. Halve the tomatoes, chop the onion and parsley and mix everything together with the drained chickpeas and lemon juice. Just before serving, season the salad and add extra virgin olive oil to taste. Mix well and serve alongside the salmon and flatbread if desired.

Original recipe by BBC Good Food issue July 2011, available online here.

Dairy-Free Lasagna

This is a really good Lasagna recipe I found in an old BBC Good Food magazine, which doesn’t use any dairy at all. Fantastic if you are cooking for anyone with dairy intolerance, but also equally delicious so just as nice for dinner regardless! You can also use the dairy-free bechamel from this recipe for other recipes or vegan lasagnas.

More in pasta: Rachel Roddy’s Penne all’arrabbiata | Super easy tomato pasta bake | Prawn and ‘Nduja Linguine

Dairy-Free Lasagna

Serves 6 | Prep 25 mins | Cook 1hr 40 mins
Easy | Dairy-free

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You’ll need

For the Ragu

  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • 1 onion, finely chopped;
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped;
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped;
  • 500g steak mince;
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes;
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree;
  • 125ml red wine.

For the Bechamel sauce and pasta:

  • 500ml almond milk;
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped;
  • 1 bay leaf;
  • 6 black peppercorns;
  • 2 cloves;
  • 50g dairy-free sunflower spread;
  • 50g plain flour;
  • 1 tbsp mustard powder;
  • 175ml oat cream;
  • 9 lasagne sheets (make sure they don’t require pre-cooking);
  • freshly grated nutmeg;
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs.

For the ragu, heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium heat. Cook the onion for 5-10 mins until softened. Stir in the garlic and celery, and cook for a further 3 mins. Add the steak mince and cook, stirring, for about 4 mins until browned. Turn up the heat to medium-high and stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, wine and parsley. Season and simmer over a low heat, uncovered, for 1hr.

Meanwhile, make the bechamel. Pour the almond milk into a saucepan and stir in the onion, bay leaf, peppercorns and cloves. Season with a little salt and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 mins (don’t worry if the sauce splits a little at this stage) before removing from the heat and leaving to infuse until needed. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6.

When the ragu is almost ready, melt the dairy-free spread in a separate saucepan over a low-medium heat, then add the flour, stirring until you have a smooth roux. Strain the bechamel, discarding the onion, bay leaf and spices. Start adding it slowly to the roux, whisking until the milk is incorporated and continuing to add a little at a time until all the milk has finished, and the bechamel is fully incorporated. Stir in the mustard powder and simmer for 2 mins. Add the oat cream, simmer for a further 2-3 mins, then remove from the heat.

Grease a deep baking dish, about 28 x 22 cm. Spread about one-third of the ragu over the bottom of the dish and arrange a layer of the lasagne sheets on top, and then a quarter of the bechamel. Repeat until you have 3 layers of pasta and a thicker layer of bechamel on top.

Sprinkle the nutmeg and panko breadcrumbs over the top and bake for around 30 minutes until the top is bubbling and the panko crumbs are golden. Serve with salad.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food, not available online.