Love food Vegan

Farinata topped with pesto & roasted vegetables

I made this dish for lunch last weekend. It is one of those dishes that combines great taste with simplicity. It helps to plan a little ahead by roasting your vegetables when you already have the oven one for something else. The veg can be used for this dish at room temperature or warmed through in the microwave.

Another reason for me loving this dish was it gave me the opportunity to use some of the pesto I had in the freezer made during the summer when basil was in abundance.

I’ve marked this as vegan but this will depend on the ingredients of your pesto.

Recipe for 2:

  • 60 g gram flour
  • chopped rosemary
  • pesto
  • capers
  • rocket or kale
  • Roasted mixed veg eg red onion, peppers, squash

Preparing the pancake:

  • This is best made at least 30 minutes ahead but can be made the night before using and left in the fridge
  • Combine the gram flour, 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp salt
  • Gradually whisk in 100 ml warm water to form a smooth batter
  • Stir in the chopped rosemary

Cook the pancakes & assembly

  • If using kale (a more sustainable option in the winter): wash the kale and in a bowl massage with a good amount of lemon juice and salt to soften.
  • To cook the pancakes, heat some oil in a small frying/pancake pan over a medium high heat
  • Add half the pancake mixture spreading out to create a thin, 15-20cm pancake. Cook for 2/3 minutes until browned on the underside, flip over and cook the other side. Repeat with the rest of the mixture
  • Spread some pesto over the bottom of each pancake, pile on the veg and finally top with the kale.
  • Optional extra: if you have some spare pesto, mix into some olive oil to drizzle all over the veg & kale topping.
  • Finish with a handful of capers scattered over the dish.
  • Feel free to play around with this recipe to make it your own eg maybe add some roasted nuts or shaved parmesan. Get creative.

Love food Vegan

Chaat masala chickpea and polenta chips

From my latest Ottolenghi book, Ottolenghi Test Kitchen – Shelf Love – these vegan ‘chips’ are very tasty. They can be made a few days in advance which gives them additional points from my point of view. I generally aim to have a few items that can be made ahead when planning meals.

The vegan chickpea mayo is worth taking a note of for any time you need vegan mayo. It is very good. You will be left with most of the tin of chickpeas but they can just be added to a salad.

Love food Main event Uncategorized Vegan

Polenta with tomatoes and/or mushrooms

It’s been a while I know but I haven’t forgotten you, I got busy (aka started working again after the pandemic!) and then out of the habit.

For my first offering for a while I am giving you two options of the same dish which you can mix and match. The first is for a cheesy polenta with a tomato topping and a second version which is a vegan polenta with oyster mushrooms and tomatoes topping. Both are very good indeed. In both cases the toppings can be made in advance. The polenta is very quick to make and indeed is best made just before you want to eat it so it is still soft.

The polenta is easily re-sized for a single portion if you’re cooking for one. You can keep the toppings at the recipe quantities or just make half on your own as they’re both so delicious you will happily eat again with another accompaniment.

Cheesy polenta with a tomato sauce

Vegan polenta with oyster mushrooms and tomato sauce

Love food Main event Other Vegan

Carrot pancakes

These are not really pancakes as you and I know them but more of a fritter. They are an amazing combination of flavours with an Indian vibe. The recipe is one by Maria Ella and genuinely very easy to make. I have served them exactly as Maria suggests for a classy looking starter but most commonly have them together with salads or other veg sides for a main course. I often make a double batch of these and freeze them. They reheat brilliantly in the oven, defrosted or straight from frozen.

One more feather in the cap of these wonderful carrot panackes/fritters is that they are totally vegan.

Recipe link

Love food Salads Vegan

Winter apple, squash & kale salad

I like this salad for its ability to be a meal in itself, great for a weekday lunch. Brownie points are earned too for being environmentally friendly, if making in the autumn all the main ingredients can be made with those grown in Britain.

The full recipe can be found on BBC Goodfood and below are a few tips from me.

  • You can cook the squash and apple in the evening before you need this, while you have your oven on anyway. The croutons can also be cooled in advance on a separate tray. If you do cook them in advance then I recommend warming them through again in the oven for 10 mins or so before eating, or at least take them out of the fridge an hour before eating.
  • The hazelnuts can be cooked in the oven as well but keep checking every few minutes so as not to burn them
  • Massage the dressing into the kale for a few minutes before adding all the other ingredients. This will soften the kale a little making it easier, and more pleasant to eat.
Love food Other Vegan

Romesco soup

In my last food post I mentioned one of the joys of winter being a lovely bowl of soup. Here is my first soup of the season. It is courtesy of the Minimalist Baker site, one which we have found to have very reliable recipes.

For this recipe, take note that you will need to roast your peppers, garlic and almonds a little while before you want to make the soup. The peppers will need to cool down sufficiently so you can peel the skin from them. When I’m organised I will do this the day before. Everything after that is very simple indeed. I put the peppers and the garlic in one dish to roast and the almonds in another. The almonds will come out of the oven first, then the garlic and then finally the peppers.

To smash the chickpeas, I put them all into the soup pan whole and then use a potato masher to crush them a bit.

For some ideas of breads/muffins to accompany the soup, take a look at some of my blog posts, including cornbread and feta and nigella seed muffins.

Love food Salads Vegan

Green veg salad with Asian dressing

A lovely fresh salad which we had with the salmon in my previous post. The eagle eyed among you may notice (if you take a look at the recipe) that I forgot to add the chili. So annoying as I really do like a good scattering of chili. As Liora will attest to, I regularly miss out a key ingredient of a dish. It’s probably down to trying to do everything too fast.

You will see that I have changed the title of this salad from the original. That is because it works just as well without lentils if they are not something you especially like. However, if you don’t have a strong view either way then you should definitely add the lentils. Lentils have great health benefits so are definitely worth eating. It also makes the salad a more substantial side.

The recipe

Some tips

  • While the recipe asks for puy lentils, unless you’re happy to buy the pre-cooked pouches, these are not always easy to find. Green lentils do the job just as well though.
  • Make sure you don’t over boil your lentils, you want to make sure the lentils retain their shape and not turn mushy. I boiled my green lentils for 20 minutes. I also didn’t use stock, just water.
  • Don’t dress your salad too early as the acid from the dressing starts to ‘cook’ the veg. 10 to 15 minutes ahead of serving is perfect.
Love food Main event Vegan

Aubergine cannelloni…

… with walnut pesto

This recipe was pubished in The Sunday Times back in 2016 and I have been making it ever since. This can easily be made vegan by omitting the cheese, it will still be yummy. I always serve this sprinkled with more parmesan on top as it comes out of the oven. Serve it with some roasted new potatoes and some green veg for a thoroughly delicious meal.

This meal can be made ahead of time and heated when needed.

Ingredients: this quantity is for 2, just multiply up as you need.

2 aubergines, ½cm-1cm thick
Olive oil

For the tomato sauce
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
300g tomato passata
1 tsp dried oregano

For the pesto
100g walnuts
50g fresh basil leaves
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
6 tsp grated parmesan
3tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 200C . Brush the aubergine slices on both sides with oil, place on a nonstick tray and bake in the oven until golden on both sides and soft enough to roll, but not so soft they fall apart.

For the sauce, heat a little oil in a pan, add the onion and garlic with a pinch of salt, and sauté until the onion softens. Add the passata and oregano and simmer for 12-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place all the pesto ingredients in a food processor, season to taste and pulse until coarse.

Place a dollop of pesto in the centre of each aubergine slice, then roll up.

Put the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, add the rolled cannelloni on top and bake in the oven. If eating straight after preparation, you will need to heat for approx 15/20 mins. If you made ahead of time then it will take longer to bake. You may need to cover with foil during baking.

A sprinkle of parmesan as it comes out of the oven finished it off beautifully.

Love food Salads Vegan

Red cabbage salad…

… with nori and ginger

As with many salads, its the dressing that makes it. This one with ginger, sesame oil, mayo and light soy sauce is really quite special. You can have a play with the salad ingredients themselves but I recommend sticking to the dressing recipe exactly as given.

Recipe link

Love food Other Vegan


Falafel is obviously not a new dish for anyone but I guess that these are mostly reserved for a takeaway or as a ready meal. In my humble opinion, these are definitely better than the shop bought falafel. Although, I readily admit that nothing beats those bought on a stand in Israel or from Pilpel in London – my favourite place for lunch. I am sincerely hoping that it can ride out the Coronovirus crisis.

Recipe – makes enough for 6/8; any spare freeze well

  • 450g dried chickpeas
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 3-5 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 tbsp flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • pinch of ground cardamon


  • Soak the chickpeas overnight, you’ll need a big bowl for this, they always swell more than I expect.
  • Put all ingredients into a food processor
  • Refrigerate for 1-2 hours
  • With slightly oiled hands, shape the mix into balls ready for frying; or you can do this as you go along as I do
  • Find a pan that you can heat a good amount of oil in; they don’t have to be deep fried, they can be turned but the oil will still need to be a few cm high. I fry mine in a wok and turn over with a metal slotted spoon.