Although I'm a vegetarian and only eat organic dairy (where possible), I am really trying to cut down for ethical and health reasons. I have long been trying to incorporate more vegan-friendly dishes into my diet and last year, I decided to go vegan at least two days a week. This lasted for a few weeks before I slipped up and subsequently forgot all about it. The new year seems as good a time as any to start up this habit again so, to the mild disappointment of my carnivore boyfriend who I also cook for, I thought I'd start up my Vegan Tuesdays and Thursdays again!
I have a very limited repertoire of fail-safe dishes which I tend to cook again and again during the week. Some of them happen to be vegan, such as my super-fast stir-fry with crispy chilli tofu, but I need more variety if I'm going to stick to my vegan plans!
My first vegan meal of the year is definitely one of the easiest dishes featured in any of my cook books! It's from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg and there's not really much cooking involved. It's a variation on that old British leftover classic, Bubble and Squeak. Always a fan of anything a) easy, b) cheap and c) quick, I thought this looked perfect for a speedy supper. I changed Hugh's version a little, the main changes being less oil, the addition of a few splashes of water into the pan, more garlic and more onion.
We ate this for dinner on New Year's Day as we were tired, slightly hungover and the food situation in the house consisted mainly of festive chocolates, peanuts and the odd mince-pie. We did have a few sprouts in the fridge from Christmas Day and they were still fine as they were the ones you buy still on the stalk (...tree? vine? stem??). I finely sliced these and used them as my 'green veg' for the recipe. I would never have considered using sprouts if I'd had anything else suitable in but they worked really well! I do love Brussels Sprouts but thought they might be too strong and overpowering for such a stodgey, basic dish but they were perfect.
Curried Bubble & Squeak
2 tablespoons sunflower or mild olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped or crushed
2 heaped teaspoons curry paste
3-400g cold boiled potatoes cut into chunks
150g Brussels Sprouts, finely sliced (cabbage or similar greens can be substituted here, but cook first)
Approx 100ml water
Salt and pepper to season
1. Heat the oil over a low heat in a large frying pan. Add the onions and cook until soft, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so.
2. Add the boiled potatoes, the curry paste and approx. 50ml water. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
3. Add your sprouts or other green veg, stir well then leave to cook over a low-medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring frequently and adding more splashes of water as required if it looks a bit too dry. The mixture will stick a little, but this crust forms the tastiest bit so just keep scraping the bottom of the pan with your spatula!
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste then serve in a bowl on its own or with a toasted pitta bread.
I must admit, when I was dishing this up, I was dubious and didn't have very high hopes. I thought it would be passable at best, dry and bland at worst, but it was surprisingly tasty.
Perfect wintry comfort food and great for using up leftover veg or anything a little past its best. Hugh suggests you might want to add a poached egg to the dish but, as this would defeat the purpose of Vegan Tuesday, I toasted a pitta bread to have with it.
We ate it out of bowls, snuggled on the sofa, with a bottle of Becks Beer (which I was delighted to learn is vegan) while watching Sherlock on TV as it poured with rain outside. Happy New Year!
Vegan meal #1 of 2013 = a success!