January is the month when ‘Vegonary’, the worldwide movement promoting plant based diets, encourages people, in 190+ countries across the world to try adding more vegan food to their diets – or cut out animal derived foods entirely. Vendors – including high street supermarkets and fast food outlets, are also increasingly aware of the need to increase their plant derived offerings.
According to Bloomberg, Tesco’s success in recent years is due, in part, to the introduction of their increased offerings of health food & vegan ranges, including ‘Wicked’ foods. (See quote, below).
Many say that veganism is better for health – of people and the planet. There can be few, if any, arguments about the importance of the quality and sustainability of our food. With a low overall carbon footprint.
Here are 3 wheat & dairy free tasty, super easy, perfectly adaptable recipes for vegan spreads or dips.
Adjust to suit your palette and menu: serve as canapes with drinks, with crusty bread, stirred into pasta, as a samosa, pizza or jacket potato filling, or a as a fast food snack with crackers.
Keep in the fridge for about a week in a sealed pot, if given the opportunity!
1. Romesc-Oat Sauce
Romesco sauce originates from Spain. There are many versions; some are based on ground almond and sweet pepper, or bread and tomato. Here, the nutty flavour of toasted oats add structure. Smoked cayenne and roasted sweet peppers, garlic & lemon give a burst of flavour and colour. The texture can be thick enough to serve as a dip, or thin for a spread, or to stir through pasta.
- ½ cup toasted rolled oats
- 1½-2 medium/large red peppers, roasted
- 1 medium-large garlic clove
- ½ cup toasted almonds
- 1/2 tsp salt, pepper & squeeze of fresh lemon, to taste
- 1 ½ tbsp red apple or wine vinegar (use red to boost the colour)
- Pinch of smoked paprika, to taste
- Water as needed to thin as desired
- In a food processor, combine all ingredients, starting with about 2 tablespoons of the water.
- Puree until smooth, adding more water to thin as desired.
- Season to taste with salt & pepper
2. Mushroom & nut ‘pate‘
Make this simple mix as a pate, spread or dip. Use walnuts or chestnuts. Vary the mushrooms, and herbs. Ideally make a day in advance, as the flavours will develop beautifully.
- 1 – 2 Tbs rapeseed or olive oil
- 10 oz. chopped mushrooms
- 1 small chopped onion
- Handful of fresh herbs, or ½ tsp. dried thyme, ½ tsp. dried rosemary, ½ tsp. Herbes de Provence
- Salt and black pepper to season.
- 1 cup of chopped walnuts, or chestnuts
- ½ tsp salt – don’t add when mushrooms are cooking as the salt will draw out the liquid from the mushrooms, and stop them from browning.
- Gently fry off onions & mushrooms, until lightly golden (approx 10 minutes).
- Process all ingredients in your food processor, adjust thickness and season to taste.
3. Spiced Red Lentil & Roasted vegetable dip
A delicious, super easy, highly flexible basic recipe that can be adapted depending on your ingredients, and whether you want to end up with a paste to spread on bread / toast, a dip for crackers, or a filling for samosas… Adjust the spices to suit your palette.
- 1.5 cups cooked red lentils (about 3/4 cup uncooked)
- 1-2 Tbs flaxseed oil
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 – 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped, or grated
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
- 1 jalapeno / chilli seeded and chopped
- 3/4 tsp ground cumin
- 3/4 tsp garam marsala
- 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
- 3/4 tsp salt flakes
- 2.5 cups roasted vegetables (eg sweet potato, onion, sweet peppers), or roasted / fresh diced tomatoes (330 grams), depending on the flavour you want to create!
- 1.5 Tbs freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped roughly
- A few chopped spring onions and / or roasted pepper strips, to garnish
- Cook the red lentils
- Heat the oil in a large non stick pan. Add the coriander seeds and cook for just under a minute, until turning golden. Add the ginger, garlic and chilli, and cook for another 60 seconds until slightly softened. Add the ground cumin, cayenne, garam masala, and turmeric, and cook for 30 seconds more until fragrant.
- Stir in the salt and diced tomatoes, if using fresh tomatoes. Reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes start to break down, about 10 minutes.
- Put the lentils into a food processor. Add roasted vegetables and spices or tomato mixture.
- Blend until smooth. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with additional salt, and lemon.
- Remove the mixture from the food processor. Stir in the fresh coriander and spring onions.
- Serve warm or chilled, garnished with coriander, spring onions and sweet pepper strips.
The term “vegan” was coined by the British animal rights activist Donald Watson in the 1940s, to refer to the philosophy that animals should not be exploited and hurt for food, or other purposes.
In 2021, a record breaking 500,000+ people / businesses have signed up to Veganary, pledging to try vegan food this January. Interestingly, this is double the number who signed up in 2019. Around a quarter of signatories are from the UK.
Many scientists claim that a significant number of people in first world countries eat more meat than is healthy.
Also, that by cutting out meat, individuals can each help tackle our climate and wildlife crises.
Perhaps the events of Covid-19 have shifted our focus and priorities.
Sharing this post with all the great cooks on Angie’s Fiesta Friday #363, found here.