Banana-Pecan Cake

What do you do when your bananas are starting to brown? Make Banana and Pecan Cake, of course. This one is oil-free, relatively lower in sugar than other banana cakes or breads, and yet the flavour and texture don’t suffer as a result.

Ingredients:

2 overripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
1 cup wholemeal spelt flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda (also called bicarbonate of soda or bread soda)
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch cloves
Pinch nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup pecans (1/4 cup chopped; the rest left whole)

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease or line an 8″ loose-bottomed cake tin.
2. Add all of the ingredients apart from the pecans to a large bowl in the order listed above. Mix well. Stir in the chopped pecans.
3. Transfer the mix to the baking tin and top with the pecan halves.
4. Bake at 10 minutes for 200C. Reduce the heat to 180C and bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until the cake is cooked and a knife inserted comes out clean.
5. Because ovens can vary, if your cake is over-browning on the top, cover it with foil.

Sri Lankan-style Romano Bean Curry

This curry is moderately spicy (but can be easily adjusted) and very bright in flavour. It takes under 15 minutes to make and serves 2.

Romano beans are long, flat green beans, but you can substitute them for French green beans, sugar snap peas, mangetout, etc.

Ingredients

1/2 yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black onion seeds
6 curry leaves
400ml can coconut milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp garlic-ginger paste
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch red chilli flakes
2 tsp hot or medium curry powder
Pinch ground cardamom
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch suitable-for-vegans sugar
400g Romano beans, topped, tailed, and sliced on the diagonal into 2cm lengths

Directions

  1. In a large, stainless steel pan over a medium-low heat, sauté the onions until starting to soften. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  2. Add the mustard seeds, black onion seeds, and curry powder. Cook until the seeds start to turn fragrant.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered for 8 minutes.
  4. Season with salt to taste. Serve with rice, if desired.

Creamy Red Curry Soup

This soup couldn’t possibly be any silkier. The beautiful texture is down to the quantity of coconut milk in the recipe, and the flavours are lively and bright. This serves six.

Ingredients

1 onion, roughly diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 cauliflower, in florets
2 x 400ml cans coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tbsp Thai red curry paste
2 tbsp soy sauce

Directions

1. In a large soup pot over a medium-low heat, sauté the onion until aromatic and starting to turn golden. Add the garlic cloves, and stir for 30 seconds.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
3. Blend.
3. Season, taste, and serve.

Pear, Pea, and Parsnip Soup

Summery, refreshing, sweet, and delicate: a perfect soup for a hot day, and very easy to make.

Ingredients

1 onion, diced
2 parsnips, peeled and chopped
3 pears, unpelled and diced
250g peas, fresh or frozen
1 litre vegetable stock
Salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. Sauté the onions over a medium high heat until just starting to colour.
2. Add the parsnips, pears, peas, and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer 15 minutes until the parsnips are soft.
3. Blend, season, and serve.

Spanish Chickpea and Spinach Stew

Another easy and cheap recipe. Serve topped, if desired, with some roasted asparagus and croutons. Serves two.

Ingredients

4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper or sweet pointed pepper, small dice
1 can (400g) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp sweet paprika or smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 cups vegetable broth
200g baby spinach
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions
1. In a non-stick or stainless steel pan over a very low heat, sweat the garlic, adding a couple of drops of water if needed, until fragrant but not coloured.
2. Add the red pepper, chickpeas, vinegar, tomatoes, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne and stir for about 30 seconds.
3. Raise the heat to medium low and add the broth. Stir, and then add handfuls of spinach to wilt.
4. Season, and serve.

Cannellini Bean and Red Cabbage Stew

A simple, budget recipe, bursting with colour, and oil-free, this stew is bound to please. Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 leek, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 carrots, sliced
3 stalks celery, sliced
250g red cabbage, finely shredded
2 cans tomatoes (400g each)
1 l vegetable stock
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp hot paprika
200g cooked cannellini beans
To garnish, soured tofu

Directions
1. Sweat the leek, garlic, carrots, and celery in a large stock pot over the lowest heat possible for 10 minutes. If they start to stick, add a splash of water.
2. Add the red cabbage, tomatoes, vegetable stock, lemon juice (which serves the function of preventing the cabbage from losing its colour) and paprikas to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the carrots are fork tender.
3. Add the beans, and warm through.
4. Serve garnished with some soured tofu, if desired.

Soured Tofu Dip

Don’t be put off by the mention of “sour” in the title. This is adequately balanced by both sweet and salty notes. Perfect for tacos, nachos, wraps, in soups and stews, and it will show you just how versatile tofu can be.

Ingredients

1 block silken tofu (approx. 350g; more or less than this is fine)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tsp maple syrup
Generous pinch salt

Directions

Blend everything together. Season to taste, and enjoy.

Consider varying this recipe up with the addition of some herbs or garlic (or both!)

Moroccan-Spiced Hummus

This beautifully vibrant hummus is a breeze to make, incredibly tasty, and inexpensive if you have a well-stocked spice cabinet.

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas
1 red pepper
1/2 red onion
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried mint
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp tahini

Directions

Blend all of the ingredients, adding a little extra water if necessary to reach desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Because this hummus is oil-free, it may separate in the fridge. Just stir it all back together.

Apple Pie Oatmeal Breakfast Wrap

If you take breakfast seriously, you’ll want to try this filling, lightly spiced and naturally sweet wrap with its medley of textures. Perfect for eating on the go, or for working your way through at the breakfast table; the choice is yours. The recipe does require that you soak the oats overnight, or for at least 20 minutes, so plan ahead! Serves 1.

Ingredients

For the overnight oats
1/4 cup rolled dry oats
1/4 cup all-plant (e.g. soy) milk
1 tbsp flaxseeds
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
Pinch ground ginger
Pinch ground cloves

For everything else
1/4 cup dried fruit of choice, chopped, if necessary, and soaked briefly in boiling water while you prepare everything else
1/2 banana, mashed
1/4 apple, chopped
1 tbsp nuts of choice, chopped
1 tbsp nut butter of choice
1 wholewheat tortilla

Directions
1. The night before (or at least 20 minutes before), combine the oats, plant milk, flaxseeds, and spices. Leave to soak.
2. Warm the tortilla according to package directions to make it pliable.
3. Drain the dried fruit.
4. Fill the tortilla with the dried and fresh fruit, oats, nuts, and nut butter. Roll and enjoy.

Creamy Butternut, Cauliflower, and Lentil Soup

This is an easy budget soup, making four main-meal-sized portions. Don’t let the inclusion of the notoriously difficult to peel squash put you off; there are two options below to make your job much, much easier. As always, use this recipe as a roadmap: try it with the addition of coconut milk and either Thai or Indian spices; add a can of tomato sauce and some Italian herbs. A good base soup can be varied in so many different ways.

Ingredients:

1 red onion, medium dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 butternut squash
200g split red lentils
1 small cauliflower, in florets (approx. 500g)
1.5 litres vegetable stock
Pinch chilli flakes
1 tbsp fresh sage leaves, minced (or 1 tsp, dried, rubbed between fingers)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 heaped tbsp yellow miso

Directions:
1. Carefully make several slits in skin of the squash with a small sharp knife, and microwave for about 3-5 minutes to loosen the peel from the flesh slightly. Alternatively, slit and then boil the squash whole in a large stock pot for about 5 minutes, until softened. Wait until it’s cool enough to handle, and then peel, deseed, and chop into bite-sized dice.
2. In a stock pot over a very low heat, sweat the onion and garlic, stirring frequently until softened, about 5 minutes. Don’t allow them to take on any colour; if they start to stick, the heat is too high. Lower it, and add a little broth to loosen.
3. Add the cauliflower, stock, butternut squash, chilli flakes, and sage leaves. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
4. While the soup is cooking, rinse and drain the lentils, picking them over to ensure there are no small stones or pieces of grit among them. Add them to a saucepan with about 400g water, bring to the boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes, or until softened. Drain and rinse.
5. Add the lentils back to the pot with the butternut squash (cooking them separately ensures that the lentils don’t add any foam to your soup), and mix well to combine. Spoon between a third and half of the soup into a blender jug with the miso paste and blend until creamy. Alternatively, remove the same quantity of soup and use an immersion blender to blend it to smooth.
6. Stir the blended soup back to the pot, warm, and serve in warmed bowls with some parsley, additional chilli flakes, and nutritional yeast if desired.