What do you do when you’ve got half a block of puff pastry and half a vegetarian haggis in the freezer, a leftover field mushroom in the fridge and a cabbage in your veg box delivery? Make vegetarian haggis, mushroom and cabbage pasties of course! I love finding leftover pastry in the freezer as I haven’t found anything that isn’t improved by being wrapped in pastry. Well, ice cream might be a bit rubbish, I suppose, but the combination of vegetables and pastry is always a winner.
I used to resent quiche. I resented it for looking like a pizza but having neither the taste nor the texture of one but I mostly resented it for usually being the only thing available to a vegetarian at a buffet. It was also – to my mind – the realm of little old ladies who had that little old lady smell about them. Therefore, I avoided quiche for years and it’s only been in the last few years I’ve been able to eat it without feeling like I’m punishing myself. I still ignore it at buffets though as a matter of principle.
Usually when it’s courgette season, I live off courgette soup and stuffed courgettes but now I’ve got my spiralizer, I can live off courgetti, yay. I’d made a gorgeous spinach pesto (I’ll blog about that another time) last week to go with a spiralized salad but today I fancied making a thinner, creamier type of dressing.
Asparagus season in the UK doesn’t last long – traditionally beginning 1 May and lasting for seven to eight weeks – and although you can buy it imported throughout the year, it just feels more right to be eating it in spring, when the UK crops are harvested. I received asparagus in my veg box delivery last week and usually I enjoy it simply steamed and served as a side vegetable but, as I was away all weekend, it didn’t get used as soon as I would have liked and as it was starting to go a bit limp, I made soup with it, along with some Swiss Chard that also came in the box.
I’ve made the best soup in the world. Yes, it sounds a bold claim to make but I truly believe this vegan courgette and broad bean soup is the nicest soup I’ve ever had. I used up the courgette and broad beans I had left over in my veg box and to spice it up a bit, I added some chilli and fennel which totally brought the soup to life, giving it a taste not dissimilar to Thai green curry.
If you like a smooth soup, you can fully blend it, or leave it chunky and just blend some of it, as I’ve done here. Blending some of it gives it a wonderful creamy taste and texture without adding extra calories from cream or cashews. As usual, I blended it in my Optimum G2.1 blender – I really can’t recommend this blender enough; it’s revolutionised my soup-making.
By the way, a few weeks ago I bought a big bag of frozen crushed garlic from Asda for 97p. It’s great – it’s 100% garlic and so convenient to have in the freezer on standby in case you’ve run out of fresh garlic (I should probably confess I haven’t bought any fresh garlic since buying this frozen garlic, it’s that good).
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 125g broad beans
- 1 courgette, sliced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 500ml vegetable stock
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- Chilli powder to taste
- salt and pepper
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until the onion is soft
- Add the sliced courgette and fry for another couple of minutes
- Add the broad beans, stock, fennel seeds, chilli powder and season with salt and pepper
- Bring to the boil and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the courgette and broad beans are cooked
- Pour a third of the soup into a blender and blend on high speed, then return to the pan and warm through
Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if purchased through, won’t cost you any more but will earn me a small commission. I only endorse products I am happy with and I have not been paid for this post. For more information about the Optimum G2.1 blender mentioned in this post, you can read my review here.
Originally, I was going to call this courgette, cherry tomato and halloumi tart, ‘Leftover Tart’, as I made it from the courgette and tomatoes left over from last week’s veg box delivery, along with the leftover puff pastry that was in the freezer. Then I realised it sounded like a derogatory term for someone’s ex, and this puff pastry tart deserves more respect than that and, while ‘Courgette, Tomato and Halloumi Tart’ doesn’t sound particularly exotic, it is at least descriptive.
It was a night for leftovers, as I’d taken out of the freezer the leftover Chinese takeaway (tofu for me, chilli beef for The Meat Eater) from a few months ago, then decided not to risk my life by eating it, and made the tart instead. The Meat Eater, on the other hand, decided to risk the possibly-food-poisoning-inducing takeaway but I can report that he didn’t die in the night.
I roasted the vegetables in oil and some Schwartz Mediterranean Roasted Vegetable Recipe Mix before putting them on the puff pastry and you can use whatever vegetables you have lying around in your fridge, such as these tarts I’ve made in the past:
- ⅓ pack ready-made puff pastry
- 1 courgette, sliced
- 10 cherry tomatoes, pricked once with a knife to prevent them exploding
- ½ packet Schwartz Mediterranean Roasted Vegetables Recipe Mix (or use whatever herbs you fancy)
- 100g halloumi, sliced into strips
- Olive oil
- Drizzle the courgette and tomatoes with a little olive oil, then coat evenly with the herb mix
- Spread the vegetables in a roasting tin and roast at 200C for about 10 minutes, until the courgettes are tender
- Lightly score a 1" border around the puff pastry, then layer the courgettes and tomatoes on top, keeping within the border
- Lay the strips of halloumi on top of the courgette and tomatoes and return to the oven for 20 minutes, or until the puff pastry is golden and the halloumi has lightly browned
For more inspiration, have a look at these tarts from my fellow food bloggers:
Creamy Courgette Puff Pastry Tart by Family Friends Food
Harissa, Kale and Roasted Vegetable Tart by Celery and Cupcakes
Mushroom and Walnut Tart by Supper in the Suburbs
Sun-dried Tomato and Pesto Tart by Coriander Queen
Chickpea flour (also known as gram flour) is so versatile. It can be used instead of eggs in omelettes, pancakes, quiches and loads of other things. My latest favourite way to use it is to make pancakes – they’re just as quick and easy to make as their eggy equivalents, but with the added bonus of it being vegan and therefore cruelty-free (and wheat- and gluten-free if you need to avoid those). What I mostly love about pancakes though is that they’re just a pancake-based pizza – choose your toppings just as you would a pizza and throw them on the top of the pancake at the end of cooking.
In the photo is a chickpea flour pancake I made the other day with spinach, mushrooms, olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic and pine nuts.
You should be able to find chickpea flour in your local supermarket (just bear in mind it might say gram flour on the packet) but if not, then any Indian/international store should have it.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup chickpea (gram) flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp water
- salt and pepper
- Your choice of toppings
- Prepare your toppings (e.g. fry your mushrooms, spinach and garlic) and set aside.
- Whisk together the chickpea flour, baking powder and water, then season with salt and pepper. Whisk until no lumps remain.
- Heat the oil in a large frying pan and pour in the pancake batter.
- Cook for a couple of minutes until the pancake feels firm enough to flip over.
- Carefully flip the pancake over, scatter your toppings on top of the pancake and cook for another couple of minutes.
If you’re interested in cooking with chickpea flour, here are a couple of recipes from other food bloggers you might like:
My cheese consumption has gone down massively recently but when The Meat Eater said he was going back to the old chippy for our usual Friday night chippy chips, I thought I’d give their battered halloumi another go. This was the second time I’d tried battered halloumi from the chippy and the first time, I wasn’t keen, despite me usually loving halloumi. I don’t know whether it just seemed a bit odd getting it from the chippy, along with chips that’d been chucked in a huge vat of oil, or maybe I thought it was trying to fool me into thinking it was fish but, whatever it was, the first time just didn’t do it for me.
This time, however, I loved it and remembered how much I love halloumi (to be honest, I hadn’t forgotten. How could anyone forget how delicious it is?) and so when I saw a link to this recipe for vegan tofu halloumi on the Little Vegan Kitchen Facebook group, I knew I had to give it a go, slightly adapting the recipe to my own taste and preference.
I wasn’t expecting it to be much of a convincing replica for halloumi but, I’ve got to say, although it doesn’t have the ‘squeak’ of dairy halloumi, it’s a salty and tangy, perfectly acceptable alternative. I’ve enjoyed it so much, I’ve been having it for lunch stuffed in pitta bread with hummus and salad for the last three days.
I used my George Foreman to get it crispy but I would imagine it’d also be great fried in a little olive oil.
Don’t forget to press your tofu first – either by using the ‘pile a load of heavy stuff on top of it’ method or with a tofu press, such as this one from TofuBud.
- ¼ block tofu, pressed and sliced lengthways into two
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Mix the olive oil, nutritional yeast, salt and lemon juice in a bowl
- Rub the tofu with the olive oil mixture and leave to soak in for about 15 minutes
- Grill in a George Foreman grill for about 5-10 minutes until crispy on the outside
Ever since I picked up a copy of Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Googled to see what other people made from it, these chickpea cutlets came up time and time again. I’m not sure why I haven’t made them before now – the only reason I can think of is because they contain vital wheat gluten and, when I first got the book, I didn’t have a clue where to get vital wheat gluten from; I thought it was some strange substance only to be found in America.
UK suppliers soon caught up though and now, although I’ve never seen any in any shops, vital wheat gluten (sometimes just called wheat gluten) is easy enough and cheap enough to buy online from a number of places.
The other day, I fancied making some seitan and had a look in Veganomicon for a recipe and saw the famous recipe for chickpea cutlets and decided to give them a go.
At the risk of sounding like a letter on Points of View (ask your parents, kids), why oh why oh why did I leave it so long to make them? They’re a lot simpler than seitan and ready to eat in about 30 minutes.
If you want Isa’s original recipe, it’s here on the PPK website but, as usual, I omitted ingredients I didn’t have; using other ingredients instead and, instead of baking or frying, I put the chickpea cutlets in my George Foreman, which worked wonderfully.
I suggest making a double batch and freezing the leftover uncooked cutlets to have another day. As you can see from the photos, I’ve had the cutlets in pitta bread with salad and vegan mayo but I can confirm they go just as well with potatoes and green veg.
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup vital wheat gluten
- 1 cup golden breadcrumbs
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- In a mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas with the oil with a potato masher or fork until no whole chickpeas are left. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead for a few minutes until strings of gluten have formed.
- Divide the dough into 8 pieces and form into patties.
- Fry in a little olive oil for 6 to 7 minutes each side, bake in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes, or grill in a George Foreman for about 10 minutes.