Vegan Tofu & Mushroom Mini Quiches

Vegan tofu and mushroom quiche

I went to London VegFest the other week and for once, I actually came out looking forward to the next year’s event. On the previous years I’ve been, it’s been cramped, overcrowded and I hadn’t been able to get anywhere near the stalls, let alone try anything or buy anything. This year, although it was in the same space and I’m going to assume they weren’t turning stallholders or customers away, there was plenty of room to walk around and to see and sample everything, and sample things I certainly did.

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Spicy Carrot and Lentil Soup

Vegan spicy carrot and lentil soup

Carrots. Flipping carrots. I’m not a fan of carrots (except those ones in a tin – I know, I’m common as muck), so whenever I get carrots in my veg box delivery, they usually stay in the fridge until they go floppy, then they go in the compost bin. I did make some vegan carrot cupcakes a while back but, as I’m trying to cut down on junk food at the mo (not helped by being sent a hamper of Ten Acre crisps), I didn’t want to make them again just yet. Soup is always a great way to use up leftover vegetables but if I didn’t really like carrots much, would I like them in a soup? I decided to find out and I can now confirm that carrots make a perfectly acceptable soup. Especially when you add lentils and some spice. As always, I blitzed this soup to silky perfection with my Froothie blender. I know I’ve said it before but this blender really has transformed my soup into something special, and I’ve been making soup for years.

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Strawberry and Coconut Energy Bars

strawberry-coconut-flapjacks

I took part in a 78-mile cycling event yesterday and, although I’d bought a Bounce Energy Ball and a Clif Bar to take with me, because I’ve got a bigger cycling event coming up in a couple of weeks and a) shop-bought products are expensive (the Bounce Energy Ball was £1-something and the Clif Bar was a smidge under £2); and b) I wanted to try a variety of different energy bars to see which I liked best, I wanted to make some of my own.

These strawberry and coconut energy bars are based on this Sunshine Bars recipe and they got me happily through 63 miles of cycling. I then had the Clif Bar, felt sick and abandoned the last twenty miles of the ride and got the train home instead. There’s something to be said for the ‘never try anything new on race day’ advice. But if you want something homemade with the right nutrients to get you through a long sporting event (don’t confuse protein bars with energy bars – protein bars contain a high amount of protein and are best after exercise to help repair the muscles, whereas energy bars contain a high amount of carbohydrate to fuel your muscles during exercise), these bars are for you. They taste amazing, too. I used dried strawberries from Urban Fruit because their dried fruit contains fruit and nothing else. I was shocked a few weeks ago after buying a bag of dried cranberries, to find out that cranberries were only about 40% of the ingredients.

Unfortunately, they’re not vegan, as most rice crispies contain Vitamin D, which is made from lanolin – a secretion from sheep skin, found in wool (and now I’ve just typed ‘a secretion from sheep skin’, I feel as sick as if I’d just eaten another Clif Bar) and I also bunged in a bag of Munchy Seeds honey-roasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds that I had lying around in the fruit bowl that never contains fruit. However, vegans need not despair – after finding out that all major supermarkets’ own rice crispies contain Vitamin D, I’ve found a vegan-friendly brand: Kallo Organic Wholegrain Breakfast Puffs, that you can get from Ocado or Holland & Barrett.

Strawberry and coconut energy bars

Strawberry and Coconut Energy Bars
Recipe Type: Energy Bars
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 9
Ingredients
  • 50g dried strawberries or other dried fruit, chopped
  • 50g porridge oats
  • 25g puffed rice cereal
  • 40g desiccated coconut
  • 25g cashews or other nuts, chopped
  • 25g sunflower and/or pumpkin seeds
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 60g Golden Syrup
  • 50g butter or spread
Instructions
  1. Mix the fruit, oats, cereal, nuts, seeds and coconut into a large bowl and mix well
  2. Gently heat the sugar, syrup and butter/spread in a saucepan until the butter has melted, then simmer for a couple of minutes
  3. Stir the syrupy mixture into the dry mix and combine thoroughly
  4. Tip into a 8″ square tin and press down firmly (I do this by putting a piece of baking paper over the mixture, then rolling a tin backwards and forwards on top of it)
  5. Bake in the oven at 180C for about ten minutes, or until lightly browning at the edges
  6. Leave to cool, then put in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up
  7. Cut into 9 pices

 




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Green Lentil and Chilli Hummus

Green lentil hummus with garlic and chilli

Riverford sent me some celery. I don’t hate celery, per se, but I don’t like it cooked in stews or anything like that and I certainly don’t want to make a soup out of it and I don’t really like it raw in salads either. As far as I can see, celery’s only role in life is to be an edible spoon for hummus. Which, as roles in life go, isn’t a bad one – in fact, it’s to be commended, but I didn’t have any chickpeas with which to make the best hummus in the world ever so I was stuck with celery and nothing to eat it with.

So, as I knew I had a tin of green lentils, I pondered on Twitter whether green lentil hummus was a thing.

and received this reply from my Twitter friend, Healthy Hornett

and I reckoned she (actually, I have no idea if it’s a girl or boy Hornett so, if you’re reading this, @healthyhornett, sorry for assuming you’re a she) was right and, after promising to report back, I went off and made some green lentil hummus.

Well, two days later I did, anyway. And, do you know what? Green lentil hummus is most definitely a thing and an excellent alternative to the more traditional chickpea one.

I made this hummus in my Optimum G2.1 blender which whizzed it into smooth and creamy hummusy perfection in a minute but if you haven’t got a high powered blender, you might want to add a bit more olive oil to help it along.

Green Lentil and Chilli Hummus
Recipe Type: Vegan
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
A gorgeous alternative to the more traditional chickpea hummus
Ingredients
  • 1 390g tin green lentils, drained
  • 1/2 cup (150g) tahini
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 whole dried chilli
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until everything’s combined
  2. Add the olive oil and process until smooth

For other alternatives to chickpea hummus, try this beetroot and cannellini bean dip from Fuss Free Flavours, or Tin and Thyme’s smoky red pepper dip and chive guacamole.




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My Sugar-Free Challenge

I wouldn’t say I have much of a sweet tooth. If someone offered me a cake or a bowl of olives, I’d rather have the olives. But I’ve seen recently a trend for people saying they want to give up sugar and there are even ‘experts’ such as Sarah Wilson, who can help people give up the white stuff.

But is sugar really that bad and if it is, is it really so hard to give up, you need ‘experts’ to teach you how? I didn’t think it is, so when Benenden asked me if I’d like to join in their sugar-free challenge to help promote their sugar-free hub, I was more than happy to oblige because a) I didn’t think I ate much sugar; and b) I love a challenge.

So, below is a kind of diary of what I ate and – if applicable – what I usually would have had on a normal ‘not bothered about looking out for sugar to avoid’ day.

Sugar-Free Breakfast 

Hot water with lemon

Well, breakfast was never going to be hard to be sugar-free as, although there was a time when I was a five-teaspoons-of-sugar-in-tea kind of girl, I haven’t drunk tea for years and I’ve never drunk coffee (bleurgh) and my hot drink upon waking is always hot water and lemon.  Before anyone pipes up with ‘but fruit is full of sugar – you’ve failed already, loser’, as far as I’m aware, going sugar-free doesn’t mean giving up something perfectly healthy like fruit. So there.

smoothie-collage

Just as I haven’t drunk sugar-laden tea for years, I also grew out of eating sugary breakfast cereals topped with more sugar when I was about ten years old. Nowadays, my breakfast is a smoothie and today’s one was frozen mixed fruit, dried golden berries, acai powder and water. It did occur to me that sugar might be added to the packeted fruit and powder but, hooray, no added sugar. No added anything, in fact. If you haven’t tried golden berries before, please do – they make a great tangy addition to smoothies, or you could add them to flapjacks, energy bars, etc.

Sugar-Free Lunch 

Vegan tomato soup and ciabatta

Lunch was going to be slightly more tricky than breakfast as I’d made mushroom jerky the other day that I’d been having in wraps for lunch. No problems with the mushrooms, obviously, but I’d marinated them in Reggae Reggae Sauce which I thought was bound to contain sugar and, upon inspection of the label, saw I was right. No Reggae Reggae for me that day, dammit.

Never mind, I thought – I can have some of the tomato soup I made the other day, that’ll be sugar-free. But – woah, hang on, what about the stock? They put all sort of things in stock – they put milk in some vegetarian stocks, so I wouldn’t be surprised to find sugar in them too. It was fine though – no sugar in the stock. Oh, but then I thought, surely there must be sugar in the tinned tomatoes I used? But still, no sugar there either. My tomato soup was a sugar-free zone. Phew.

How about the ciabatta and Vitalite I wanted with it though? None there either – ha, this sugar-free thing is a breeze.

Sugar-Free Drinks

Hot chocolate made with raw cacao and almond milk

Okay, so obviously my homemade lemonade that I still had in the fridge wasn’t sugar-free – it’s made with just three ingredients, which are lemons, sugar and water – but apart from my beloved hot chocolate, I usually only drink water throughout the day, so cold drinks weren’t a problem. But, what about the aforementioned beloved hot chocolate? I didn’t even have to read the label to know that that would have sugar in it, so what was I to do? Go cold – or should that be hot chocolate – turkey? Na. I’d make my own with raw cacao powder instead. Sorted.

Although I couldn’t see sugar listed on the ingredients for the soya milk I usually use, I decided to make my hot chocolate extra pure by making it with homemade almond milk. Yep, maximum hippy level reached.

Homemade almond milk

Sugar-Free Dinner

Sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, wheat-free, egg-free, courgette and carrot burgers

Luckily, Wednesday is Riverford veg box delivery day, so I had a box full of veg with which to make a healthy, sugar-free dinner. Faced with courgettes and carrots, I made courgette and carrot burgers and served them with purple sprouted broccoli and new potatoes. Because I made them with chickpea (gram) flour, I got a bonus ‘free’ in, as they’re gluten-free as well as sugar-free. Actually, they’re full of ‘frees’, as to give them their full title, they’re wheat-free, gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free and sugar-free (this may explain why The Meat Eater said they didn’t taste of much).

As a condiment freak, I don’t usually have ‘dry’ burgers, but tomato ketchup contains sugar, so that was out. The Mayola mayonnaise in the fridge didn’t contain any sugar but at the time I didn’t think courgette and carrot burgers would go with mayo – not when they’re spiced with curry powder, anyway. On reflection though, it probably would have gone well. Ho hum.

Sugar-Free Snacks

I’m not going to lie. I missed my after-dinner mint and I spent the whole of the evening wanting a bit of chocolate or a biscuit or something sweet, so maybe sugar isn’t as easy to give up as I originally thought and it is addictive as ‘they’ say?

As challenges go, this one was easy but, then again, I only did it for a day. Some people give up sugar for life and I’m not sure that would be so easy.

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Froothie Optimum P200 Dehydrator Review

froothie-optimum-p200-dehydrator

A big, black, shiny beast came to stay. No, not a black labrador (my cat would pack her bags) but the new Optimum P200 Dehydrator from Froothie. I’ve been happily using my old dehydrator for the last year but that’s a round one and although it did its job, I’d heard square ones were better for the following reasons:

  • The heat in a square dehydrator is evenly distributed – top to bottom and front to back – so you don’t have to keep switching the trays around while whatever’s inside is drying. Round dehydrators are heated from the bottom, so the bottom gets most of the heat, so you have to keep switching the trays around.
  • Round dehydrators have a hole in the middle of each tray which a) means it takes longer to dehydrate the food; and b) means you’re losing space on each tray and makes it more difficult to make things like fruit leathers/roll-ups/crackers, etc.
  • With a square dehydrator, you can take all the trays out and prove bread and make yoghurt inside the machine (no, I have no idea how; I just know you can). If you took all the trays off a round dehydrator, you’d just be left with the base.

So, when Froothie said, ‘Miss Ambassador Cathy, would you like one of our new dehydrators?’, although part of me thought, ‘I already have a dehydrator. I know how big they are. If I get any more kitchen gadgets – let alone big ones – The Meat Eater is going to go nuts’, the other, much bigger, gadget-loving part of me thought, ‘HELL YEAH’.  Besides, I thought I’d be able to sell my old one on one of those Facebook local selling pages. ‘Thought’ being the operative word as, although I’ve sold a slow cooker on there recently, no one wants my old juicer and I reckon if I want to tempt someone to buy my old dehydrator I’ll have to put in the description that it can make chips. I just won’t tell them I meant kale chips.

Optimum P200 Dehydrator

The Optimum P200 dehydrator comes with a user guide with the usual operating instructions and do’s and don’ts. One of the ‘don’ts’ is ‘do not use with an extension lead’, and although it’s not even just a ‘don’t’ but a ‘warning’, I happily used it for a few days plugged into an extension lead because it was too big and noisy to live in the kitchen and so I moved it to the conservatory where there was nowhere near a wall socket into which to plug it. It was only yesterday when The Meat Eater complained about the noise of it (he does weights in the conservatory) that I mentioned it shouldn’t be plugged into an extension cable and did he know why. He did know why. He said ‘because too much power will go through and it’ll catch on fire’. Oops. It’s now unplugged and I’m going to rearrange the conservatory and find it a nice safe wall socket to plug it into.

Also in the user guide is some advice on how to prepare your fruit and veg before putting it in the dehydrator, and also how long to dry it for. As you can see in the above photo, there’s also a little guide on the top of the dehydrator, along with the temperature dial and 40-hour digital timer.

P200 dehydrator meshes and plastic sheets

The dehydrator also comes with 2 x non-stick reusable meshes for placing on top or underneath the fruit and veg being dried, and 2 x non-stick reusable plastic sheets for fruit leathers/roll-ups, cookies and crackers, etc., along with a brush to clean the meshes and sheets with.

Tofu jerky in the dehydrator

Since receiving my dehydrator, I’ve made tofu jerky and mushroom jerky in it, which have both been amazing and only take a few hours. I especially love the tofu jerky, which is simply tofu sliced and marinated in a combination of sriracha, vegan Worcestershire Sauce and liquid smoke, then dehydrated at 60C for about 4 hours (it’ll take less or more time depending on how thick you slice the tofu).

Mushroom jerky and tofu jerky

The mushroom jerky (mushrooms sliced and marinated in Reggae Reggae Sauce and dehydrated at 60C for about 6 hours) is great in wraps and stuffed in pitta bread with salad. With summer coming (we’ll forget it snowed today, yeah?), that means long walks and bike rides in the countryside and I’ve got it in mind to make some fruit roll-ups to take with me for an energy boost.

If you’re tempted to get a dehydrator but not sure you’d get much use out of one, you can try the Optimum P200 Dehydrator for 30 days and if you don’t like it, Froothie are offering a money back guarantee – including return postage costs – so why not give it a go?

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase a product 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.

 

 

 

 

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Froothie Optimum G2.1 Platinum Series Blender Review

Froothie collage

‘Would you like to be our Ambassador?’ Froothie asked me. ‘We’ll give you a blender that’s more powerful than a Vitamix – it can turn a paving stone into dust in seconds.’ Yeah, right, I thought, but it’s true – it really can, look at this video.

Obviously you (probably) don’t take into account paving-stone-pulverising abilities when deciding which blender to buy, so what’s so special about the Froothie Optimum G2.1 high speed blender? As I’ve already mentioned, it’s more powerful than a Vitamix, but not only that – it’s better than a Vitamix in other ways, as you can see from the comparison chart below.

Froothie v Vitamix

Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender

Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender touchscreen

The Froothie Optimum G2.1 blender is beautiful. It’s sleek and shiny and has a touchscreen with six pre-set programmes for fruit, grinding nuts and seeds, soup, nut milk, sorbet and sauces. Wait! Did I say soup? It makes soup? Yes, it does make soup but it’s not a soup maker in the traditional sense as it doesn’t have any heating elements inside it; rather it creates heat by the friction of the blades. I haven’t tried it myself yet to make soup, but I’ve used it to blend soup made on the hob (recipes here and here) and it’s resulted in the smoothest soup I’ve ever tasted. I thought my soup maker did a good job at blending soup but after using the Froothie blender, I can see why people rave about high powered blenders – the difference is striking. Another plus the Froothie machine has over my soup maker is the lid. The soup machine’s lid is really difficult to get off but the Froothie lid glides on and off, while still perfectly sealing the jug. And speaking of the jug – because it’s made from plastic, it’s a lot lighter than the glass soup maker jug, which makes it easier to lift off the base and to rinse. Don’t worry about the jug being flimsy though, it’s not – it’s unbreakable, as you can see from the video below (I’m glad it’s strong, as I’ve already dropped it on to my kitchen floor and the jug remained unscathed).

Cleaning

I hate cleaning my soup maker. As mentioned, the soup maker’s jug is made from thick glass, which makes it REALLY heavy and, because you can’t immerse it in water, it makes it really difficult to clean. The Froothie blender is easy to clean – just add a drop of detergent into the jug with some warm water and switch on for a few seconds, then rinse under the tap (which with the jug being plastic and light isn’t cumbersome at all) – job done! And when I say a ‘drop’ of detergent, I mean a drop – I used too much one day and had a jug full of what looked like whipped cream. Which was fun but not really what I was after.

What’s in the box

Froothie Optimum G2.1 accompaniments

So, apart from soup, what else have I used it for? I’ve used it for hummus, smoothies (it even completely blended the dates, which my Nutribullet doesn’t do), vegan cheese (from The Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook), chocolate nice cream (cacao powder blended with coconut milk and coconut flower nectar, then frozen for a few hours) and lemonade; all with stunning results. I’m looking forward to making almond milk in it and, handily enough, the blender comes with a nut bag along with a tamper tool, user guide and 104-page recipe booklet.

I’ve wanted a high powered blender for years and, now I’ve got one, I couldn’t be happier with it. If you’re in the market for a high speed blender, then I’d definitely recommend one of these.

For more information on the Froothie Optimum G2.1 Platinum Series Vortex Blender, see what other Froothie products are available, watch video demos and check out some amazing recipes, visit the Froothie website.

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase 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.
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Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Wild Garlic Frittata

Sweet potato, mushroom and wild garlic frittata

This frittata must be the freshest thing I’ve made for ages. The eggs were from chickens who roam the grounds of a local house – making them about as free range as it’s possible to be without giving the chickens a railcard, the sweet potato and wild garlic came in my recently reinstated Riverford vegetable box and the mushrooms were grown in our very own dining room from the mushroom growing kit I bought The Meat Eater for his birthday a few weeks ago (I didn’t only buy him a grow-your-own-mushrooms kit; I’m not that tight. He also got a couple of books, a segway experience and some fudge, in case you’re interested. And if you want to know what the books were, one was a Guy Martin memoir and one was a Jeremy Clarkson book. I bought the Jeremy Clarkson book in a charity shop and the woman behind the counter said ‘Oh, Jeremy Clarkson!’, so I quickly said IT’S NOT FOR ME and now I’m scared the lady in the charity shop thinks I’m the type of person who likes Jeremy Clarkson).

Anyway, although I thought my as-fresh-as-fresh-can-be frittata was amazing, The Meat Eater said it wasn’t as good as an omelette. He said it was nice, but if it was an omelette and the sweet potato and mushrooms were on the side, it would be better. He is obviously wrong for many reasons but mostly because:

a frittata isn’t an omelette.

Just because a dish has eggs in it, that doesn’t mean you can call it whatever you feel like, depending on your mood that day. I didn’t call it a frittata because I wanted to make an omelette sound posh; I called it a frittata because it’s a frittata. Not an omelette and not a tortilla – Spanish or otherwise – but a frittata.

The differences are simple:

  • an omelette is cooked from start to finish on the hob and the eggs are folded over the filling;
  • a tortilla is also cooked from start to finish on the hob but instead of the eggs being folded over the filling, the filling is cooked inside it, then the tortilla is flipped over to finish cooking the other side;
  • a frittata starts life on the hob the same way as a tortilla, but is finished in the oven (which probably means my frittata isn’t really a frittata, as I poured the eggs over the filling then put it straight in the oven).

Still, whatever the correct name for my dish is, it was quick and easy to make and incredibly tasty. Unfortunately, there weren’t any leftovers but I’m sure it would be just as good cold the next day for lunch, as it was hot.

Sweet Potato, Mushroom and Wild Garlic Frittata
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 300g sweet potato, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 50g wild garlic, chopped
  • 150g mushrooms, sliced
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Boil the sweet potatoes for 10-15 minutes, until tender
  2. Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms for 5 minutes, then add the wild garlic and stir for a minute or so until the wild garlic has wilted
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  4. Remove from the heat and add the sweet potato
  5. Put the sweet potato, mushroom and wild garlic into an ovenproof dish and pour the beaten eggs over
  6. Bake in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes or until the eggs have set
  7. Serve hot or cold

For an interesting variation (I’d never have thought of putting chickpeas in a frittata), check out Helen from Fuss Free Flavours’ Red Pepper & Chickpea Frittata and Claire from Foodie Quine’s Fully Loaded Vegetable Frittata.




 

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Easy Vegan Tinned Tomato and Basil Soup Recipe

Vegan homemade tinned tomato soup recipe

Aah, tinned tomato soup. Or, more specifically; aah, Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup. Everyone loves cream of tomato soup, don’t they? I have it when I’m ill, when I’m hungover and it was all I could face when my house got burgled a few years ago (well, soup and alcohol, anyway). In fact, it’s more of a comfort blanket than a soup, really. I suspect it’s because I don’t see tomato soup as an ‘everyday’ soup, I don’t make homemade tomato soup very often and, if I do, it’s usually ‘tomato and something’, rather than just tomato.

But I had a few tins of chopped tomatoes taking up room on the kitchen worktop, so I decided I’d make a homemade tomato soup. I wasn’t expecting it to turn out like Heinz because mine would be a vegan version and therefore it wouldn’t contain any cream. I’d thought about thickening it with cashews but, thanks to my Froothie Optimum G2.1 high powered blender, it turned out beautifully creamy and smooth without needing to add any thickeners (I know it doesn’t look silky smooth in the photo but, trust me – it is).

You could, for a creamier taste, replace half the stock with soya milk (or dairy milk if you’re not fussed about it being vegan), but I don’t really think it’s necessary and I only swirled on a bit of soya milk for a prettier photo.

A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of soup; even if you don’t need comforting.

Vegan homemade tinned tomato soup recipe

Easy Vegan Tinned Tomato and Basil Soup
Recipe Type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan
Author: Cathy @ Planet Veggie
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A cheap, creamy, comforting bowl of vegan tomato soup
Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 500ml vegan stock
  • A few basil leaves, torn
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for about 5 minutes, until soft
  3. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and stock, then season to taste with the salt and pepper
  4. Stir through and simmer for 10 minutes
  5. Add the basil, stir through and transfer to a blender and blend until smooth

*Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for Froothie and any links to their products in this post are affiliate links which, if you purchase 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.




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Zizzi Vegan Pizza Review

Zizzi vegan menu
The vegan menu at Zizzi

Forget Kim Kardashian and her oversized bum, Zizzi almost broke the internet a few weeks ago when they revealed their new vegan menu. Vegans are used to visiting chain restaurants and adapting items already on the menu and asking the staff to omit cheese from their orders but Zizzi is the first (as far as I’m aware) to offer a vegan cheese on their pizzas. The vegan cheese is MozzaRisella, which is made from germinated whole rice made without milk and lactose, making it suitable for vegans and those who are allergic to dairy, gluten and soya.

I’m neither vegan nor suffer from any allergies and although I make a conscious effort to eat fewer animal products, when it comes to eating out in restaurants, ‘without cheese please’ just doesn’t manage to leave my mouth when the waiter comes to take my order. So, when I heard about Zizzi’s new vegan pizza, I had to give it a go.

Zizzi, Charlotte Street, London

A friend and I visited Zizzi in Charlotte Street, London and I’m hoping the smiley-but-slow service isn’t indicative of all their branches. The friendly waitress seated us immediately, handed us a couple of Zizzi’s usual menus but rushed off before I had a chance to ask for the vegan one. A long time passed until she came back for our drinks order, which gave me the chance to ask for the vegan menu which she immediately brought to me, but then we had a long wait for our wine to arrive (by the way, most of the wines are vegan and the ones that aren’t are listed on the menu).

To be fair to the waitress(es) though, there did only seem to be two of them but, even so, the restaurant was empty and even the chefs were standing around in the kitchen not doing anything, so I’m not sure why the service was so slow. Slow service is one of my bugbears and the reason I no longer go into my local Pizza Express (I gave them four chances but the service never got any better).

Starter – Vegan Garlic Bread

Zizzi's vegan garlic bread
Vegan garlic bread

Still, we eventually managed to order and our shared starter of garlic bread arrived. Despite – as you can see – the bread being covered in lumps of garlic, it wasn’t particularly garlicky and it was also a bit dry. I did like the green ‘vegan’ sticker stuck to the plate though (that’s as in ‘liked Zizzi thought of doing it’, not ‘mmm, yummy sticker’).

Main Course – Zizzi Vegan Pizza with MozzaRisella Cheese

Zizzi vegan pizza with MozzaRisella cheese
Zizzi vegan pizza with MozzaRisella cheese

But I didn’t go to Zizzi for their garlic bread, I went for the vegan cheese I’d heard so much about. Zizzi offer a vegan Margherita (including a gluten-free option), onto which you can add your own toppings. Unfortunately, my pizza was a bit burnt and I considered sending it back as I hate burnt food even more than I hate slow service but given how long my pizza had taken to arrive, I kept it. Luckily, only a part of it was burnt and the rest of it was fine and I soon cheered up and enjoyed the rest of my pizza. The vegan ‘cheese’ was more of a sauce and not the stretchy mozzarella pizza lovers have come to expect on their pizza but there are no complaints from me as it was tasty, cheesy and not artificial tasting at all (unlike a lot of vegan cheese). As someone who loves sauces and hates dry food, a sauce-like cheese on top of my pizza is fine with me.

Price/Value

My vegan Margherita cost £7.95 and I chose toppings of olives, green chillies and mushrooms so, with toppings being 80p each, this meant my pizza came to £10.35 which is excellent value in my opinion, especially when a lot of pizza restaurants charge around £12 for a pizza and extra toppings at £1.50 a pop. Unfortunately, I can’t gush about the garlic bread and, at £4.50, I won’t be getting it again.

I’d definitely go back for the vegan pizza though and hopefully more Italian/pizza restaurants and chains will follow Zizzi’s example and start offering vegan cheese on the menu.

For more information about Zizzi, view their whole menu, find your nearest branch and book a table, visit the Zizzi website.

If you’ve been to Zizzi to try their vegan pizza, I’d love to know what you thought about it.




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