I’ve got to admit, I had a bit of a pang when I took both mine and The Meat Eater’s tarts out of the oven, and The Meat Eater’s was covered in bubbling, oozing Cheddar but the pang faded as soon as I started eating.
This vegan tart is a great way to use up any vegetables you have in the fridge – you can substitute the leeks, mushrooms and spinach for whatever you have to hand.
Two-thirds of a 375g pack of vegan ready-rolled puff pastry
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried rosemary
2 leeks, sliced
125g mushrooms, sliced
2 large handfuls of spinach
salt and pepper
Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the leeks for about 3 minutes
Add the mushrooms, garlic and rosemary and fry for another 3 minutes
Add the spinach and stir until wilted
Season with salt and pepper
Cut the pastry in half so you have two rectangles
Score a 1cm border round each rectangle of pastry and top with the leek mixture, keeping within the border
Bake in the oven at 180C for about 15 minutes
Veganuary Day 12 – Lunch
Yesterday’s lunch was a Warburton’s Thin with spinach, cucumber, olives, tomatoes, hummus and vegan mayo. Do you like my new plate? I got it in Tesco for £3. It’s almost as nice as the penguin slippers I also bought (£6).
It occurred to me recently that I’ve been making a lot of one-pot meals, for example curries and pasta. Don’t get me wrong, I love curries and pasta but a) they don’t photograph well (at least not when I take a photo of them, anyway) so I end up not putting them on the blog and; b) sometimes I just want something a bit more traditional. And what could be more traditional than a pie?
I haven’t been completely honest here because, although it’s true I fancied something that wasn’t curry or pasta, my main motivation for making something different to curry or pasta was wanting to use up the tin of butter beans I’d found in the cupboard.
Rose Elliot has written a whole cookery book based on beans – The Bean Book – so I had a look in there and saw her bean and leek pie. Knowing The Meat Eater likes a) butter beans and; b) leeks, I knew he’d give it the thumbs up (or at the very least, an appreciative grunt).
I used Flora in this pie but it could be easily veganised by using a dairy-free spread such as Pure or Vitalite.
Friday meant new hamper day – hooray! I’d been looking forward to the new delivery because, let’s face it, everyone loves a food delivery, don’t they? I met the same cheery delivery chap as before in my front garden on my way back in from the gym. Because I’d been out, he’d left the hamper in the arranged ‘safe place’ (not to be confused with ‘safe word’ – this ain’t no 50 Shades-esque blog, okay?)
This hamper for the second part of the week’s diet was huge. Look at all the food.
There was so much food, I couldn’t fit it in neat piles for each day.
I may have squealed when I saw the tub of coleslaw. I imagined thick, creamy, tangy coleslaw, but I’d have to wait until Saturday to have it, dammit.
Still, although I had to wait until Saturday to have coleslaw – today’s breakfast was low fat spread (a single serving of Flora at 40 cals) jam (18 cals) and crumpets (108 cals).
As usual though, I didn’t have breakfast and didn’t feel hungry enough in the morning to warrant wasting them by eating them just because they were there.
I’d also been looking forward to today’s lunch of egg mayonnaise. Egg mayonnaise as diet food? Get in! As with the feta and pepper spread, and the roasted aubergine and chickpea pâté, Bodychef had supplied a generous portion of egg mayonnaise (114 cals), pitta bread (161 cals) and salad (7 cals).
Obviously, Bodychef hadn’t gone overboard with the mayo; this is a diet after all – if it’d had the amount of mayo I’d have spooned into it, left to my own devices, that would have been my calorie allowance for the next two days gone in one soggy sandwich. Still, it just goes to show what a bit of moderation and restraint can do – this was a perfectly acceptable egg mayonnaise and not dry at all.
This kept me full all afternoon but I kept thinking about those crumpets so I gave in and had them about 4pm-ish and yes, they were as good as they looked.
Since The Meat Eater started mountain biking on a Friday evening, Friday nights have traditionally become ‘chippy night’. Not tonight for me though, eh? Nope, my dinner was – instead of my usual veggie burger and chips or battered veggie sausage and chips – leek and mushroom kedgeree (306 cals) and Persian cucumber salad (27 cals). I’ve never seen such a small pot of salad.
Bodychef supply only basic cooking instructions for the diet as a whole, not individual dishes, so I wasn’t sure if the hard-boiled egg should be reheated, as it’s not something I’ve done before. I’ve had hard-boiled eggs in curries in the past, and if you’ve never tried a curry that contains hard-boiled egg – please do, they’re fantastic, but the only time I froze the curry with egg, when it had defrosted, the egg was as rubbery as an old balloon stuffed inside another old balloon. This was a fresh egg though, so I heated it up in the oven along with the rice and it was fine.
The kedgeree reminded me of egg fried rice, which is no bad thing. The salad, despite being small, was dressed, fresh and crisp.
While I was eating this, The Meat Eater came in with his chippy take-out and offered me a chip. I wondered if this would be the start of a slippery slope into obesity but I decided one wouldn’t hurt.
Don’t laugh at this next photo because despite what it looks like, this trifle (151 cals) containing jelly, sponge and some kind of watery blancmange-type substance was great – in a flashback-to-your-childhood-parties kind of way.
My cat started begging for some, so it got the cat approval, which is always a good sign. Cats don’t eat any old rubbish, you know.
Day 4 conclusion
Buy a bigger fridge. Crumpets are diet food. You don’t need a whole jar of mayo in an egg mayonnaise sandwich. Kedgeree is like egg fried rice. Put ‘trifle’ on the shopping list.
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There are a few vegetarian recipes on the website, but I love puff pastry, so I decided to vegetarianise their Chicken and Leek Patchwork Pie by replacing the chicken with Quorn Chicken-Style Pieces and using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.
Puff pastry isn’t usually associated with healthy living, but because you’re only using a quarter of a packet, you’re not going to overdose on fat.
I was so pleased with how it turned out, it was absolutely delicious and something I’ll definitely make again.
Quorn chicken and leek patchwork pie (serves 4)
(adapted from the Waitrose website)
1 tbsp olive oil
250g leeks, sliced
200g Quorn chicken-style pieces
125ml vegetable stock
125ml milk, plus extra for brushing
1 tbsp sauce flour
150g frozen peas
150g frozen broccoli, defrosted slightly and cut into smaller pieces
30g soft cheese with garlic and herbs
1/4 pack ready-rolled puff pastry
Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the leeks and Quorn chicken-style pieces for 5 minutes until the leeks are softened.
Add the stock and milk, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sauce flour to the pan, bring to the boil and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until smooth and thickened.
Stir in the peas, broccoli and soft cheese, then tip into an ovenproof dish.
Cut the pastry into 12 squares and arrange on top of the filling – the pastry should overlap a little in places but not cover the filling completely.
Brush the pastry squares with milk and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling is piping hot.
Waitrose asked if I’d like to take part in their Waitrose Christmas Recipe Challenge which involved recreating a traditional vegetarian main dish especially for Christmas. The dish they wanted me to recreate was a vegetable tart.
Fine, I thought, that’s easy enough; get some puff pastry, bung some vegetables on it, cover it in cheese and put it in the oven. Sorted. Unfortunately, when I mentioned this to The Meat Eater he started getting adventurous and asked if it’d have cream and eggs in it. Before I realised he was just trying to scupper Vegan Monday, I’d already agreed, despite my reservations that adding cream and eggs to a tart probably makes it less of a tart and more of a quiche.
Still, it sounded like a plan, so the only thing left to think of was what vegetables would I use. I thought cranberry and brie sounded nice and Christmassy, The Meat Eater said ‘bleurgh’ (or something like that) and asked for Brussels sprouts. Seriously? Brussels sprout tart? I agreed it at least nodded towards Christmas so I eventually (after asking Facebook what it thought) decided upon Brussels sprouts, leek and goat’s cheese tart (even if it was going to be more of a quiche).
I know goat’s cheese is as ubiquitous on the veggie menu as risotto is at Christmas time, but you’ll have to forgive me for this.
Brussels sprouts and goat’s cheese tart (serves 4)
Hey look, I made something else that’s reminiscent of a pizza. I had a packet of puff pastry to use up (actually, it was two days out of date but I appear to still be alive), so I made a quick trip to the farm shop for a leek and a courgette and made this quick, easy vegetable slice for dinner.
Roasted vegetable slice with mozzarella (serves 4)
1 pack ready made puff pastry 1 courgette, sliced 1 leek, sliced 3 tomatoes, sliced 1 block of mozzarella, sliced Olive oil Balsamic vinegar Salt and pepper
Place the courgette and leek in a roasting tin, drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar and bake in an oven at 200C for about 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
Alternate slices of courgette and tomato onto the pastry, then cover with the leeks and top with the mozzarella slices.
Season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.
If you pretend this isn’t smothered in cheese sauce and just focus on the cabbage and leek bit, this is a healthy side dish. Although, as it’s only a side dish, a bit of cheese is hardly going to sabotage any healthy eating thing you’ve got going on at the mo.
I served it with Linda McCartney sausages and boiled potatoes and it got a rating of ‘very nice indeed’ from The Meat Eater.
Healthy meal no. 2 wasn’t so healthy as it contained Quorn, a packet stir-fry sauce and spring rolls. Still, it wasn’t chocolate, cheese, crisps or chips, so it was a lot more healthy than a lot of my meals recently.
My stir-fry was made with leeks and mushrooms from the farm shop, a yellow pepper that’d been sitting in the fridge for a while (not sure how it hadn’t gone off in all that time – this is why I buy my veg from the farm shop, I don’t like freaky vegetables that stay fresh for ever), Quorn Lamb Strips, a tin of beansprouts, egg noodles and served with mini spring rolls.
It’s that time of year when I sober up and want something other than cheese, chocolate and crisps in my diet. So, today, I looked in The Boxing Clever Cookbook to see what was seasonal and cycled down to my local farm shop and got myself a big bag of vegetables.
Healthy meal no. 1 was today’s lunchtime soup. I’m not sure I’ve eaten swede before, I certainly haven’t cooked it before as it always looked like it would be hard to peel but it was as easy as peeling a potato. This soup was delicious (and vegan, as I used soya milk instead of moo juice and didn’t add cheese to it for a change).
Swede and leek soup (serves 4-6) 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil 700g swede, peeled and diced 225g potatoes, peeled and diced 450g leeks, sliced and washed 1 garlic clove, crushed 1/2 tsp mixed herbs 1.5L (2.5 pints) vegetable stock Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 150ml (1/4 pint) soya milk
Heat the oil in a large pan and sauté the swede, potatoes, leeks and garlic for about 5 minutes.
Add the mixed herbs, vegetable stock and season to taste.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
Soup can be left like this, or puréed if you like a smooth texture.