Tag Archives: Nearly vegan

Healthy apple strudel with cardamom ricotta

14 Oct

I do love a bit of strudel. Last Christmas when Man Woman went to Cologne and Freiburg for Christmas, we spent a lot of time trying to find strudel, but alack, no luck. The hideous marzipany stollen was everywhere, but studel, nein mein frau. Perhaps strudel is Austrian or something.

The thing with baking fruits in anything is that there is absolutely no need to add sugar, especially if you throw some dried fruits in there. Plus, adding maple or agave syrup or honey at the end means you can control how sweet it is. This is sweet and dessert-y, but a little swirl of agave made it feel perhaps less healthy than it actually is.

Apple strudel (six smallish portions)

  • 4 Granny Smith apples
  • 3 TBSP sultanas
  • 6 sheets filo pastry
  • 4 TBSP apple puree (optional)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • squeeze of lemon or orange juice
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter

Peel and chop apples into about 2cm squares, holding back about 1/8 of the apples. Throw into deep saucepan over medium heat with butter. Cook for about 5 minutes and add sultanas, cinnamon and juice. Add remaining apples and cook until majority of mix is soft.

Lay a few sheets of filo pastry on bench. Brush with melted butter, add another sheet and repeat twice.

Place the apple mix along one side of the pastry in a log shape, leaving about 3cm from the edge.

Roll pastry over once, then dab apple puree near the log. Roll over again and dab more apple puree.

Brush top with butter and cook in oven at 180c for about 20minutes (but check on it).

Cardamom ricotta

  • 4 cardamon pods, ground in mortar and pestle
  • 200g ricotta


Serve strudel in slices with ricotta. Swirl agave nectar over both and sprinkle cinnamon.


Borscht with dill yoghurt

11 Oct

Nothing sounds quite as unappealing as ‘borscht’. Combining the English words ‘bore’ and ‘shit’ is never going to get the people clamouring for a dish. Tempted as I was to call this dish beetroot gazpacho, which sounds more like a flamboyant flamenco dancer or lovable cartoon character, I couldn’t.

Borscht is borscht.

But borscht is good. The key, in my mind, is to make this a raw soup. I’ve not tried it with raw beetroot, but the pre-cooked ones in packets do well. The only thing which has heat added to it is the veggie stock, but even that is allowed to cool before it gets introduced to the spring onion and beets. I’ve tried making it before using a Finnish cookbook, which involved long cooking times and bay leaves and it left me a little bit struggling to finish a bowl.

This is a happy soup. Smiling bright fuschia with a nice speckled green dollop of yoghurt in the middle.

Serves 4 – 5


  • 2 packs of pre-cooked beetroot (or about 6 cooked beetroot)
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1C vegetable stock
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 TBSP white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Cracked black pepper

Dill yoghurt

  • 5 TBSP Greek yoghurt
  • 2.5 TBSP chopped dill
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt

Blend cooked beetroot, spring onions and vegetable stock until smooth & thick. Add juice, vinegar and seasonings.

Chill in the fridge and serve cold with dill yoghurt (which involves just mixing all the above ingredients).

Estimated cost (for 4 – 5): £1 .70

Musical accompaniment: Bruce Peninsula

Aromatic coconut lentils in yellow squash with coriander yoghurt

7 Oct

I’ve been looking at those cute yellow squash in the grocer for a while with something of a longing. It truly is a cool vegetable and also, critically, a change from the zucchini and eggplant-heavy diet Man Woman normally enjoys.

But I’ve not cooked one before and, even though I suspect it’s much like it’s zucchini brother, I knew not what to do with it. So I turned to my longstanding food mantra: when it doubt, stuff it.

This coconut lentil dish is way too big to stuff into even two of these yellow squash though. So it’s a good dish to reinvent a couple of ways. Tonight it was stuffed into a squash. Tomorrow, reincarnated with a serve of quinoa for lunches.

Curry coconut lentils

  • 1 C soaked and cooked brown lentils
  • 1/2 C sweet corn
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black onion (nigella) seeds
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 TBSP dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 can of crushed tomatoes

2 squat yellow squash.

Coriander yoghurt

  • 1/2 C plain yoghurt
  • 1/3 C chopped coriander
  • Salt, lemon and pepper to taste.

Heat oil in small pan. Once hot, add the curry seeds and cook over medium heat until they pop. Add lentils and dessicated coconut. Add corn and then the tomatoes. Cook for about 5 – 10 minutes, adding salt to taste, to make sure the veg have absorbed the light curry flavour.

Slice a bit off the base of the squash so that it can sit flat, then cut a slice  off the top. Hollow out the squash, leaving around a 1cm thickness of squash flesh all ’round and cook in an oven at 180C for about 15-20 minutes, until soft and has no bitterness.

Stuff the lentils into the squash shell, and return to oven for another 5 minutes.

Estimated cost:£2.45

Musical accompaniment: Classical music on BBC3.

Spicy vegetable tagine with baked eggs

16 Sep

You know that horrible feeling you get when you arrive home from work, having set your heart on a tagine for dinner, only to discover that you’re all out of ras el hanout? Jesus, I hate that feeling.

‘Twas what Woman faced this evening when she came home and found that the Moroccan spice mix was no longer in the cupboard. Will need a trip to the Moroccans in Finsbury Park to address the issue.

But not stumped, I decided to make up my own spice mix. It’s not ras el, but it’s still quite tasty – and a fair bit spicier. Although this dish can take spice, because you can soak it up with couscous, yoghurt and eggs.

This recipe makes enough for a dinner and leftover lunches for two.

Tagine spice mix

  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp hot paprika
  • 1/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 (small) tsp salt

Veg mix

  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 large red onion chopped very roughly (ideally into wedges)
  • 1/2 head of broccoli, chopped into largish little trees
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped into thick pieces
  • 1/2 fistful of butternut squash or 2 small carrots
  • 2 eggs
  • Cinnamon
  • Coriander or parsley

Heat oven to 160C.

Traditionally with a tagine you’d heat the clay base up over the fire (or the hob with a diffuser underneath the base), adding the spices and garlic to cook in oil for a while. But as the tagine always starts to smoke and smell funny on our glass hob, I did the heating up in a regular saucepan, adding the tomatoes and checking for flavour then transferred it to the tagine, covering all the veg. (It might not look like enough liquid to cook the veg, but let it be. All the veg will release their own liquid and it’ll be right, love).

Once all is mixed up, put the lid on and chuck it in the oven. Really, the longer the better. I’d cook it for at least 45 minutes, but tonight I cooked it for closer to 1.5 hrs. It seems like a long time, but mostly it’s all done in 5 minutes before you put the beast in the oven.

5 minutes before you’re ready to eat, crack 2 eggs on top of the veggie mix, cover again and put back in the oven.

Serve with a sprinkling of ground cinnamon over the eggs, and chopped fresh herbs.

(Omitting the eggs will still make for a good dish – and veganize it!)

Estimated cost (for four): £2.30

Musical accompaniment: Jolie Holland

Penne arrabiata-borderline-puttanesca

12 Aug

You know it’s getting well and truly mid-week when you see pasta cropping up on the menu day after day. I believe the body can digest carbohydrates more efficiently around the Wednesday hump as a result of the evolution of the 9-6(and then some) genus of the human species. Well, Man Woman can dream.

Again, another quickie, but a goodie and is essentially the illegitimate vegetarian child of the standards arrabiata sauce (chili) and puttanesca (with anchovies). We use sundried tomatoes to substitute the fatty saltiness of the anchovies, rather than mimic the flavour of anchovies themselves. Fake meats – particularly ones with names like Fakin’ Bacon – should be banished from erstwhile nuclear facilities from which they come.

Plus, I can’t abandon the phrase puttanesca, ’cause it’s a little bit rude.

Penne arrabiata/puttanesca. Arratnesca!

  • Whole wheat penne (why buy the white stuff?)
  • Tin of good quality whole tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 sliced cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 TBSP capers (we put more because we are really into capers)
  • Around 8 sundried tomates, chopped in half
  • 1 tsp hot chili flakes
  • Olive oil
  • Ricotta (optional)

Heat olive oil in a small pan, and add the onion, then garlic. Stir for a minute or two, then add the tinned tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes and chili flakes. Bring to boil then simmer.

Put penne in boiling water.

Throw in capers, and whatever fresh or dried herbs you fancy.

Service with ricotta (if you like). It provides a nice soft creaminess against the salty chili in the sauce.

Estimated cost: £1.90

Musical accompaniment: The Low Anthem

Schupfnudeln with sauerkraut and mushroom gravy

10 Aug

Not another schupfnudeln recipe, I hear you moan, but aha, see how quickly I use that below mushroom recipe. You love schupfnudeln. You know it.

We discovered this dish in Christmas markets of Cologne last year, and nothing was better to warm the cockles and absorb the horrific sweetness of the gluwein we were glugging to stave off… well, to stave off not being in the Christmassy spirit I guess. Gluwein at Christmas markets kinda has to be done.

This is dead easy, dead quick and a recurring mid-week feast in the home of Man Woman.

Schupfnudeln with mushrooms

  • 1 packet of schupfnudeln (or, failing that gnocchi actually works better in our esteem)
  • Sauerkraut – as much as you can individually handle
  • Greek yoghurt (traditionally it’s creme fraiche – whatever)
  • Dill and/or chives
  • Failsafe mushrooms

Start cooking up the mushrooms, set the water to boil for the gnocchi. Mushrooms should be nearly done by the time the water comes to boil – chuck in the gnocchi. When that’s done, put into bowls, topping with mushroom mix, sauerkraut, yoghurt and fresh herbs (which are needed to stop this dish from being too stodgy). 20 minutes to the table, I swear on my gelatin-free Gummi bear heart.

Estimated cost: £3.30

Musical accompaniment: Something Scott loaned us, but which we listened to on Spotify.

Fajitas, we think

28 Jul

Man Woman gets confused by the different Mexican dishes involving the flat tortilla bread. Usually we’ll just Googlechat each other at work suggesting we make ‘nachos’ for dinner, knowing full well it’s probably going to be a fajita, enchilada, quesadilla or something along those lines. Don’t tell the Mexicans.

Anyway, we’re pretty sure these are fajitas. In any case, these are quick, delicious and cheap mid-week meal.

Bean fajitas

(Writing this recipe feels like teaching grandma to suck eggs. If you already know how to do this, share)

  • Tortilla breads
  • Grated veg – carrot, shredded lettuce/spinach and/or julienned capsicum (that’s peppers to you, love)
  • Greek yoghurt – because there is no place for sour cream in a world that is home to Greek yoghurt
  • Guacamole
  • Jalapeno peppers – or anything else that’ll allow spice heads to heat things up
  • Bean mix

Bean mix

  • Two cans of beans – preferably kidney or black eyed (our el-cheapo tinned beans were about 2/3 full, thus the 2 cans)
  • One can of tomatoes
  • Lemon juice
  • Cumin
  • Dried chili
  • Fresh coriander and/or parsley
  • Spring onions
  • Corn (optional)

I mean, how easy is this?

Oil the pan, adding the dried cumin and drained beans, letting them heat up for a bit. When the pan gets a bit dry, chuck in about half of the tinned tomatoes. Then get potato masher or fork to crush down the beans so that most of the beans are mashed up a little – it’ll allow them to get more flavour and also thicken up the mix so that it won’t go runny in your tortilla. Keep adding the rest of the tomatoes, and corn or diced carrots, if they float your boat. You’ll probably want to chuck in some more cumin and throw the chili in at this point. Just before serving mix in the spring onions and fresh herbs and woop, there it is.

Estimated meal cost (and Laurie was stuffed): £3.50

Musical accompaniment: The Cave Singers

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