Food and Drink Writer Jamie Cheung keeps things green with two cheap and speedy vegan recipes
Being vegan doesn’t have to be boring, expensive or time consuming. Here are two of my favourite recipes that will keep your meals exciting and healthy without hurting your bank balance (or any animals!)
Red Lentil Stew (Serves 2-3)
This vegan dish is really easy to make and a store cupboard classic. The only things some of you may not already have are tomato puree (32p from Aldi) and red lentils which you can get from almost any supermarket. I serve this dish with a few slices of whatever bread I have lying around, it is lovely buttered with vegan spread but it works just as well without it.
- 1 large carrot or 2 smaller ones
- 1 pepper (any colour will do)
- A handful of green beans/mangetout (or any green vegetable)
- A handful of mushrooms
- 1 onion (red or white)
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1tsp ground cumin
- ½ ts chilli powder
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 stock cube
- Red lentils
- Dice the onion and fry in a large pot on a medium to high heat for 5 minutes or until it has softened and starts to caramelise, then finely chop the garlic and add this too. Once your garlic starts to gain some colour, turn down the heat.
- Slice the mushrooms and chop the carrots into circles of roughly the same thickness. Dice the pepper and cut whatever green veg you have decided to go with into bite size pieces. Add the mushrooms to the pan until they begin to soften and release their moisture and then throw in the rest of the veg, stir through and put a lid on the pan.
- Stir the veg regularly until it has started to soften and then add the cumin, chilli powder and a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Boil the kettle and dissolve the stock cube in about a litre of boiling water.
- This is where your own judgement comes in. Your volume of stock needs to be about double the amount of veg you have so pour stock into the pan until the veg is just covered and then the same amount again. At this point it’s going to look very liquidy. Now add your tomato puree and add two or three generous handfuls of lentils depending on how thick you want your stew to be.
- Stir everything together and place a lid back on the pan, lower the heat to a minimum and let it simmer until the lentils are soft and have absorbed the runny stock. At this point you can add some fresh coriander or grind some black pepper over the top (both of which are completely optional) and you have a lovely vegan stew!
This is a Chinese vegan staple and a great way of using up leftover rice. It uses very cheap ingredients and whatever vegetables are in your fridge. I like to use peppers, courgette, carrots, mushrooms just to name a few examples but it’s equally okay with just spring onions. Aldi sell sachets of precooked rice and grains which you can substitute if you don’t have any leftover rice, and these work just as well. The sesame oil and soy sauce are things you may not have to hand but they are very cheap in supermarkets (especially in Seoul Plaza in Selly Oak) and are definitely worth investing in; they can be used to bring to life so many Asian style dishes!
- Cooked rice (as much as you want depending on portion size and how many people you’re serving)
- Spring onions
- Any quick cooking vegetables left in your fridge (things that can be eaten raw – not potatoes or butternut squash, for example)
- Soy sauce
- Sesame oil
- Vegetable oil
- White pepper (optional)
- Dice your vegetables of choice into small cubes. It is important they’re fairly small (less than a centimetre cubed) because you want them to cook quickly and not require knife and fork action.
- Fry all the vegetables together in a little vegetable oil until tender and then remove them and place in a bowl.
- Get the pan really hot, add a little vegetable oil and then your rice. If you are using leftover rice it is important you get it really hot because it can be dangerous if it not heated through properly. The easiest way to know if it is hot enough is to spread the rice thinly across the pan and look for individual grains hopping around. They will pop up and down a little bit. You can also just touch the rice, if it is too hot for your fingers to touch then you know it is okay. Alternatively, use the precooked sachet rice mentioned earlier.
- Once your rice is ready, add spring onions and put all your cooked vegetables back in the pan and mix through the rice.
- Season with sesame oil, soy sauce and white pepper if you have it. All of this is to your own taste so I deliberately haven’t included measurements. It is a good way to start tasting your food as you cook, and the joy of this method is it turns out exactly how you like it to taste every single time.
- Serve once heated through.
If these vegan recipes have you hungry for more, see Jamie’s website for additional plant-based goodness!