Spaghetti with Spicy Broccoli and Cashew Sauce

img_0506If I had to give a newbie vegan one piece of advice, it would be, ‘buy yourself a decent food processor’ (okay, I’d probably also give them a bit of info about nutrition, vitamins, etc. ;-)).  I use my food processor all the time to make pestos, vegan parm, hummus, curry pastes, and things like this gorgeous broccoli and cashew sauce.

This is my take on a recipe I found online. It couldn’t be easier to make (blitz a few ingredients, cook pasta, cook sauce, add pasta), making it a perfect weeknight meal. But I would also happily serve this if I had friends coming over for dinner. Adjust the heat to your own preference, or leave out altogether if you don’t like it hot.

– 200 g broccoli florets (cut smallish), blanched. Put the florets in a pot with salted water, bring to a rolling boil, then drain water immediately and leave the broccoli in the pan.
– 60 g raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for an hour, or as long as you have (even just fifteen minutes will soften them a bit).
– 10 g (¼ cup) nutritional yeast
– 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs
– 3 cloves of garlic, skin removed and chopped roughly
– 1 tsp onion powder
– ½ tsp salt
– 1 tsp chilli flakes (or to taste; I like it spicy)
– 250 ml good-quality almond milk
– 1 tbsp lemon juice
– 60 ml  water
-180 g (whole-grain) spaghetti

– Blitz all the ingredients except the spaghetti in a food processor or blender.
– Cook spaghetti according to packet instructions.
– When the pasta has 5 minutes to go, heat a splash of oil in a skillet and cook the sauce, adding a small splash of water if necessary.
– Drain the cooked pasta and add to the skillet with the sauce. Mix and serve. 

My Pre-Workout Smoothie


There’s this myth that a love of food and cooking and a love of the gym are mutually exclusive. For me, they are linked; the gym being the place where I work off calories I’ve eaten, and the kitchen being the place where I prepare food that keeps me strong and (hopefully) healthy.

Going vegan was a big part of that. When I gave up all animal products, I decided to do it ‘right’, meaning in a way that was healthy and maintainable; I’m in this for the long haul.

img_3054That doesn’t mean I became a total health nut, though. I think this smoothie shows the balance between tasty and healthy that I’m after. Because I know a kale or spinach smoothie is better for you but I just don’t like them. Or I go off them when I have them too often, I should say. Now this fruity one I could drink every day.

So without further ado I give you my pre-workout smoothie. I use measuring cups here because it’s handy and because weighing ingredients for a smoothie feels wrong, somehow.

1 tbsp each of chia seeds, whole flax seeds and hemp seeds
1/4 cup oats
3/4 cup non-dairy milk
1 ripe banana
1 cup frozen summer fruit
1 tbsp vegan protein powder (I like Pulsin’ pea protein powder)

Put the seeds in the 1/2 cup measure, add enough water to fill it up.
Put oats in the goblet of a blender with the milk.

Let seeds and oats soak for 10 minutes.

Add seeds (with soaking water), banana, summer fruit and protein powder to the blender and blend until smooth.


Celebratory Mustard Soup


Because I turned vegan a year ago on this day (which I’ve cornily dubbed my ‘veganversary’), I couldn’t not post a recipe. And seeing as it is a special day, I give you one of my absolute favourites: mustard soup. Mustard soup, or ‘mosterdsoep,’ is a Dutch classic, but as much as I’d like to tell you that it reminds me of windmills, tulips and coming home to a bowl of this after a hard day of skating on frozen ponds (possibly saving the village by spotting a hole in the dike), I had never heard of it till I was in my twenties. Mosterdsoep was on the menu of a bar/restaurant where I was a bartender at the time, and I fell in love with it straight away. The creaminess of a roux-based soup with the tang of mustard and the luxurious feel of cream… gorgeous. Now, it being roux-y and creamy, you might think it’s not an obvious recipe to turn vegan, but it was pretty straightforward and I think this version is at least as good as the original.


1 1/4 l (1250 ml) hot vegetable stock
50 g vegan margarine (Try to find one with no trans fats. Remia’s Biologische Margarine is a very good Dutch one, imo)
40 g plain flour
4 tbsp mustard. I used a mix of Dutch (Groninger) and French (Dijon) here.
125 ml of soy cream (leave out if you like a more full-on mustardy flavour)
salt and pepper to taste


– Make the roux by melting the margarine in a largish saucepan, then adding the flour.
– Cook the mixture for two minutes on a low heat, stirring continuously.
– Add a ladleful of hot stock to the roux and stir or whisk until absorbed. Repeat this step until you’ve used up half the stock.
– Add the rest of the stock to the pan, bring to a gentle boil and let simmer for 10 minutes.
– Add the mustard and stir until dissolved, then add the cream, if using.
– Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want to be fancy, garnish with snipped chives. Serve.

Avocado, Chipotle and Black Bean Quesadillas

img_2886First of all: Happy New Year! Secondly, I am crazy busy with work, so this is going to be a short one (yeah, it’s becoming a theme. I know ;-)).

So, these quesadillas: they’re loosely based on a quesadilla recipe that I had bought the ingredients for but which I then decided was too much work for lunch and adapted to my liking and workload.

img_2884A note on the chillies. I’ve used some chopped-up chipotle chillies in adobo sauce because I finally managed to get hold of a tin of those. If you don’t have them, use chipotle paste, or Sriracha with some smoked paprika for the smoky flavour. If you don’t like it hot, use only smoked paprika.

img_2885Ingredients for 2 quesadillas (one person)
2 flour tortillas
Dollop of chopped chipotle chillies in adobo sauce (or alternative, see above), to taste
1 ripe avocado, cut in half, flesh scooped out and mashed with a fork
Squeeze of lime juice (I used bottled)
Generous pinch of salt
3 to 4 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
4 tbsp black beans from a tin (I used a 100 g mini tin, drained weight 65 g)
2 tsp of nutritional yeast

Heat your contact grill/sandwich maker to high.
Lay tortilla on a chopping board
Mix the mashed avocado with the lime juice and salt.
Smear one half of the tortilla with half the chipotles and their sauce (half because you’re making two quesadillas).
Top with half the avo mixture, half the coriander, half the beans. Sprinkle over 1 tsp of the nutritional yeast.
Fold over other half of the tortilla and grill until it shows griddle marks.
Eat and prepare the second quesadilla.

Curried Tomato and Coconut Soup with Chickpeas and Mushrooms

When it comes to social media, I have two favourites: Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook for keeping up with friends and following (mainly cooking) blogs and pages, Pinterest because it allows you to save and categorise recipes you find online with a few simple clicks. But that ease can also have drawbacks, as I sometimes pin dishes that look good but disappoint when I actually read the whole recipe.

Which is what happened this week, when I got ready to cook a promising-looking chickpea soup from one of my boards and then realised that the flavours clashed (even just on paper), the cooking method didn’t work for me… in short that I would cook an entirely different soup. So that is what I did, with mainly store cupboard ingredients. I hope you like it.

1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp coarse sea salt, or to taste
400 g tin of chopped tomatoes
250 ml coconut milk
1 cup/140 g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and simmered till tender, about an hour and 15 minutes, depending on how ‘fresh’ they are. Don’t add salt. (Cooked weight about 290 g, you could use the same amount of tinned chickpeas)
200 g mushrooms, quartered
generous squeeze of lemon juice
fresh coriander, chopped

– Cook your soaked chickpeas (unless you’re using tinned ones, of course).
– Heat a generous glug of oil in a medium-sized pot on a medium heat. When nice and hot, add cumin seeds, fennel seeds and chilli flakes. Stir for a few seconds, then add the onion and cook until soft.
– Turn the heat down, stir in garlic, ground spices and salt, fry and stir for about 30 seconds.
– Add coconut milk, tinned tomatoes, chickpeas and mushrooms.
– Bring to the boil, then simmer (I use a flame diffuser) for 15 minutes.
– Add lemon juice and more salt if needed.
– Serve, sprinkled with the coriander.

Kale and Cannellini Bean Soup with Harissa Broth

img_2445-1Now you could make this soup any time of the year with any vegetables you like, but I think it is a perfect autumn and winter dish. The kale – omnipresent at this time of year in the Netherlands – the warmth of the harissa, and the stick-to-the-ribs heartiness of this soup seem to be made for shorter days and lower temperatures.

But as much as I’d like to, I can’t take credit for this gorgeous soup; I was given the recipe by my lovely friend Dawn. Apart from some tweaks (I can’t help myself, but I suppose making dishes your own is what cooking is all about), this is basically her original recipe.

I’ve made this soup several times and I know it will be a staple in the Veg Chop household for many years to come.  It is a very adaptable recipe, so be creative and add or leave out whatever you like: use carrot or more onion instead of the celery, sub the kale with spinach, add mushrooms or cubed pumpkin or even potato. And you could of course use tinned beans instead of ones you’ve soaked and cooked yourself, but the bean broth does add a lovely depth of flavour.

200 g dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight
1 1/2 litre (1500 ml, 15 dl) water
1 onion,  chopped
2 sticks of celery, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsps tomato purée
1 or 2 tbsps harissa paste, depending on how hot you like it and on your harissa.
150 g kale, finely chopped
1 to 2 tsps of powdered vegetable stock (optional, and depending on preference and saltiness of the bean broth and the stock powder).
2 to 3 tbsps lemon juice, to taste. Go easy at first, you can always add more later.

– Drain the soaked beans, rinse and put them in a large pot with the water. Bring to the boil (don’t add salt at this stage), then simmer, lid on. I use a flame diffuser here, but if you don’t have one and you’re worried about the pan boiling over with the lid on it, put the lid on askew but start out with an extra 250 ml of water.
– Cook until very soft (an hour and 10 minutes when I cooked it this time, but it depends on soaking time and the beans themselves). Liberally salt towards the end of the cooking time. Set aside.
– Sauté the onion and celery until golden.
– Add garlic, tomato purée and harissa, sauté for a few minutes more.
– Add the kale, beans and their broth, and stock powder (if using).
– Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked.
– Add the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Mixed Mushrooms in an Almond Cream Sauce 

img_2173A while ago, my friend Jo over at Every Nook and Cranny sent me a recipe for chicken meatballs in a cream sauce from a blog called Cooking and Beer. Now you might think that’s not an obvious recommendation to a vegan but Jo – who, like me, is a recipe tweaker by nature – had spotted its potential as a mushroom dish. The cream sauce consisted of almond milk and cauliflower, so that part was already sorted.

With a few changes and additions, I created this mushroom sauce that, in a way, resembles my vegetarian Mushroom Ragout. In fact, I like it better than a veganised version of that ragout, which I cooked recently. One addition is nutritional yeast, affectionally known as ‘noosh’ in Vegan Land, but – if Wikipedia is to be believed – also called ‘hippie dust’, which is the name it goes by in my head these days.    img_2174

I love all mushrooms, so I’ve gone with a nice mix here, but use any type of mushroom you like or fancy.

500 g cauliflower (cleaned weight), cut into florets
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
250 ml almond milk
125 ml vegetable stock
2 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast
salt and pepper (add a little bit now, adjust seasoning later)
1 tbsp lemon juice
650 g (mixed) mushrooms
4 tbsp chives, chopped

– Boil the cauliflower in salted boiling water for 10 minutes or until cooked through. Drain and set aside.
– Meanwhile, sauté the onion until soft, add the garlic and fry for another 2 minutes
– Put the cauli, onion and garlic mixture, almond milk. stock, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and lemon juice in a blender and whizz until smooth (you could also use a stick blender or food processor, of course). Set aside.
– Fry the mushrooms in (chilli) oil, preferably in two batches so they don’t stew in their own juices.
– Add the contents of the blender to the pan with the mushrooms and heat through.
– Add more salt, pepper and lemon juice, to taste.
– Serve with rice, pasta, potatoes, whatever you like.


Polish Pierogi, Vegan Style


I first ate pierogi about five years ago, when my friend Alina made them for me. They were a vegetarian’s dream: gorgeous pillows of thin dough filled with either mushrooms and sauerkraut or mashed potato, fried onion and ‘twaróg’ (Polish white cheese). I can imagine they were also dreamy for my friend, who was feeding a large group of people, with me being the only vegetarian. The great thing about dumpling-type food is that you can adapt the filling to your guests’ diets and preferences.img_1774
Since then I’ve eaten many a pierogi and, as much as I love both mushrooms and sauerkraut, the potato and cheese ones quickly became my favourite. But then I went vegan and, well, egg in the dough, cheese in the filling… It looked like my pierogi days were over.
Cue aquafaba. If you haven’t heard of this, it’s the cooking liquid of chickpeas (and other beans/pulses), which acts just like egg in lots of dishes and bakes. One of the first things I used it in was a vegan cake, which turned out absolutely perfect, but then I realised it might also work in pierogi dough. img_1784And you guessed it, it worked a treat. I added 6 tablespoons of aquafaba (or ‘AF’), the equivalent of two eggs, to a dumpling recipe I found in Sally Butcher’s ‘Veggiestan’, and the result was a brilliant soft, pliable dough.img_1786

Now the second challenge was the filling, which my friend makes ’60/40′,  meaning 6 parts potato to 4 parts cheese. I decided to try substituting the cheese with soy yogurt and again: bullseye!img_1789Together, dough and filling form delicious vegan pierogi, which I feel are in no way inferior to the original. My Polish friend, who introduced me to pierogi, agrees. 🙂 img_1792A note on how you cook these: you can boil, bake or fry them (and steam, I’ll bet). I tend to go for healthy options when it comes to food, but I really feel these are best when fried in oil, like I’ve done here.img_1800

Makes about 30 pierogi


For the filling
1 kg potatoes, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
2 onions, finely chopped
200 g soy yoghurt (I think oat yogurt would also work, but it might need a squeeze of lemon juice, as it’s a bit sweeter)
salt, plenty of (to taste)
pepper, not too much (to taste)

For the doughimg_1808500 g all-purpose flour
1 level tsp fine salt
2 tbsp flavourless vegetable oil (I used rice bran)
90 ml/6 tbsps aquafaba (simply pour straight from a tin of chickpeas into a measuring cup)
160 ml water

I start by making the filling (but feel free to start with the dough, it needs resting).
– Boil the potatoes for 15/20 minutes, until cooked through.
– Meanwhile, fry the onion in a bit of oil until slightly brown around the edges. Set aside.
– When the potatoes are cooked, drain well and mash with the soy yogurt, salt and pepper.
– Stir the fried onions into the filling mixture.
– Check seasoning (it should be a quite salty, imo) and set aside, covered.

I use my standing mixer for the dough, but you can also make it by hand
– Put the flour and salt in the bowl of the mixer.
– Combine aquafaba and water. I put the AF in a jug, then top up with water to the 250 ml mark.
– Using the paddle attachment, mix flour and salt.
– Leave the machine running while you add the oil and then gradually pour in the AF/water mixture. The dough should just come together. Add a sprinkling of water if it doesn’t, but not too much(!); it should not be as wet as bread dough.
– Replace the paddle with the dough hook and knead the dough for 5 minutes.
– Once kneaded, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

– Take a clump of dough (about 22 g), flatten it into a disc and roll out to about 10 cm on a (very) lightly floured surface. Put a teaspoon of filling in the middle of the disc.
– Pick up the disc with the filling on it and, using your fingertips, gently pull the dough over the filling and pinch it shut (think pasty, empanada, etc.). Then take a 6 cm round ravioli cutter or a glas with a 6 cm diameter and cut the edges off your dumpling, creating a neat pierogi that won’t open while you cook it. (see photos).
– Heat a layer of oil in a wide frying pan and put in half a batch (about 15) of pierogi. Fry for a few minutes until golden, flip and fry for a few more minutes.
– Take the pierogi out of the pan and drain on kitchen towel before serving.

A Vegan Plan B

img_1069You forgot to buy an essential ingredient, the evening didn’t go as you had planned, you screwed up the dinner you were going to cook, or you simply can’t be asked. Let’s face it, cooking is part of life and, as such, doesn’t always work out the way you’d like (while at other times it’s so much better than you’d ever hoped). So you need a Plan B; a meal that you can throw together in no time at all, is tasty and prevents you from ordering out.

As a vegetarian (and probably even as an ominvore before that), my Plan B usually involved two eggs, a frying pan and two slices of bread. With eggs off the menu, I had to find something different but preferably similar for those times when I need a quick and easy meal. So I give you the vegan omelette, made with a chickpea flour batter. Of course I don’t claim to have invented this dish (plenty of versions of it on the Internet), but this is my take on it.

I’ve used mushrooms, onion and pepper here, but you can of course use any (left-over) veg you’d like. You could also add dried or fresh, chopped herbs to the batter.


5 medium mushrooms, halved, each half chopped into 6 pieces (but depending on the shape and size of the mushrooms)
½ large onion, finely chopped
½ red pepper, (sort of) finely chopped
garlic oil

For the batter
50 g chickpea flour
½ tsp baking powder
1 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast
salt and pepper, to taste
anywhere between 70-90 mls of water (or more, depending on your flour. You’ll want it to resemble a pancake batter, so you can pour it into the pan)
flavourless vegetable oil


– In a medium-sized skillet, fry the veg in the garlic oil till cooked.
– Meanwhile, mix all the dry ingredients for the batter in a bowl (don’t add the water yet).
– Put the cooked vegetables on a plate and set aside.
– While heating the flavourless oil in the same pan, make the batter by adding the water and whisking.
– Pour it into the pan and quickly spread it out by turning the pan this way and that.
– Now, also quickly, distribute the vegetables over the omelette.
– Turn the heat down to low and cook for 5 minutes.
– Slide it out of the pan (the edges may stick a bit, gently loosen them with a spatula) and eat.