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. 


Quick Black Bean Chilli Wraps (with Cashew Sour Cream)

img_0862Seeing as ‘bonenprutje’ (Dutch for ‘things flung in a pan, including some beans’) wasn’t going to cut it as a title, I’ve gone with what you see above. And, to be honest, this is a slightly more polished version of something I’ve been cooking for years when I didn’t really know what to eat, but knew it wasn’t takeaway food. img_0855

Originally I made this as a quick chilli that conveniently used up left-over veg and ends of tins. But because I feel tortilla wraps are a bit more festive than a bowl of bean stew served with bread, I made it a bit less saucy, so it could be used as a filling. If you do want it ‘soupier’, be my guest and add more water. If you do, you could up the spices a bit but I don’t really think it’s necessary.img_0842

This recipe is very much a blueprint, so use whatever you want; sub the black beans for chickpeas or black-eyed beans, add sweetcorn, baby corn, frozen peas, etc. Serve with (vegan) sour cream and some lettuce leaves, like I did here, or just scatter over some chopped fresh coriander. You can find the recipe for the cashew sour cream on the Oh She Glows website.img_0835

One last thing: as always, I sauté the mushrooms separately (but in the same pan I later cook the sauce in), because I feel they turn out so much better that way. If you don’t feel like it, skip this step and just add them to the pan with the chopped pepper.



250 g mushrooms, sliced
½ tsp chilli flakes
1 onion, chopped finely
1 red pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp cinnamon
1 x 400 ml tin tomatoes, blitzed in a processor/blender
1 x 400 g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
tortilla wraps img_0848


– In some oil, sautée the mushrooms on a high heat until cooked but not mushy. Put on a plate and set aside.
– In the same pan, heat some more oil and add the chilli flakes.
– Add the onion and sautée for a few minutes, then stir in the chopped pepper and cook for a few more minutes.
– Turn the heat down to low and add the garlic, tomato purée and spices. Cook for a minute, constantly stirring.
– Add the tomatoes, beans and mushrooms and bring to a simmer
– Let simmer, lid on, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
– Serve stuffed in a warm tortilla wrap.

Asian-Themed Mushroom and Brussels Sprouts Risotto

IMG_0222If necessity is the mother of all invention, abundance is definitely its father, especially in the kitchen. In this case, abundance came in the shape of a bag of Brussels sprouts that needed using up. In my enthusiasm (I always go a bit mad when sprouts are back in season) I overstocked, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it forces you to be creative. So I came up with this autumny/wintery Asian-style risotto.

I say ‘Asian-style’ because a vegan risotto with a list of ingredients that includes sprouts, sake and coriander is by definition a multi-continental, hybrid dish. Which, by the way, goes for a lot of vegetarian and vegan cooking of the non-potato-veg-and-fake-meat variety. And that’s just one of the things that, for me, makes it such a great way of cooking and eating.

Okay, I’ll end the plug there. 😉


I’ve used garlic and chilli oil here, instead of fresh. One, because it’s easy and lazy, and two because grated garlic tends to burn/stick in my Le Creuset pan unless I use more oil than I want to. The ginger, if chopped not too finely, can stand the heat a bit better. You could of course use a fresh chilli, chilli flakes (or even chilli sauce) instead of the oil. IMG_0215

I only have two rules when it comes to making risotto: make sure your stock is piping hot, so you don’t bring down the temperature of the pan as you add it, and start tasting your rice after about 15 minutes to see if it’s done. As usual, I sauté the mushrooms first. It’s not a rule, but I do feel it really adds to the flavour and texture of the finished dish.


olive oil
250 g chestnut mushrooms, cut into quarters
generous splash of garlic oil
smaller splash of chilli oil
3 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp freshly chopped ginger (very fine strips)
125 g risotto rice
a nice slosh of sake
225 g of Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 litre hot mushroom stock
handful of chopped coriander


  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the mushrooms on a medium-high heat. You want to get some caramelisation going, so don’t put them on too low. Set aside once cooked but not mushy.
  • In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat garlic and chilli oil.
  • When hot, add the shallots and ginger. Fry until softened.
  • Add the risotto rice and fry, stirring, for a few minutes.
  • Pour in the sake and let evaporate while stirring.
  • Throw in the sliced sprouts and add your first ladleful of stock.
  • Stir until the pan is almost dry, add stock, stir until almost… etc, etc.
  • After about fifteen minutes, add the mushrooms to the pan and keep stirring.
  • Cook, tasting every now and again, until the rice is done to your liking.
  • Sprinkle over the coriander.

Spinach and Mushroom Lasagne with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

IMG_4270As much as I love the spinach and mushrooms in this lasagne, the red pepper sauce is the star of this dish. It’s my take on a sauce in Mildreds, The Cookbook, where it’s served with penne and boiled vegetables. Even if you don’t fancy cooking or eating lasagne right now, do give the sauce a try. I was instantly addicted, and a batch of this (divided into 4 portions) is now a staple in my freezer. IMG_4268 To make the sauce lighter (and vegan), I use soy cream instead of the double cream they use at Mildreds. I’ve also adapted the recipe to fit whole tins and jars. It could just be me, but one roasted pepper or one tomato left in a tin usually ends up mouldy in my fridge. IMG_4263 A note on pasta sheets: I’ve used shop-bought ‘fresh’ ones (eerily long shelf life, though) that don’t require pre-cooking. In my experience, whether or not you have to pre-boil lasagne sheets depends on the brand you use, and on the cooking time. I tend not to boil them first, even with dried ones, unless they are very thick.

Ingredients IMG_4261 For the sauce  – 1 onion, chopped – 1 celery stick, chopped – 1 carrot, peeled and grated (the one I used was 165 g, unpeeled weight) – 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely – 400 g tin of whole tomatoes – 350 g roast peppers (I used a 465 g jar with brine, undrained weight), roughly chopped – 1 tsp (coconut flower) sugar – 1 tsp coarse sea salt – freshly ground black pepper – 250 ml soy cream You’ll probably have about 1/4 of the sauce left after building your lasagne. Fridge or freeze for later use. It will be like having money in the bank, believe me. For the lasagne – 500 g fresh spinach leaves (I always chop fresh spinach so it doesn’t clump together so much ) – 400 mushrooms, sliced not too thinly – lasagne sheets PreparationIMG_4253 – Preheat oven to 200°C – Start by making the sauce. In a large pan, fry onion, celery and carrot in oil until softened. – Add the garlic and fry for one more minute. – Add all the other sauce ingredients, except the cream. – Bring to a boil and then simmer, stirring regularly, for 20 minutes (lid off) – Stir in the cream and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. – Blitz the sauce with a (stick) blender and set aside. – Wash your pan and wilt the spinach in it. In a sieve, press out the excess moisture with the back of a spoon (or just squeeze with your hands). Set aside. – In the same pan, fry the mushrooms in oil (I use chilli oil here) until softened but not cooked through. Drain in a sieve. -Build your lasagne in a rectangular oven dish (the bottom of the one I used measures 16×25 cm). Start with a layer of sauce, followed by  1/4 of the spinach and mushrooms and lasagne sheets. Repeat until you’ve used up all your ingredients, ending with a layer of pasta sheets topped with sauce. – Cover the dish with aluminium foil and bake for 20 minutes. – Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes. – Take the dish out of the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes before cutting into the lasagne.

Gado-Gado with my Satay Sauce

IMG_4033Gado-gado is an Indonesian dish made with mixed boiled or steamed vegetables, fried tofu, and boiled eggs, served with a peanut (‘satay’) sauce. I was never a fan of the dish until I tried Ottolenghi’s version of it, from his Plenty book. It taught me that it’s the satay sauce that makes the gado-gado. And Ottolenghi’s satay sauce is very, very good. But it’s also a lot of work, comes with a long list of ingredients, and has a grainy texture I don’t really like, due to the peanuts and stalk of lemon grass he uses.

So I wanted to create a satay sauce that was easier to make but at least at delicious. And I think I’ve succeeded! My recipe is a bit of a Frankenstein monster; part Ottolenghi, part River Cottage Meat Book (ironically), and part my own invention. Stitch it all together, bit of lightning and there you have it.IMG_4020

I’ve left out the eggs in this gado-gado to make it vegan, but traditionally they are part of the dish. Add them or leave them out, use them instead of the tofu, play around with the vegetables (although I think the potatoes are key), as long you smother it all in the luscious peanut sauce. I often make this to use up vegetables that are lurking in the fridge. The satay sauce is good over everything, and having a tub of it in the freezer is like having money in the bank.IMG_4027

Serves 2 generouslyIMG_4025

For the satay sauce
– 1 onion, finely chopped
– 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or grated
– 2 green bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped (or any chilli you like, seeds in or out)
– 2 tbsp ketjap manis ( a sweet, Indonesian soy sauce)
– 1 tbsp regular soy sauce
– 1 heaped tsp tamarind paste (ready-made, from a jar)
– 125 g smooth peanut butter
– 1 tsp lemongrass powder
– 50 ml coconut milk
– 2 tbsp lime juice
– water

For the gado-gado
– 4 smallish potatoes (350-400 g), cut into quarters
– 200 g green beans, topped and tailed (cleaned weight)
– 150 g cabbage leaf, cut into long, fine strips
– 180 g tofu bits, fried (I use mildly spiced ones from the supermarket)
– cassava crackers

– In a small saucepan, fry the onion, garlic and chilli in a splash of oil until soft.
– Add all the other ingredients, except the water, and bring to the boil.
– Carefully stir in water until you have a pourable/saucy consistency, but don’t go overboard(!).
– Turn off the heat, cover, and put aside.
– Put the potatoes in a medium-sized pot, cover generously with water, add some salt and bring to the boil.
– Boil for 10 minutes, then add green beans.
– Boil for 4 minutes, add cabbage and boil for 1 more minute or until the cabbage is tender but still has some bite.
– Meanwhile, fry tofu bits in a bit of oil and reheat satay sauce, if needed.
– Drain the vegetables and spread out on a large serving dish. Scatter over the tofu bits, pour over satay sauce and serve with cassava crackers.

Two for One: Artichoke/Basil Spread and Pasta Sauce

IMG_3305One of the things I love about cooking is the feeling that on one hand you are chopping, stirring, beating, stewing as countless people have done before you, while on the other you’re creating that unique dish at that particular time for those specific people. It’s being part of an age-old tradition and heritage while at the same time completely doing your own thing. In that sense, I think you could call cooking one of the most postmodern activities out there; everything’s already been done a million times over, so originality is out, but what a wealth of experience to work with and make your own. I think there is freedom in there, somewhere.IMG_3298

Having just said that, you probably won’t be too impressed with me telling you this is my own creation. But it is, within the pesto, spread, pasta sauce spectrum, anyway. 😉 Right, let’s ditch the philosophy and get our hands dirty (another thing I love about cooking; it’s a perfect mix of creativity and comforting routine chores). IMG_3300

I love the flavour of marinated artichokes but unless you buy really good ones from a delicatessen, they almost always have tough, wooden bits in them. This is why I decided to blitz jarred, supermarket-bought artichokes into a pasta sauce with some other ingredients, creating an unforeseen second dish; an excellent spread to serve with crackers and drinks! The artichoke and basil mixture has just the right texture and flavour for it. If you’re after the spread, simply blend together the sauce ingredients mentioned below (see ‘preparation’ also, though). If you want to make a main, follow the entire recipe.

Serves 2

– 180 g wholemeal spaghetti or pasta of your choice
– 3 tbsp/30 g pine nuts

For the sauce
– 1 x 295 gr jar of marinated artichoke hearts (in brine, not oil)
– 15 g basil leaves
– 1 heaped tbsp nutritional yeast (you could use parmesan)
– 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
– 1/4 tsp of fine sea salt (or to taste)
– pepper, to taste
– 3 tbsp/45 ml extra virgin olive oil


– Cook pasta according to packet instructions.
– Meanwhile dry-fry the pine nuts in a skillet to toast them. Be careful not to burn them, they should be golden.
– Blitz all the sauce ingredients, except the oil, in a (mini) food processor or with a stick blender.
– Add the oil gradually in a thin stream while still blending.
– When the pasta is almost cooked, hold back 1/4 cup/60 mls of the starchy cooking water.
– Gradually stir this water into your artichoke mixture to loosen it up. Go easy and see how much you need, the sauce should coat the pasta but not be thin.
– Drain the pasta when cooked and put it back in the pan. Mix in the artichoke and basil sauce using salad cutlery or similar.
– Divide between bowls, sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and serve.

My Weekday Spaghetti Bolognese

IMG_3206This is what I cook on those days when I just want to have a nice, healthy dinner on the table in under thirty minutes.

I am not claiming authenticity here (even just the fact that I use soy mince would make that a bogus claim). This is just a robust, flavourful tomato, mushroom and mince sauce, served with spaghetti or any other pasta, that hits the spot and is easy to make.IMG_3210

Now I know that a traditional, meaty bolognese sauce is simmered for hours but I don’t like to stew vegetarian mince too long because it doesn’t improve the texture, which makes this a schoolnight rather than a weekend dish.

If you don’t want to use soy mince, simply use more mushrooms.

Feeds 2/3 peopleIMG_3202

– olive oil
– 250 g mushrooms, sliced not too thinly
– 2 bay leaves
– ½ tsp chilli flakes (or to taste)
– 1 large onion, chopped finely
– 1 tsp dried oregano
– 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped/grated
– 1 tbsp tomato puree
– 175 g packet soy/Quorn mince
– 125 ml/½ cup red wine
– 400 ml tin chopped tomatoes
– 250 ml/1 cup vegetable or mushroom stock
– salt and pepper to taste
– 200 g (wholewheat) pastaIMG_3203

– Boil water for pasta and cook according to packet instructions.
– Meanwhile, fry the mushrooms in olive oil until they are almost cooked but still have some bite left. Set aside.
– Heat a generous glug of olive oil in a wide, lidded pan on a medium heat and when hot, add bay leaves, chilli flakes and onion. Fry until translucent.
– Add the garlic and oregano, fry for about 30 seconds, then add tomato puree, fry for a few minutes.
– Stir in the mince, then pour in the wine. Keep stirring and let the wine absorb/evaporate. This won’t take long.
– Add the tomatoes and about half the stock (keep the rest handy).
– Stir in the cooked mushrooms, bring to the boil.
– Clamp on the lid, turn down the heat and let simmer for 10/15 minutes.
– Check if it needs a bit more stock, season to your liking, and serve with the pasta.

My Mum’s Russian Salad, Vegetarian-Style


IMG_3233I don’t have to explain to you how smells and flavours can take you right back to your childhood, and that is exactly what this dish does for me. My mum used to make this Russian salad, or koude schotel, as we call it, on warm summer days and on campsites in, invariably, France. Preparing and eating this dish alway brings back those summers.IMG_3224

I think for most western vegetarians, giving up meat also means giving up a few family classics. Yes, you can substitute a lot of things but grilled spare ribs are grilled spare ribs and, so I assumed, Russian beef salad is Russian beef salad. Turns out I was wrong. This salad, which is originally made with corned beef, evokes the same memories without meat. And the Eastender, who was never a fan of my family’s beloved koude schotel, loves this vegetarian version.IMG_3232

Like I said, this is mainly a summer dish for me but you can make it any time you are looking for an easy, tasty and cheap meal, with plenty left over to put in your sanwiches the next day.

– 700 g potatoes, peeled and halved or quartered, depending on size. I use red-skinned potatoes.IMG_3227
– 1 large onion, chopped neither finely nor roughly (Did you just roll your eyes at me?!)
– 1 apple, peeled and chopped into smallish bits. I prefer Granny Smith.
– 150 g gherkins, chopped into smallish bits
– 1 400 g can Macedonische groente. This is the Dutch name, I saw Green Giant sell something called ‘vegetable blend’. Mixed tinned veg is what you’re after.
– about 250 ml/1 cup salad cream, or to your liking. Enough for a light coating.
– 1 scant tsp of sweet paprika

hard-boiled eggs
pearl onions
tinned/bottled asparagus (optional)

– Boil the potatoes until just cooked, about 15 minutes, depending on size. You’ll want to dice them, so don’t overcook.
– Let cool, then dice.
– Mix all the ingredients, except the eggs, pearl onions and asparagus together in a big bowl.
– Chill in the fridge until stone cold.
– Serve with the eggs, etc, as I’ve suggested, or whatever you like.