With the nights drawing in and the amount of daylight decreasing, enjoying delicious food is not just a treat, but a necessity. Since becoming vegan almost three years ago I’ve been experimenting with recipes to make sure I don’t feel like I’m missing out. Some vegan replacements can be expensive as well as overly processed. However, I try to cook from scratch whenever I can. Today I’m sharing two recipes for some hearty vegan comfort food for Autumn, with ingredients bought from my local Jack’s supermarket.
This simple and affordable version of spaghetti bolognese is so easy to make and really cheap too. Me and Isobel have it at least once a week and she loves to get involved making it. It takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish, so it’s great for when you don’t have much time. You could make a large batch of the sauce and freeze some, so all you have to do is cook the pasta.
Heat the vegetable oil in the pan and soften the onion and garlic for a few minutes, then add the tinned tomatoes. When the tomatoes have warmed through, add the frozen soya mince – I don’t weigh it, I just use enough to make the thickness of the sauce to my preference. After cooking on a medium heat for a few minutes crumble a vegetable stock cube in and add about two tablespoons of tomato puree. If you don’t use a lot of garlic, buying a whole clove can be a waste as it dries up. I sometimes cheat by using garlic paste – I prefer to use fresh, but it’s great to have a back up for when I run out.
While the sauce is gently simmering add some mixed herbs and cook the spaghetti. When the spaghetti is al dente, drain and add to the sauce. Mix it thoroughly so all the strands are coated with the bolognese sauce. Garnish with some grated vegan cheese (any cheese is fine although you can get a parmesan substitute in larger supermarkets). Alternatively you can sprinkle on some nutritional yeast, which is a source of vitamin B12. (Nutritional yeast is used in lots of vegan recipes for its cheesy flavour).
This is a really tasty and filling dish that both vegans and non vegans will enjoy!
This isn’t my recipe – I have to give full credit to Bosh for this one, but I wanted to share it anyway. I found it when I was meeting a friend for a socially distanced cup of tea in the garden and wanted to take some cake. As usual I’d left it until the last minute and was missing some key baking ingredients. Then I remembered I had two over ripe avocados and hurriedly knocked up some delicious chocolate brownies.
Put the avocados in a blender, or use a handheld stick blender as I did. Add the liquids (milk, syrup, vanilla essence and olive oil) and blend until you have a gorgeous, light green creamy mixture. Then add the sugar, cocoa powder, salt (arrowroot if using) and baking powder. When this is all mixed together add the flour and mix thoroughly. The recipe says to pour the mixture into a baking tray and then push the chunks of chocolate into it. However, I’ve found that it makes no difference if you mix the chocolate in beforehand. I used a very dark chocolate – 85% – but that gives the brownies a slightly bitter edge. If you want a less intense taste I’d advise going for around 70% instead.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 180c (fan oven). Check at 20 minutes by putting a skewer in – it should be slightly gooey in the middle. When the brownie cake is cooked, leave to cool and then cut into squares. They are delicious served warm with a few raspberries on the side.
I’ve made this brownie recipe several times and tweaked it here and there; I’ve used all plain four when I haven’t had wholemeal flour, I’ve used agave syrup instead of maple and I’ve used just dark muscovado sugar. All have turned out really well. I don’t think you need 100g of chocolate – half of that would suffice, unless you want a really intense chocolatey taste.
When I became vegan almost three years ago I was determined not to limit myself in terms of range of food. With a bit of research and experimenting I’ve found that being vegan doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive. My local Jack’s supermarket is stocking more and more vegan food, and it’s cheaper than the big supermarkets. Jack’s is actually owned by Tesco, and was founded to rival discount stores, namely Aldi and Lidl.
The Jack’s store that I shop at was originally a Tesco. When it changed I really didn’t think it would be for me, but now it stocks Alpro milks and yogurt, Violife cheese, as well as some Tesco branded products – all cheaper than in the big Tesco six miles away. There aren’t that many Jack’s stores across the UK, but if you happen to have one near you it’s definitely worth taking a look. It could save you a small fortune on your grocery shopping.
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Jack’s supermarket. All words and opinions are my own.