spaghetti al nero with mushrooms and chilli

This spaghetti recipe is a traditional Italian recipe which is like a lot of Italian recipes, it’s really simple but nails it with its flavours. I bought my mushrooms at Morrison’s as they have a brilliant selection of veg, fruit and herbs. The spaghetti al nero I got from my local Italian deli, but it’s equally good with standard spaghetti. It’s essentially vegan except for the spaghetti al nero which is made with squid ink, so to get the same vibe you could use black rice noodles. For the Parmesan lovers like myself, you can add lots of freshly grated Parmesan. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can find a vegan parmesan in your local supermarket or health food shop.

It’s perfect for a dinner party served with a salad and some crusty bread or for a date night as it looks really beautiful.

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beetroot salad with pistachios

Apart from being very pretty, this beetroot salad tastes amazing. It’s from the fab cookbook Many Greek Kitchens by Tessa Kiros which is stuffed with brilliant recipes and pictures. I served this at a dinner party with other salads, fries and roast fish, but you could also serve it as part of a mezze. It’s fresh creamy sweet and crunchy, my favourite things.

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chocolate truffle brownies (I can’t believe they are vegan)

These brownies are squidgy and very chocolatey… but not too sweet, add more of the coconut sugar if you prefer them sweeter, and the prunes add that extra squidge factor. I tried them at a dinner party with fresh raspberries and they were a big hit. My friend Vicki thought they were very truffley, so I changed the name.

They are also great with vegan vanilla ice cream or just as a dessert with coffee. You could also press a half walnut or pecan into the top if you fancy instead of the chocolate drops before you bake them. They are perfect if you are following a dairy free diet and fancy a bit of the old chocolate cake.

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vegan coconut shortbread

These shortbreads are coconutty and taste really buttery even though they are dairy free. I love them with a coffee or crunched up on ice cream. No one will ever know they are vegan unless you tell them, and toasting the coconut makes the flavour even more delicious.

Try making them with kids, as they are easy to make and good fun to stamp out into shapes.

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pickled watermelon

Pickled watermelon sounds a bit quirky, but try it. It’s got the lovely flavours of fennel, star anise and chilli (which gives it a little bit of a kick). It is a delicious addition to salads and on any of my curries, particularly the coconutty ones. I also like to serve it on top of grilled halloumi or on toasted sourdough with feta, because it’s a brilliant marriage with cheese.

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mushroom risotto with truffle

I cooked this for a friend of mine the other day and she loved it so much she told me I had to put it on the blog. The combination of flavours is fab with the mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil… they are a marriage made in heaven.

It’s also really easy as most of the work is in the prep, so once you have done that it’s a doddle. You can get little bottles of truffle oil in supermarkets or online and of course in Italian delis, and before you think it’s too expensive, you can get them from as little as £3.50 and remember a little goes a long way, so it will last you for ages.

This is a perfect dinner party or date night supper and works really well with a crispy salad with my vinaigrette recipe which is also on the blog.

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pea curry with cumin

I don’t need an excuse to use peas in anything, as I’ve always been a massive pea fan. My mum and sister always kept petit pois peas in the freezer in case they had to cook for me. So I have been looking at recipes that are predominantly pea based.

This recipe is from Madhur Jaffrey’s easy vegetarian books but I’ve tweaked it a bit to suit my taste, and added olive oil, a bit of lemon juice and parsley so it’s even healthier and tastier. Peas are a fantastic super food and are one of the highest fibre vegetables.

This recipe is perfect as an accompaniment to baked fish, basmati rice and salad. It’s got all the sweet and savoury flavours that work well with the fragrance of the spices. It’s also dairy and gluten free. I drizzle a bit of dairy free kefir on mine to add even more good things. And it’s delicious cold in a warm chapati for lunch.

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spaghetti with breadcrumbs and truffle oil

I cooked this recipe for an anniversary dinner with one vegan and two vegetarians. I thought I’d cook a truffle spaghetti that was primarily vegan, but had great tastes and textures. So I came up with this truffle spaghetti with breadcrumbs.

It’s mushroomy and truffley and has healthy lemon zest and parsley with crunchy sourdough bread crumbs on top… and if you eat Parmesan you can grate lots on top too.

Every one was happy and loved it so much I have put it on the blog. It’s the perfect dinner party recipe and if you half the quantities it’s perfect for a date night. Truffle oil is used sparingly so a bit goes a long way and in my local supermarket it’s £3.50 a bottle and will last you for ages, so it’s well within budget.

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vegan red thai curry with coconut, lime and basil

This healthy creamy tangy curry is a bit crunchy and packed with good things. You can also add any vegetables you like to it like mushrooms, sugar snap peas or whatever you fancy or have lying around in the fridge if you prefer.

Perfect for a dinner date or dinner party with thai sticky rice and vegan prawn crackers.

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