Whether it’s for your romantic St Valentine’s spread or a bit-of-summat-different in front of the box, go for food that’s light and that you can feed to each other. How about indulging yourselves with these mouth-watering tempters?:
Strawberry Salad with Olives and Balsamic Vinegar
(serves 8-10) – not that you’ll need this much, just quarter the ingredient amounts for 2!
1kg large strawberries
10 black olives
10 leaves fresh and fragrant basil, or mint if you have none
1 tsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp coarsely milled white pepper
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp caster sugar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Rinse and slice the strawberries and arrange them in overlapping slices on a plate. Moisten with the two vinegars, season with the pepper, sugar and salt, sprinkle with olives and torn basil leaves and anoint all with the olive oil.
2. Serve as a starter with crusty bread.
Griddled Asparagus with Salsa Verde
2 garlic cloves, peeled
50g fresh mint, destalked
25g fresh basil, destalked
½ bunch watercress, destalked
1 tbsp apple juice concentrate
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
125ml extra virgin olive oil
1. Cut off the woody ends of the asparagus, wash and put straight on to a very, very hot griddle.
2. Griddle for 2 minutes on one side and then turn over and griddle for 2 more minutes. The asparagus should be a brilliant green colour, with a touch of burnt.
3. For the Salsa Verde put everything in a food processor in the order above, whizzing each time before adding the next ingredient. The mix should be runny, so add more olive oil if it starts to get too thick.
4. Serve the griddled asparagus at once, accompanied by the Salsa Verde and some warm crusty bread.
source: Green World Cookbook by Rachel Demuth
Vegan Sushi with Avocado and Cucumber
½ cucumber, peeled
2 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
piece of dashi-konbu
225g Japanese sushi rice
1-2 tsp wasabi paste
3 tbsp pickled ginger
1 large avocado
juice of ½ lime
bowls of pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi paste to serve
1. Halve the cucumber lengthways and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon. Slice into thin strips with a vegetable peeler and put in a bowl.
2. Mix the sugar and vinegar in a small bowl and drizzle half the dressing over the cucumber slices. Reserve the remaining dressing.
3. Put the dashi-konbu, rice and 450ml water into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil then remove the dashi-konbu, cover and simmer the rice for 10 minutes (until cooked – it should still have a bit of bite left in it). Remove from the heat and add the remaining dressing. Leave to stand, still covered, for 15 minutes.
4. Transfer the rice into a bowl and leave to cool.
5. Mould the rice into walnut-sized balls and top each ball with a little wasabi and pickled ginger.
6. Slice the avocado in half lengthways. Remove the stone, peel and slice the flesh into short, thin strips. Drizzle lime juice over the strips.
7. Top each rice ball with an avocado strip or 2 cucumber slices.
8. Arrange the sushi on one large plate and serve with bowls of pickled ginger, soy sauce and wasabi paste.
source: The New Vegan by Amanda Grant
Roasted Pepper Pasta
2 red peppers
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic, un-peeled, whole
2 tbsp of good quality olive oil
4 tbsp fresh basil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
2. Cut peppers in half and de-seed. Cut onions in quarters. Place onto a baking tray with garlic and pour over olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes. Take care not to let the peppers burn; check after 15 minutes and adjust heat if necessary.
3. Put vegetables in a food processor with the basil and balsamic vinegar. Season and blend into a rough paste.
4. Cook pasta according to packet instructions, drain and mix in sauce. Serve with salad and vegan parmesan.
Chocolate Mousse with Banana Cake Hearts
175g dairy-free chocolate (70 per cent cocoa solids)
50g coconut oil
50ml orange juice
50g dark brown sugar
125ml sunflower oil
125ml sweetened soya milk
50g medjool dates, stoned and chopped
2 tbsp Cointreau
1 banana, mashed
125g self-raising wholemeal flour
50ml rapeseed oil
50ml soya milk
50ml agave or maple syrup
1 tbsp chopped glace cherries
1 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tsp lemon juice
soya cream and grated chocolate to serve
1. Break the chocolate into pieces, place in a saucepan with the coconut oil, orange juice and sugar, and melt over a low heat, stirring constantly.
2. Place the sunflower oil and soya milk in a bowl and combine thoroughly using a hand-held mixer. With the mixer still running, gradually add the melted chocolate mixture. Stir in the dates and Cointreau, then chill the mousse in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
3. Meanwhile bake the banana cake. Oil a 20cm cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
4. Place all the cake ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the tip of a sharp knife inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
5. Allow the cake to cook, then use a heart-shaped cutter to cut out 12 heart shapes from the cake.
6. Whisk the mousse again, then spoon into ramekins or glass dishes. Place a cake heart on top of each one. Drizzle each serving with soya cream and sprinkle with coarsely grated chocolate.
source: Vegan by Tony Weston and Yvonne Bishop
Orange and Passion Fruit Sorbet
250g golden caster sugar
10 passion fruit
handful of fresh mint leaves, roughly torn, to decorate
1. Slice the oranges in half widthways and scoop out the flesh with a tablespoon. Put the flesh in a sieve and strain the juice into a large bowl, pressing the flesh firmly against the sieve.
2. Put the juice in a saucepan (preferably stainless steel or enamelled cast iron), stir in the sugar and heat gently for about 5 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.
3. Slice 9 passion fruit in half widthways and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon. Put the flesh in a jug and set aside 12 of the shells. Strain the juice into a bowl, pressing the pulp firmly against the sieve.
4. Stir the passion fruit juice into the orange syrup.
5. Transfer the syrup into an ice-cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. OR, pour the syrup into a freezeproof container, cover and freeze for 2 hours. Remove the container from the freezer and beat the mixture vigorously with a fork or electric whisk to break down the ice crystals. Cover, return to the freezer, leave for further 2 more hours and repeat the process. Cover, return the sorbet to the freezer and leave for 2-3 hours until it hardens.
6. Use a teaspoon to scoop the sorbet into the reserved passion fruit shells. Slice the remaining passion fruit in half and drizzle a little of its juices over the sorbets. Top each with fresh mint leaves and serve. Keep the remaining sorbet covered in the freezer.
source: The New Vegan by Amanda Grant
And if you can’t be bothered to cook, simply raid the fruit bowl. Whether it’s strawberries dipped in chocolate, cocktails with lime twists, bananas for…well, use your imagination – fresh, juicy, ripe fruits are perfect tool of seduction in the kitchen or the bedroom.
For the messier among you there are vegan delights available by mailorder or on your high street:
- Plamil chocolate spread: smooth and rich it comes in Plain, Orange and Hazlenut flavours. Available from Plamil by mailorder, in Tesco or in your local healthfood shop.
- Soyatoo squirty spray cream and whipped cream: yes! VEGAN whipped cream, available from Vegan Store and in selected independent healthfood shops.
- Ann Summers’ Strawberry Lick – vegan and very tasty!
Drink and be merry
Many wines are fined using a whole range of nasty bits: blood, bone marrow, chitin, fish oil, gelatine and milk casein.
It’s hard to tell from the bottle but some supermarkets do label them clearly (such as Co-op and Tesco). Some wine brands are totally suitable for veggies, like Brown Brothers and Hardy’s; wine merchants like Oddbins and also health food shops will be able to tell you which ones to buy. Duval-Leroy champagne is vegan as are Tesco’s Premier Cru, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Vintage and Demi sections.
Check out Viva!’s Wine Club and get organic vegan wines from all over the world (as well as vegan champers, beers, ciders and spirits) delivered straight to your door as well as donating to Viva!.
It’s never been easier for veggies to eat out so treat your special someone to a romantic candlelit animal-free dinner. Most restaurants, cafes and pubs (come on you can do better than a pub meal on St Valentine’s though!) have at least one veggie option on the menu as well as the usual salad and jacket potato (and something vegan too, or a dish that can be tweaked so it is). If there’s nothing you fancy speak to the staff as many chefs are happy to rustle you something up. And if you prefer an easy life seek out your local veggie eatery where you’re guaranteed a safe platter, fabulous food and an ethical experience.
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