Happy Veganuary! This month we’re asking you to go a bit further and try out a vegan or plant-based diet. Cutting all animal products out of your diet has a range of benefits for your health (with a bit of sensible dietary planning!), your grocery budget, animal welfare and the environment.
The vegan food scene is booming in London right now with a wide range of creative and exciting dishes available and more being added to the menu all the time! If you’d like to explore some of the most inventive options the Hackney Downs Vegan market is a great place to start. Here you’ll find vegan beer, vegan pies and even vegan fried chicken which has to be tasted to be believed!
But you don’t have to be a professional chef to cook vegan food. You can create delicious and healthy meals in your own home too. Hadiza, our chef from the refectory in New Cavendish Street is here to help you kick off the year with this delicious and hearty vegan recipe using seasonal January veg. You might think that in the grim January weather we must be flying in all our veg from warmer climes but think again! Pumpkins and spring greens form the seasonal centrepieces of this meal which uses tofu as its source of protein.
If you’ve never cooked with tofu before and think it belongs more in a lab than your kitchen, don’t be scared! One bite of this stew and you’ll be converted. This is a great meal to make in bulk on Sunday to soothe your soul and then provide you with healthy and filling lunches for the rest of the week.
500g Spring greens, sliced
600g Pumpkin, peeled and diced
3 sticks celery, diced
500g Mixed peppers, diced
2 Medium onions, diced
4 Tbsp oil
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried rosemary
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
400g tofu, drained and cut into cubes
- In a frying pan, fry the tofu in half the oil until golden brown, turning it after 2-3 minutes, taking care not to break it up. Pat dry with kitchen paper and set aside.*
- In the rest of the oil, in a deep saucepan, cook the celery, onions and peppers until soft and sweet.
- Add the pumpkin, tomatoes, spices, rosemary and stock cube and stir to combine.
- Simmer until the pumpkin is cooked, about 15-20 minutes.
- Add the spring greens gradually, stirring more in as they wilt.
- Add the tofu.
- Season and serve on a bed of rice.
*If you’re on a health kick this January and don’t want to fry your tofu, follow this handy tip for healthy, crispy tofu: first dry it out really well by placing it under a weight (nothing too heavy, just a plate or something to help squeeze the moisture out) for a couple of hours. Next cut it into cubes, arrange them on some baking parchment on a tray and bake them for about half an hour at 200°c, turning halfway.