vegan pad thai recipe

Linda McCartney recipes: easy vegan dinners inspired by the plant-based pioneer

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In a new book by the McCartney family, the late Linda McCartney’s classic meat-free recipes are updated for modern home cooks. 

Before she met Paul McCartney in 1967, Linda Eastman was steadily building her photography career in New York, where she was well-known for her portraits of celebrities and bands. By the 70s, she was most famous for being married to one of the world’s biggest musicians. But today, more than anything else, the name ‘Linda McCartney’ is synonymous with vegetarianism.

A passionate cook and an early pioneer of plant-based eating (at a time when it was far from common in the UK or the US), McCartney published three cookbooks in the 80s and 90s: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, Linda’s Kitchen and Simple And Inspiring Recipes For Meatless Meals

In 1991, she also launched her own line of frozen vegetarian meals, using the distinctly unappetising-sounding dehydrated textured vegetable protein (TVP) to mimic the taste and feel of meat. Thirty years on, that decision looks somewhat prophetic: McCartney-style meat substitutes are now so mainstream that you can buy a plant-based Whopper at Burger King, and the plant-based meat alternatives market is predicted to be worth $140 billion globally by 2029.

“I know that if Linda was with us now, she would love this plant-based revolution,” writes Paul McCartney in Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen, “and that’s why we decided to take a fresh look at her legacy and her recipes and produce this book.”

Linda McCartney
Linda in 1979 © 1979 MPL Communications Ltd

The former Beatle has written the new cookbook, out now, with his daughters Mary and Stella McCartney. Linda is also credited as one of the authors, since the recipes it contains – from cinnamon buns to black bean tacos – are based on dishes she created before her untimely death from cancer in 1998.

“I don’t ever remember Mum following a recipe in a cookbook, which is funny considering that now, all these years on, we are revisiting her own recipes, from some of the most pioneering vegetarian cookbooks ever produced,” writes Stella McCartney. 

Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen cookbook
Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen by Linda, Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney is out now with Seven Dials

Mary McCartney agrees that her mother’s approach to cooking was relaxed and intuitive. 

“Her food was comfort food, quite hearty, and she described herself as a peasant cook,” she writes. “She wasn’t one for measuring or exact quantities and she liked recipes to be simple and accessible, without tricky ingredients that you had to search the shops for.”

Below, the McCartneys share three quick, easy and delicious vegan recipes from Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen: aubergine and tomato bake, pad thai, and sweet potato rösti with avocado, coriander and chilli.

“Being vegetarian and vegan is so easy now and so rewarding; and Linda was one of the pioneers who led to this,” writes Paul McCartney. “I’m so proud of her and all that she did.”

  • Aubergine and tomato bake

    aubergine_parmiagana_recipe_vegan_linda_mccartney
    Vegan recipes: Linda McCartney’s aubergine and tomato bake

    This really is a feast – layers of succulent aubergine and tangy kalamata olive and tomato sauce, all topped with vegan mozzarella and crunchy pine nuts. Mouthwatering. Any leftovers keep well for a couple of days and can be reheated for a quick lunch.

    Serves 4

    Prep: 20 mins

    Cook: 1 hr 20 mins

    Ingredients

    • 100ml olive oil, plus extra to grease
    • 1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
    • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
    • 140g tomato purée
    • 80g kalamata olives, roughly chopped
    • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh oregano leaves
    • 2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
    • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    • 60g plain or white spelt flour
    • 2 aubergines, trimmed and cut lengthways into 5mm-thick slices
    • 200g vegan mozzarella cheese, grated
    • 2 tbsp pine nuts
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Method

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4 and lightly grease a medium-sized baking dish with oil.

    Put 2 tablespoons of the oil into a large pan with a lid and place over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook gently for 8–10 minutes until softened. 

    Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato purée, olives, herbs, vinegar, a teaspoon of salt and a quarter of a teaspoon of pepper, then bring to a gentle simmer. 

    Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring now and again, until slightly reduced. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

    Meanwhile, place the flour in a wide shallow bowl and season generously with salt and pepper. Coat each slice of aubergine in the seasoned flour and set aside. 

    Put another 2 tablespoons of the olive oil into a large non-stick frying pan and place over a medium-high heat. 

    Working in batches, so as not to overcrowd the pan, fry the floured aubergine slices for 3–4 minutes on each side until golden.

    Continue until all are fried, adding more oil as needed.

    Cover the base of the greased baking dish with a thin layer of the tomato sauce, then add a layer of aubergine and continue layering until you have used up all of the ingredients. 

    Mix the grated mozzarella with the pine nuts and scatter over the top of the dish.

    Season with a little more salt and pepper and bake for 30–40 minutes until the top is golden brown and bubbling. Serve immediately.

  • Pad thai

    vegan pad thai recipe
    Vegan recipes: Linda McCartney’s pad thai

    This dish has become a takeaway and ready-meal favourite, but it is easy to make your own – then you know exactly what you’re eating. Once you’ve prepared all the vegetables, this is ready to eat in 20 minutes. Tamarind paste is available in jars.

    Serves 2

    Prep: 15 mins

    Cook: 20 mins

    Ingredients

    • 2 ½ tbsp soy sauce or tamari
    • 2 ½ tbsp unrefined or light brown sugar
    • 2 tbsp tamarind paste mixed with 1 tbsp water, or 3 tbsp lime juice
    • 200g flat rice noodles
    • vegetable oil, to fry
    • 150g broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
    • 3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    • 100g bean sprouts
    • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
    • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
    • 50g roasted cashew nuts, roughly chopped

    To serve:

    • handful of coriander leaves
    • lime wedges

    Method

    Put the soy sauce, sugar and the tamarind mixture or lime juice in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat. Warm through until the sugar dissolves completely, then remove from the heat.

    Soak the noodles in hot water for 5–7 minutes until tender, but not completely soft.

    Put 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a large frying pan and place over a high heat. Add the broccoli, garlic, bean sprouts and most of the chilli and spring onions – set some aside for later. 

    Stir-fry for 2 minutes until the garlic is aromatic, taking care not to let it burn.

    Drain the noodles and add them to the pan with the chopped cashew nuts, tossing them with the vegetables and separating any noodles that are sticking together. 

    Add the soy sauce mixture and cook for another 3–5 minutes, tossing occasionally, until the noodles have soaked up most of the liquid and are tender. 

    Taste and, if necessary, adjust the seasoning with more tamarind or soy sauce.

    Plate up the noodles with the remaining spring onions and chilli scattered over the top and garnish with coriander leaves. 

    Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

  • Sweet potato rösti with avocado, coriander and chilli

    sweet potato rösti recipe
    Vegan recipes: Linda McCartney’s sweet potato rösti

    Packed with flavour and so moreish, sweet potatoes are a great source of minerals and vitamins, particularly C and E. They are also rich in fibre, which is great for the digestive system. And all the veggies in this count towards your five a day.

    Serves 4

    Prep: 10 mins

    Cook: 20 mins

    Ingredients

    • 600g sweet potato, peeled
    • 1 medium red onion, peeled and very finely chopped
    • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    • 5 tbsp gram (chickpea) flour or plain white flour
    • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to fry
    • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    To serve:

    • 2 ripe avocados
    • chopped coriander leaves
    • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
    • lime wedges (optional)

    Method

    Coarsely grate the sweet potato. Place it in the centre of a clean tea towel, roll the towel up and squeeze out as much liquid as possible over a sink, twisting the towel as you go.

    Tip the sweet potato into a bowl and mix with the red onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, flour and 4 tablespoons of olive oil.

    Season with 2 teaspoons of salt and half a teaspoon of black pepper, then use clean hands to bring everything together.

    Add a tablespoon of oil to a large non-stick pan and place it over a medium-low heat. Take 2 tablespoons of the sweet potato mixture in your hand and tightly compact it into a ball, then gently flatten it into a disc and place it in the hot pan. 

    Repeat with more of the mixture, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. 

    Fry the rösti for 4–5 minutes until golden on one side, then gently flip over and fry for another 4–5 minutes, until golden and cooked through. 

    Transfer to a plate and continue until you’ve used all the mixture, adding more oil as needed.

    Halve the avocados, remove the stones and slice the flesh. Plate up the rösti and avocado, season and scatter over the coriander leaves and chilli. 

    Drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve immediately with lime wedges if desired.

    Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen: Over 90 Plant-Based Recipes To Save The Planet And Nourish The Soul by Linda, Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney (£26, Seven Dials) is out now

Photography: Issy Croker © Linda Enterprises Ltd; © 1979 MPL Communications Ltd

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