These easy, delicious and inexpensive vegan recipes, chosen and created by Melissa Thompson, feel like a hug in a bowl.
Melissa Thompson is a cook, writer, BBC Good Food columnist and the brains behind food and recipe project Fowl Mouths. London-based but of Maltese and Jamaican descent, Thompson loves food from all over the world but she is especially passionate about flavours from the Caribbean, Mediterranean, East and South East Asia and West Africa.
Here, she has selected three of her favourite easy, delicious and inexpensive vegan recipes that will warm the dark winter nights ahead…
Pan-fried Cauliflower with Harissa Butter
This recipe is perfect for chilly January. The Harissa butter is superb - really warming - while the cauliflower steaks take on all those lovely flavours. Served on a bed of pasta that’s been mixed in the sauce, it’s a hug in a bowl.
2 cauliflower heads
40g harissa paste
80g plant-based butter (I use Flora Plant)
1 garlic clove, crushed
4bsp vegan cream cheese
Oil for frying
You will need a large frying pan and a small mixing bowl
In a bowl, mix the harissa paste and butter until fully incorporated. Cook enough pasta for four people, reserve a few tablespoons of the pasta water and set aside.
Remove leaves from the cauliflower removing the thickest stalks, roughly chop the rest, and set aside. Cut four steaks out of the cauliflowers (keep the remaining florets for other dishes), going from the top through the bottom and ensuring you include some of the root to hold it together.
Heat 1tbsp oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped leaves and fry for about 8 minutes until they have browned.
Remove, set aside, and add another tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add cauliflower steaks and press down firmly to ensure the entire surface is in contact with the pan. Cook for 6-7 minutes until they turn a nice golden brown and carefully turn over. Add 50ml water to the pan and cover for 5 minutes. Remove lid and cook for a further 5 minutes until the other side is also brown.
Add 2 tbsp of the harissa butter to the pan plus a splash of water and move the steaks round to make sure the butter covers the whole surface. Turn and move around again.
Remove steaks from the pan. Add another 2tsp of butter to the pan, the garlic, and the vegan cream cheese and stir until it is all mixed. Add the cauliflower leaves and the pasta and mix until everything is covered.
Divide pasta between four bowls and place a steak on top of each one.
Spiced Hummus Wraps with Tahini Yoghurt
These are brilliant for when you’re busy. They’re versatile - you can add whatever veg you like to them - so they never get dull. Plus, they’re fresh, delicious and packed with nutrients.
400g tin chickpeas (if using dried chickpeas, cook 100g according to instructions. Keep some of the water from the tin/saucepan)
1tsp ground cumin
Juice of half a lemon
1tsp Turkish red pepper flakes
½ Aleppo chili flakes
1 small garlic clove, chopped
Pinch of salt
2tbsp olive oil
2 large tomatoes
Bunch of parsley
8 cherry tomatoes
(You can add whatever vegetables you like, such as grilled courgette and aubergine, or some roasted squash)
For the Tahini dressing:
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch of salt
1 small garlic clove, crushed
4 flatbreads or tortilla wraps
You will need a food processor or blender and a mixing bowl.
For the hummus, first blend chickpeas, garlic, cumin, tahini, red pepper flakes, chili, lemon juice, and 1tbsp of the reserved chickpea water in a food processor or blender. If using chickpeas in salted water, omit adding extra salt until you taste it.
Once blended, add oil and mix again to incorporate. If you prefer it thinner, add a little more chickpea water.
In a bowl, mix the ingredients for the tahini yogurt and set aside.
Warm flatbreads or wraps in a dry frying pan, heating through for one minute on each side. Lay flat on a dinner plate and spoon 2 tbsp of hummus per wrap. Then layer your vegetables, add parsley leaves and drizzle with the tahini yogurt and a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with some red pepper flakes and serve.
Chickpea and Squash Peanut Stew
Full of flavour and protein-packed, this stew is rooted in peanut stews of West Africa. It’s ridiculously easy and so satisfying.
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
400g tin chickpeas, drained
2tbsp peanut butter
1 white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
2tsp ground turmeric
1tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1tsp ground fenugreek
200ml vegetable stock
You will need a saucepan or a large frying pan.
Add 1tbsp of oil to a large frying pan and fry for 10-12 minutes until gently coloured. Remove and set aside.
Add another tablespoon of oil and fry the onions over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and fry for another 5 minutes, stirring regularly to stop it catching.
Mix the spices with 2tbsp water and pour in, stirring until the water has evaporated and the spices are fragrant.
Add the squash back to the pan, and the chickpeas and cook for another 5 minutes. Add peanut butter, mix in, and then add the stock. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, until the squash is tender. Remove lid and cook for another 5 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
Garnish with coriander and serve with rice or flatbread.