But when I thought of typical finger-friendly picnic food, I kept hitting a bit of a wall. Things sprung to mind that all used eggs or cheese. I didn't really want to go down the 'pretend' food route - imitation cheese or eggs. I like real food.
I think my main problem being the word 'picnic'. I was thinking in terms of traditional British picnic foods...egg mayonnaise sandwiches, sausage rolls, quiches, and cheese and onion tarts. I'd quite happily made quinoa with roasted vegetables and Persian herb omelette for a vegetarian supper the evening before, but the word 'picnic' wasn't involved (or vegan). I'd totally forgotten about vegetable samosas and spring rolls, falafel or stuffed vine leaves! Delicious, handy, extremely tasty finger food without a hint of butter, cheese or eggs...
It was only after the fact, that I remembered all those tasty foods. But a quick storecupboard forage the night before the picnic, produced Japanese soba noodles made with buckwheat flour, sea salt and water...'Hurray' I thought...'No eggs'...
So I adapted my favourite spicy prawn spaghetti recipe...omitted the prawns and used the soba noodles instead of spaghetti...
Not exactly finger food but it worked well especially as the rain poured down in time for the picnic and it had to be held in a barn, instead of the nuttery. A long table housed the various dishes full of things like bean salads, nut roast, humous, couscous, falafel and my soba noodles. We patiently queued and spooned up a sample of each of the delicacies into our little plastic boxes. I love that thing about parties where everyone brings something and you have a little taster of all sorts...
It also concerned me a bit that of all the tasty vegan picnic finger foods that I could think of, non of them were British. Not that I'm patriotic but I'm sure that somewhere there must be some tasty British picnic food that is vegan and does taste good... it is my food heritage after all and I don't want to be ashamed of it!
So I have challenged myself to be an at-least 'one day a week vegan' ...I wonder how I'll get on?
To begin with here is my Vegan Japanese Soba Noodle Salad recipe not even a little bit British, but that doesn't matter it really is tasty and it is vegan.
- Two bundles of soba noodles
- One sweet red pepper
- A handful of mushrooms (any kind will do)
- Four spring onions
- Four cloves of garlic
- A piece of ginger about two inches long
- Two lemons or limes
- One hot chilli pepper...or more depending how much heat you like
- Cherry tomatoes
- One courgette
- Tamari or soy sauce
- Sea salt and crushed black pepper
- Olive oil
- Chili oil or toasted sesame seed oil if you have any
- Prepare all the vegetables. After washing, peel and chop into small pieces the spring onions, a third of the sweet pepper, the mushrooms, and a few of the tomatoes.
- Peel and grate the ginger and crush the garlic cloves and chop the hot chilli pepper.
- Pour a little oil into a heavy frying pan and begin to sauté the onions and peppers.
- When softened a little add the garlic, ginger, chilli and cook further.
- Add the mushrooms. Season a little remembering not to over-salt as the soy/tamari sauce is very salty.
- Add the juice of one lemon and leave to simmer in the pan until it forms a thick sauce stirring occasionally so that it doesn't stick to the pan.
- Meanwhile chop the remaining sweet pepper and courgette into slightly larger pieces.
- Once the sauce in the pan has reduced and thickened and the vegetables are soft add the larger pieces of pepper and courgette and saute for a little longer. The sauce will flavour the noodles and the slightly larger vegetables will give a texture and gentle crunch.
- Pour two litres of boiling water into a large saucepan and add the noodles. Boil gently for five to seven minutes.
- Remove the noodles, drain and rinse with cold water.
- Add these to the sauce and vegetables stirring well. Add tamari/soy sauce. Adjust the seasoning. I like to the juice of a second lemon and some chili oil at this point.
- Turn into a serving dish. Cut the remaining cherry tomatoes in half and add to the noodles.