Saturday 1 February 2014

One day a week vegan - Fresh

One of my sisters has just moved right into the heart of London. She described how she loves that as you traverse the city it's almost like crossing continents. How through the bus window she watched a Turkish woman carefully rolling flat bread in the window of a cafe. I love that too, and can spend hours in food stores like Ari Food Centre in North Finchley. It's like going on holiday. They sell Iranian, Turkish, Eastern European and Greek food. One of my favourite things are the fresh herbs. We come back home to Oxford with massive ruby red Turkish pomegranates, bags of beans and tins of gherkins, fresh nuts from hessian sacks, armfuls of flat leaf parsley and spinach, dill and corriander. The car smells like a meadow. Here's how I used some of these lovely fresh ingredients:


Pomegranate and banana smoothie... 

Ingredients for each large tumbler or two small glasses you will need the following:
  • two cups of pomegranate seeds (or you could use berries)
  • two large ripe bananas
  • the juice of a small orange or lemon
  • you will also need a juicer and some kind of liquidizer or blender to make this
  1. Juice the seeds. 
  2. Place in the bowl of a blender and add the bananas loosely broken up into big chunks
  3. Add the juice of the orange and blend
  4. Your smoothy is now ready to drink
This is a lovely velvety smoothie, I love the zingy addition of pomegranate or sour berries. 


Pea and Parsley Soup

Recently I ate a tiny pixie bowl of the most amazing green soup in an organic cafe in Portobello road. We were all oohing and aahing at how much flavour was packed into that tiny little bowl of soup and tried to decipher the ingredients. The main flavour I picked out was the subtle sweetness of peas, and then a herb. Not the usual mint, of pea and mint soup but something mild and fresh. I decided it was parsley. Then I was reading Hugh Fearnly Whitengstalls River Cottage Veg Every Day, I spotted the recipe for pea and parsley soup. It even looked the same as the soup we'd eaten with the crescent of olive oil dribbled on top. So I made a vegan version by just leaving out the butter. You can link to HFW's recipe here.  


Mint is the only herb to mention in my own garden at the moment, apart from a little shrubby rosemary bush that I keep managing to cut a few stalks from, but it's mostly twigs. They both smell amazing. I wanted something fresh and zingy so made up this really quick batch of spaghetti, with handfuls of garden mint, mushrooms and lots of garlic and fresh lemon. 

Minty, lemon and garlicky mushroom pasta

Ingredients for two large portions or four small:
  • one red onion
  • a stick of celery
  • a handful of chestnut mushrooms
  • two lemons
  • lots of garlic seven or eight cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • two large portobello mushrooms
  • a bunch of fresh mint
  • dried egg free pasta of choice (about 75g per person)
  • olive or rapeseed oil 
  1. Place a large pan of water on the hob. Season and add a little oil. When the water comes to the boil, add the dried spaghetti, reduce the heat, cover and leave to cook until al dente...or to taste.
  2. Whilst the pasta is cooking pour a little oil into a heavy saucepan and allow to heat.
  3. Quickly chop the red onion finely and add to the pan. Cook until soft and caramelised.
  4. Add the garlic and cook whilst quickly chopping up the mushrooms. Saute for a moment combining all the ingredients.
  5. Add the lemon juice, season and cook for a couple of minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
  6. When the pasta is ready, drain and add to the saucepan with the mushrooms, carefully mix.
  7. Roughly chop up lots of fresh mint and add to the pasta.
  8. Serve while warm.


Fresh fruit with warm pomegranate coulis.

  • an assortment of fresh fruit. I used plum, persimmon and clementine.
For the coulis:
  • the seeds of half a large pomegranate
  • one tsp of arrowroot powder
  • a few fresh mint leaves
  1. Wash, destone and cut up the fruit into approximately equally sized pieces.
  2. Peel any if necessary.
  3. Arrange in individual dishes
Make the coulis:
  1. Juice the pomegranate seeds.
  2. Take a spoonful of the juice and mix it with the arrowroot powder.
  3. Warm the juice in a saucepan.
  4. Mix some of the warmed juice with the juice/arrowroot mixture. 
  5. Return this to the rest of the juice in the pan, mix well bring to the boil, stirring continuously and then reduce the heat. 
  6. The coulis should be glossy and slightly thickened but still runny enough to pour. 
  7. Trickle some of the sauce over the fruit and top with a little mint
Depending on the sweetness of the fruit you may like to add a little maple syrup to the coulis. It was perfect for me without, but the persimmons were very sweet and I don't have a very sweet tooth. 


  1. Mmmmmmm...healthy eating just go yummier! Great recipes, and I love the use of pomegranates. I really like pomegranates, but I never know what to do with them. Thanks! Hope you are having a great weekend.

    1. I love them sweet and sour. Thanks Emily...hope yours was good too.

  2. Mmmmm pea soup :) my husband's curry is vegan and I love it!! I like everything you posted today and you've giving me some new ideas thanks!!

    1. It was scrumptious Karen. I love curry but never make them apart from Thai ones maybe you could share his recipe sometime. I'd love to have a go.

  3. this all looks so yummy---and healthy!!!!