Sausage Ragu & Cheesy Polenta

A sausage ragu is one of those recipes you often see on pretentious Italian cooking shows. The chef spends all day cooking it and it looks like tomato slop on a plate. I decided I’d write my own recipe for it which can be completed without fancy ingredients and in about 30 minutes. This is now one of my favourite comfort food meals. It’s fresh and fragrant, yet filling and hearty. Everything you want in a dish right? Take a look at this!

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I enjoyed mine with a lovely Welsh cider really complemented the flavours in the sauce! :) (Pretentious or what? :P )

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

2 onions, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped or minced

8 vegan sausages (I used Linda McCartney as these days I’m skint.)

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

400 ml vegetable stock

2 tbsp tomato puree

400g instant polenta

1 whole block of vegan cheese (I used Cheezly because it’s hard to get hold of much in rural South Wales. Try Tesco’s smoked vegan cheese for the best flavours.)

4 fresh rosemary sprigs

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Method

Make the ragu! Heat the oil in a frying pan. Cook the onions and garlic for a few minutes on a medium heat.

Stir in the sausages, breaking them up into small pieces as they defrost. This should take roughly 8 minutes.

Stir in the chopped tomatoes, stock, tomato puree and most of the rosemary. Leave to simmer for about 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken.

Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Whilst the ragu is simmering away, it’s time to make the cheesy polenta. Make up the polenta as per the packet instructions. Remove from the heat and stir in your cheese. (You’ll need to have grated it for this to work.) Season as you wish.

To plate up, pour the ragu over the top of the polenta and add some fresh sprigs of rosemary.

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I really hope you enjoy this dish. It’s worth the time and effort to make it. :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegan Steak & Ale Pie

It’s one of those things non-vegans often say to me, “you can never replicate things like steak.” Well until now I’d tried and failed on many occasions and I was just resigned to never being able to get anything that chewy and meaty. Even Veggie World’s mutton style pieces couldn’t quite match up. So how did I do this? I went back decades to what vegans used to eat before we had all this super processed imitation meat. I bought a bag of TVP for £1.89 from a hippie store in Pontypridd. TVP stands for textured vegetable protein and I brought the chunky stuff. I’ve had it before and it tasted awful, but with a long marinade and then slow cook this stuff loses it’s original flavour and soaks up all the beautiful flavours around it, much like meat would. Try this recipe for your Sunday lunch. You won’t be disappointed!

 

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Ingredients:

2 large red or white onions, peeled and chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

1 bottle of vegan ale (I used Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference brand as it is clearly labelled vegan.)

1/2 a bag of TVP

1 large tablespoon of tomato puree

2 tubes of Just Rol shortcrust pastry

1 teaspoon of cornflour

1 cube of vegetable stock, not mixed

Parsley

 

Method:

Heat a pan and add a dash of oil.

Add the onion, garlic and chopped carrot and fry gently for a few minutes until they start to soften slightly.

Now add the TVP and tomato puree, making sure to stir the contents of  the pan well so that all the flavours coat the TVP.

Crank up the heat and add half the bottle of ale to the pan, again stirring well. Allow some of the ale to boil off and then add the rest.

Crumble the vegetable cube stock into the pan, add the cornflour and parsley to taste.

The mixture should start to thicken after a few minutes so turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 15 minutes whilst you heat up the oven. Have a taste of your mixture after this time. The TVP won’t be entirely the way it should be at this point, but the sauce should taste right. If it’s too thick or or too strong, add some water and mix through. (The flavour you are looking for is sweet but ever so slighlt bitter. Add brown sugar if the ale taste is too strong.)

Line a pie or bread tin with the Just Rol pastry and fill the tin with your pie mixture. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before placing the pie lid on.

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Now place in the oven on a medium heat for about 25 minutes or until you are satisfied with your crust.

 

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Serve with new or mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables.

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Enjoy!

 

Quinoa Crusted Vegetables

The party season is upon us! Whether it’s Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas or New Year you’re celebrating, you’re need some munchies to have around whilst entertaining people. This is also great to eat on the sofa in front of a movie! :)

I was dubious at first, like, “how the hell is raw quinoa going to taste nice?” Trust me though. This is like having something breaded and crunchy.

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Ingredients

(Ok so scale up if you need to because this was just for 2 people.)

2 courgettes, cut lengthways

1 aubergine, sliced into discs

2 sweet potatoes

1 pot of store bought salsa

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp salt

2 tsp oil

2 tsp Jamaican all purpose or jerk seasoning

A large handful of raw, dry quinoa

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Method

Get the oven on full whack.

Slice up the sweet potatoes into chips, place on a baking tray and cover in oil and oregano. Add salt and pepper to taste and then chuck in the oven for 30 minutes.

Mix some salt, quinoa, oil and all purpose seasoning in a bowl.

Now dip the courgettes and aubergines into the bowl, making sure they get plenty of quinoa on them. (Your hands are going to get mucky. Deal with it.)

Place on a baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.

The sweet potato fries and quinoa crusted vegetables should be ready about the same time.

Serve with salsa.

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Amy’s Breakfast Sandwich: A Product Review

I was scrolling through Facebook as you do and I came across a picture of this breakfast sandwich. Hallelujah! A lovely big juicy breakfast muffin with tons of flavour and certainly enough to fill you up. It turns out that I was deceived by clever marketing. The box is very well designed and about the size you’d expect a breakfast muffin box to be.

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We don’t have a microwave in our house because we have no need for one so I followed the oven cooking instructions to the letter on the reverse of the pack. It came out like this:

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It was absolutely tiny! I think my little sister might even struggle with that as a snack let alone a full breakfast. So it tasted amazing right? Nope!

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The bread was chewy, the tofu flavourless and the sausage patty did not have nearly enough meatiness to it. There wasn’t even really that much sauce with it. It’s a good job I made a breakfast hash to go with it otherwise I’d have been starving!

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I’ve seen some people raving about this new product and don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that one is now on the market. It’s just a shame I think it tastes like cardboard and so will any non-vegan who tries it. Good try though Amy’s. I look forward to trying your other new products soon.

Whilst I personally didn’t enjoy it, people have different tastes. Try it and let me know what you think!

 

Score? 2/5

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato & Fig Salad

I don’t normally buy figs because they tend to be very expensive. However I walked into my local Morrison’s the other night and found a pack of four figs for 25p on offer. I had no idea what to do with them so I made a seasonal salad. You can adjust the spice in the recipe to your taste. Me? I like it reasonably hot!

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Ingredients:

4 large sweet potatoes

4 large figs

1 red chilli

250 ml balsamic vinegar

4 spring onions

2 teaspoons of caster sugar

Salt

Pepper

2 teaspoons of oil of choice. (I use rapeseed.)

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1) Get the oven on full whack.

2) Chop the sweet potatoes into wedges and place in a baking tray. Do the same with the figs.

3) Drizzle your oil over the tray mixture and add salt and pepper to season. Place into the oven for 30 minutes.

4) In the meantime stir fry a chopped red chilli and spring onions for a couple of minutes and leave to cool.

5) Now we need to make a balsamic reduction for the dressing. Pour the balsamic vinegar in a small pan and heat until it boils.

6) Add the caster sugar, stir well and leave to cool. the dressing should thicken to a syrup whilst cooling.

7) Remove the sweet potatoes and figs from the oven and mix in with the spring onions and chilli.

8) Serve drizzled with the sweet balsamic reduction.

 

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This could be great as a side dish or even a full main course salad.

 

Enjoy!

Growing Garlic

And so my adventure in Queer Vegan gardening begins! I’ve always thought that growing your own food is one of the most revolutionary things you can do, so why not let’s all do it together?

The first week in October is the ideal time to plant garlic so that you get lovely big bulbs in spring apparently. I’m going to do it one week early so that everyone has time to get the stuff they need to get this going.

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Stuff you will need:

An upcycled container. (I have used an old Ronseal container I found laying around.)

Compost. (Homemade is ideal, but if you’re just starting out like me, go and buy some.)

10 garlic bulbs. (Some guides say you need to buy these specially and can’t use the ones from supermarkets because they have been treated. I say, let’s try the cheap way and use the supermarket ones and see what happens. A lot of other people have had success with this.)

Method:

Wash out your container and fill it with compost.

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Now get your bulbs with flat bit facing down and cover with soil.

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This tub can be left outside, but don’t let it get too covered in frost and snow in the winter. I’m going to keep this in a corner to protect it a little bit, but not too much. Hopefully in the spring we’ll see some shoots. Let me know how you all get on and take some pictures! :)

Tesco Value Vegetable Sausages. (Product Review)

This is hardly going to be an exceptional blog post with lots of pretty pictures. The Tesco Value range does what it says on the tin. It’s cheap and it’s cheerful. These six sausages come in at £1. I know what all you UK vegans are thinking. You can get the meaty Linda McCartney sausages for a quid in most cheap supermarkets like Lidl, but here me out. These are really quite savoury considering they are basically vegetables in a tube and they might come in handy if you are struggling to get kids to eat vegetables. They are also lower in calories than the meaty versions. Have a look below:

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I served them up with herby mashed potato and broccoli. They were incredibly filling. I guess all I can say is, I’d probably buy them again just for something different. They are cheap and they are cheerful.

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