This week’s blog post, 7 Of My Favourite Plant-Based Comfort Foods, was inspired by my lunch today of tomato soup. I remember as a child sitting with a big plate of tomato soup and virtually licking the pattern of the bowl I enjoyed it so much.
It got me thinking about the different foods that we eat because of the nostalgic or sentimental feelings they create within us, or because they simply make us feel better – comfort foods.
Did you know the term “comfort food” has been traced back at least to 1966, when the Palm Beach Post used it in a story: “Adults, when under severe emotional stress, turn to what could be called ‘comfort food’—food associated with the security of childhood…”
Now I don’t know about you, but for me comfort food is more about the substance of it. I like warming, hearty food, especially after a hard day’s work in cold, dark January.
I look forward to coming home and sitting down to a big bowl or plate of some delicious food that I know will be nourishing and filling, as well as making me feel a whole lot better!
Here are 7 Of My Favourite Plant-Based Comfort Foods, in no particular order.
They’re all super simple to make and taste delicious.
Without any further ado, here they are…
1. Tomato soup
2. Shepherd’s / Cottage Pie
- 110g Black beans
- 75g Green split peas
- 75g Green lentils
- 50g Carrots (Finely chopped)
- 50g Turnip/swede (Finely chopped)
- 50g Celeriac (Finely chopped)
- 1 Large onion (Finely chopped)
- 1 Small green pepper (Finely chopped)
- 2 tablespoons Fresh mixed herbs e.g. sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme. (Finely chopped)
- 1/4 teaspoon Ground mace
- 1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- 700g Potatoes (Peeled and steamed until soft)
- 225g Fresh whole tomatoes
- Put the peeled potatoes in a pot of cold water. Bring to the boil and then check to make sure they're cooked, usually after about 20 minutes. Drain them, then add one tablespoon of the fresh chopped herbs, some ground black pepper to taste and a little water. You can add two tablespoons of rice/oat/soya milk to the potatoes and then mash them, or just add the same amount of water and mash.
- While the potatoes are cooking, place the drained black beans, lentils and split peas in a large pot. Add 725 ml of boiling water to the pot, cover it and then simmer for 50-60 minutes or until the pulses are soft and absorbed the water.
- Prepare all the vegetables and then put them in another pot or a large frying plan with six tablespoons of water. Cook them gently for 10-15 minutes until they're softened and are turning gold at the edges. Add more water if you need to to stop them catching on.
- Skin the tomatoes by placing them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for one minute, drain and carefully remove their skin. Then slice them.
- Add the vegetables to the pulses then add the freshly chopped herbs, mace and cayenne pepper. At this point you can also grind some fresh black pepper into the veggies and pulses.
- Spoon the mixture into the oven proof dish and then add the slices of tomatoes on top. After you've done this you can then spread the mashed potatoes on top of the tomatoes. Try not to add any salt at this stage, wait until you've tasted it and then add a little if you want.
- Place the oven proof dish into the oven for about 20-25 minutes. I use a fan oven so you may need to keep it in a bit longer if you use a conventional oven.
- Once the pie is cooked plate up onto warm plates and serve with your cruciferous vegetable of choice.
3. Spaghetti Bolognese
This is a delicious plant based vegan spaghetti bolognese. You can add one teaspoon of each of marjoram, thyme and oregano when you're cooking the veg at the start or a couple of Chipotle peppers and a teaspoon of smoked paprika if you'd like to add more flavour.
- 2 " Water
- 2 Celery sticks (Chopped into equal bitesize pieces)
- 2 Large carrots (Chopped into equal bitesize pieces)
- 1 Onion (Chopped into equal bitesize pieces)
- 1 Garlic clove (Finely chopped)
- 1 tin Chopped tomatoes
- 8oz Red or brown lentils (Washed until the water runs clear)
- 1l Marigold vegan bouillion
- 500g Whole wheat spaghetti
- 1 handful Baby spinach leaves
- Put water into a pot then add the onions, garlic, celery and carrots. Cook gently for 5-7 minutes until soft. Meanwhile add the spaghetti to a pot and cook as per the packet instructions.
- Add lentils, stock and can of chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked.
- At the last minute before serving, stir in a handful of spinach leaves.
- Drain the spaghetti and then serve on to warm bowls. Spoon the lentil bolognese sauce over the spaghetti and grind the fresh pepper over the sauce.
4. Hungarian Goulash with Dumplings
- 2 onions, sliced into rings
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced into rings
- 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into rings
- 1 green bell pepper, sliced into rings
- 1 can kidney beans in water
- 1 can cannellini beans in water
- 1 can black beans in water
- 1 can chopped tomatoes in water
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3 teaspoons hot paprika (add a little at first then more to your taste)
- 6 new potatoes, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed then chopped
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- freshly ground black pepper to suit your taste
- 100g/4oz wholemeal self raising flour
- 50g/2oz vegan suet
- generous amount of fresh herbs. I used rosemary, sage and thyme
- 5 tablespoons water
- Saute the onions, garlic, bell peppers and potatoes in a couple of inches/4cm of cold water until they begin to soften. Approximately 10 minutes.
- Add the paprika, smoked paprika and caraway seeds and continue to cook for another two minutes.
- Meanwhile make the dumplings. Mix the flour, suet, water and herbs. Put flour onto your hands then form into about eight small balls. Set aside.
- Add the beans with their liquid (water), tomato puree, tin of tomatoes, dried basil and black pepper and stir together. Then place the dumplings onto the top of the mixture.
- Put the lid on the pot then cook for a further 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.
- Serve with Tenderstem broccoli and cabbage with lemon juice for a filling and flavoursome supper on a chilly autumn evening.
5. Adzuki Bean Burger and Sweet Potato Chips
- 1 can, 400g adzuki beans (Drained and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon English mustard
- 1 teaspoon Smoked paprika
- Half cup instant oats
- 2 garlic cloves crushed and chopped
- 1 sweet potato (cut into long thin fries. No need to peel.)
- 1 red onion (finely chopped)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees c. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof/parchment paper and set a side. Place the cut sweet potato fries onto one of the baking sheets, making sure they don't overlap. Sprinkle generously with your choice of seasoning - fresh rosemary, black pepper, cayenne pepper for instance. Put into the oven for 15 minutes while you make the burgers.
- Put the adzuki beans into a bowl, mash with a fork leaving a few whole.
- Stir in the red onion, garlic, smoked paprika, ketchup and mustard. Then mix in the oats.
- Divide into four equal burgers, squeezing and forming into burger shapes.
- Remove the sweet potato fries from the oven and turn the fries. Put them back into the oven for 15 minutes.
Place the burgers on the baking sheet and bake for 7 minutes in the oven. Turn, then bake for another 7 minutes or until they look lovely and crispy.
- Your sweet potato fries and plant based adzuki bean burgers should now be ready. Serve as you wish.
6. Veggie Chilli
- 1 Onion (Chopped into equal bitesize pieces)
- 1 Green or red pepper (Chopped into equal bitesize pieces)
- 1 teaspoon Yellow mustard seeds
- 2 cans Red kidney beans in water
- 1 can Chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Chilli
- Half teaspoon Raw cocoa
- 4 tablespoons Tomato puree
- Put the chopped onions and green pepper into a pan with 3 cm of water. Gently cook for 5-7 minutes until soft. Add the yellow mustard seeds and cook for a further minute or so.
- Add all the kidney beans including the water they're in, the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, raw cocoa, chilli and cinnamon. Cook over a low heat for about 20 minutes.
- Rinse the brown rice and cook as per the packet instructions. Usually for 20 minutes.
- Spoon into warm bowls and serve.
7. Glorious Potatoes!
I love them mashed, roasted and baked, as well as oven baked fries. You can find the recipe for my mash above in the Shepherd’s Pie recipe, for my sweet potato chips, look to the burger recipe above and for baked potatoes, see below how I cook them.
You can bake the potato in the oven or you can microwave them. I always use a traditional oven as I love the way the skin becomes crispy and the centre soft and fluffy.
Try to buy a variety such as King Edward, Maris Piper, Ailsa or Golden Wonder. They’re the best for baking as they’re a floury potato that have white rather than yellow flesh and crumble when they’re cooked.
Make sure it’s clean and dry before pricking it all over with a sharp knife or fork to stop it exploding in the oven.
Try to get as big a potato as you can e.g. between 350g and 450g. If you can’t get a big potato buy a couple of smaller ones. Put them in the oven for about an hour at 200C or gas mark 6. To check they’re ready, stick a skewer in to their middle. It should slide in without you having to push.
I usually have my baked potato with a generous spoonful of home made hummus. Here’s the recipe:
1 x 400g can, or your home cooked chickpeas. If it’s a can, make sure you drain an rinse them.
4 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp water
Put all the chickpeas (set a side a few for decoration), garlic, tahini, paprika, cumin and lemon juice in a blender or use a stick blender to blend to a smooth creamy consistency. Add some water to make it a bit looser if you prefer.
Sprinkle with a little more paprika and decorate with the reserved chickpeas.
This is the basic recipe to which I add dried chilies and jalapeños to give it a bit of a kick.
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