The Frugal Vegan
January can be a difficult time, particularly in England. Mornings are dark and funds are often sparse. It is however, one of my favourite times of year to experiment with food. Pickling, semi-drying and jarring are all wonderful projects when the last thing you want to do is go outside and you have a house that needs filling with warmth and wonderful smells, the way only an oven can.
Recently, I’ve been developing some interesting recipes and hope to share these with you soon, but I must say – this isn’t necessarily the way I eat day to day. There’s a lot to be said for a hearty soup or a rich, roasted vegetable casserole. In fact, some would argue that humble food is the backbone of Old Blighty itself.
While I have so much love for the beautiful, elegant food photography and recipes cropping up on blogs, websites and social media every day, I also see so many people sharing thoughts and ideas that are equally beautiful and positively impacting the world.
This site’s collective is made up of young, working class, mindful people. Our homes aren’t perfect to any degree and if we buy something fancy to eat, the chances are that it will feature in our meals for the rest of the week until it’s run down. This doesn’t, however, mean that what we eat, think and express can’t be beautiful.
In homage to the frugal vegans around the world, here are a couple of my favourite cheap, quick and delicious recipes, all made with a mix of humble, supermarket staples, larder essentials and of course, love!
Super Fast ‘Cream’ Of Tomato Soup
This is one of my favourite ‘too tired to cook’ recipes. This makes enough for four or can be refrigerated or frozen for lunches ahead of time.
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
400g of fresh tomatoes (I usually wait until I find these reduced and double up on my batch)
1/2-1 pint of vegan bouillon
3 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
1 large, brown onion
2 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp dried tarragon (fresh if you’re feeling flush)
2 tsp brown sugar/natural sweetener
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 small Maris Piper or Charlotte potatoes
In a food processor (or if you’re not lazy, you can fine dice these) roughly pulse the garlic, onion and potato.
Warm the oil in a deep pan on a medium heat and add the onion mixture, herbs, salt and pepper.
When the onions start to ‘sweat’, add one teaspoon of brown sugar and the tomato paste. Mix until the mixture has started to brown and the onions are soft.
Using the same food processor (there’s no point in washing it yet!) blend the chopped tomatoes. This can be rough as we will puree for a final time later on.
Add half of the tomato mixture, stir and leave for around 10 minutes until the mixture has reduced by about a quarter, then add the second half and reduce by the same again.
You should be left with a thick, lightly coloured, red paste. Add half of the stock and leave on the hob for a further 10 minutes.
Test the mixture for thickness (this is all about personal preference) and add the rest of the stock should you want your soup a little thinner. Remember, when you puree the mixture, the potatoes will thicken it even more.
Leave for a further 10-20 minutes until the tomato flavour has become rich and if you like, add a little marmite or vegan Worcester sauce(!). Finally, add the rest of the sugar and cider vinegar.
After removing the bay leaves, blend the mixture using a stick blender or your food processor until completely smooth. The potatoes will have created a creamy consistency, just like the one that for me and many of my friends, brings back the feeling of childhood! For extra goodness, top with a dollop of dairy free yoghurt as above.
Homemade Vegan Pesto
You can choose any nut and any soft leaved herb, but the following is my favourite recipe.
1 cup pistachios, shelled
1 loosely packed cup of parsley or parsley/basil mix
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 large cloves garlic
salt and pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp Maldon salt and 1/4 tsp ground, black pepper
Toast the nuts until light brown and fragrant.
In a food processor, blend all of the ingredients until smooth and combined.
Keep in a jar with a rubber seal for up to 3 weeks.
Add a few tablespoons to pasta and throw in some frozen peas and soya beans to make the quick and easy dish shown above, or try out the recipe below to utilise your pesto in a more unusual way.
Roasted Lentil & Potato Pesto Salad
I came up with this recipe on a lazy, Sunday evening when I had nothing interesting in the cupboards. Or so I thought. The nutritional value of potatoes is often overlooked and they can easily be refreshed with something like pesto. It’s not only for pasta, you know! The frozen greens can be switched out for beetroot, tomatoes or whatever else you need to use up and cider vinegar really shows it’s hidden qualities as a roasting ingredient.
About 1 pt vegetable stock
400g potatoes, I use Charlottes (you can use the rest of the bag from the soup recipe, above)
150g green lentils
150g frozen peas
150g frozen broad beans
Handful of rocket, watercress or any other peppery salad leaf
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
Olive or rice bran oil
2 heaped tbsp pesto (recipe above)
In a large roasting tray, mix the oil, halved potatoes, cider vinegar and sugar. Roast for 20-30 minutes, turning regularly until crispy and sweet and sour.
Meanwhile, boil the lentils in the stock until tender, drain.
If the broad beans are in the shell, sit them for about 2 minutes in a bowl of boiling water. The water’s temperature will have reduced enough to pop your hands in and squeeze the skin straight off.
Then, add the beans and the frozen peas to the potato mixture. Toss through the lentils and pesto and put back into the oven for a further 5-10 minutes.
Finally, toss through the pistachios, salad leaves and avocado. Drizzle through a small amount of cider vinegar and serve.
I hope you enjoyed the first installation of recipes! We’ll be adding a few more following the theme over the next week. What are your favourite economy eats? Share your ideas in the comments section for a chance to be featured!