Fish & Shellfish
Vegetarian & Vegan
In February, my friend Elliott and I decided to cook a vegan supper every night - I came up with the recipes week by week and we made the dishes in our respective kitchens, then we compared the results on our phones. It was such an interesting exercise, not least because each evening our dishes often looked very different, despite the fact that we were using the same ingredients and following the same method!
Even though I often test and create recipes as part of my job, I’d not previously had much experience of vegan cooking and it was so interesting to learn new techniques and find ways around not being able to use dairy products (or even honey).
I posted every recipe on Instagram each evening, and I’ve been promising ever since that I’d put the best of the recipes on here. But I’ve been incredibly busy with work and big new projects happening in the village (of which more another time), so today’s the first time I’ve had a chance to sit down and type them out properly. To kick things, off, this was one of my top 5 suppers from our vegan month. It’s great as a main dish or as a side dish - and I challenge even confirmed meat-eaters not to enjoy it!
Don’t be tempted to leave out the dried cherries from the stuffing – they’re what make the dish really special (they’re in the supermarket in the same aisle as the dried apricots). And you can buy cooked chestnuts vacuum-packed in the supermarket too – Merchant Gourmet is a good brand to look out for.
Fry the onion and one of the garlic cloves in 1 tbsp of the olive oil, then whizz them together with everything except the cherries and mushrooms in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Season well and set aside. (Don’t wash the food processor bowl – you’ll need it for the dressing.)
Gently heat the remaining oil with the remaining sliced garlic clove in a small pan for 5 mins, then strain out the garlic, reserving the oil.
Arrange the mushroom slices in two dishes or one larger dish, interleaving them with spoonfuls of the stuffing mixture. Use a pastry brush to brush the exposed surface of each mushroom slice with the garlicky oil then pour any oil left in the pan over the top. Bake for about 20 mins at 180C (fan oven) until browned and just crisping up on top.
Meanwhile, grill the pepper slices under a high heat until soft and just starting to brown. Put them in the food processor with the harissa or chill powder and season well. Whizz until coarsley chopped.
Once the mushrooms are out of the oven, leave them for 5 mins then spoon the pepper dressing over the top and serve.