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Veganuary – Vegan dishes to try this month

January 7, 2019

Alternative diets have been a hot topic in the past year, and the rise of veganism is becoming particularly mainstream, with a reported 3.5 million people now identifying as vegans in the UK. Vegan options now pop up on most restaurant menus, supermarkets are going to great lengths to increase their vegan offerings and, if you were keeping up on social media recently, you will have been aware of the huge reaction Greggs’ new vegan sausage roll received when it launched on 3rd January.

With the New Year emphasis on personal improvements and transformations, the Veganuary movement is also catching on and seeing people take up veganism throughout January. Have you decided to go meat- and dairy-free this month? If you’ve made the switch, or you’re just looking to adopt a ‘flexitarian’ approach and cut down on animal ingredients, we’ve rounded up some vegan recipe favourites for you to try at home.

Vegan moussaka

This comforting Greek classic is typically made with lamb mince and bechamel sauce, but these ingredients can be replaced easily in order to serve up a vegan version, which is just as satisfying. Lentils essentially replace the mince – add green lentils to a tomato sauce flavoured with onion, garlic and oregano – then layer slices of aubergine and courgette with the lentil sauce before topping with a bechamel sauce.

To make the vegan white sauce, simply melt a vegan butter substitute, mix with flour, add non-dairy milk and heat until it thickens. Finally season, flavour with nutmeg and spoon the white sauce on the top of the lentil and aubergine layers before baking in the oven until the topping is golden. Take a look at this recipe, which uses a butternut squash topping to add another dimension of flavour.

Pad Thai

Thailand’s cuisine is a great place to take influence from as the country’s flavour-rich, vegetable-packed dishes often happen to be vegan or can be very easily adapted. Pad Thai is one of the nation’s most famous dishes, found in most restaurants or served up by street food vendors, and can be served up as a delicious meat- and dairy-free option. A stir-fried noodle dish, Pad Thai typically uses rice noodles flavoured with tamarind sauce, soy sauce, garlic, onions, chilli and palm sugar, and is served with a wedge of lime and chopped peanuts. Of course, plenty of other vegetables can be added, such as broccoli, green beans and beansprouts.

Lentil burgers

Mung bean vegetarian burger served on a wooden board

It’s easy to miss the indulgent comfort foods when adapting to a vegan diet and saying goodbye to meat – sometimes we just can’t help craving a burger and chips. Whilst scientists and supermarkets are busy working away at developing ‘realistic’ burger replacements, one of the tastiest (and healthy) ways to enjoy a burger is to use lentils. All you need is some red onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, brown lentils and white wine vinegar. Blitz these ingredients in a food processor, then shape the mixture into patties, cool for 30 minutes, then fry until golden.

Vegan shepherd’s pie

The king of British comfort foods! Again, the mince can be simply replaced with lentils and chickpeas to pack a filling protein punch. As you would with a meat version, cook the lentils and chickpeas with onion, garlic, peas and stock, and top with mashed potato and some vegan butter. You could try adding, swede, sweet potato or butternut squash to elevate the topping, whilst dried porcini mushrooms are a fantastic way to add a deep savoury flavour and meaty texture to the filling. Try this BBC Good Food recipe if you really want to go the extra mile and impress friends and family.

Mushroom and leak pie

Winter warmers don’t come much better than a pie with mash and gravy. You can make a simple pastry with flour, sugar, salt, vegan butter, vegetable oil and some cold water, like this. If you’re not confident with the pastry, you can now find pre-made pastry in supermarket ‘free-from’ sections. For a creamy leak and mushroom filling, use two leeks, garlic, an assortment of mushrooms, dried thyme and fresh parsley with vegan milk.

Chocolate fudge cake

Chocolate cake food photography recipe idea

Whilst savoury recipes are often easy to adapt into vegan dishes, our beloved cakes can seem a little trickier initially, given the typical importance of eggs and butter. This cake batter requires almond milk, cider vinegar, caster sugar, sunflower oil, vanilla extract, plain flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. For the ganache, use vegan dark chocolate and full fat coconut milk.

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