Thursday, April 18

5 Classic Dishes That Vegans Can Enjoy!

As meat-eaters make up around 89% of the world population, it’s not at all surprising that many popular classic dishes are not traditionally vegan-friendly. Take for example vegan katsu curry… The delicious Japanese dish was originally made with pork cutlet, and today typically serves chicken as its source of nutritious protein. 

With more people becoming aware of the vast resources required to produce meat-based foods, the number of vegans continues to grow each year. If you’re keen to reduce your meat intake, tucking into vegan versions of your favourite classics is a great way to start a new, healthy eating regime.

It’s unbelievably easy to transform a meat dish into a flavoursome feast that vegans and vegetarians will savour tucking into. By swapping out the animal ingredients, in traditional recipes, you can create mouth-watering gastronomic meals that are 100% plant-based. 

Here are 5 of the best vegan-friendly classic dishes to enjoy…

  1. Vegan Thai Yellow Curry 

One of the most popular dishes from southern Thailand, yellow curry is vibrant and delicious, and less spicy than its red and green variants. It’s usually made with chicken, potatoes and onions that are drenched in a rich, coconut milk based sauce infused with cumin, coriander, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, mace, cayenne pepper, bay leaf and lemongrass.

To make a naturally gluten-free vegan version, omit the meat in favour of colourful veggies like green beans, courgettes, sugar snap peas and broccoli, to add to the potatoes and onions. If you prefer, you can rustle up a gourmet yellow curry for vegans, with added tofu or a plant-based meat alternative as the main ingredient. Throwing in a handful of cooked chickpeas into the curry mix will boost the fibre, vitamin, folate, iron, magnesium and potassium content of the classic dish.

  1. Vegan Shepherd’s Pie

A warming plateful of comfort food, on a cold winter’s day, is good for your belly and soul. To make a low-fat, low-calorie vegan version of tasty Shepherd’s Pie, swap the lamb mince for a hearty mix of butternut squash, chickpeas, leeks, and carrots in a mushroom sauce.

Instead of the usual mashed potato topping, layer slices of par-boiled potatoes that will turn golden and crispy as the pie cooks in the oven.

  1. Vegan Katsu Curry

If you’re a curry fan, you’ll be well aware of the buzz surrounding one of Japan’s most popular westernised dishes. Vegan katsu curry is the plant-based twist on the popular chicken and rice with creamy sweet and tangy sauce main course that’s served in restaurants all over the world.

For a delicious curry to be ‘katsu’, it must contain a panko crumb coated element that is deep-fried until crispy and golden. The original key ingredient for this popular dish was pork cutlet that was encrusted with panko and fried. Chicken is now more commonly used. To make this dish meat-free, simply trade in the chicken thigh for panko crusted extra firm tofu or tempeh. 

You can also create a nutritious veggie version using breaded sweet potato, aubergine or squash.

  1. Moroccan Vegan Tagine

Classic cooking is effortless when you only need one pot. Vegan and gluten-free Moroccan Tagine combines your 5-a-day veggies with a selection of warming spices to create a slow simmered stew that’s packed with flavour. You can use any vegetables that you have in the fridge, plus storecupboard essentials like tinned plum tomatoes and superfood pulses. 

For an authentic Moroccan flavour, mix Harissa spice with coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon. Adding a heap of chopped dried apricots gives the tagine a balance of taste sensations. 

You can make the vegan stew in a heavy pot on the stove, or use an ovenproof ceramic tagine cooking pot. If using the latter, create mealtime drama by serving this classic dish at the table, straight from the tagine.

  1. Jamaican Jerk Tofu

If you’ve impressed your loved ones with your mildly spiced vegan katsu curry, it’s time to take the pungent aromatics up a notch or two. Jamaican Jerk Tofu is the perfect classic dish for meatless Monday, or any day of the week. 

The Jamaican ‘jerk’ spice blend includes allspice, thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, ginger and cloves. But you can easily customise it to include your favourite spicy seasonings. Alternatively, you can buy a jar of ready made naturally vegan jerk seasoning to add to the veggie broth and BBQ sauce ingredients. 

It’s best to use extra firm tofu, and to press it for 30 minutes. When it’s ready, tear the tofu into pieces by hand and place in a bowl. Cover the tofu with broth and seasoning mix, and combine so that the pieces are well coated. Allow the tofu to marinade until all the liquid is absorbed. 

Sprinkle on some cornstarch and fry the tofu in hot oil, until golden and crispy all over. Transfer the tofu to a pan and add the BBQ sauce and jerk seasoning. Stir to coat, and warm through before serving with a side of cauliflower rice or Jamaican style rice and peas.


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