If I was asked what my number one tip for a new vegetarian would be, I wouldn’t hesitate to advocate for the inclusion of large amounts of green leafy vegetables, especially for women. My favourite cooked green vegetable is kale (how fashionable!), my favourite raw green leafy source is watercress. I don’t know if it’s appeared on the Daily Mail’s ‘superfood’ list yet, but it has more vitamin C than oranges and more calcium than cow’s milk. It’s strong, peppery flavour means you can get interesting tasting salads without having to load up with dressings.
The British watercress season is just starting and if you can get an independent brand of watercress like John Hurd’s, I urge you to try it. It’s more expensive but I think the increase in flavour makes it worth it.
I’ve put it in an easy pesto here. It would work with hot pasta or on a pasta salad. It tastes so good you won’t worry about how good it is for you!
1/2 large, ripe avocado
1/2 pack of basil leaves
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
Add the ingredients to a food processor and process on pulse until they form a smooth paste.
Remove from the bowl and season carefully (it won’t take much).
Serve over hot pasta.
if you were on the Bakerloo Line one morning a few weeks ago and noticed a woman staring at you, if that woman was me, you needn’t have worried. I wasn’t staring at anyone. I was picturing a vision in my head and that vision was: Tofu Chasseur. I don’t know where the inspiration came from, but it arrived on the Bakerloo Line.
I’m not a huge fan of classic French cooking. A lot of it seems to consist of taking ordinary ingredients and adding butter and/or cream until they taste good. Chasseur sauce is the exception. There is no cream involved and you can swap out the butter for oil to make it vegan. The sauce is full-flavoured and great for a dinner party as you can make it in advance and reheat and the flavour will probably only improve.
I like this way of cooking tofu as well. I don’t often cook the kind of food that needs a direct replacement for a slab of meat, but this works very well. The garlic oil adds flavour and the frying means that you actually have something to cut into and its quite satisfying.
I’ll be making this again. And I’ll be looking for other French sauces I can adapt.
400g firm tofu
6 closed cup or chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
250ml white wine
250ml vegetable stock
4 tbsp chopped tomatoes (from tin)
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
garlic infused olive oil
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
Half an hour before you’re ready to start cooking, wrap the tofu in kitchen towels and press under weights to remove the excess moisture.
Heat some oil in a medium saucepan and add the mushrooms and shallots.
Sweat for about five minutes until the mushrooms are browned slightly and the shallots are tender.
Add the thyme, white wine and brandy.
Simmer until reduced by a half to two thirds.
Add the stock, tomatoes, mushroom ketchup and simmer for 10-15 minutes until reduced by half.
Remove from the heat.
Cover the bottom of a large frying pan with the garlic olive oil and put on a medium heat.
Unwrap the tofu and slice into 4 ‘steaks’.
When the oil is at temperature put the tofu steaks in the pan.
Fry until the bottom sides are golden brown.
Turn the tofu steaks over and repeat on the other side.
When cooked, drain any excess oil from the frying pan and pour the sauce over the tofu steaks.
Let it simmer and reduce for a minute or two.
Serve with the remaining chopped thyme sprinkled over.
Serves 4 with vegetables.