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Summer and salad go hand-in-hand and this offering from Heather Whinney’s Virtually Vegan is a fresh, sweet, figgy take on a summertime staple. Complete with a harissa and mint dressing for an unmatched kick!

Taken from Virtually Vegan by Heather Whinney

Serves 4–6
Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 40 mins

Ingredients
400g/14oz/2 cups dried Puy lentils, rinsed well
a pinch of allspice
2 garlic cloves, grated
about 10 fresh figs
a drizzle of olive oil
200g/7oz coconut pieces
2 celery stalks, trimmed and finely sliced
3 spring onions/scallions, trimmed and finely chopped
1 large handful of land cress or baby spinach leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the dressing
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1–2 tsp harissa, plus extra for drizzling
1 handful of mint leaves, finely chopped, plus extra to garnish

Method
1 Put the lentils in a pan of salted water and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer with the lid partially on for about 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and leave to one side.
2 While they are cooking, make the dressing. Put the oil and vinegar in a small bowl or jug, whisk and season with salt and pepper, then stir in the harissa and mint. Pour it over the lentils while they are still warm so they soak up the flavours. Add the allspice and garlic and stir well so all the lentils are coated. Taste and season some more if needed.
3 Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6.
4 Put the figs in a roasting pan and drizzle over the oil, add the coconut to the pan and roast for about 10–15 minutes until the juices start to just run from the figs and the coconut begins to turn golden. When cool enough to handle, slice the coconut pieces into shards and roughly chop the figs or quarter them. Leave to one side.
5 When the lentils are cool, stir in the celery, spring onions/ scallions and cress or spinach leaves, then add the figs and half the coconut and stir gently. Transfer to a serving bowl, scatter over the remaining coconut shards and mint leaves and drizzle with a little extra harissa oil from the jar to serve.

For non-vegans…
The Moroccan flavours of this salad work well with lamb kebabs, particularly for a barbecue. Alternatively, crumbled feta would make a tasty topping.

Don’t forget to tag us – @nourishbooks – in your recreations! Happy cooking!

Recipes for #Veganuary2021 continue! This glorious chocolate cake recipe was taken from Virtually Vegan by Heather Whinney.

The best bit about this cake is that you can lick the spoon knowing there is no raw egg involved. Don’t expect the same rise you would get for a cake with eggs – but it will still look the part once sandwiched together and piled with chocolate frosting.

Taken from Virtually Vegan by Heather Whinney

Serves 8 | Prep: 15 mins | Cook: 30 mins

Ingredients

85g/3oz/scant ⅓ cup dairy-free spread
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
300g/10½ oz/2½ cups self-raising/self-rising flour
2 tbsp dairy-free cocoa/unsweetened chocolate powder, at least 70% cocoa, plus extra for dusting
100g/3½ oz/½ cup golden caster/superfine sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda/baking soda
½ vanilla pod, seeds only
300g/10½ oz fresh raspberries, roughly chopped, leave some whole for topping

FOR THE TOPPING:

200g/7oz dairy-free dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa
80g/3oz dairy-free spread
2 tbsp almond milk or dairy-free milk of your choice
6–8 tbsp icing/confectioners’ sugar, sifted plus a dusting for decoration if you wish

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and base-line two 20cm/8in cake pans with parchment paper.

2 Put the dairy-free spread in the bowl of a food mixer, add the maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and 300ml/10½fl oz/1¼ cups of boiling water. Mix slowly until the spread has melted and everything is combined.

In another bowl, put the flour, cocoa, sugar, bicarbonate of soda/baking soda and the vanilla seeds and stir. Add this to the wet mixture and beat on slow until you have a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture between the pans, smooth the top and bake for about 20–30 minutes (check after 20 minutes), or until a skewer poked into the middle comes out clean.

Leave the cakes to cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.

6  To make the frosting, put the chocolate and dairy- free spread in a heatproof bowl. Sit it over a pan of just simmering water and stir occasionally until melted. Remove from the heat and leave to cool a little, then stir in the milk and slowly add the icing/confectioners’ sugar, beating as you go, until it begins to thicken and become glossy. Put in the refrigerator to set.

To assemble the cake, remove the frosting from the refrigerator and beat until glossy. Spread generously over one of the sponges, top with most of the raspberries then top with the other sponge and cover with the remaining frosting, and use a knife to neaten. Top with the remaining raspberries and a dusting of icing/confectioners’ sugar or cocoa, if using.

We’re almost halfway through January, plus it’s Thursday, it’s time for a little chocolate flavoured indulgence. Don’t forget to tag us, @NourishBooks, if you give any of our recipes a try!