We need to talk about that vegan artichoke and spinach dip.

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Pre-oven

Vegan Feast

Post-oven

Spinach and artichoke dip – it’s the American dream. I have to admit that I’ve never experienced the full-dairy experience and that this vegan version is the closest I have got so far. I’ve seen it in so many forms – often in the middle of the day on the Food Network. Apparently it’s a thing when the Superbowl is on?

I made up this recipe based on non-vegan versions I’d seen and since I had a vegan friend coming over, I thought I’d give it a go. What could go wrong? It has artichokes AND spinach in it! It was really easy to assemble – can be served with pita, tortilla chips or just bread! Make a meal of it if you like!

Recipe-ish (I eyeball a lot of these things – it’s more about ratios than exact measurements):

1 tub vegan cream cheese (I used a garlic and herb version)
1 small onion (about 2/3 of a cup)
2 garlic cloves (more if you like garlic)
2/3 – 1 cup cooked spinach (all the water is squeezed out then roughly chopped)
1/2 – 3/4 cup artichokes (drained and chopped up into scoopable pieces)
1 cup vegan cheddar-style cheese (grated)
Dash of soya cream
Salt and pepper to taste (paprika too if you fancy!)

  1. Dice onions finely and mince your garlic – pan-fry both in some oil until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, spinach, artichokes and half of the cheddar-style cheese.
  4. Add the fried onion and enough soya cream to loosen the mixture – it needs to be scoopable so make sure that it’s not too runny or thick. Stir and season to taste.
  5. Pour the mixture into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with the remaining cheddar-style cheese and bake! I’d leave it in the oven for at least 25-30 minutes for the ‘cheese’ to melt. Serve – but make sure that you share it with others.

My vegan friend, who took home the leftovers, reported that it is excellent warmed up and spread on toast the day after 😉 If you want to try the full-on dairy version, just replace all the non-dairy products! Oh, and if you’re a carnivore – add bacon.

Happy eating!

xxx

Vegan Food Made Easy

FYI – I haven’t turned vegan. But I admit to being a bit ve-curious, whether vegetarian or full-on vegan. Let me just quickly remind you that the humble chip is in fact vegan (assuming you’ve not ordered them at the Black Country Living Museum). It’s quite hard to go out these days without noticing the growing number of vegetarian or vegan options on the menu. I mean, there are even restaurants and cafes dedicated to plant-based eating! And about time. I love meats but recently I have made a conscious decision to eat less of it for issues of wellness. But I do still love a steak.

I love meals that are ‘accidentally’ vegan. I compare it to the feeling of going to the checkout only to find that your item has been unexpectedly reduced in price for no reason. I mean, you’re going to buy it anyway so it is an added bonus that it’s even cheaper. With accidentally-vegan fare, it’s like you’re contributing to sustainability, without even trying very hard.

I have been doing some recip-experimenting (some on a vegan friend) and have found the following things invaluable for ‘ve-mergencies’:

  • Puff pastry (Lidl’s is vegan)
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Spices (I have a jar of pre-mixed spices as per the Souk Spice Root Vegetables recipe in Sabrina Ghayour’s ‘Sirocco’ – literally delicious on everything)
  • Pulses (usually chickpeas or beans)
  • Those vegan shroomdogs from Sainsbo’s that I have become a bit addicted to

Pastry can be used in many, many ways whether you’re vegan or not. My favourite is to make a pie or a tart – depending on how much time I’ve got. Tart’s are well easy – shove a load of things you like on the top and pop it in the oven (don’t forget to create a barrier by scoring lightly with a knife to create the border – nobody wants SPILLAGE FFS). I particularly love the combo of artichoke, onions, mushrooms and Gary (or vegan cheese). I had a vegan artichoke pizza in a lovely restaurant called Billy and Lucy in Melbourne last year and was baffled by it’s simplicity and nommyness. Artichoke, onions and vegan cheese. In the words of Guy Fieri ‘that’s all she wrote’, and when I came home and started topping everything with artichoke, onions and Gary immediately.

Artichoke and Mushroom Tart

Vegan Artichoke and Mushroom Tart

Tinned tomatoes are a staple in my larder because they are so versatile; soups, curries, sauces etc. you name it, in they go! They’re particularly great for stews and one pot meals. Combine with the holy trinity that is celery, carrot and onion (the only time I will eat celery knowingly) and you have a brilliant base to which you can add spices and pulses for something warm and filling. FYI, this is vegan – unless you fancy adding some meats and cooking it low and slow. See? Easies.

Vegan Feast

Lower right – vegan chorizo and lentil hot pot

Spices are a godsend – again, for any food, not just vegan or vegetarian food. They perk up a bland dish and turns it into something completely different. I always have a jar of pre-mixed ‘souk spices’ (thank you Sabrina Ghayour). The original recipe is as follows:

2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp garlic granules

I usually quadruple the recipe, pop it in a jar and it’s there ready when I need it. Great for any roast vegetable combinations (and also meats). I’d recommend adding some fresh mushed garlic too for added yums.

Cavolo Nero and Souk-Spiced Butternut Squash

Cavolo Nero and Souk-Spiced Butternut Squash

This is a bit of an introduction to how I’ve adapted the ways that I like to cook (as a carnivore) to suit my new-found part-time veggie/accidental vegan ways. I have a few  other ideas up my sleeves (I NEED TO TELL YOU ABOUT THE VEGAN SPINACH AND ARTICHOKE DIP) and will tell you all about them v. soon!

Happy eating.
xxx