Veggie mains

Avocado pasta

This makes a great lunch or light meal and is perfect if you’re not sure whether you want a salad or a hot pasta dish. It’s fresh but creamy and very quick and easy to make. It will be ready in the time it takes to cook the pasta. This will serve 2.

So what do you need?

  • 200 – 250 g pasta
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small / 1/2 a large onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 / 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • a squeeze of lemon / lime juice
  • a sprig of basil leaves
  • some chilli oil (optional) or some ground black pepper

So what do you do?

First put the pasta on to cook. The chop the onion and start to fry it gently in the olive oil, chop up the garlic and add it. Chop up the tomatoes and them once the onion starts to soften. You don’t want to cook the tomatoes too much just heat them up really. When the pasta is nearly done cut open one of the avocados and mush it in it’s shell. Pour some of the pasta water into the pan with the veggies, probably about 1/2 a cup, turn off the heat and mix in the mushed avocado, a squeeze of lemon juice and a few torn up basil leaves. Stir this to make a sauce. Then drain the pasta and add it to the pan and add the second avocado chopped into chunks. Stir together and serve with a drizzle of chilli oil and garnish with some basil leaves.

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Something fruity, Something sweet

Creamy coconut & lamyai rice pudding pots

pudding

There are lots of lamyai / longans in season now so I’ve been thinking of new things to make with them. This dessert is a cross between a traditional English rice pudding and the Thai dessert of sticky rice and lamyai, which is delicious but very sweet. This is a pretty healthy dessert option and made with coconut milk so it’s vegan too. This makes 6 pots.

So what do you need?

  • 1 cup of shorgrain rice (I used Japanese rice)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 water
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. palm sugar (or regular sugar)
  • a couple of pinches of salt
  • about 4-5cms of cinnamon stick
  • a small bunch of lamyai / longans

So what do you do?

First rinse the rice once in water then put the rice, coconut milk, water , sugar, salt and cinnamon stick into a heavy bottomed saucepan, cover and put on a medium heat. While this is heating up peel the lamyai and take the stones out. You will need about 1 1/2 cups of lamyai pieces. Mix the rice occasionally and add the lamyai, before it reaches a boil turn the heat down and gently simmer it stirring occasionally. After about 15-20 mins it will start to thicken and you will need to stir it more frequently to stop it sticking. Keep simmering it until the rice is cooked and it’s thick and creamy, probably another 15-20 mins. When it’s done turn off the head, remove the cinnamon stick and then spoon the rice pudding into 6 smallish glasses and allow to cool. Decorate with half a fresh lamyai and then finely grate the cinnamon stick and sprinkle on top. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

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Drinks, Edible gifts, Something fruity

Lamyai Sangsom

Years ago I used to often drink Sangsom and Mekhong, Thai spirits, usually mixed with soda and a dash of coke, a squeeze of lime juice and plenty of ice. I added the coke and lime to take the ‘edge’ off the spirits. I don’t think they can be defined as ‘fine’ or ‘pure’ spirts, but when you are young they do the job and I had many fun nights, and not such fun mornings drinking them. Anyway my drinking tastes have moved on, but a friend gave me a litre bottle of Sangsom on my birthday, for old time’s sake, and it’s been sitting around unopened since.

Another friend from those good old Sangsom days gave me some lamyai from her garden so I decided to try a lamyai Sangsom infusion. I peeled the lamyai and took out the stones and the put them in a couple of large sterilised jars until the jars were about 2/3 full of fruit. I then pourded over the Sangsom and sealed them. I left them to infuse for a couple of weeks. We then all enjoyed the result with ice and soda. The lamyai helped take the edge off the Sangsom, making it a little sweeter and more fragrant. The fruit really absorbed the Sangsom and was very potent. It makes a ‘very Thai’ cocktail 🍸.

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The Basics, Veggie mains

Courgette, cashew & blue cheese pesto

Pesto

I love pesto but it’s not always easy to find Italian Basil here in Chiang Mai. The bugs have eaten my basil plants, but today I found fresh basil in the market so changed my dinner plans to pesto. I decided to mix things up a bit with the pesto adding courgette and blue cheese. Feel free to stick to parmesan if you prefer in the pesto. I served it with whole wheat past and fried mushrooms. The whole meal takes about 20 minutes. This will make enough pesto for 4 servings.

So what do you need?

  • 1 good handful of cashew nuts
  • 2 medium-sized courgettes
  • a large bunch of basil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • zest and juice of half a small lime
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • a good grinding of black pepper
  • 50g blue cheese

First, bring a pan of water to boil for the pasta. Then dry fry the cashews in a frying pan until they just begin to change colour and put them in a blender. Put about 2 tbsp. olive oil in the frying pan and add the courgettes, chopped into pieces, and the garlic. fry until the courgette softens but before it browns and add this to the blender. I then put my pasta on and fried the mushrooms in the same frying pan.

Next grate the lime zest into the blender and squeeze in the juice and add the blue cheese, salt and pepper. Pluck the basil leaves off the stalks, about three large handfuls of leaves and add to the blender. When the pasta is almost done blend the pesto, I like to keep some of the texture of the nuts. Then add about 1/2 cup of pasta water to the pesto and blend this in. Drain the pasta and add the pesto. Stir so the pasta is well covered with the pesto and serve with the mushrooms and a grating of parmesan.

 

 

 

 

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Soups

Roasted cauliflower and carrot soup

soup

This is a hearty and creamy vegan soup using seasonal cauliflowers. This will make 4 servings.

So what do you need?

  • a medium-sized cauliflower
  • 2 or 3 carrots
  • an onion
  • 4 / 5 cloves of garlic
  • a tsp. cumin seeds
  • a tsp. coriander seeds
  • a tsp. turmeric
  • a tsp. salt
  • 2 / 3 dried chillies
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 700ml – 1 liter of vegetable stock
  • 150ml coconut milk
  • a small bunch of fresh coriander

So what do you do?

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C / 400 F. Peel and chop the carrots into chunks and put them in a baking tray, add the cauliflower broken into florets and chop the onion into quarters and add it along with the garlic cloves, still in their skins. Grind the coriander seeds and add them along with the other spices, the oil, and half the salt. Mix everything together and then roast in the oven for about 40-45 minutes, turn them a couple of times, until the veggies are cooked and start to brown. Then allow to cool a bit and squeeze the roasted garlic out of their skins and remove the chillies (you can keep some of them in if you want it spicy).

Then either put all the veggies along with about 700ml of stock, the coconut milk and a small handful of fresh coriander in a liquidizer and blend until smooth, or put everything in a saucepan and use a hand-held blender. The soup should be nice and thick, you can add more stock to get the consistency you prefer. taste and add more salt if necessary. Heat through and serve garnished with coriander leaves and the chillies.

 

 

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Baking, Veggie mains

Chestnut, pumpkin and leek stuffing

stuffing

This is a festive stuffing that can easily be made vegan a great option for veggies at Christmas or Thanksgiving. Just make sure the meat eaters don’t eat it all before you get a look in! This will make 1 large baking dish approximately 30 x 20 cms.

So what do you need?

  • 1 baguette (a day old one is great)
  • 400g pre-cooked chestnuts
  • 400g pumpkin fesh
  • 200g leeks
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • about 6 tbsp. olive oil
  • 250-300 ml veggie stock
  • 1 tsp marmite
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • a few springs of thyme
  • a few sage leaves
  • salt and pepper
  • butter (optional)

So what do you do?

Start by heating your oven to 175 degrees C / 350F. Peel and deseed your pumpkin and chop 400g of the flesh into cubes about 2 cms in size. crush a couple of cloves of garlic and then put the pumpkin, garlic a tbsp. of olive oil an a pinch of salt an a good grind of pepper into a baking and give it a mix and roast the pumpkin for about 15 mins in the oven until it starts to soften. Meanwhile chop the bread into cubes about 2cms and put in a large mixing bowl. Slice the leek and lightly steam it for a few minutes then add to the bowl. Break the chestnuts roughly into halves and add to the bowl. Crush the remaining garlic with about 1/2 tsp. salt and add this to the bowl with some ground pepper and a good grating of nutmeg, about a third of a nut, and the chopped herbs then add in the roasted pumpkin and pour over a good amount of olive oil and mix everything together. The add the stock, with the marmite dissolved in it, which will be absorbed by the break and make the stuffing soft. Then spread the stuffing in a greased baking dish and grate a little more nutmeg on the top and either drizzle over a bit more olive oil or put small bits of butter over the top. Put back in the oven and bake for about half an hour until the top turn crisp and golden.

 

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Thai Food, Veggie sides

Stir-fried celery

celery.jpg

Yesterday at a local organic farmers’ market they were selling beautiful bunches of celery an I couldn’t resist buying some. Normally in Thailand we can only find tiny bunches of Chinese celery so it was irresistible. Celery is something my family are very fond of and as well as eating raw celery in the past, my grandparents had it fresh and crunchy just dipped in a bit of salt, I can remember having braised celery sometimes, although I wasn’t that fond of it cooked this way as it lost it’s crunch. Today I wanted to let the celery take centre stage in a cooked dish but I also wanted it to keep it’s crunch so I decided to stir fry it and resisted adding too much else to it. This is probably more Chinese than Thai in it’s style, whatever it’s great if you like celery!

Start by cutting the base of the bunch of celery and then wash the stalks and leaves. Remove the leaves, keeping all the fresh green ones. My bunch had lots of leaves so I kept half of them for making celery salt. Then chop the stalks into bite-sized pieces. Heat up about 2 tbps. of sesame oil, or other vegetable oil, in a wok. While the oil is heating finely slice two large cloves of garlic. Fry a couple of dried chillies and the garlic in the oil, these will flavor the oil, The chilles will cook very quickly so as soon as the puff up and start to change colour, brown, remove them and keep frying the garlic for a minute of so, turning occasionally, until golden brown and then remove these too.

Put the chopped celery stalks, not the leaves, into the wok and stir-fry for about a minute. Then add a couple of tbps. of water and about 1/2 – 1 tbsp. of light soy sauce and continue frying. The celery will let out some liquid too and will steam / fry and this will bring out it’s colour and stop it burning. Fry for a few minutes until it looks just cooked through, the colour will change as it cooks so check that it’s cooked almost through and most of the liquid has evaporated. This will take 4-5 mins. depending on the heat of your wok etc. Then add the leaves, 2 tsp. sesame seeds, I used a mix of black and white, a tbsp. of veggie (mushroom) oyster sauce and some white ground pepper. The oyster sauce can be left out if you don’t have it but it makes the dish nice and glossy and thickens the sauce up.  Stir-fry so the leave wilt and everything if coated in the sauce. Then add the garlic back in and break the chillies into the wok and give it a last stir. Serve with rice and any other dishes you like, I had it with a Massaman curry. Enjoy!

 

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