Category

Food & Drink

Food & Drink, Spring

Vegan Easter Lunch Ideas

vegan easter lunch

With Easter just around the corner, my thoughts are turning towards the traditional Easter lunch, and what my family and I are going to eat after the one time of the year when we legitimately get to eat chocolate at breakfast time!

Aimee Ryan from the lovely vegan food blog Wallflower Kitchen, has created some amazing vegan Easter lunch recipes this Easter for the Vegan Society, which I’m excited to share with Moral Fibres readers.  There’s everything you need to cook up a delicious vegan feast this Easter:

Creamy Pea Soup

vegan soup recipe
A simple but flavourful soup that can be ready in minutes! Perfect for a light starter.

Serves: 4 / Cook time: 8 minutes / Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stick of celery, roughly chopped
1 leek, roughly chopped
450 g frozen peas
700 ml vegetable stock
50 g raw cashews
(Optional) 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Dairy-free cream or soy yoghurt, to serve

Instructions
1.  Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and saute the onions and garlic, until softened.  Add the chopped leek and celery and cook for a further couple of minutes.
2.  Stir in the peas and cashews, then add the stock and balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and simmer for 5 minutes.
3.  Transfer to a blender and mix until smooth.
4.  Ladle the soup into four serving bowls and top with a swirl of dairy-free cream or soy yoghurt.

Vegan Mushroom and Leek Pie

vegan mushroom and leek pie
Creamy mushrooms and leeks encased in a crispy, golden pie crust.  Delicious, filling and a great choice to serve to both vegans and meat-eaters!

Serves: 4 /Cook time: 35 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium leeks, trimmed and sliced into discs
3 cloves garlic, minced
500 g button mushrooms
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
A pinch of salt and pepper

For the sauce:
1 tbsp dairy-free butter
2 tbsp plain flour
350 ml dairy-free milk
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
A pinch of salt and pepper
1 roll vegan puff pastry (or gluten-free, if needed)
4 tbsp dairy-free milk, for glazing

Instructions
1.  Add the olive oil to a large saucepan on a medium heat.  Fry the leeks and garlic for 2 minutes, to soften.
2.  Add the mushrooms, herbs, salt and pepper and stir for a minute.  Place the lid on top and cook for 8 minutes.
3.  Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, melt the dairy-free butter on a medium heat.  Add the flour and stir until combined.  Slowly add in the milk, a tablespoon at a time and whisk, until you have a smooth thick mixture.  Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
4.  Combine the cooked leeks and mushrooms with the sauce and leave to cool completely.
5.  Make sure your puff pastry is at room temperature (if using frozen, leave at room temperature overnight) and preheat the oven to 200C.
6.  Add the leek and mushroom mixture to a pie dish and top with the puff pastry, cutting off any excess pastry around the edges.
7.  Crimp the edges using a fork and score a criss-cross pattern on the top with a sharp knife.  Finally, dip a pastry brush in a little dairy-free milk and brush the top of the pie to help it brown.
8.  Cook for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Serve straight away.

Balsamic roasted new potatoes with asparagus

vegan roasted potatoes
A flavourful side dish featuring seasonal asparagus and new potatoes.  Salty potatoes paired with the subtle sweetness from the asparagus and balsamic vinegar make this utterly moreish!

Serves: 4 / Cook time: 40 minutes / Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients
1 kg new potatoes (such as Jersey Royal or another small waxy variety) cut into quarters
250 g asparagus tips, cut in half
2 tbsp garlic-infused olive oil
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A generous pinch of salt and pepper

Instructions
1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2.  In a large roasting tin, add the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt.  Add the potatoes and toss to coat fully before roasting for 30 minutes.
3.  After 30 minutes, add the asparagus with a little extra olive oil, if needed.  Toss to coat and cook for a further 10 minutes.
4.  Season with extra balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
5.  Serve and enjoy!

Lemon Possets With Shortbread


Ultra creamy lemon puddings with sweet, crumbly shortbread cookies – perfect for dipping!

Serves: 4 / Cook time: 0 minutes / Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients
For the lemon possets:
600 g silken tofu
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
120 ml agave nectar
4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
A few fresh raspberries, to serve
1 tbsp icing sugar, to serve

For the shortbread biscuits:
200 g dairy-free butter
125 g icing sugar
310 g plain flour
1 tbsp cornflour mixed with 2 tbsp cold water
2 tsp extract
1 tbsp dairy-free milk, if needed

Instructions
For the lemon possets:
1.  Blend all the ingredients, except the raspberries and icing sugar, together in a food processor until smooth.
2.  Divide the mixture equally between 4 glasses and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
3.  To serve, top with fresh raspberries, a sprinkling of icing sugar and 2 shortbread biscuits (see recipe below).

For the shortbread biscuits:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180C and line two baking trays with baking paper.
2.  Mix the dairy-free butter and icing sugar together in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the dairy-free milk.
3.  If the mixture is too stiff, add the dairy-free milk to help thin it out until you have a soft but firm mixture.
4.  Transfer to a piping bag with a large star nozzle.  Pipe the mixture into small circular spirals.  Starting from the outside, working your way in.  Try and keep them all the same size!
5. Bake for approx 12-15 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool completely.

Enjoy your Easter lunch!

All recipes and images Aimee Ryan for Wallflower Kitchen Copyright: The Vegan Society, 2018.

Food & Drink

An Ethical Guide to Wine

ethical wines

Whether you’re a connoisseur or a casual consumer on the weekend, we all have our reasons for choosing our favourite brand of wine.  If we’re honest, most of the time it revolves around taste.  We choose a grape variety that we like and stick to it, or we study the tasting notes and awards labels to find a new recommendation.  How often do we think about the hidden ingredients: the efforts of the workers, the added chemicals and environmental impact of the vineyard?

Tim Hunt from Ethical Consumer investigates what it takes to create a kinder chardonnay and the brands and retailers who are pioneering this work.

Here in the UK, wine is the most popular alcoholic drink of choice, with 60% of us choosing wine over other beverages, and 30 million of us regularly partaking in a glass of this popular tipple. Around 600-800 grapes are squeezed into every 75cl bottle of wine and, for the farmers and growers, the UK is an important market.  Sadly, these grapes don’t contribute to our five a day, but there is no reason why our consumption and purchasing decisions can’t be used for good.

The issues behind wine production

Recent investigations into large vineyards in South Africa by International Labour Organisation (ILO), in 2015, and three Scandinavian public service broadcasters, in 2016, once again highlighted the poor conditions and lack of rights for many labourers.

Workers were found to be living in cramped conditions in cardboard houses, surviving on less than $4 a day and, in some areas, being paid with alcohol.  Workers were also provided with inadequate protection against the pesticides being used, many of which are banned in the west.

This practice is not limited to South Africa and paints a dark reality behind the expensive bottles and clever branding.

ethical wines

Would you like some pesticides with that?

The harmful effects of pesticides aren’t limited to countries outside the EU.  Using 60,000 tonnes of pesticides a year, France is Europe’s biggest user, with 80% of its fungicides used in vineyards.  A documentary from French TV channel France 2, in 2016, found traces of pesticides in hair samples from children schooled near vineyards and reported a link to rising levels of autism and attention deficit disorder.

The pesticide problem may feel far removed from the UK but the EXCELL laboratory in Bordeaux has shown that in a study of 300 French wines, 90% showed traces of chemicals used during production.  Although these were present in trace amounts, the accumulation effect hasn’t been fully investigated.

Organic and fairtrade

There’s a simple way to challenge the problems within the wine industry and that is to drive change through our wallets. To use our purchasing power to shift our consumption to organic and Fairtrade brands.

Switching to organic wines is the ultimate way to protect workers, the environment and yourself from the harmful effects of pesticides.  Organic vineyards must support biodiversity and enhance soil health, whilst minimising the use of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilisers.  They use cover crops to attract natural predators of the pest species and build better soils with composts and manure.  Producers are also restricted on sulphur dioxide levels, great news if you have an allergy to this chemical.  And, of course, the wine must include no genetically modified crops.

Fairtrade or locally supported

As well as buying organic brands, you can further ensure that workers are protected by switching to fairtrade wines.  Already, 27 million litres of fairtrade wine are sold every year, and half of that is to the UK.  28 of the 49 fairtrade certified producers are in South Africa, actively tackling the very real problems mentioned above.  When you buy Fairtrade wine you are ensuring that farmers get a fair price for their crops and that worker rights are protected.  Each organisation must also set up a Fairtrade Premium to help develop their local communities.

As well as supporting developing nations, you can also consider shopping closer to home to cut down on the carbon footprint of your wine.  British winemakers are doing pretty well on the awards front at the moment, particularly when it comes to sparkling wines – if you’re a fan of the bubbles.

best organic wine

Our pick of the best

Fancy trying something new? Meet two of the best ethical wine producers:

Emiliana
Chilean producer Emiliana has vineyards throughout Chile and produces 100% organic and Fairtrade wines.  Emiliana farms use chickens as natural predators for insects and they connect their farms to open spaces to encourage pests to move away.  Emiliana has strong green credentials too, working to actively increase the carbon content in their soil and shifting to renewable energy generation on site.  The Fairtrade Premium is given to a committee made entirely of workers to decide how best to spend the money to benefit their community.

We recommend the Adobe Reserva and Novas Gran Reserva wine as our best buy brands.

Stellar 
The Stellar winery has a large array of brands from Dig This! to Running Duck, Moonlight and their original Stellar wines.  As South Africa’s largest producer of fine organic wines, they source their grapes from a number of independent, Fairtrade-certified farms along the Atlantic coastline.  26% of the company is owned by the workers and a not-for-profit organisation funds development projects on the farms and in local communities.

We highly recommend the Stellar and Moonlight brands.

If you fancy experimenting with a range of different organic and Fairtrade wines, we recommend online retailers Vintage Roots and Vinceremos.  Both stock 100% organic wines but also a range of organic beers, ciders and spirits too.

Check out our full wine report for more information on the wine industry, including vegan brands.