Trying to be healthy in January is a bit of a tradition in our household anyway - we cut down on alcohol and eat more greens etc. For a few years we even managed to be completely dry (alcohol-free) in January. But somehow that doesn't happen any more...
Anyway, I've flirted with vegetarianism for years, though only completely managing to eat a meat-free diet for about six weeks in year dot, when the Englishman was away at sea. He jokes that I am part-time vegetarian who enjoys the occasional rare (blue, actually) steak. True enough, that.
So...you might have noticed it's now March and I'm writing about easy Vegan recipes...the diet suited Daughter so much that she decide to remain animal-free for the foreseeable. But I would be lying if I didn't admit to sometimes tearing my hair out, trying to think of what food to make for all of us.
(By the way, before I get complaints from the other people in my household - I don't by any means carry the burden of providing the family with sustenance every day - we all enjoy cooking and take turns).
Luckily for me, my sister, The Great Cook, came to stay with us in January. Her daughter is also recently Vegan, so she had a great many recipes under her hat. But because my Big Sis has been working in the food trade for all her career, the recipes she cooked for us seemed terribly complicated. When Big Sis left, I felt completely at loss on what to cook for Daughter and the Englishman. Because we are all so busy, I didn't want us to have our evening meals separately - the recipes needed to satisfy meat eaters as well as Vegan Daughter.
So I turned to vegetarian pasta dishes, but after a while this too became a little monotonous. Slowly, however, we've together as a family built up a repertoire of simple supper dishes which you can throw together when exhausted from work and the London commute, and I thought I'd share with you some of these easy Vegan dishes.
Lentil, Avocado and Mint SaladI made this salad up last night out of ingredients that I found in the cupboard, and it tasted so good that I thought I'd share the recipe with you.
I love puy lentils, and they, like avocado, are a rich in numerous essential nutrients, such as fibre and protein. This recipe was just enough for three hungry people, and I served it with baked sweet potatoes.
150 g Puy lentils
2 ripe Avocados
1 red onion, cut in half and finely sliced
150 ml red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon - juice and rind
sprigs of fresh mint
I head of little gem chopped
a handful of watercress
Salt and pepper to season
Wash the lentils and place in a saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water and bring to boil. Cook on allow heat for abut 40 minutes (or according to packet instructions).
While the lentils are cooking, place the slices of the onion in a bowl and pour over the red wine vinegar so that the slices are just covered. The onions are gently pickled in the vinegar while the lentils are cooking - they need at east half an hour. You'd be amazed how lovely and mild the red onion becomes in such a short time.
When the lentils are soft with still a little bite to them, drain them and place back in the saucepan (off the heat). Pour over the olive oil and squeeze over the juice of the lemon and grate some of the rind in too. Season with salt and pepper.
Because I was serving baked sweet potatoes with the salad, I had to wait for about ten minutes for them to cook, during which time the lentils cooled slightly.
Add the avocado flesh, cut out with a small spoon into roundish shapes, to the lentils (Though it doesn't really matter what shape you make them). Mix gently with the lentils and add the fresh mint, finely chopped. (If you can't wait for the lentils to cool, add the chopped mint last on top of the salad, otherwise it'll quickly wilt & turn dark mixed with the hot lentils).
Spread the chopped little gem lettuce onto a plate, and pile the lentils and avocado on top. Arrange the watercress around the lentil mixture, and finally drain the red onion slices and arrange around the dish.