Feb 13, 2020
Valentine’s Day may be as Hallmark a holiday as it gets, but if you look at it from a personal point of view; it’s just another cheeky excuse to spend some alone time with the one you love most in the world. There’s no need to head to some fancy restaurant and go full-on if you’re a little tight on the green this month - maybe you want to spend some time in and prepare a home cooked meal… maybe you’d like it to be 100% vegan.
Well, if you do, here’s a fancy shmancy menu to keep you and your Valentine on the vegan train but far from hungry at the end of the night.
From amuse bouche to petit fours; here’s a great dinner you can prepare in no time:
Open with a soup
Life is all about making the most of the time and resources we’ve got so while the amuse bouche will add that elevated wow factor to your menu; don’t spend hours creating the perfect tit bit to start the meal; make sure it’s good, hearty, made with love and ready to serve up.
Why not steal a mouthful of soup from your last meal prep expedition and give it some extra flair? If it’s a pea soup you’re serving; hit it with a homemade mint oil and a touch of cream; possibly even some roasted sourdough bread to make it extra special.
Move onto the entrée
It’s overly cliche to serve a vegan a plate of pasta; the standard “Ahh... you don’t eat meat, right? We’ll make you pasta with red sauce - you’ll like that.” No, no, I won’t - there’s a time and place for a spaghetti pomodoro and it’s certainly not a viable alternative to your beef wellington dear host.
But this pasta is simple, light, fresh, healthy and not quite like pasta at all. Enter zucchini pasta; yet another cliche; but the satisfaction factor is way up there. Spiralize your zucchini or cut them into strips and while you’re chopping, cube up some firm tofu and garlic. Grill your tofu until super crispy - it’s a great bacon replacement.
Add some olive oil to a hot pan, throw in your minced garlic and a few chilli flakes and pop in the crispy tofu; some salt might help here. You’re going to work quick now; just like a carbonara you’re going to need a drop of water to allow the fats to stick to the ‘pasta’ - there’s no starch in this dish so it’s going to be pretty light. Quickly flash the zucchini pasta in the oil and move around, add some water to create a ‘sauce’ of kinds.
Get ready for the main
One of my favourite dishes; entrée or main, is a fun creation inspired by a burger I once ate in Gatwick Airport eons ago; it featured a Portobello mushroom, with fried onion, the usual lettuce and slice of cheddar cheese, logged between a burger bun. It was great; but I thought it could be better.
This dish became a vegetarian staple; with a lightly salted Portobello mushroom roasted in the oven with a generous portion of caramelized red onion and a thick round of goat’s cheese. For the vegan version, I usually create a pine nut crust to sit on top of the onions - the sugars in the onions give the pine nuts a super crunch and it’s godly! Serve with a wedge of iceberg lettuce and a caper and cashew nut dressing.
Anyone for dessert?
Something warm, soothing and as easy as possible - three top criteria when dessert is in question. How about an apple crumble? This one is so easy - peel and slice four apples and rub some cinnamon and coconut sugar into them in a large bowl. In a stand mixer; drop some nut butter, some more cinnamon and some more sugar into the bowl; sift in some flour (gluten free works just fine) and scrape in some seeds from a vanilla pod if you fancy.
Bung the sliced apple at the base of a quiche dish and plop some crumble on top. A great tip my mother taught me; add some liquid to the apples when they’re in the dish; this liquid could be fresh apple juice, a simple syrup or a drop of whiskey diluted in water. Bake for about 35 minutes or when the crumble is golden brown and the apples are nice and soft.
Make sure to pair each course with a great vegan wine, liquor or cocktail and be sure to drink lots of water as you go along! There you have it, a meal for two with zero guilt whatsoever.