People often give me funny looks when I say I'm cooking up a big roast for dinner. But I've served my roasts up to many a meat-eater and not yet had a complaint. A good roast is all about combinations and flavour. And the fantastic thing about roasting vegan is that there are so many flavour combinations for you to choose from!
Gravy – Good gravy is a must. It ties everything together and is essential for mashing roasties into! This is my ‚go-to‘ recipe:
- Chop an onion and two/three cloves of garlic and chuck into a pan with a splash of olive oil and a large bay leaf or a good sprinkling of thyme
- Once softened, add a generous teaspoon of Dijon mustard, and about the same of tomato puree
- Chop up some kalamata olives or sundried tomatoes (a good handful and you can do both if you want) into little pieces and add to the pot
- Add a dash of soy sauce, and a good shake of smoked paprika (optional)
- Boil kettle and add enough water to the pot to suit number of guests
- Add as many teaspoons of Bouillon to match the hot water
- Stir all the time!
- Let it simmer down until thick. I typically start a roast by boiling my potatoes for roasties (see below), and then start straight on my gravy, so it should have had enough time to thicken by the time it comes to serving. If you need to thicken it some more, just add a little cornstarch or flour (only a little at a time)
- Remove bay leaf (if using) before serving
Gravy additions: I have been known to add to this recipe by adding celery (after the onions and garlic), chopped cherry tomatoes, green olives, tapenade, extra onion, mushrooms, leeks, Marmite etc. Have fun with it! Anything that adds that umami flavour is always good. And if you want to easily increase the protein then add some lentils to the gravy – puy or green work best – or even beans (I like black beans!). Make it in your own signature style 🙂
Roast Potatoes – Forget everything else, what makes a roast is roasties! Loved by everyone, great cold later on, or in a Spanish omelette the next day. I keep mine really simple…
- Cut potatoes into roastie-sized chunks. Leave the skin on!
- Boil until the skin starts to slightly peel off and the potatoes are soft
- Pour potatoes into roasting tin (I often shove mine into the oven a few minutes before, so the oil sizzles when I pour them in) with a little olive oil, a little salt, lots of cracked pepper and either rosemary or thyme. (I have been known to use smoked paprika here too, or throw in a handful of garlic cloves – again, add the flavours that you love.)
- Leave in oven at about 220C for about 40 minutes, or for however long it takes for them to crisp up just as you like them.
Carrots/Broccoli/Green Beans/Kale etc. – Great for crunch, colour and texture. You can cook these any way you want really, but for carrots, broccoli and beans I like to flash boil so they remain full of bite. None of those soggy veggies your Nana used to serve! Kale is great with a touch of oil in a pan, lots of pepper and sometimes a little garlic. If serving as a side, it is also lovely with some toasted sunflower seeds or pine nuts sprinkled on top.
The Crowd Pleasers:
Lentil loaf – I absolutely love this, and it is perfect with all the roasted trimmings! A great option for Christmas or Thanksgiving, and is excellent cold the next day – have it in a sandwich! In my mind, there’s no need to reinvent wheels if someone has already made the perfect dish… and Vegan Richa has. I recommend you try this as soon as you can! (It is also a protein-packed hit and a half! I have yet to meet an omnivore who doesn’t love this.)
Roasted Cauliflower – Having never been a huge fan of cauliflower, I was initially sceptical about this. But the jungle drums are not lying… You simply have to try it! Easy, delicious, different, fun and extremely tasty; it is a great one to knock out for non-vegans. I have used this recipe from One Green Planet and been overjoyed with it every time:
Garlicky Roasted Sprouts – Sprouts get a bad rap, and I don’t think that’s fair. When cooked right they can be sensational. I make this at Christmas as well as whenever I randomly happen to pick up sprouts, and it’s always a winner. I use a whole bag of sprouts for this.
- Wash your sprouts, chop the hard ends off and score an X in the bottom of each
- Into an oven-proof dish, add the sprouts (you can choose to cut them up a little here, or wait until later as I do), a good glug of olive oil, about the same of water, minced/finely chopped garlic (minimum of three cloves), a little salt and lots of cracked pepper
- Put them in the oven at about 220C and check on them in about 20 mins
- You may need to add a little more water when you next check in them. Give the sprouts a good mix up and, if they’re softening, mush a few up with the back of your spoon. This dish is great when you have a mix of whole sprouts and broken up bits
- Put back in the oven for approximately another 20 minutes – you may want to check, stir and mush about 10/15 mins in, just to ensure they’re not burning.
- You sort of have to decide when these sprouts are right for you. Some people like them really caramelised, others less so. So, again, it is a play around with kind of dish. I once thought I’d completely ruined this, as I’d burnt the outer edges of the sprouts early on, but I mixed them up, added a bit more water, mashed them a little and kept going. Everyone at the table loved them and had seconds. Best idea, however, is to do what I don’t do… Make these once before the special occasion so you feel confident on the day!
Quick and Easy:
Sometimes you don’t have lots of time and that’s when mock meats are just ace. Gravy, roast potatoes, some greens and one of these (or similar) and that’s a roast in my book!
- Fry’s Sausages, Pies, or Thick Cut Strips – Great to have in the freezer! Whip up a load of veg and add one of these great products to the mix. Perfect for family meals with non-vegans 🙂
- Linda McCartney Sausages – Comfort food for vegetarians and vegans alike, both the Original and Rosemary flavours are vegan.
- Granose Burger Mix – I love this stuff! One sachet makes four patties, and two for each plate seems to work well.