Gone Vegan

Lindsay Hutton discovers the politics and pragmatics behind a meat and dairy-free diet.

Serve a fast healthy curry dish and a meatless twist on shepherd’s pie

As promised, today’s entry features two yummy recipes that are a snap to prepare, healthful, filling and yes, vegan. Both are perfect for the early spring; sure, the sun has made a spotty return, it’s still damp and cold in much of the country and I like nothing better than to come home to something warm and spicy (to eat, I mean) after I’ve been trotting around with the bottoms of my pant legs soaked in springtime street sludge. 

In addition, these two recipes are failsafe potluck superstars. Or perfect to leave at the doorstop of that captivating vegan you’re trying to snag (best to do this when they’re feeling a bit under the weather or another good excuse– otherwise it’s just creepy. And could signal the beginning of a wonderful relationship between you and a restraining order).

Lindsay’s Spicy Miso Shepherdess Pie

I used to love my Mum’s shepherd’s pie when I was a little girl. It was the standard white potato, ground beef casserole, but it’s classic comfort food. Here I snazz it up with a bit of spice, ditch the gravy for a miso base and use a soy substitute and veggies in lieu of the dead stuff. My Mum now loves this version even more than her own. Or that’s what I keep trying to convince her. 

4 medium white potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium yam or sweet potato, peeled and diced

¼ cup unflavoured soymilk

1 tbsp margarine

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely diced

1 large clove garlic, finely diced

1 half green or red bell pepper, finely diced

6 mushrooms, white, finely diced

1 cup frozen, fresh or canned corn

1 package ground soy (I used Yves Soy Ground Round, Original flavour)

1 cup boiling water

1 tbsp dark miso paste 

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1 half cube dehydrated mushroom or vegetable stock

I tbsp dehydrated parsley

2 tsp paprika (I use the hot, Hungarian variety)

Cayenne OR jalapeno OR hot red pepper paste to your desired heat (if you’re unsure, start with a pinch or two and taste it as you go)

Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Set oven to 350 degrees and spray a square, 8” square casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Peel and chop the potatoes, both white and sweet, and place in a medium saucepan, cover with water and set to boil until tender (approximately 10-12 minutes). 
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, heat the vegetable oil on medium heat, then add the onion, garlic, peppers, corn and mushrooms to a large wok or frying pan and cook for about three or four minutes, until tender, stirring regularly. 
  4. Add the miso and stock to one cup of boiling water in a measuring cup, and stir until combined. This will act as your gravy. 
  5. Add the ground soy to the vegetables on medium heat; add the parsley, paprika and your choice of spicy additive and cook for five minutes, stirring frequently.
  6. Add the “gravy” to the pan or wok, reduce temperature, and let simmer for five minutes. 
  7. When cooked, drain the potatoes. Add the margarine, soymilk, salt and pepper (to taste), and mash to a smooth texture. 
  8. Transfer the soy and vegetable mixture to the casserole dish and spread evenly with a fork. With a spatula, spread the mashed potatoes evenly atop the soy and vegetable mixture. 
  9. Bake for 40 minutes, or until you see the gravy boiling up from the sides of the potato layer. For the last two minutes, flip on the broiler to crisp up the topmost layer of the potato.
  10. Let stand for five minutes then serve. 

Nutrition boost: High in B vitamins and fibre!

Creamy Chickpea Curry-In-A-Hurry

This was passed onto me by a former colleague who would lovingly serve it to her appreciative teenage (sometimes vegetarian and vegan) daughters (hi Liz!). Many curries can require a laundry list of ingredients and aeons to cook properly; this recipe offers the same lush, spicy flavour in a mere half an hour. I used to date a fella, an (irritatingly so) avowed carnivore, who would drool over this one. 

1 tsp margarine

1 small onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely diced

1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes (half a big, 28-oz can)

2/3 can of coconut milk (not coconut cream!)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into strips then halved

1 cup unsalted cashews, roughly chopped (optional)

2 tsp curry powder (if you haven’t replaced your curry powder in a while, do so – curry powder tastes best when it’s fresh)

Pinch of hot red pepper flakes

1 tbsp dried coriander, or ¼ cup fresh chopped coriander

4 cups cooked brown or white rice, or quinoa

  1. Heat the margarine on medium heat, then fry the onion and garlic for about four to five minutes until tender and translucent. 
  2. Add the diced tomatoes, coconut milk and chickpeas, and simmer for five minutes.
  3. Add the red pepper, cashews, hot red pepper flakes and curry powder and simmer, partially covered on a medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Stir regularly; it may stick a bit to the pan.
  4. Add the coriander, stir, and cook for two more minutes.
  5. Serve over prepared rice or quinoa.  

Nutrition boost: Practically screams of antixodants, protein and vitamin C!

Next on Gone Vegan: Why some soymilks aren't vegan yet Oreos are. Lindsay gets all CSI and sources out the hidden animal products in many common foods. 

Photo: istockphoto.com/creacart