In their new cookbook, Stephen and David Flynn — The Happy Pear — have taken 10 of the most common vegetables, and found seemingly infinite ways to cook them using 10 ingredients or less.
A bid to reduce the amount of food wasted, ‘The Veg Box’ is laid out by vegetable instead of by meal, so depending on what you’ve got lying around, you can head straight to that chapter.
To give you a little taster, we’ve got three recipes from the cookbook for you to try your hand at…
Spaghetti and Beetballs
Takes 40 minutes
1. 100g cashew nuts
2. 400g dried wholemeal spaghetti
3. 100g uncooked beetroot
4. 2 red onions
5. 4 small cloves of garlic
6. 1 x 400g tin of black beans
7. 100g fresh breadcrumbs
8. 1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
9. 2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
10. a few fresh basil leaves, to serve
This delicious vegan take on spaghetti and meatballs is quick and easy, comforting and a great anytime dinner. A great way to get veggies and wholefoods into a familiar family favourite. As an optional extra, serve with some vegan Parmesan to give another pop of flavour.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C fan/190°C/gas 5.
- Spread the cashews on a baking tray and toast in the oven for 6–7 minutes.
- Set aside.
- Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil and add a generous pinch of salt.
- Add the spaghetti and cook as per the packet instructions, then drain, rinse, and put the pasta back into the same pan.
- While the pasta is cooking, let’s make our beetballs.
- Wash the beetroot and remove any dirt and blemishes, then coarsely grate it into a bowl.
- Finely chop the onions and garlic.
- Drain and rinse the black beans.
- Put a non-stick pan on a high heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil and once hot add the onions and cook for 2–3 minutes, until they start to brown.
- Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.
- Remove half the garlic and onions and set aside to use later for the tomato sauce.
- Add the grated beetroot to the onions and garlic in the pan, along with 1 teaspoon of salt and the drained black beans, and cook for 5 minutes.
- Remove from the heat, then transfer to a food processor with the breadcrumbs, toasted cashew nuts, and a pinch of black pepper, and blend until smooth.
- Remove the mixture from the food processor and shape into 14–16 small smooth balls about the size of a lime.
- Flatten each ball slightly. Put the same non-stick pan back on a high heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add the fennel seeds and fry for 30 seconds, then add the reserved onion and garlic.
- Fry for another couple of minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper, and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 5–10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the tomato sauce to the cooked pasta, mix well, and set aside while you cook the beetballs.
- Put the same non-stick pan on a high heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil. Once hot, add the flattened beetballs and fry in batches until brown, about 2–3 minutes on each side.
- Remove from the heat.
- Serve the spaghetti with 3 or 4 beetballs per person, with some basil leaves and grated vegan parmesan scattered over.
Broccoli and Potato Cakes with a Chilli Mayo
Takes 45 minutes
1. 1 x 300g head of broccoli
2. 500g potatoes
3. 2 onions
4. 2 cloves of garlic
5. 140g plain white flour
6. 100ml oat milk or non-dairy milk of choice
7. 8 tbsp sesame seeds
8. 1¼ tsp chilli powder
9. 100ml vegan mayo
This is a great way to use up any leftover mashed potato from a dinner the night before. At Christmas time we always have lots of mashed potato left over, and this is what we do with it. Try to use a floury potato such as Maris Piper or Queen, if possible.
- Chop the broccoli into bite-size florets and finely chop the stalk.
- Peel and roughly chop the potatoes, and peel and finely chop the onions and garlic.
- Put the broccoli florets into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Put a pan of boiling water on a medium heat and add the potatoes and the finely chopped broccoli stalks.
- Cook for 10–15 minutes, until soft.
- Drain the potatoes and broccoli, and put them back into the still-warm pot.
- Leave to cool for 5 minutes, so any excess moisture can evaporate.
- Mash to break up the potato, then set aside to cool.
- While the potatoes and broccoli are cooling, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wide-bottomed non-stick pan on a high heat. Once hot, add the onion and chopped broccoli florets along with ½ teaspoon of salt and cook for 5–10 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Turn the heat down to medium and add the garlic. Cook for a further 2 minutes, until the onions start to turn translucent and the mix begins to smell delicious!
- Put the mashed potato, onion and broccoli mixture into a large mixing bowl, along with 100g of the flour, 1½ teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of black pepper.
- Mix everything well, tasting and adjusting the seasoning. Shape the mixture into burger-shaped patties, about 80g each.
- Put the remaining 40g of flour, the oat milk and sesame seeds into three separate bowls. Dip each potato cake in the flour first, coating it well, then into the oat milk and finally into the sesame seeds, giving them an even sprinkling on both sides.
- Reshape so each one is a nice smooth potato-cake shape. Wipe out the wide non-stick pan, put it back on a medium heat, and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Once hot, add 3 potato cakes to the pan and cook on both sides for 4–5 minutes, until they start to turn golden.
- You need to be careful not to burn them, so keep checking. Repeat with the rest of the potato cakes until they are all cooked.
- Mix the chilli powder through the vegan mayo and either serve as a dip for the potato cakes or drizzle over the top.
Easy Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Makes 12 small cupcakes
Takes 50 minutes
1. 50g walnuts, plus 12 to decorate
2. 50g raisins
3. 200g self-raising flour
4. 150g light brown muscovado sugar
5. 1 tsp ground cinnamon
6. ½ tsp ground allspice
7. 100g carrots
8. 220g vegan cream cheese
9. 75g icing sugar
These are light and creamy, and they are that perfect small delicate size that makes you feel like you’re not over-indulging and you might have a second one!
- Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas 6.
- Line a standard 12-muffin tray with cupcake liners.
- Roughly chop the 50g of walnuts.
- Put them into a large bowl with the raisins, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice and a small pinch of salt, and mix well.
- Peel and grate the carrots and put them into a second bowl with 140ml of vegetable oil and 90ml of water. Mix well.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well again. Divide the mixture evenly between the cupcake cases.
- Bake for 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.
- Make the icing while the muffins are in the oven. Put the vegan cream cheese into a bowl and mash with a fork, so it will be easier to mix with the icing sugar.
- Sift in the icing sugar, using a sieve so there are no lumps.
- Using a whisk or a fork, whisk the vegan cream cheese and icing sugar until smooth. Pop the icing into the fridge until ready to use.
- Take the muffins out of the oven and leave to fully cool.
- Once fully cool, ice them with either a piping bag or a spoon. Pop a walnut on top of each muffin.
‘The Veg Box’ by Stephen and David Flynn (The Happy Pear) is published by Penguin Life and is available in shops and online now.