Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese (serves 4)

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Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese by The Fat Foodie

Spaghetti bolognese is one of the easiest dinners you can cook, to the extent that when I thought about writing this one up on the blog I thought it was maybe a bit too pedestrian, but once I tasted it I realised that, when it comes to my blog, my main rule is that it doesn’t matter how simple the recipe is as long as it tastes fantastic.

This is a meat and dairy-free vegan spaghetti bolognese, but don’t let that put you off making this, meat-eaters, because: a.) the vegan mince is very tasty and substantial; b.) if you really wanted to you could easily use beef or pork mince in place of the vegan mince; and c.) it’s worth making for the ragù sauce alone.

The key to this vegan spaghetti bolognese recipe is the inclusion of chopped sundried tomatoes which adds a silky richness to the tomato base. The capers and green olives also add a nice tart piquancy which cuts through the rich sauce whilst adding texture. I always keep a packet of fresh basil leaves in my freezer to add to dishes such as this one. I won’t lie, the freezing process does make the leaves lose some of their flavour potency so it’s best to use fresh basil leaves, but it’s worth it to have some on hand to add to my plate should the need arise.

In all, if you make this vegan spaghetti bolognese you’ll be rewarded with a plateful of tender well-seasoned spaghetti topped generously with a full-bodied and luscious tomato ragù that’s brimming over with flavour. All in all, how can you resist?

Ingredients:

For the ragù sauce:

2 tbsps. of olive oil

I tsp asafoetida powder

10 pitted green olives (halved)

2 tbsps. capers

12 sundried tomatoes (chopped)

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1 tin of good quality chopped tomatoes

2 tbsps. tomato puree

250g vegan mince

Fresh basil

For the spaghetti:

360g dried gluten-free spaghetti (I go with roughly 90g per person)

2 gluten-free vegetable stock cubes

Method:

Fill a large pan with hot water, add the two vegetable stock cubes and bring to the boil.

Put another smaller pan on a medium heat and add your olive oil. Add the sundried tomatoes, capers, olives, vegan mince and pepper and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Whilst the sauce is simmering cook the spaghetti in the large pan of seasoned boiling water until it is cooked to your preferred texture and drain well.

Serve each mound of spaghetti with a generous topping of ragù sauce, fresh basil leaves and a grating of parmesan (or a dairy-free version).

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Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese by The Fat Foodie

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Lasagne

Lasagne

Lasagne

In my opinion, one of the best meals to come out of Italy is lasagne. There’s nothing quite like a hearty, beefy, cheesy pasta dish to fill the tummy. Its multi-layers allow for forkfulls of rich, tomatoey mince to meld with thick, unctious cheese sauce, with the occasional surprise of a nice piece of crispy toasted melted cheese.

Lasagnes are incredibly easy to make and the beauty of making your own instead of buying one is that you can alter the ingredients as you see fit, ensuring you have a pasta dish that suits your own taste. I like mine to have plenty of garlic in it and for the sauces to be thick enough for it to cut into slices without it completely falling apart, but other people prefer theirs to be much more liquid so that they can use buttery garlic bread to mop up the sauce.

Either way, it’s a rewarding meal that will feed lots of people. It can also reap plenty of leftovers which will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and it’ll freeze beautifully too, leaving your freezer stocked with ready meals of the best (and tastiest) quality.

Ingredients:

500g beef mince

1 onion (diced)

2 tbsps olive oil

6-8 lasagne sheets

1 tbsp dried oregano

1/2 tsp salt

4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)

100g mushrooms (chopped)

50g pitted black olives (chopped)

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

4 tbsps of tomato puree

1 Oxo cube

100ml of water

1 packet of cheese sauce mix

1/2 a pint of milk

200g grated cheddar

Method:

Put the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat and add the mince, garlic and onion. Fry until the meat is cooked through.

Add in the oregano, salt, olives and mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are soft.

Add in the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree.

Crumble the Oxo cube into the pan and stir through. If the mix is very thick then add a bit of water, but if you’re happy with the consistency then leave it as it is.

Cook the mix for a little while longer over a low heat.

In the meantime, prepare the cheese sauce as instructed on the packet.

To build the lasagne:

Put a layer of tomato mince in a square or rectangular casserole dish, followed by a thin layer of cheese sauce and place lasagne sheets on top.

Repeat until all of the ingredients are used up, reserving a bit of cheese sauce for the top.

Scatter grated cheese all over the top of the lasagne and grind black pepper over it.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins, or until the lasagne sheets are soft and the grated cheese is golden brown and bubbling.

Serve with garlic bread, baguette or salad. Or all of the above, because why not?

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Reasons to love vegetables: Tomato & Basil Salad

Tomato and Basil Salad by The Fat Foodie

Tomato and Basil Salad by The Fat Foodie

Although I appreciate most ingredients, vegetables often really sing with vibrancy and life. There’s something about a fresh, perfectly ripe tomato in particular that begs for it to be treated with more respect than just chucking it in a ragu to be pulped down into a formless sauce to coat pasta with. So, when I saw the ruby-hued offerings my local greengrocer was selling I couldn’t resist grabbing a handful to make a tomato and basil salad.

A good tomato and basil salad is not just a case of mixing the two components together in a bowl; it needs seasoning, oil and sharpness. All of these additions help the true savoury sweetness of the tomatoes to shine through and leads to a real celebration of the summer crop. I’ve known some people who insist on sprinkling a small amount of sugar over their tomato salads because they say it enhances the natural sweetness of the fruit, but I don’t think it’s necessary. I do insist on using a little bit of salt and pepper though. This really does make a difference to your tomato and basil salad, but like all cooking, it depends on your own tastes.

Ingredients:

Very ripe tomatoes

Young basil leaves

Salt and pepper

Good olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Method:

Slice your tomatoes and lie them flat on a plate.

Grind some salt and pepper over them (to taste).

Sprinkle olive oil over the tomatoes, followed by a drizzle of balsamic.

Scatter the basil leaves over the tomatoes.

Serve.

Tomato and Basil Salad by The Fat Foodie

Tomato and Basil Salad by The Fat Foodie

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