The interest in Vegan, Flexitarian and Plant- Based meals has created a new passion for preparing and experimenting with vegetables. I like my plant based food to be made with ingredients that I recognise. This might be because I am a passionate cook and I love trying to recreate or create my own, or I am just so thrilled when the humble carrot becomes smoked salmon and watermelon becomes sashimi or salmon

Cauliflower has a brand new starring role. Not just boiled with a dab of butter or served in a cheese sauce, now in its new guise as a starring vegetable it can be grated to become cauliflower rice, deep fried into buffalo wings, or served in a thick seasoned wedge as steak. It can even be magically transformed into a gluten free pizza base.

Celeriac is another rising star. Loved by fans of the Keto diet, celeriac is easily transformed into chips, mash, noodles, or steaks. If you have the time and inclination you can even turn it into pastrami.

Mushrooms too are coming out of the closet or dark room and showing their true potential.  Trumpet or giant oyster mushrooms make incredible faux scallops with very little effort. Portabellas can be thinly sliced seasoned and slow cooked to make portabella bacon. A simple “ mushroom mince” is a fabulous replacement for meat. Use in dishes like shepherds pie, chillies, or pasties.  I like to use a mushroom mince to make a great Bolognaise sauce – add some puy lentils and it’s packed with protein and fibre. Instead of red wine in the sauce I add a healthy glug of I.P.A. Free-From beer and serve on broad cut celeriac noodles. This makes a lovely gluten free and vegan meal.

MUSHROOM & LENTIL BOLANAISE WITH I.P.A

1 onion

200gr chestnut mushroom

2 tins of tomato

100 gr cooked puy lentils

2 cloves chopped garlic

3 tb tomato paste

4 tb  olive oil.

Sea salt to taste

A handful of fresh chopped herbs

Celeriac chopped and peeled into strips

METHOD

Chop the onion and soften on low heat in 1 tb of olive oil with dash of salt

Chop mushrooms. These can be pulsed in food processor if you have one. If you don’t have one just chop them really small and mash slightly with the back of a fork.

Add the mushrooms to the mixture and stir. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils and chopped garlic cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Add aprox of free from I.P.A And simmer for another 10 minutes.  To serve poach celeriac strips for 6-10 minutes until softened then drain. Add some olive oil and mixed fresh herbs to a frying pan

And lightly fry the noodles. Serve topped with the Bolognese sauce

Mushroom and lentil bolognese with IPA beer