How do I incorporate texture to vegan pulse, pasta and rice dishes so my non-vegan loved ones can not complain it’s just mush?
Signe, Brighton

“It’s all about a drizzle, a dollop and a crunch,” suggests Bettina Campolucci-Bordi, author of Rejoice: Plant-Dependent Recipes for Every single Situation. “I insert at the very least two to each individual food, and that instantaneously creates diverse textures.” A drizzle could be anything as basic as excellent-good quality olive or flavoured oil (chilli, garlic, basil) or date syrup, when a dollop is basically a little something creamy: “Hummus manufactured from butter beans or chickpeas, a pesto or flavoured yoghurt, say.” As for the crunch, that is “chopped toasted nuts, a chunky dukkah or za’atar, pomegranate, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, roast chickpeas flavoured with matters like tandoori spice”. In limited, Signe would be wise to adopt Campolucci-Bordi’s mantra of “more is better”.

Another tactic for steering clear of the mush aspect is to contemplate how you chop your veg. “With greens that have to have much more cooking, these types of as potatoes, chop them modest, whereas if you’re including courgettes to the exact dish, chop them bigger, or else they’ll go soft and mushy.”

For excess oomph on the texture entrance, Craig and Shaun McAnuff, whose most recent book, Natural Flava: Swift and Easy Plant-Centered Caribbean Recipes, is out this month, favour roasting their veg (“for an amazing crust on the exterior and melty insides”) or grilling it (“it gives you that crispy texture and smoky flavour”). Vivek Singh’s texture tips, in the meantime, include things like frying mustard seeds and urid lentils with curry leaves and spices in oil, then tipping the large amount into a lentil broth. A further option, claims the executive chef and founder of The Cinnamon Assortment cafe group, is to prime lentil and bean dishes with uncooked, pickled or lightly sauteed greens (assume chopped broccoli or cauliflower). “You can also experiment by including chopped nuts, fried shallots, and puffed or toasted flaked rice to the best of massive, hearty bowls of lentils and rice for more material.” Some spicy scrambled tofu would not go amiss, either.

Singh also endorses khichdi to maintain Signe’s family’s objections at bay. “It’s a traditional, house-design rice and lentil dish tempered with cumin, turmeric and greens [cauliflower, peas, carrots, chopped tomatoes].” He ups the ante by serving it with a roast aubergine relish: “Stuff two aubergine halves with cloves of garlic and rub with mustard oil. Char the aubergine about an open up flame, turning usually, right until blackened evenly on all sides.” When cool, take out and discard the skin and the garlic, chop the flesh and blend with sea salt, pink onion, chillies, coriander and mustard oil.

Ultimately, when all routes level to pasta, Shaun McAnuff is partial to a “creamy, crunchy” vegan mac and cheese. He caramelises onion, garlic and chilli, mixes that with cooked pasta and vegan “cheese” sauce, and seasons. “Spoon into a deep baking dish, prime with vegan mozzarella and breadcrumbs [you could even use broken crackers], and bake.” His brother, Craig, meanwhile, is all about pesto manufactured with callaloo, a leafy Caribbean inexperienced. “All you do is caramelise garlic and mustard seed, then blitz with callaloo [or spinach], nuts, avocado, scotch bonnet and spices.” Toss that by way of cooked pasta and major with a sprinkling of nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews) for that all-critical crunch.

By Taba