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Four simple vegan recipes that don’t use any meat alternatives

Veganuary is a chance to bring a wider variety of veg into your diet, says Bob Andrew. Here’s how

Tuesday 03 January 2023 17:36 GMT
Vegan sausage rolls: wholesome and satisfying
Vegan sausage rolls: wholesome and satisfying (Bio-D/Riverford)

More than 620,000 people took part in Veganuary in 2022, but there are still so many foods, drinks and household products that people don’t realise are (or aren’t) vegan.

“The rush to fill the shelves with new vegan products is in danger of repeating the worst aspects of the wider convenience food market, often with a lack of transparency over ingredients and potentially higher air miles,” says Bob Andrew, chef at organic veg box company Riverford.

“It’s all about balance. Use it as a chance to bring a wider variety of veg into your diet and try cooking with more legumes, pulses and nuts to provide protein.”

Here’s Andrew’s top four simple cooking tips to help you through Veganuary 2023.

Get protein from plants

For those new to Veganuary, there is a concern that they will lose all the protein in their diet, but this is easily replaced with legumes, pulses, nuts and seeds. Chickpeas, lentils, and beans are an easy source of adding goodness, bulk and texture to stews, soups, bakes and salads.

Eat the rainbow

Embrace beans and brassicas, revel in the rainbow of root veg, and learn to love greens. A veg box is a great way to bring a variety to your door and open up new possibilities.

Add some texture

Mushrooms are the obvious option for retaining a meat-like texture to plant-based dishes. A hot wok or fierce oven can produce a nice golden colour that adds to their natural depth of flavour.

You’re still good for pud!

Fruit-based desserts are the obvious go to, but there are plenty of plant-based hacks. Aquafaba (chickpea water) is a great vegan egg replacement, and did you know that a ripe banana also works just as well whilst baking? And soaked and blended cashew nuts are a perfect cream substitute.

Vegan sausage rolls

A wholesome and satisfying filling, with plenty of veg and protein. We blanch and squeeze the spinach so that it doesn’t add water to the mix. You should be able to mould the filling easily, without it being too loose or too stiff; if needed, you can use oats to adjust the consistency. Feel free to play around with adding different nuts, herbs or dried fruit to make the filling your own, as long as you keep the basic ratios roughly the same.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 20 mins | Cook time: 25 mins

Cook’s notes: You can make the filling a day in advance if you like. It needs to be properly chilled before use, as a hot mix would soften the pastry and make it difficult to shape and cut.


1 red onion, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely diced

1 large carrot, finely diced

200g mushrooms, finely chopped or grated

150g spinach

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 tbsp soy or tamari sauce

1 tbsp miso paste

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp freshly chopped thyme leaves

50g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Tin of cooked dark or puy lentils – about 250g once drained

Handful of porridge oats, if needed

300g vegan puff pastry, rolled into a large rectangle

Olive oil

Salt and pepper


1. Warm 1 tablespoon of oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Fry gently for 15 minutes, until they’re soft and most of the moisture has been driven away.

2. Meanwhile, boil a kettle and thoroughly wash the spinach. Place it in a heatproof bowl and pour over enough boiling water to cover. Leave it for a minute or so until it has just wilted. Drain and cover in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain the spinach again and the use your hands to squeeze out as much water as you can. Roughly chop.

3. Add the garlic, soy, miso, vinegar and thyme to the pan of veg and let them cook out for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and add the hazelnuts, drained lentils and chopped spinach. Mix firmly to break up the lentils. Taste and tweak the seasoning with a little more salt if you think it needs it. If the mix seems a bit too wet, you can add some oats to firm it up. Leave it to cool completely.

4. Once the mix has cooled, preheat your oven to 200˚C/Gas 6. Lay your pastry out on a work surface, and form the filling into a long, even sausage shape down the centre. Bring both edges of the pastry up and over to make a classic sausage roll shape, wetting the edge where they overlap to help join them together. Now, flip it over so that the join is on the bottom.

5. Use a sharp knife to cut it into 8-10 individual sausage rolls and place them on a baking tray. Brush each one lightly with some olive oil and lightly score the tops. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden and risen. Eat hot, or cool on a rack and store in the fridge until needed.

Autumnal slaw

A dark, hibernal take on summery slaw (Bio-D/Riverford)

At a time of year when we have hearty brassicas and root veg in the fields, we’ve merged them into this dark, hibernal take on a standard slaw. Gone is the mayo, in favour of a sharp, mustardy dressing, with some allspice to give a slightly Scandi feel. The nuts, seeds, and fruit add texture as well as taste.

Serves: 4

Prep time: 20 min

Cook’s notes: If all the slicing, peeling and shredding feels too time consuming, you can grate the beetroot, parsnip and apple instead. It will change the look but not the taste. This slaw is best eaten straight away, as the dressing will soften the veg over time. If preparing ahead, keep the dressing and veg separate until just before serving. If you want to be thrifty, you can save the kale stalks and use them to make a pesto. See our website for the recipe.


200g kale or cabbage (Savoy, January king and Red cabbage all work well)

1 red onion

2 celery sticks

1 beetroot

1 apple

1 parsnip

50g walnuts

25g dried cranberries

10g parsley

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp ground allspice

2 tbsp pumpkin seeds


1. Strip the kale leaves away from the stalks and tear them into bitesize pieces. If using cabbage, shred it very finely. Throw them into a mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Use clean hands to massage and scrunch the salt into the leaves for a couple of minutes – this helps to soften and tenderise them. Remove from the bowl and set to one side.

2. Peel and finely slice the red onion; if it’s much bigger than a golf ball, you’ll only need to use half. Thinly slice the celery at an angle.

3. Peel the beetroot, cut into thin slices, and then shred it into fine matchsticks. Core then slice and matchstick the apple too, skin and all. Use a peeler to pull the parsnip into long, thin ribbons; if you want a bit more refinement, you can shred those into finer strips.

4. Coarsely chop the walnuts and cranberries. Pick the parsley leaves away from the stalks and finely chop them.

5. To make the dressing, add the vinegar and mustard to the mixing bowl with a pinch of salt, and whisk together. Slowly add 3 tbsp of olive oil, whisking as you go until you have a thick, emulsified dressing.

6. Now, throw everything into the mixing bowl along with the allspice and pumpkin seeds. Mix well, taste, and tweak the seasoning to your liking.

Chinese oyster mushroom plum pancakes

You won’t miss the meat in these Chinese pancakes (Bio-D/Riverford)

Chinese duck pancakes are an absolute crowd pleaser, but you won’t miss the meat in this vegan mushroom version; it’s full of flavour and has an amazing texture just like pulled meat. Oyster mushrooms are by far the best choice of mushrooms for this recipe, as they can be easily shredded and retain the texture when cooked.

Serves: 3

Prep time: 20 min | Cook time: 35 min

Cook’s notes: We’ve provided a recipe to make your own pancakes, but you can always buy some if you want to save time.


For the mushroom filling:

700g King Oyster mushrooms

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tbsp soy sauce

½ tsp Chinese 5 spice

1 thumb ginger, grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

For the pancakes:

150g plain white flour

Sea salt

125ml boiling water

To serve:

¼ cucumber, cut into thin matchsticks

1 carrot, cut into thin matchsticks

1 spring onion, cut into thin matchsticks

Plum sauce


For the mushrooms:

1. Preheat oven to 160°C/Gas 3. With a fork or your fingers, shred the mushrooms into thin strands. Start by peeling away a little bit from the top and pull it all the way down the length of the mushroom.

2. In a bowl, mix the shredded mushrooms with the sesame oil, soy sauce and the 5 spice. Spread out on a baking tray and cook for 30 minutes. After 20 minutes, take them out and give them a stir and return to the oven. They are ready when they have browned and are starting to go crispy at the edges. While they cook, prepare your pancakes and garnishes.

3. In a wok or large frying pan, heat up a glug of vegetable oil. Add the ginger and garlic and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and sesame seeds and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Serve straight away whilst hot.

For the pancakes:

1. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour with a good pinch of salt. Add the bowling water and stir it in with a spoon. When cool enough to handle, knead into a dough; add more flour if too sticky. It wants to be just dry enough to be rollable. Roll out into a long sausage and divide into 10 balls.

2. Roll each ball out into a thin disc shape, about 15cm in diameter. Brush the top with a little sesame oil and then place another pancake on top to stick them together.

3. Heat a little oil in a frying pan. Once the pan and oil is hot, fry the pancakes in their pairs for roughly 40 seconds each side. Remove from pan and then peel the pancakes apart; the outside will be browned and crispy and the inside surface will be delicate and softly steamed.

To serve:

Pile the pancakes on top of each other on a serving plate. Serve at the table alongside a bowl of the mushroom mix, and a plate of the garnishes. Let people build their pancakes themselves for a tasty, tactile experience.

Banana, chocolate and pistachio loaf

A Veganuary essential (Bio-D/Riverford)

This vegan banana cake is so delicious and easy to make that it’s become one of our recipe essentials (especially when we have some overripe bananas to use up). Made with simple ingredients, this loaf is very moist, and full of flavour, with the subtle addition of Middle Eastern ingredients bringing a luxurious and exotic touch. It’s so versatile, too; try it for breakfast with nut butter, or with a warming chai in the afternoon. It also makes a good dessert, topped with vegan vanilla ice cream.

Serves: 8

Prep time: 15 min | Cook time: 45 min

Cook’s notes: The only requirement for making banana bread is that you use ripe bananas. Once the skins start to develop freckles and the fruits are just too soft to eat, then it’s banana bread time.


300g extra ripe bananas, mashed

80g caster sugar

1/3 cup coconut oil, melted and cooled

2 tbsp plant-based milk, e.g. ReRooted oat or almond milk

200g all-purpose flour

1 tbsp baking powder

¼ tsp ground cardamom

¼ tsp salt

50g chocolate chips

50g pistachios, shelled and roughly chopped, plus extra to decorate

Maple syrup, to glaze


1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Lightly grease a loaf tin (17x9x9cm) and line it with baking paper.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the bananas, sugar, coconut oil, and plant-based milk. Mix until everything is well combined.

3. In another large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cardamom, and salt.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Be careful to avoid overmixing. Gently fold in the chocolate chips and pistachios.

5. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and level the surface. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until well risen and golden. A fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean. Allow the loaf to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, remove the baking paper, and leave on a wire rack to cool completely.

6. To decorate, use a pastry brush to lightly coat the top of the loaf with maple syrup, and sprinkle chopped pistachios on top.

Recipes from Bio-D and Riverford. For more information on Bio-D, visit For more information on Riverford Organic Farmers, visit

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