Who doesn’t love soft, slightly chewy, pillowy bao buns?” asks food writer Annie Rigg of this recipe – a vegan alternative to pulled pork. “Filled with sticky, soy glazed jackfruit and crisp vegetables, these are real crowd-pleasers.”
Never cooked with jackfruit before? Rigg says: “Canned jackfruit is now readily available in most large supermarkets and, like tofu, it is particularly delicious stir-fried. If you prefer, swap it for cauliflower florets or tofu.”
Jackfruit bao buns
For the buns:
250g plain flour
2 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking powder
50ml plant milk
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil, plus extra for brushing
2 tsp black sesame seeds
For the filling:
2 x 400g cans of jackfruit
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
6 spring onions, 4 thinly sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp maple syrup
1½ tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp Chinese five-spice
½ red pepper
Leaves from a small bunch of coriander, to serve
1. Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Heat the milk and water to lukewarm, add the rice vinegar and sesame oil and tip into the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until incorporated and then continue kneading for about four minutes until the dough is silky smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, return to the bowl, cover and leave at room temperature for about one hour or until doubled in size.
2. Cut two circles of baking parchment the same diameter as the inside of the steamer baskets. Fold each paper disc in half, and then in half again to make a triangle, then fold this triangle in half again. Snip small sections out of each folded edge so that when you open the paper it is dotted with small holes. Lay a disc in the bottom of each steamer basket.
3. Weigh the bao dough and divide it into eight even portions. Shape each portion into a neat ball with the seam on the underside. Working one at a time, roll each dough ball into an oval shape – roughly the size of your hand – and 5mm thick. Brush with sesame oil and fold in half. Brush the top with sesame oil and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Place the buns in the steamer to prove, leaving space between each bun and the edge of the steamer. Stack the steamer baskets together, cover with the lid and leave for about one hour at room temperature until the buns have nearly doubled in size.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Drain the jackfruit and squeeze out any excess water. Heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan or wok, add the jackfruit and fry over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until golden brown, breaking up the pieces slightly with a wooden spoon.
5. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli and four sliced spring onions to the pan and continue frying for another minute. In a small bowl combine the soy and hoisin sauces, maple syrup, rice vinegar and Chinese five-spice with four tablespoons of water. Pour into the pan, mix to combine, reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook for a further three minutes or so until the jackfruit is caramelized and coated in sticky sauce. Remove from the heat while you prepare the remaining filling ingredients.
6. Using a julienne grater, cut the carrot and cucumber into fine strips. Finely slice the red pepper and remaining two spring onions. Cover and chill until ready to assemble the bao buns.
7. Fill a large frying pan or wok with water to a depth of about 5cm and bring to the boil over a medium heat. Place the stacked steamer over the water and cook the bao buns for 10-12 minutes until the surface of the buns is firm, the middles puffy and they have doubled in size.
8. Divide the jackfruit filling and shredded vegetables between the buns, scatter with coriander leaves and serve.
Butternut squash nut roast
Nutritious and filling, this flavoursome dish makes a great centrepiece for a vegan feast.
“The butternut squash is roasted and then filled with rice, nuts and dried fruit and baked again on a bed of woody herbs,” says Rigg. “The squash can be fully prepared in advance, the halves filled and chilled until ready to bake.”
1 butternut squash
2½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 leek, trimmed and finely chopped
125g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
100g brown basmati rice, rinsed and drained
300ml vegetable stock
75g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
50g walnut pieces, toasted
50g hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
50g dried cranberries
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 bushy sprig of thyme, leaves picked
2 bushy sprigs of bay leaves
2 bushy sprigs of rosemary
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp grated vegan Italian-style cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C fan/190°C/gas mark 5. Cut the butternut squash in half lengthways and place, cut side up, in a smallish roasting tin. Scrape out the seeds and fibres, score the flesh, season, drizzle with one tablespoon of the olive oil, cover with foil and roast for about 45 minutes until the flesh is tender all the way through when tested with the point of a knife.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Tip the onion and leek into a sauté pan, add one-and-a-half tablespoons of olive oil and cook over a low–medium heat, stirring often, until softened and just starting to turn golden at the edges.
3. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the pan, stir to combine and cook for a further five minutes until the mushrooms are tender. Tip in the drained rice, pour in the stock and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Cover the pan with a disc of baking paper, or half-cover with a lid, and simmer very gently for about 30 minutes until the rice is al dente and there is still a little stock remaining in the pan. Remove from the heat and tip into a large bowl.
5. Add the chestnuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, cranberries, balsamic vinegar, parsley and thyme leaves to the rice mixture. Use a spoon to scoop out the cooked flesh from the butternut squash halves, keeping the skin intact and leaving a shell of about 1cm thick on all sides. Roughly chop the squash, add to the rice and season well.
6. Lay the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs in the roasting tin and place the butternut squash halves on top. Spoon the rice mixture to fill each half – any left over can be cooked alongside in another baking tin. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes until piping hot. Remove the foil, scatter with breadcrumbs, Italian-style cheese and drizzle with olive oil and return to the oven for a further 10 minutes until crisp. Cut into slices and serve.
Rice and lentils with tahini roasted root veg
“Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients here: many of them are store cupboard items,” says Rigg.
“This recipe is inspired by, and borrows elements from, two staple dishes in which rice is cooked with lentils and caramelised onions – Egyptian koshari and Middle Eastern mujaddara” – and it’s served with piquante chermoula dressing.
Feel free to switch up the fruit, she adds: “Pomegranate seeds are often used to lend a note of tart sweetness to savoury rice, but you could replace them with a tablespoon of sour barberries or dried cranberries if you prefer.”
2 onions, thinly sliced
4-5 tbsp olive oil
A good pinch of saffron stamens
100g puy lentils
5 medium parsnips, peeled and quartered lengthways
5 carrots, peeled and quartered lengthways
5 medium beetroots, trimmed and quartered (no need to peel)
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes
½ tsp garlic granules
2 garlic cloves, crushed
300g brown basmati rice, rinsed
200g cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
500ml vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp maple syrup
Seeds of ½ pomegranate
Leaves from a small bunch of coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cermoula dressing:
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
1 fat garlic clove, roughly chopped
1 mild green chilli (such as fresh jalapeño), sliced
2 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
25g flat-leaf parsley, leaves and stalks, very roughly chopped
25g coriander, leaves and stalks, very roughly chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp ground sumac
½ tsp cayenne pepper
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1. Start by cooking the rice. Tip the onions into a heavy, lidded saucepan, add two tablespoons of olive oil and cook slowly over a low–medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until very soft and starting to caramelize at the edges. Soak the saffron in two tablespoons of freshly boiled water in a small bowl. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas mark 6 and line one large or two smaller baking trays with baking paper.
2. Meanwhile, rinse the lentils and cook in a pan of boiling water for about 20 minutes until just tender but still with a little ‘bite’. Drain and set aside.
3. Combine the prepared root veg in a large bowl. Lightly crush the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and Aleppo chilli flakes using a pestle and mortar. Add to the veggies with the garlic granules and two to three tablespoons of olive oil. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well to thoroughly coat the vegetables in spices.
4. Arrange in a single layer on the lined baking tray(s) and roast for about 45 minutes, turning halfway through, until tender and browning at the edges.
5. Meanwhile, add the crushed garlic to the onions and cook for a further minute. Add the rice to the pan, along with the drained lentils and chickpeas. Pour the veg stock and saffron, with its soaking water, into the pan, add the bay leaf and cinnamon stick and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to its lowest setting. Cook for about 30 minutes until the rice is tender and the stock has been absorbed. Remove from the heat and leave covered until ready to serve.
6. To prepare the chermoula dressing, toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for one minute until starting to brown and smell aromatic. Tip into a small food processor, along with all the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and whizz until nearly smooth.
7. In a small bowl mix together the tahini and maple syrup, spoon over the roasted veggies, mix to coat and return to the oven for a further five minutes until golden and sticky.
8. Spoon the rice onto a large platter, remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick, and arrange the roasted veggies on top. Scatter with pomegranate seeds and coriander leaves and serve with the chermoula dressing for drizzling.
Recipes from ‘Eat More Vegan’ by Annie Rigg (Pavilion Books, £16.99; photography by Nassima Rothacker).
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