Smoky eggplant with hot pepper jam
Esra Musluchef, founder of Zahter, London
Eggplant is often found on Turkish tables. It’s such a beautiful vegetable and I love to cook it over an open fire, which gives it a nice smokiness, and serve it with chilli jam and crispy, fried garlic. Make sure all sides of the eggplant are seared, then peel off the skin. I make a chilli jam by mixing 250g sugar with 250g water until dissolved, then add chopped chilli and lime juice to taste and heat until thickened. Finely chop 50 g of garlic and fry in the oil. Place the aubergine on the plate and roughly chop. Sprinkle with a little salt and za’atar and garnish with parsley, four or five fried cloves of garlic, chili jam and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses.
Neil Campbell, chef at Rthose, London
I love celery – so many things can be done with it and none of it has to be fancy. Bake them like a baked potato rubbed in olive oil and salt (they have fewer calories and more vitamins than the buds) until they’re caramelized on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, then load them up as you like. Confit with garlic, mushrooms and herbs is a winner or I like to use homemade jog. Make this by mixing parsley, coriander, green chillies, garlic and lemon juice with olive oil, then toss everything together. Some chopped nuts also work well with this.
Teriyaki Maitake Mushroom Donburi
Luke Frenchhead chef at Jöro, Sheffield
A hero vegan ingredient for me is maitake mushrooms, which taste amazing. Sometimes you can find them in packets of mixed wild mushrooms in the supermarket. One of my favorite comfort foods is Maitake Teriyaki Mushroom Donburi (Mushroom Rice Bowl) – I promise you, it’s one of the tastiest vegan rice bowls you’ll ever have. Make a simple teriyaki by reducing 200g mirin with 300g light soy sauce by half, then stir in a packet of miso paste soup and set aside. Then salt the mushrooms by dissolving 10 g of salt and 20 g of powdered sugar with 200 g of cold water, then soak the mushrooms in it for 20 minutes. After brining, pat dry on kitchen paper, then grill on a hot barbecue (or fry in smoked olive oil) until charred and crispy on the outside. Glaze the mushrooms in the teriyaki dressing and serve over freshly cooked sushi rice/short grain rice seasoned with a little rice vinegar/mirin/sugar/salt. Top with freshly chopped chives and crispy fried onions and drizzle with more teriyaki dressing.
Gnocchi with cavolo nero and walnuts
Giovanni Attardexecutive chef at Norma, London
I make nice gnocchi with cavolo nero and walnuts. Put 550g of mashed potatoes into a bowl with 5g of salt, 20ml of olive oil and 300g of 00 flour and mix until it forms a ball, making sure it’s not too wet and sticky. Taking a small piece at a time, form into a long roll about 2cm thick, then cut the roll into 2.5cm pieces. Place the gnocchi pieces on a floured tray, then cook by boiling in a large pot of boiling salted water until float to the top. They are perfect with cavolo nero pesto, made by placing 45g of chopped and blanched cavolo nero in a blender with 100g of walnuts, 5 tablespoons of olive oil, a bunch of basil leaves, two cloves of garlic, 50g of pine nuts, 10g of vegan parmesan and ½ ch.l. each of salt and pepper. Blend until smooth. If the blender is struggling, add a little hot water from the gnocchi pan.
Aktar Islamhead chef at Opheem, Birmingham
My favorite vegan dish is dal. I love it because it goes with everything; I usually eat mine with bread or rice, with some pickles on the side. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add 1 tsp. Add chopped onion and chopped green chillies and sauté until translucent before adding 1 tsp red chilli powder, ¼ tsp turmeric powder and ½ tsp salt, then sauté for two to three minutes. Add 250g red lentils and 100g moong dal (make sure both are washed and soaked) and enough boiling water to cover the lentils by 2cm more, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes. While this is cooking, prepare the tempura by caramelizing finely chopped shallots and set aside. Using the same pan and the remaining oil, add three finely chopped garlic cloves and cook until slightly brown, then add two whole dry Kashmiri red chillies, a pinch of asafoetida, ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder and mix well, then pour in the prepared lens.
Mixed green bruschetta
Connor Gaddhead chef at Trullo, London
My wife and I often cook vegan meals at home, and when we do, it’s much more about celebrating vegetables than trying to make a vegan version of a meat dish. For a regular dinner, I make mixed vegetable bruschetta, using cavolo, kale, cime di rapa, things like that. After I separate them from the stem, I roughly chop the greens and blanch them for two to three minutes. While they’re blanching, I sweat the garlic and chilli in a pan (twice as much as you think you’ll need), then add the greens and cook for a few minutes. Season with salt and a squeeze of lemon and drizzle with new season Tuscan olive oil, then simply eat with some grilled bread.
Samir Tanejahead chef at Benares, London
One of my favorite vegan dishes to make is masala poori – these are Indian crispy flatbreads with spices. They are seasoned with turmeric, coriander, fenugreek and chilli and are delicious on their own or dipped in curries and sauces (my favorite is with black chickpea curry). To make the masala poori, I prepare a flour and semolina dough (250g wholemeal flour, 25g semolina, 100ml water, 10g sunflower oil) and mix well with the spices, leave for 30 minutes before kneading and rolling into small flat discs. You then deep fry until golden on each side (about 30 seconds) and push the discs around the pan, which encourages them to puff up, creating delicious crispy flatbreads. Simple but so delicious.
Caramelized onion sauce with yeast
Jan Ostlehead chef at Wilsons, Bristol
In the restaurant we always have a vegan menu that goes along with our regular menu and often the dishes on the vegan menu are so delicious that they are moved. This Yeast Caramelized Onion Sauce is one of those that can be used for any hearty, savory dish. Lightly caramelize six shallots and one clove of garlic. Bake 200 g of baker’s yeast at 160C until a crispy crust. Add the two together, cover with water and bring to a simmer. Mix and strain through a sieve, then add a dash of sherry vinegar if it needs a little acidity. It’s great with roasted root vegetables.
Earned a salary
Judy Jufounder of Seoul Bird, London
I love the silkiness of eggplants and have many memories of eating gaji namul, a colorful eggplant-based side dish. My mother stewed the eggplant very carefully with chopsticks so as not to injure or discolor it. Asian eggplants work best for this recipe because their skins are thinner and they taste much sweeter. Cut three Asian eggplants into finger-sized sticks and toss them in ½ tablespoon of salt. Place in a single layer in a colander over a plate or in a sink and allow excess water to drain for 25–30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the sauce by whisking together two chopped garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon grated garlic, thinly sliced spring onions, 1 tablespoon gochugaru (Korean chili flakes), 2 tablespoons toasted and crushed sesame seeds, ½ tablespoon white sugar, 2 tablespoons soy sauce and 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil. Set aside. Eggplants are stewed in oil for 2-3 minutes, after which they are removed from the heat, poured with the sauce, salted and eaten.
Mushroom ragout on toast
Msetfi of Sofiaexecutive chef at Ormer Mayfair, London
My favorite January comfort food is vegan mushroom ragout on toast. It is easy to prepare and is perfect as a nutritious lunch or a light dinner. Grill a few slices of kvass until golden brown, then drizzle with olive oil. Fry a coarsely chopped banana shallot and a finely chopped clove of garlic with a little salt. After 2-3 minutes, add 300g chopped wild mushrooms or mushrooms with ½ tsp chopped thyme. Once cooked, add 40ml of rice milk, 20ml of balsamic vinegar and a squeeze of lime juice. It is reduced until it becomes thick and the mushrooms are covered with the sauce. Spoon the ragout over the toasted sourdough and finish with 50g coarsely chopped pistachios, the zest of one lime and a handful of watercress for garnish.