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New year, new challenge…  and after nearly two years of blogging here at The Garden Deli, I thought it might be time to introduce something new – just so as you don’t get bored.

Pea

I like the idea of meat free Mondays – one day a week when everyone is invited to eat without meat for whatever reason they choose… whether it’s for health, the environment, or just to try something different.  Trouble is, being vegetarian all the time, means that meat free Monday runs into Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… you get the idea.  But then why not take it a step further and try a vegan day each week? Can’t be that hard, can it?  Well, we’ll see – having a picky eater in the family (aka the vegetarian who doesn’t like vegetables) is going to make this challenge just a little more challenging than it might otherwise be.  But on the other hand, if I can come up with some vegan recipes that even she will eat (and maybe even enjoy), then they must be good.

Strawberries

So the plan is to embrace a part-time vegan diet, and to post the best of the recipes on the blog.  I know that at one day a week it’s only a very small part of our diet, but it will be a chance to get imaginative with flavours, and to try some new dishes.  Even better, it gives me an excuse to try growing some new herbs and vegetables in the garden.

Garlic

I’m hoping to use the same approach to vegan dishes that I do with our everyday cooking.  Our favourite vegetarian meals tend to be things that would be made without meat anyway, rather than toad in the hole made with vegetarian sausages, or chilli made with a soya mince… although, saying that, we did have ‘fish’ and chips tonight – with battered halloumi in place of the fish (so much for vegetarian food being healthy!)  But on the whole, I’m looking for plant-based recipes from different parts of the world, combining seasonal ingredients and plenty of great flavours.

Tomato and beans

And this is where you might be able to help out… do you have a favourite vegan recipe?  Savoury or sweet – I’d love to hear about it as I begin my exploration of vegan cooking.  In fact, if you’re inspired to offer a guest post, whether you’re a full-time or part-time vegan, please do get in touch.

Pizza 2

To kick things off, here’s an idea for a pizza topping… pizza with no mozzarella, whatever next?  But trust me on this one, the flavours were so good we didn’t miss the cheese at all.  And with garlic and parsley from the garden, the pizza gets extra points for using locally produced ingredients too!

Pizza 1

 Rocket & pine nut pizza

One pizza base – use your favourite recipe, or this one here is good

Tomato sauce – I make a sauce for pizza using a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a tin of good quality peeled plum tomatoes.  Heat them together until the sauce has reduced and is nice and thick.  One 400g tin of tomatoes makes enough sauce for 3 pizzas.

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

¼ green chilli (or to taste depending on how hot your chilli is… and how hot you like your pizza), deseeded and finely chopped

a handful of rocket leaves, washed

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tbsp fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

a small handful of pine nuts

Heat the oven to 200oC and place a pizza stone or dish in the oven to heat up.  When the oven is ready, roll out the pizza base, place it on a piece of baking parchment and top it with a thin layer of tomato sauce.  Drizzle ½ the tablespoon of olive oil over the top of the pizza, then place the baking parchment with the pizza on it directly onto the hot pizza stone or dish and bake for about 9 minutes – until the base is golden and crispy.

While the pizza base is baking, prepare the topping.  Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the garlic and chilli, and cook for a few minutes to infuse the oil with their flavour – ensure that he garlic doesn’t brown or burn.  Tear any large rocket leaves in half, then add the leaves to the pan and cook until they just start to wilt.  Remove the pan from the heat and season the rocket leaves to taste with salt and pepper.

When the pizza is cooked, remove it from the oven and scatter the wilted rocket leaves over the top, scraping out the oil and garlic from the pan to get all the flavours.  Sprinkle the parsley and pine nuts over the pizza.  Serve straight away – with an extra drizzle of olive oil if you like…

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