A comfort food classic with a healthy twist

Macaroni 'cheese' with kale and sage Macaroni ‘cheese’ has to be one of the world’s best comfort foods, but this recipe contains plenty of goodness besides the comforting carbs. As you would hope, it’s quick and easy to make, but the taste is really special. Any brand of vegan cheese should work fine in this, but if you are able to get hold of some Vegusto or Violife, that will help to make this really special. You can order Vegusto online, or get it from some independent health food shops. The same applies to Violife, although I think it’s now stocked in some of the larger Tesco stores too. You’ll notice the deliberate mistake in the definite absence of macaroni, but I found fusili worked just as well.

Ingredients for macaroni ‘cheese’ with sage and kale (serves 2):

  •  150 g pasta
  • A splash of cooking oil
  • 100g kale
  • 100g courgette
  • 4 tbsp vegan margarine
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 800 ml soya milk
  • 2 tsp dried sage
  • 2 tsp yeast extract
  • Vegan cheese to taste (this will depend completely on the strength of the cheese you’re using)

Method: 

  1. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then add the pasta, along with a splash of oil. Cook until tender (around 10-15 mins).
  2. Meanwhile, grate the courgette, and if using whole kale leaves (rather than pre-chopped ones) pull the leaves off the stems and tear into medium-sized pieces.
  3.  Gently melt the margarine in a largeish pan, then add the kale and sautee for a few minutes. Add the flour and stir until a paste forms, then cook for a minute or so, 011stirring constantly.
  4. Gradually add the soya milk, stirring constantly and bringing to the boil until the sauce reaches a nice thick consistency. If you find it becomes too thick, you can add some more milk, and more flour if it’s not quite thick enough.
  5. Stir in the sage, yeast extract, courgette and cheese, and simmer until the cheese is melted (if you’re using a brand that melts) and the pasta is ready.
  6. When the pasta is cooked, drain and stir into the sauce. Serve with some nice crusty bread for the full comfort food experience!

 

A tasty but unphotogenic soup

This is a quick, easy soup with a nice autumnal combination of flavours. Sadly though, its beige colour makes it decidedly unphotogenic, so I’ve declined to include an unflattering photo!

Ingredients for parsnip, apple and peanut soup (serves 2):

  •  2 smallish onions
  • 2 medium apples
  • 2 medium parsnips
  • A good splash of olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp dried sage
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoons of peanut butter

Method: 

  1. Peel and chop the onion and parsnips, and peel, core and chop the apple (the beauty of soups is that the ingredients can be as messily chopped as you like!).
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan for a minute or so, then add the onion. Sautee gently, stirring frequently until the onion has softened (but before it goes brown). Add the apples, parsnips and sage, and continue to sautee for a few more minutes.
  3. Add the stock and peanut butter, bring to the boil, then simmer until the parsnips are tender (around 10-15 minutes).
  4. Blend until smooth, adding more water if you prefer a slightly thinner consistency. Serve with some crusty bread.