Tofu – it might just be the most polarising plant-based ingredient out there, but I can’t live without it. I do marinate it from time to time, but truthfully my favourite way to enjoy it is cubed and tossed in a little soy sauce, sesame oil and sunflower oil combo before roasting it until it’s golden.
Oatly Barista – Yes, I do make my own plant milks but I’m never knowingly without a carton of Oatly Barista in the fridge. I think most people would agree it’s a game-changer. Don’t limit yourself to coffee either; I use it in absolutely everything, including smoothies, sauces and baking.
Coconut Yoghurt – Dolloped on curries, blended into dips and, of course, topped with fruit or granola for breakfast, coconut yoghurt is hands down one of my most reached-for ingredients. My go-to brand is Coyo.
Hummus – What kind of vegan would I be if I didn’t have hummus in my fridge? I don’t just use it as a dip. My favourite plant-based hack is to thin it out with lemon juice and spoon it over pizza before baking. It transforms into little pockets of cheesiness in the oven.
Naturli Vegan Butter – I don’t even bother with any other brand now. This is the king of vegan butters but you must, must buy the block, not the spreadable version.
Sauerkraut – I’m a sauerkraut and pickle obsessive and have been known to eat them straight out of the jar. The absolute best snack, in my opinion, but they’re also great in sandwiches and good for your gut.
Tofurky Hickory Smoked Deli Slices – I don’t really go in for faux meats but there’s something about these smoked deli slices I can’t get enough of. I enjoy them in bagels with sliced tomato, vegan mayo and a generous smear of Belazu dijon. Heaven.
Violife Non-Dairy Prosociano Cheese – Again, I’m not a huge vegan cheese fan but I’ll make an exception for this. With vegan cheese, it’s all about the grate, so go as fine as you can. A microplane is your friend here.
FRUIT & VEG
Bananas – Ripe bananas are a mainstay in my fruit bowl. While I love them sliced into porridge for breakfast or slathered in almond butter as a snack, I also use them prolifically in baking – and not just for banana bread either. They make a terrific binder and, depending on the shape, size and ripeness, you’ll probably not even know they’re in there.
Pomegranate – I blame Nigella for my passion for pomegranate seeds. They enhance pretty much any dish, sweet or savoury.
Lemons – A kitchen staple for most cooks and I’m no different. I use them in most dishes, but they are especially good halved and added to casseroles, stews or curries. I also drink a fair amount of lemon water.
Tomatoes – These are essential in my cooking and I like to have an array in my kitchen at all times. I tend to add cherry tomatoes to my sauces about ten to 15 minutes prior to serving up, so they still retain their shape but their sweetness intensifies. Delicious.
Spinach & Kale – Leafy greens not only taste incredible but are crammed full of nutrients. I don’t obsess over my vitamin intake, but I do ensure at least one meal a day contains a healthy dose of greens, be it spinach, kale or otherwise.
Avocado – Fashions come and go, but my reliance on avocado never wanes. I’m afraid I still prefer it the predictably hipster way: smashed on toasted sourdough and seasoned generously with lemon and salt.
Cauliflower – I’m not sure there’s a more versatile vegetable than cauliflower. Roasted whole it makes for a spectacular festive centerpiece, but I equally love it broken into florets, dunked in batter, coated in panko and deep fried. Toss the golden nuggets in a fiery gochujang sauce and serve alongside a cooling coconut yoghurt dip for a truly mind-blowing party dish.
Sweet Potatoes – My fallback ingredient for lazy weeknight dinners. Halved, pricked, rubbed in oil and roasted flesh-side down, they’ll be ready in 30 minutes and can be served alongside anything. A fresh green salad and tons of tahini dressing would be ideal.
Red Onions – No dish would be complete without some sort of onion inclusion. I like red onions because they can be sautéed, pickled or eaten raw. In fact, one of my most ‘liked’ Instagram posts happens to feature a tray of simply roasted baby potatoes topped with finely diced red onion and dill. Perfection.
Garlic – I get through an inordinate amount of garlic but my favourite way to enjoy it is bruschetta style: rub it all over hot griddled sourdough and top with well-seasoned diced tomatoes.
Coriander, Mint, Dill & Flat Leaf Parsley – Herbs are crucial to my cooking and these are my top choices because they complement just about any dish. When it comes to herbs, I always say go big or go home. They are emphatically not just a garnish.
Radish & Broccoli Sprouts – I keep a batch of sprouts in the fridge at all times. They go well in sandwiches, on salads and will help keep your digestion on top form.
Oils – Extra virgin olive oil is my preference and I’m not afraid to cook with it either, although I also use sunflower oil (mainly for deep frying) and coconut oil, which works beautifully in curries.
Passata – It lends a particular richness to sauces and I often prefer it to tinned tomatoes in casseroles, soups and stews. Paired with coconut milk, red lentils and a few select spices, it creates the most indulgent but easy dhal.
Tinned Tomatoes – I’ve become very fussy when it comes to tinned tomatoes and pretty much exclusively rely on the Mutti brand – its Polpa is really similar to the crushed tomatoes I frequently cooked with when I lived in Chicago.
Vegetable Stock Cubes – Many cooks would gasp in horror, but I’m not ashamed to say I frequently use shop-bought vegetable stock. Kallo does a number of really great stocks that are suitable for vegans.
Dijon Mustard – Mustard is my thing and I have a special place in my culinary heart for dijon. It has so many uses, especially in a vegan kitchen. It not only makes a superb salad dressing but is great for slathering over anything you then wish to be coated in nuts, herbs or crumbs. Basically, it’s a great way to bread something without an egg.
Belazu Rose Harissa – Belazu is one of my favourite food brands. Its rose harissa is unsurpassable in my opinion and I use it in an insane number of dishes. Try whizzing it together with sunflower seeds, roasted red pepper and a generous glug of oil for a simple dip that feels a bit special.
Tahini – Again, Belazu is where it’s at when it comes to tahini. You’re not going to find a creamier sesame paste than the one it offers, and it’s the only one I recommend when it comes to making tahini chocolate truffles.
Coconut Milk – Where would I be without coconut milk? I probably rely on it a little too much in the kitchen, but it has a unique way of adding depth to a dish – not least in vegan desserts, which benefit from its rich, creamy characteristics.
Silken Tofu – More tofu, but this one has an entirely different texture to the firm refrigerated variety above. I usually reserve silken tofu for vegan mayo and desserts – I like to blend it with melted dark chocolate, agave, a pinch of salt and splash of orange extract (or Baileys Almande) for a quick but indulgent pudding.
Pasta – I consume an insane amount of pasta in all its many and varied forms. My ultimate solo meal is spaghetti tossed with garlic, oil and chilli. It just doesn’t get much better than that.
Beans & Pulses – Dried or canned, I don’t really mind – though, truthfully, tinned chickpeas probably feature on my weekly menu more often than I care to admit. If you haven’t already tried Alison Roman’s viral spiced chickpea stew, then take this as gentle encouragement.
Flours – I bake with spelt flour more than any other. It’s great for pancakes, breads, muffins and cookies and has a slightly nutty texture, which I find especially desirable in baked goods. Almond flour is one of the few ‘gluten-free’ flours I rely on. I tend to combine it with desiccated coconut, gram flour and/or gluten-free oats. Gram flour also happens to be naturally gluten free and is fantastic in both sweet and savoury recipes.
Nuts & Nut Butters – Nuts are a key part of my diet and they’re a fantastic way of adding texture and flavour. Toasted, tossed through granola or soaked and blended until smooth, there are endless ways to unlock their innate greatness.
Agave – This is still my preferred way to sweeten things. It has a neutrality and brightness that works in just about anything.
Cornish Sea Salt – Every cook needs a quality salt and few come close to Cornish sea salt. It’s my little pal in the kitchen. I store it in a repaired salt pig I found in a local charity shop.
Tortillas – Tacos are the quickest go-to meal I can think of, and thankfully I never seem to tire of them. I love placing all the necessary components on the table and letting everyone help themselves. It really is the ultimate fuss-free dinner.
Gianduja – Most of its bars are accidentally vegan, which is just as well because they’re my all-time favourite chocolate.
Popcorn – I’m not the designated popcorn maker in our house – that’s my husband, who has ‘the knack’. I must’ve taught him something though, because when we ran out of salt recently, he improvised by using Mexican tajin seasoning, which was a revelation.
Kombucha – In the style of Chandler from Friends, ‘Could I be any more vegan?’ I do love it though, especially the Equinox brand.
Wine – Red, white, rosé, I’m not fussy. I also like to cook with wine, so I usually have a bottle on the go throughout the week.
Filtered water – We have a charcoal water filter in the fridge, and I do my best to keep hydrated throughout the day, but sometimes I do struggle.
San Pellegrino – My husband and I are huge San Pellegrino fans, not least because it satisfies our penchant for sparkling water, but also because it comes in an environmentally friendly glass bottle.
Coffee – Since getting a Moka pot I feel like I’ve really upped my coffee game. I lean towards Italian coffee and normally enjoy it with some steamed soya milk or a splash of Califia Farms Unsweetened Almond Milk, which never curdles.
Frozen Spinach – Amazing for popping into smoothies but also so bloody good in sauces and stews. It’s my secret weapon.
Linda McCartney Sausages – These are a great stand-by ingredient. I use them in casseroles, cooked, sliced and tossed through pasta sauce – and, of course, served alongside a healthy dose of mash and gravy. I couldn’t be without them. Plus, my dachshund Whinnie loves them too.
Frozen Berries – Again, great for smoothies, but they are also useful for syrups and conserves. Frozen blueberries are better than fresh, as far as I’m concerned.
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