My Kitchen Rules With A Creative Plant-Based Cook
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Buy The Freshest Produce Available
I love going to the farmers’ market on Sunday mornings to pick up the best local fresh vegetables. Whatever I buy informs what I’m going to eat, not the other way around, which gives me new ideas every week. Fresh ingredients are always tastier and more flavourful, especially when they haven’t travelled far. Last week, there were beautiful aubergines at my local market, so I smoked them to make a ragu with walnuts – it was sensational.
Invest In Quality Pots & Pans
It’s worth investing in a few high-quality pots and pans. Every kitchen should have a few reliable pieces of equipment so you can cook any type of meal. I always look for non-toxic, non-stick pans which speed up the cooking time and ensure the food is less likely to burn. I'm a big believer in one-pot dishes so having one you can always rely on is key.
Ditch Blunt Knives
Having a sharp knife to hand makes chopping so much easier. You will save time – plus, a sharp knife is actually safer than a blunt one as you’re less likely to cut yourself. Cutting onions with a blunt knife is the worst! I really rate Global's range of kitchen knives which are a great investment – it's better to have three sharp ones you actually use, rather than a whole block with blunt, unreliable ones.
Organise The Food In Your Kitchen
Cooking plant-based meals take a bit more organisation, so prepping everything ahead will save you time and energy. When the food is cooking, I do the washing up and make sure everything is back in its home. Even if you have a very small kitchen, it’s so important to have a tidy, clean environment to cook in.
Have a Whole Cupboard of Seasonings & Spices
Make sure your seasonings and spices are kept in airtight containers and jars to preserve their freshness and flavour for as long as possible. Spices really do level up vegetables and having a large variety on hand makes things easier. I also like to use whole spices that have more potency as they haven’t been processed yet. I’d pick up garam masala, ras el hanout and coriander leaves as a starting point.
Make Garnishes A Priority
Keep pots of herbs in your kitchen. Not only do they cut down on waste, but they also add freshness to each dish. Adding herbs to the top of your food levels it up and adds different textures. Pair your garnish with an acid (like lemon, lime or white wine vinegar) to bring your dish to life.
Stock Up On Condiments
The right condiments will take your dish to the next level. I often use miso paste or Cool Chile Co Achiote Paste to add extra flavour. It’s hassle free and requires less creativity. Don't just rely on your local supermarket, either. Look at what's on the shelves at delis, farm shops and world food shops, and be adventurous in what you bring home. It's a great way to add new flavours to each meal.
Layer Up Your Food
Layering dishes creates texture, adds dimension and really helps bring everything together. A good example of this would be a smooth butter bean mash topped with charred oyster mushrooms, and drizzled with something acidic like a fresh herb relish or vinaigrette.
Slow Cook Whenever You Can
Whenever I make curries, I cook down the onions, garlic, ginger and spices for a good amount of time. This allows the spices to release oils and create a mellow, unified dish. When I’m making a stew, I also cook the onions until they become sweet and charred. Taking time to draw out the flavours from your vegetables is the best way to eat them.
If You Can, Cook It In One Pot
This saves time washing up and enables you to be more creative. It’s a concept I explore in my book One Pot: Three Ways and in my most recent series on Instagram. One of my favourite recipes is my one-pot chicken and rice dish, made with Heura Vegan 'chicken' pieces. I also love dal, and my double green pasta dish with cavolo nero, tarragon and olive pesto is a crowd-pleaser this time of year.
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