Red eye tofu and vegetable skewers

You know how it is when you’ve got a guest with allergies? You might never cook with the offending items, but suddenly the only meals you can think of contain them. Hell, if I had a guest who was allergic to meat I’d probably want to cook meat even though I never have!

I had a gluten intolerant guest, and although I’m sure we often eat meals without gluten, suddenly it appeared everywhere. The other annoying factor was the weather which kept changing dramatically and kept my ideas switching from salads to casseroles. My final menu might sound a bit of an odd combination, but it didn’t have any gluten in, was totally tasty and kept everone happy.

The kebabs are the red eye tofu and vegetable skewers from American Vegan Kitchen, using tamari instead of soy sauce. I cooked them inside but they’d be they be even more amazing on a BBQ.  The sauce is tangy and delicious. I’d planned a range of salads thinking we’d be eating outside in the hot sun, but the thnder and lightning took care of that. I made a big dish of the lentils and rice with caramelised onions from Veganomicon (it has a few typos if you’re making it at home, they’re sorted out here). Then I mixed some plain soya yoghurt with grated cucumber and sumac,  which is a wonderful sour spice that I really should use more. Finally I stir fried some spinach with a dab of harissa to keep in with the vaguely middle Eastern theme that was emerging.

This was a bit of a haphazard meal thrown together at the last minute, but aren’t those things sometimes the best?

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Spinach linguini with basil coriander pesto

I’ve been doing loads of fun cooking recently but almost all of it has been testing – 3 books! More on that to come very soon, but for now here’s the one dish I’ve made for ages that hasn’t been a test for someone. I got in from football last night at about 7:20 and wanted something I could have on the table very quickly. This dish, from Veganomicon, fitted the bill perfectly.

I’d been putting off making this dish because I couldn’t find vegan spinach pasta anywhere. I know I could have done it with plain linguini but I knew that eventually I’d find some spinach pasta somewhere and was happy to wait. I eventually found it in the strangest place – the local chinese supermarket. Even though they’ve got a whole aisle full of noodles I was still quite shocked to see spinach noodles there. it just show that you can find unusual ingredients anywhere if you keep your eyes open!

The pesto was easy and tasty and once you’ve made that the dish couldn’t be simpler – it’s just red onion, garlic and a splash of wine. I threw in some spinach as well as my day so far had been notably lacking in vitamins and heavy on alcohol. My one complaint is the use of tinned artichokes. I generally prefer jarred, but the recipe specifically says not to use them and to use tinned. Maybe not all tinned artichokes are created equal, because mine (Sainsburys) were very metallic and jarred with the lovely silkiness of the rest of the dish. I will certainly make the pesto again, it was a lovely bright green and nice and zingy.