food to glow

feel good food that's good for you

Vanilla and Turmeric Polenta Cake with Roasted Rhubarb and Grapes by food to glowThe first, slender shocking-pink stalks of January’s forced rhubarb have come and gone. And at quite a ticket. Did you take home a paltry bundle at exorbitant price like I did? If so, did you roast it to enjoy with slices of blood orange, or poach it gently under foil? Did you pair it with apples under a blanket of nubbly crumble and dig in with a spoon? Or did you stew it to silky strands with spoons of sugar and fold it into an airy cloud of whipped cream?

Read the rest of the post and get the recipe over at A Scot’s Larder.

fresh garden rhubarb by food to glow

rhubarb from my neighbour’s garden

 

freekeh, broad beans, broccoli, thyme and soft cheese broth // food to glowWe are betwixt and between seasons up here in Scotland. It is allegedly spring – verging on summer – but no one told May.

This month has been cool, windy, and really rather disappointing. May is traditionally the time when we get flashes of summer, which is nice for most of us, but for students it makes exam revision rather more difficult than it should be. While the rest of us may be daringly having coffee and croissants at pavement cafes, or swanning about the place showing off our newly shorn legs, students are cruelly forced inside, surrounded by a year’s worth of scrawled notes, and countless half-drunk cups of coffee. Or they should be at any rate. It is not infrequent to see groups of students sprawled in public parks, lying about with books and bought, carton-wrapped picnics; some of these students may actually be completely prone using books as a kind of rudimental sunscreen. I should know. I did that myself in the mid-80s. :-) But no such excuses for not studying in 2015.

purple sprouting broccoli // food to glowBut anyhow, at least we can warm ourselves up with soup. Spring soup. British purple sprouting broccoli is abundant and really lovely just now, so I thought I would show it off a little in this easy-prep but kind of fancy, soup. It’s more of a broth really, and uses the flavoured and viscous cooking water from the grain that accompanies the greens to thicken it all up rather nicely.

have also used broad beans here because they are coming into season very soon and, like the spring onions of the previous post, they don’t get much love. At least not here in the UK. Also called fava, these podded beans are best known as Hannibal Lecter’s only known vegetable. But don’t let that gruesome fact put you off.

broad/fava beans // food to glowAfter many years of eyeing them with keen distrust I have finally warmed to these cozily-podded legumes. To be fair to them, the only times I have previously eaten them was when they were a bit past it, all dusty tasting and bitter. Or, still in their little sticky indigestible skins – eurgh. All the olive oil or Jersey butter in the world isn’t going to sort that out.

In a past life I had a custodial relationship with broad beans. Andrew and I used to grow them on an allotment we shared with friends, where its main use was a nitrogen-fixer for the over-worked soil. None of us were too keen on them so would allow them to grow to triffid-like proportions before harvesting and attempting to eat them. Not to be recommended. Happily, I have discovered the delights of frozen young broad beans and have been using them in soups and pasta dishes ever since.

Rather than rootling around in the deep-freeze I am now starting to come across fresh very young broad beans in farm shops and supermarkets. Perhaps where you live they may even be available now as PYO. In any case, if you buy fresh beans, you can look forward to settling down to the meditative task of shelling and podding. It is oddly calming to set about unzipping the rather prim-looking grey-green beans from their velvety jackets, boiling them up, and slipping them out of their inner coats to reveal chartreuse seeds. They will reward your efforts handsomely and deliver a host of valuable nutrients to boot. You will notice that I didn’t bother skinning my little beans. Although it is well worth doing, when very young these hardy little beans are just fine as is. The colour will be that much more vivid if you do go to the little effort though. I don’t do effort if I can get away with it.

broad/fava beans // food to glowNutrition Notes: Known also as fava, pigeon beans, Windsor beans and horse beans, broad beans are in the same botanical family as peas and alfalfa. Used extensively, and creatively, in Italian, Egyptian, Latin American and Chinese cooking, these temperate-climate beans are good sources of protein, fibre, vitamins A and C, and decent sources of phosphorus, copper, potassium and iron. They are a particularly good source of folate. Some of these nutrients are lessened with cooking, but you will still take in useful amounts. In this recipe they get only a dip in warm broth so will retain much of what Nature has bestowed upon them. As a bonus broad beans even contain levodopa (L-dopa), a chemical the body uses to make dopamine (a neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s reward and motivation system). So, if you cook them correctly (never eat raw) they can help make you happy and satisfied. Especially if you have them in a soup with some lovely soft cheese, like I am doing for you today.

How do you like your broad beans? Or do you call them fava?

freekeh, broad beans, broccoli, thyme and soft cheese broth // food to glow

Freekeh, Broad Bean, Broccoli, Thyme and Soft Cheese Broth

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
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Making up the freekeh (or your chosen grain) in advance keeps the freekeh’s bite, and makes the resulting broth lighter and clearer too. Use fresh or frozen young peas if broad beans aren’t available, or you don’t fancy them. xx

100g (1/2 cup) freekeh OR quinoa, or barley – instructions are for freekeh so adjust if using other grains

1 tbsp olive oil

500ml + (17.5 fl oz +) best vegetable stock – this is important

3 spring onions, thinly sliced; mainly the white portion

Handful of trimmed purple sprouting broccoli or young broccoli

Handul of podded young bread beans/fava – skinned if you like, or if they aren’t very small

1 tbsp young thyme leaves

Best quality soft cheese or goats cheese – I used Scottish crowdie cheese

1. Boil the freekeh in three times its volume in salted water with the added oil for eight minutes; drain and save the liquid. Rinse the grains. You will probably not use all of it but it is difficult to cook a smaller amount properly.

2. Bring the vegetable stock to a fast simmer and add the thyme, spring onions, beans, and broccoli and simmer for two minutes., adding some of the freekeh liquid if you wish it to be thicker or have more liquid volume.

3. Spoon some cooked grains into serving bowls and add in the vegetable broth. Dot with small spoons of cheese and grind over some pepper. Serve as a light supper.

freekeh, broad beans, broccoli, thyme and soft cheese broth // food to glow

 

 

 

turmeric milk

The day has got away from me. I am still cooking for a class this evening (it is 4.18 pm) but I really, really wanted to give something to you today. For the first time ever I am pretty much re-posting one of my top posts; one that many of you will not have seen.

I don’t have much truck with the idea of super foods, as for nearly anything you can name context is so important and the term super food as typically used gives a false sense of importance in the diet. But, I will stick my neck out a bit and tentatively declare a daily ‘dose’ of turmeric to be a jolly good idea. Read the following and you will see why, and just how to get it into your life in the easiest way possible. Just a warning though: I know many people who have ditched their coffee habit and acquired a turmeric milk habit.

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{Originally published August 2013} This is my science-updated take on an old Ayurvedic treatment beloved of Indian grandmothers. Treatment for what, you may wonder. Just about everything. Although clinical evidence supporting its cure-all reputation is scanty (not many big studies have been funded), what is around looks very promising. Very promising indeed. And with 14 centuries of culinary and medicinal use, perhaps grandmother really does know best. Continue Reading

crunchy spring onions and wasabi-lime mayo // food to glowYesterday I asked you to indulge me in a little meditation exercise of sorts. We wandered around imaginary gardens and restaurants, noting colour, texture, taste and aroma. We sniffed, we tasted, we digested, we were omniscient. With my subtle-as-a-sledgehammer sketches I was hoping to lead us to think about what we get out of our food. I admit that it was pretty crudely drawn, but I hope you know it was from the heart.

Nothing quite so earnest today, you’ll be glad to know. Today it is a straight up, simple-as treatment for a much under-sung spring vegetable, the spring onion (this link tells us the difference between all of the lovely long alliums). This is a vegetable I for one think nothing much about as I duly sling a bunch into my cart every week. It is one of those background ingredients that we may acknowledge are very useful but never get too excited about. It is an onion for goodness sake.crunchy spring onions and wasabi-lime mayo // food to glow

crunchy spring onions and wasabi-lime mayo // food to glowBut I recently saw a tiny snippet in April’s Bon Appetit that saw me head straight for my fridge. Right in the fold of a page was just the merest mention of “Buttermilk Fried Ramps.” No nicely-shot image to tempt; just the words ‘buttermilk’, ‘fried’ and ‘ramps’ in close proximity. That was enough for me. Ramps (wild garlic) are now past their best (boo) but I thought I might try to riff on this basic idea and make a  crunchy, almost “bloomin’ onion” snack with my humble bunch of spring onions. But not fried, and not with buttermilk. And with Japanese flavours rather than the southern comfort approach Bon App suggests. Luckily, it worked. Boy howdy, it worked. Four batches in a row, worked.

So far no crunchy spring onion has made it to a table. In truth I don’t think we have even eaten them sitting down (bad food to glow). Like kale crisps, these crunchy little alliums skip the middle man option of a plate, disappearing from the baking tray and straight into the wasabi-lime mayo. A lovely little snack or appetizer, to make on a whim, to use up spring onions, or as part of a planned meal. Seriously addictive.

Make double.

Oh, and if you want to share your own vegetarian creations, why not link up with UK home decoration specialists Bettaliving using the hashtag #bettaveggies? Follow/tweet to @bettaliving to participate. Or leave your ideas and links on their dedicated National Vegetarian Week page.

crunchy spring onions and wasabi-lime mayo // food to glow

Crunchy Spring Onions with Wasabi-Lime Mayo

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Mild but snappy, spring onions/scallions are used quite a lot in Asian cooking, so I thought I might combine a bit of southern technique with some hallmark Japanese flavours. I hope you like it. :-) PS The measurements aren’t massively important, just ballpark figures.

1 large bunch very fresh, intact spring onions, washed

4 tbsp flour of any kind

1 cup plant milk (cashew, almond, hemp etc)

1 tbsp + 1 tsp wasabi paste – divided use

1 cup ground rice or corn meal/polenta (I used ground rice)

2 tbsp neutral oil

4 tbsp best mayonnaise – vegan or egg

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

Togarashi seasoning, optional for sprinkling (can be very hot)

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/430F.

2. Put the flour on a plate; mix the milk and 1 tbsp of wasabi and pour into an oblong dish; put the ground rice on another plate.crunchy spring onions and wasabi-lime mayo // food to glow

3. Toss the spring onions in the flour, dip in the milk (roll the onions gently to completely coat) and then toss around in the rice or polenta until well coated  – there will probably be some bare patches.

4. Pour the oil onto a baking tray and pop it in the oven for three minutes. remove the tray and lay on the onions. Place in the oven and bake for eight-10 minutes. Flip the onions and bake until quite brown in patches (the green tops will get browner than the dense white parts) and bulb end is soft when pressed.

5. Mix together the mayonnaise, the lime juice and the remaining one teaspoon of wasabi. Sprinkle the baked onions with togarashi and serve with the flavoured mayonnaise.

Note: these crunchy spring onions are delicious without the Japanese additions, so don’t be put off making this for lack of these ingredients. Keep everything ‘plain’ and sprinkle with salt and pepper when serving with either yogurt or mayonnaise. Add some chives to the mayo or yogurt for extra oomph and seasonal yumminess.

Enjoy!

Disclosure: This recipe is a sponsored post.

crunchy spring onions and wasabi-lime mayo // food to glow

I’m popping this easy, no-waste recipe over to Elizabeth’s for her always-interesting No Waste Challenge. And over to Elizabeth and Ren for Simple & In Season.

 

 

 

roasted rainbow salad with pomegranate dressing by food to glowI’d like you to humour me for a few paragraphs.

I want you to slip on some imaginary shoes – I am assuming you are already dressed – and walk into town. If you are lucky you will notice trees in leaf, with maybe some flower buds ready to burst or are in full, radiant bloom. There may be gardens to admire – crimson clematis scrambling up walls and fences, cool ferns enjoying the shade, window boxes and flower beds rammed with colour, scent and texture. Pleasant isn’t it? Restful, but also exciting to the eye. Nurturing to the soul.

Now, turn a corner. The ‘gardens’ are bare and unkempt. Browns, beiges and greys dominate. Hard landscaping is completely unrelieved by soft planting or soaring trees. You scurry away quickly from this soulless environment, and back around the corner.

Now transport yourself to a popular steak house. It is jolly, the brickwork is on-trend, the music is pumping, the wait staff quick with the menus and drinks. You are in for a good night. A real treat in fact.

Scan the menu for something mid-price and filling: there isn’t much difference in the offerings other than price and cut. The steak, chips and side salad will do nicely, thank you very much.  As you wait you look around at all the other diners who have ordered. You observe, and are slightly taken aback by, a sea of brown and beige, of congealing gristle (you are omniscient in this moment and can see onto the plates from above); some patrons sawing away with serrated knives and deep intent. At least they aren’t on their phones, you think. You order, you eat, you are full. You go home to digest, slowly and possibly painfully. Your sleep is interrupted. The next day, as you dash out of the door, late from too many presses of the snooze button, you crave beyond reason freshness. Greenness. Colour.

dsc_0005One last tortured ask from me: replace that night with a visit to that new seasonal restaurant everyone has been talking about. The one that is jolly, with on-trend brickwork, great sounds and terrific, informed service. In you walk – be careful not to knock over the boxes of citrus and bright hot peppers waiting to be taken to the kitchen. You notice that the space is filled with diners eating and very much enjoying plates of vibrantly coloured, fresh, food. Lots of chatter and forks being proffered across tables.

You are handed the menu and it takes an age for you to decide, even though the menu is a hastily written, one-sided sheet. There is so much to choose from: it reads so well and so thoughtfully. There are some meat and fish dishes, but vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, seeds and herbs dominate – even in the meat choices. As you hem and haw, your dining companions laugh at your befuddlement, take away your menu and order for you. Too many beautiful sounding options, you sigh. You dine, you chat, you dip things, you scoop others: you don’t think much about the food other than it is beautiful and tastes uncommonly good for just a bunch of plants. It is easy, it is restful. You sleep sweetly and digest well, awakening with energy and wellbeing. You eat breakfast calmly and without hurry. Work awaits, but you remember to grab that box of roasted rainbow vegetables made for your lunches this week, adding a wee tub of sriracha-doused hummus for good measure.

Am I over-reaching with my scenario?

I really don’t think so.

Plants rock. Treat yourself.

roasted rainbow salad with pomegranate dressing by food to glow

Roasted Rainbow Salad with a Sassy Dressing

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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The basics are the vegetables, but the dressing makes this craveable. This colourful and simply-made recipe is easily halved, but because it keeps so brilliantly it is a great choice upon which to base a few weekday lunches; change out the cheese for sprouted seeds or beans, cooked beans, or roasted nuts, or tofu. Add a dash of heat to the dressing, too. I’ve deliberately kept this more of a template so that you can easily make this your own.

And yes, you can roast radishes!

Note: This recipes assumes you will be using the best produce available to you. When you go as simple as this, quality really matters. Wash and scrub the vegetables, but keep the skin on. Oh, and if you are lucky enough to be using just-harvested veg, use the leafy tops as herbs! Hopefully – crossed fingers – I will be able to do that soon myself. :-)

Radishes, topped and tailed

Young beetroot, topped and tailed

Young carrots, topped and tailed

Peppers of all colour

the above to weigh in the region of 2 kg/4 lbs

3-4 tbsp good olive oil

2 tbsp date syrup OR 1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsp pomegranate syrup/pomegranate molasses

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Small clove garlic, crushed with a good pinch of flaky salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Parsley or other fresh, soft herb/herbs that you like

Feta or goats cheese; lightly toasted nuts and seeds; sprouted seeds or beans; roasted tofu – any or all to add the necessary protein element.

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.

2. Trim the vegetables into even-sized pieces.

3. Put the radishes and the peppers together in a bowl and toss with half of the oil; in another bowl do the same with carrots and beetroot. Decant onto two baking trays and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, keeping the beets and carrots in a little longer – about 10 more minutes.

4. While the vegetables are cooking, mix up the dressing by putting all of the remaining ingredients except the herbs and your protein choice(s) in a lidded jar and shaking like mad. The oil from the vegetables should be enough not to need extra oil,  but add a couple of tablespoons in the jar if you like.

5. When the vegetable are cooked to your liking – hopefully still with some bite – pop everything, including the tray juices, into a serving bowl or onto a platter and lightly but thoroughly mix together, saving some herbs and protein for the top. Let the vegetables meld with the dressing for about half an hour before eating. Enjoy this rainbow salad at room temperature.

roasted rainbow salad with pomegranate dressing by food to glowI am really happy to be popping this recipe over to the following extremely suitable recipe round-ups and blog hops:

Meat Free MondaysTinned Tomatoes

Extra VegVeggie Desserts, Fuss Free Flavours, Utterly Scrummy

No Croutons RequiredLisa’s Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes

Simple And In SeasonElizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and Ren Behan

wild greens, chickpea and ricotta borek by food to glowHere at Food To Glow we are omnivores, but because of my work as a cancer health educator I know from professional and personal experience the health value of eating a largely plant-centred diet. That is, a diet built around what we can pull from the ground and pluck from a tree.

I am using the word we loosely.

And I try and practise what I preach. Most of my recipes are vegetarian and vegan because that is how my family and I eat eat ninety-five per cent of the time. We eat this way not only because is it healthy, good for the environment, colourful, and cheaper, it is pretty delicious too. Most of the time! There have been a few dodgy experiments that haven’t made it here. My Instagram feed is a public record of where my failed would-be recipes are born and die…

wild greens, chickpea and ricotta borek by food to glowAll week here on Food To Glow we will be celebrating and revelling in National Vegetarian Week.  If you pop in any day this week you should see a new recipe, mostly easy-peasy, and all made for sharing. I hope to link up to others that are posting colourful, healthy and lip-smacking recipes too. So, come on over every day if you can for not only my recipes, but links to others’ recipes too.

Just to do a little PSA, if you are a regular here then I don’t need to tell you the benefits of eating more vegetables, fruits, herbs, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. The only thing I would just emphasise is that there are a slew of statistics to endorse reaching for a vegetable kebab over wolfing down a well-done burger (sorry fans of In-N-Out Burger) – lower risk of early death, lower weight, lower risk of numerous cancers, stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, gout – I could go on, but you get the picture.

Instead of dwelling on the health aspects, or touching on the ethical issues, I will keep it light and luscious by posting a new vegetarian or vegan recipe all week.

Today I bring you crispy fat pastry borek ‘cigars’ (and a crispy fat tray bake) filled with a tangle of wild (or mild) greens, chickpeas, creamy ricotta-feta and some heady Middle Eastern spices. This borek leans towards Turkey with its use of wild greens and creamy-sharp cheese, but many countries that used to be players in the Ottoman empire have their own versions – usually meaty. But the shape and phyllo are the main things about a borek. Often fried, it is easy to achieve the bliss-inducing crunch and taste of the typical fried pastry by slicking with olive oil and whacking in a hot oven. Wrap yours in a square of parchment paper, close your eyes and you might just find yourself strolling through a thronging market, being jostled and enticed in equal measure.

We can all dream, can’t we?

Back tomorrow with a sassily-dressed rainbow salad, to eat on its own or with other tasty salads.

wild greens, chickpea and ricotta borek by food to glow

Wild Greens, Chickpea and Ricotta-Feta Borek

  • Servings: 8+
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
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This recipe is inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi (do I even need a link here?!), but more especially Silvena Rowe, a much-underrated London-based Bulgarian-Turkish chef who specialises in Eastern Mediterranean food. She’s an entertaining and forthright regular on BBC’s Saturday Kitchen – love her. You can make this borek wild or mild, depending on your access to fresh nettles. The dried berries are not necessary but I love the spike of sweet-sour they bring to this overtly savoury pastry.

500g of young  chard, kale and young nettles OR spinach and watercress or rocket*

2 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp za’atar spice blend, plus extra for top (I have a recipe – buried in the main recipe; or buy it at good food shops)

Juice and zest of 1 small unwaxed lemon

1 tin of chickpeas, drained (save the liquid to make this for dessert!) OR equivalent in podded broad beans/fava beans

100g ricotta

100g feta

Palmful of dried barberries or sour cherries (optional)

1 small egg, beaten OR vegan equivalent such as Ener-G

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 package of phyllo pastry**

up to 100g butter or olive oil

1 tbsp each sesame and Nigella or poppy seeds

wild greens, chickpeas and ricotta borek by food to glow #vegetarian #bakingSumac Tomato Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

6-8 medium, ripe tomatoes OR 1 tin/jar best tomatoes – chopped

2 tsp sumac (or lemon juice)

Pinch of sugar, salt and pepper

You will need: either a 2-inch deep rectangular pan OR 1-2 baking sheets

* any wild or bitter edible greens are good in this – mustard, dandelion, mizuna, etc*

**You can do this one of two ways: cylindrical and individual, or tray bake-style. For the tray bake, use eight phyllo sheets, stacking buttered pieces on top of each other for the base and top. For a cigar-shaped version, use as many as you need, with one sheet per serving. See the image for how to roll them up. You will generally use less filling for the individual serving sizes.**

1. Heat the oil in your largest sauté pan or wok and wilt down the greens. Pop the greens into a colander and press with a large spoon to remove much of the moisture. Transfer the greens to a clean tea towel and gently squeeze. Roughly chop the greens then add to a large bowl (I added them back into the pan) and mix with the remaining ingredients, bar the pastry, butter and seeds. I try to remember to taste for seasoning before adding the egg. For my classes I don’t add salt, but for ourselves, I do.wild greens, chickpeas and ricotta borek by food to glow

2. Now, depending on what form you wish to go with this, either butter a 2-inch deep rectangular baking tin and lay 4 buttered phyllo sheets on; OR take one sheet of phyllo and lay it flat on your work surface. Cover the rest of the sheets with a slightly damp tea towel. For the tray, smooth in the filling and top with the remaining four buttered sheets, pinching and trimming the edges. Use a sharp knife to score a diamond pattern or squares (squares are easier for even portioning but diamonds are prettier!). For the cigar ones, see the images. Use the remaining butter to slick over the tops – and edges, if making individual boreks. Sprinkle over the seeds and extra za’atar.wild greens, chickpeas and ricotta borek by food to glow

3. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until very golden and the pastry is crunchy. Serve warm with the sumac tomato sauce. These are also great cold the next day for use in a lunch box, or perhaps to take with you for a healthy picnic nibble.DSC_0006 2

4. To make the sauce, heat the oil over low-medium in a small saucepan and add the garlic. Saute the garlic until just starting to colour then add the tomatoes, sumac and seasoning. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool slightly then blend until smooth-chunky with a hand blender. Serve warm.

Note: this is easily made vegan by swapping the butter for a vegan version, eliminating the egg and cheese and increasing the chickpeas and vegetables. This will change the nature of the pastry but it will still taste great. You could add lightly whipped chickpea liquid to aid the eating texture of the pastry.

wild greens, chickpeas and ricotta borek by food to glow

You KNOW I have loads of healthy veggie recipes here on Food To Glow, but why not visit these great UK vegetarian sites this week for even more ideas.

Tinned Tomatoes – UK’s #1 blog for simple, family-friendly vegetarian recipes (and Jac has an awesome giveaway going on right now)

Simplify Your Health – vegan wonders from April, including loads of smoothies and desserts

Amuse Your Bouche – Becca is a witty writer with gorgeous recipes

Demuth’s – Bath-based vegetarian cookery school with a lovely blog from owner, Rachel.

Naturally Bee – Lorna is a young blogger with great ideas and a, um, love of bees!

Veggie Desserts – Kate has some absolutely gorgeous food. Not all of it desserts ;-)

This week I will be mainly linking up to the following very appropriate recipe round-ups: 

Meat Free MondaysTinned Tomatoes

Extra VegVeggie Desserts, Fuss Free Flavours, Utterly Scrummy

Simple And In SeasonElizabeth’s Kitchen and Ren Behan

 

 

 

 

 

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bang bang tofu bagel with sriracha-lime peanut butter, avocado and thinly shredded vegetables // food to glowI’ve just seen some tweets – and delish pics – saying that it is British Sandwich Week, and I thought, “Hmm..I have just the thing to celebrate.” And indeed I do. Something sweet yet spicy, with plenty of satisfying vegetarian protein and fibre, and loaded with thinly sliced and, possibly – your call – vinegar-doused vegetables. Does that sound tempting?

I rarely, rarely eat sandwiches these days. Not that I am averse to carbs – not. at. all. But it is just that I often will have sourdough toast with poached eggs, smashed and herbed up avocado, or stir-fried greens for breakfast; porridge if it’s colder and I need an edible hug. So, a typical at-home lunch is often a soup with a crisp bread, some leftovers heated up, a grain and/or green salad. But almost never a sandwich.

However, sometimes a sandwich is just the very thing. Portable, easily handled (unless you are as naturally clumsy as me) and easily portioned with just the cleave of a knife.bang bang tofu bagel with sriracha-lime peanut butter, avocado and thinly shredded vegetables // food to glow

I have had this idea kicking around for years. Yes, actual years. First of all, I liked the alliteration and the way it actually sounds when spoken. I would love to go up to a lunch counter and say the words, “Bang Bang Bagel, please. Extra sriracha. Hold the fries. No, I don’t want to ‘go large.’ “ Secondly, I just knew these flavours would click – the naturally sweet-savoury nut butter, buttery avocado, hot-tangy sriracha, lightly vinegared vegetables, smoky pan-fried tofu…

Why I didn’t immediately set to making it is one of life’s mysteries, but I rectified this deficit this very week. Even with stale bagels (I had bought them at the weekend) it made for a very lip-smacking repast. And Andrew had one the next day at work, the box coming back as if licked clean. And I got a verbal thumbs up, too.

This is more an idea elaborated so, if you fancy the sound of it, really just make it your own. Try tempeh or marinated tofu instead of the smoked tofu, whatever nut butter you like (or make your own), and any vegetables that you can slice thinly to get the sweetest flavour (it’s all about maximising the surface area to volume ratio  – just trust me on this one). Vinegar or no. Your call completely.

What is your favourite sandwich of all time? (Mine is grilled cheese and dill pickle! Nostalgic reasons)

bang bang tofu bagel with sriracha-lime peanut butter, avocado and thinly shredded vegetables // food to glow

Bang Bang Tofu Bagel

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I’ve tried to re-create some of the flavours of traditional bang bang chicken, but with a huge twist of it being vegan, and in a bagel! Feel free to play with the ingredients to suit your own tastes and needs. It will be good whatever you do with it.

Don’t fancy soy? Why not a grilled Portabella mushroom instead. Bread not your thing? Wrap it in a big ol’ Romaine leaf or your favourite grain-free wrap. Sorted!

1/3 – 1/2 cake of firm tofu, sliced “like bacon” – marinated, smoked, or otherwise infused, is best here

1 tsp oil

1-2 bagels (you may wish to share one bagel between two people if not very hungry as it is very filling), sliced and partially hollowed out if you like

2 tbsp nut butter of choice

2 tsp lime juice (optional)

Sriracha sauce or hot sauce of choice – to taste

1 carrot, shredded or thinly sliced (you won’t use it all)

2 inches of cucumber, thinly sliced and marinated in 1 tsp rice vinegar for a few minutes

Small amount of lettuce, thinly sliced (I used Romaine)

2 spring onions/scallions, thinly sliced lengthways

1/4 – 1/2 ripe avocado, thinly sliced

Fresh seed sprouts – I used some quinoa ones from Good 4 U Nutrition (Tesco and Sainsburys)

Toasted sesame seeds

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a small sauté pan and sear the tofu until coloured on both sides. Pop a lid on it and keep it warm.

2. Stir together the nut butter, lime juice if using, and sriracha sauce. Set aside.

3. Lightly toast the bagel if you wish.

4. Spread half of the spicy nut butter on one half of each bagel/half bagel and start topping it with the tofu strips and the vegetables and seeds. Halve and demolish with greedy intent. Sharing allowed, but not mandatory.

bang bang tofu bagel with sriracha-lime peanut butter, avocado and thinly shredded vegetables // food to glow

More sandwich-type things on food to glow:

Grilled Shiitake Kimcheese (this is fab if you like kimchi like I do!)

Fig and Labneh (Soft Cheese) Tartines

And from friends:

Chickpea Salad Sandwich – the muffin myth

Masala Paneer, Roasted Pepper and Spinach Wrap – deena kakaya

Carrot, Hummus and Avocado Sandwich – tinned tomatoes

Falafel, Beetroot and Goats Cheese Wraps – tinned tomatoes

Green Goddess Sandwich – amuse your bouche

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