My go-to vegan store cupboard essentials

storecupboard-essentials

I’ve tried to list as many store cupboard go-to ingredients as I can here. You will all no doubt have your own favourites too.

Tofu
I tend to buy only silken tofu. I buy in packs of six cartons – the cheapest I’ve found is on Amazon – and they keep well in a cool dry place for weeks.

For marinating and using in stir fries I would recommend a firm tofu (press it between sheets of kitchen paper to remove excess liquid before marinating).

Cheeses
This is a difficult one! I’ve tried a few and to be honest, it’s hit and miss. The best I’ve found are these:

Sheese – Original creamy cheese, by the Bute Food Company
This is a good find – very like original phili, a little thicker maybe, but delicious. Use on it’s own on oatcakes or toast, or as an addition to a vegan white sauce to make a yummy cheese sauce (see my recipe).

Sheese – Mozarella style, by Bute Food Company
A nice mild taste and great for topping a veggie pizza. Use sparingly though as I find a lot of it tastes rather metallic.

Tesco Free From original soya cream cheese
This is really nice! Very Phili-like and ideal for using in sauces and dips.

Tesco Free From original mature cheese spread
Again, excellent used in recipes (and not too shabby on a cracker either!)

I plan to try some of the many nut based cheese recipes – I’ll let you know how it goes!

Oats
Good old oats can be used as a soup or stew thickener, for baking, or as your fave breakfast. The list of possibilities is endless.

Barley
Again, great in soups and stews, but also to add good texture to chillies or cottage pies. Or try the ready mixed soup mix (a lovely mixure of lentils, barley and other goodness) but be sure to pre-soak it overnight. When I can’t be bothered I like to use split red lentils instead. A nice texture, but no need to soak.

Nuts and seeds
I use LOTS of flaked almonds. I like to dry-roast them in a non-stick frying pan for a few seconds each side, then sprinkle them on, well, everything! Beautiful nutty, satisfying flavour and crunch. Yum! For best nutrition use a variety, and often! Get used to sprinkling sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, butternut squash seeds (my new fave! Simply roast in the oven for around 15 minutes and sprinkle with some sea salt for a great snack), chia seeds or really whatever you fancy. They are nutritional powerhouses and very tasty too.

Creams and Yogurts

Tesco Free From unsweetened soya yogurt is excellent in recipes or on its own for breakfast with seeds and fruit.

Oatley Single cream substitute has to be my best find yet! Find it in the free from chilled section in Tesco (and most probably other supermarkets too). Use as you would any single cream. This one is not sweet so is perfectly at home in lots of savoury dishes too.

Also worth keeping a wee stock of are walnuts (dry-roast them in the same way) and pre-cooked chestnuts (I use the Merchant Gourmet ones sold in most supermarkets). Chop and add to anything you like.

Good for salad and soup sprinkling are sesame seeds – I’m using the black ones at the moment and they’re really nice! – and poppy seeds.

Basically, get in a stock of your favourites. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, anything at all and make sure you use them. Their nutrition doesn’t do you much good if you keep them in the cupboard!

Herbs and Spices

Think chilli and paprika, mint and coriander…all of your favourites. Use them in the same way to pep up your flavours. Keep them in view and handy so that you don’t need to go raking around to add simple effective oomph to your dishes.

The best ‘cheese’ sauce

After much trial and error and tasting and grimacing and compiling and forgetting…

mac-n-cheese

TaDah! It’s here. What I think is a pretty satisfying ‘cheese’ sauce.

Let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

100g silken tofu (microwave for around 20 – 30 seconds to soften)
100ml unsweetened soya yogurt
100ml Oatley single cream*
¼ tub soya cream cheese (about 70g)*
¼ tub soya mature cheese spread (about 70g)*
3 tablespoons nutritional flakes
1tsp English mustard
1 large clove garlic
½ tsp turmeric
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

* all available in the Free From aisle of Tesco or at specialist healthfood stores.

Method:

Easy peasy! Blitz all of the ingredients in a liquidiser and Voila! Heat very gently on the hob for a few minutes then pour over your favourite pasta. Cheddar cheese? Who needs it!