10:00 AM September 3, 2022
Vegetarian and vegan food can get a bad rep. There are so many restaurants (largely serving fast or street food) dishing up what I consider to be ‘fake food’. I’m sorry, but a chick’n nugget or vegan hotdog made largely with wheat protein and soya isn’t doing anyone’s health a favour.
Vegetarian friends of mine have almost gone on the warpath over these meat imitators, which are rapidly taking over from real ingredients and real produce.
There are lots of reasons why food imposters have become so prevalent on the market – but it’s largely down to lucrative vegan marketing campaigns and the clueless Instagram so-called influencers who do their bidding.
Can we not just get back to cooking with actual ingredients for those who don’t eat meat?
I’m so against faux meat I won’t serve it to vegetarians when they come to my house – apart from the odd veggie sausage for breakfast – especially during barbecue season.
When it comes to barbecuing there’s so much more to be achieved than burning crumbly frozen bean burgers.
Sweetcorn can be blackened off and doused in flavoured butter. Aubergines stuffed with goodies, wrapped in foil and softened over the flames. Slabs of cauliflower can be marinated and charred.
One of the most underrated veg for barbecuing is the humble carrot. New season carrots are everywhere now, and have a delicious sweet flavour that takes on the smoke of an open flame beautifully. It’s almost alchemy the way the taste evolves in just a few minutes.
This week’s recipe is one I urge you to try, vegetarian, vegan or not. It works as a main dish for two, or as a side. It’s sticky, sweet, slightly spicy, and umami.
Charred carrots with tahini sauce and spice dust
(Serves 2 as a main dish with a salad or 4 as a side)
8 carrots, topped, tailed and cut into four lengthways
2tbsps runny honey
For the spice dust
2tbsps cashew nuts
1tbsp mixed seeds
1/2tsp chilli flakes
1/2tsp garlic granules
1tsp fennel seeds
For the tahini sauce
3tbsps light tahini
Juice ½ lemon
1 clove garlic, crushed
8tbsps cold water
Start by making the spice dust. Crush the nuts in a pestle and mortar or small spice grinder until you have a rubble but not a powder. Combine with the other ingredients.
For the tahini sauce mix the tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually stir in the cold water until you have a spoon-coating sauce. If you make this in advance it will thicken in the fridge so add a little more water, drop by drop to get the consistency you want.
Place the carrots in a pan of boiling water for five minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then rub with oil. Pop on the barbecue, turning regularly until charred in places and starting to soften – you can have them as crunchy or soft as you like so cook until you’re happy.
Toss in the honey and pour into a bowl. Spoon over some of the tahini sauce and sprinkle with the spice dust.