Category: Recipes

Ann’s veggie wontons

Say hello to these delicious tubby little dumplings. They are simple to assemble and would be great to make with friends.

The wontons are filled with shallots, crunchy water chestnut, coriander, green beans and… Quorn chicken.

Yes, Quorn! It has half the carbon footprint of actual chicken, making it a great substitution if you want to cut down your meat intake to help out the planet. It is a processed food but there are no ingredients in Quorn chicken that are suspicious and unlike tofu, it’s not linked to deforestation.

Be sure to use the frozen variety rather than the refrigerated – it has a significantly lower carbon footprint.

Thanks to Ann’s Chinese Kitchen in Newport, South Wales, for the recipe. Ann runs a cookery school out of her home kitchen where she shows you tips and tricks for making mouthwatering Malaysian street food, including these wontons. She caters for vegetarians too. Find out more about the school on her Facebook page.

Veggie wontons about to be poached in stock

Why is this eco?

Quorn aims to be low-carbon from farm to freezer. About 3.8kg of CO2/equivalent is produced per kg of Quorn chicken pieces while actual chicken produces 6.9kg. Interestingly, frozen Quorn has a lower footprint than the refrigerated stuff, which comes in at 5.5kg. (CO2/eq is used to measure all greenhouse gases under one common unit.)

Quorn is the first global meat substitute to get Carbon Trust certification of its footprint, which basically means it cares a lot about sustainability. Thumbs up.

RECIPE

Makes 15 wontons

Ingredients

1 tbsp sunflower oil

2 shallots, very finely diced

50g stringless or green beans, also very finely diced

50g frozen Quorn chicken pieces, defrosted and very finely diced (even better if you marinate it in a little ginger, garlic and soy sauce for a few hours beforehand)

1/2 tin of water chestnut, very finely diced

15 frozen wonton wrappers, defrosted

2 tbsp coriander, finely chopped

1/2 tsp soy sauce

1/4 tsp white pepper

1 egg white

Pot of veggie stock (about a litre)

Method

With the oil in a frying pan on a high heat, gently fry the shallots until soft and brown. Add the stringless beans and stir fry until soft for a few minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium bowl, mix the Quorn with the water chestnut, shallots, coriander, soy sauce and white pepper.

IMG_1360

With a wonton wrapper flat on your palm, add a teaspoon of the mixture in the centre. Dip your finger in the egg white and dab it along all four edges of the wrapper, so that you’ve drawn a square around the filling.

Press two opposite corners together, folding the square to make a triangle. Then bunch up the wrapper to enclose the filling and pinch lightly to seal.

Use a damp tea towel to keep the remaining wrappers moist while you’re folding.

Drop the wontons in a pot of boiling veg stock and poach for 3-4 minutes.

Serve with blanched pak choi, noodles and chilli sauce.

 

The amazing vegan onion bhaji sandwich

Vegan food can induce fomo but it can also be stupidly delicious. Meat-eaters and vegans alike, meet the amazing vegan onion bhaji sandwich. Addition of either chutney, pickle or even houmous is mandatory. Take it to a picnic or just be frank with your feelings and cuddle it in bed.

As a bonus, these bhajis are very low-fat as they are baked instead of deep-fried AND they’re gluten-free.

How is this eco?

Vegan diets create the lowest levels of greenhouse gases while veggie diets have half the footprint of meat diets. Bhajis instead of a burger? That’s around 1/14th of the footprint.

The United Nations has been advocating a less meaty diet to help the climate for more than a decade. Europeans eat 70% more protein than needed for a healthy diet. And rearing the animals that we eat contributes to 14.5% of global man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. Eat the bhajis people, it makes sense.

RECIPE

Makes 2 huge sandwiches

Ingredients

For the bhajis

2 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

3 onions

2 tbsp cooking oil such as rapeseed or vegetable

A pinch of salt

Half a bunch of finely chopped fresh coriander

70g chickpea or gram flour (now in many supermarkets)

3 tbps lemon juice

2 tbsps grated ginger

For the sandwich

2 baguettes

Pickle, chutney or houmous (beetroot pickle works particularly well)

Spinach or salad leaves

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 170C/ 190C fan/ 350F/ gas mark 5. Toast the cumin and coriander in a frying pan for 2-3 minutes on a medium heat. Blend the seeds in a spice blender or a pestle and mortar or keep them whole if you possess neither.

Finely chop the onions into thin half moons.IMG_1230

Using the same pan, heat the oil for a minute then add the onions and cook for 5 minutes on a medium heat until translucent.

In a big bowl combine the salt, coriander, ginger, lemon juice and spices with a couple of tablespoons of water. Mix to make a thick sticky batter that isn’t runny at all.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Add the onions and mix well to coat them completely.

Cover an oven tray with baking parchment. Use your hands to form 8 bhajis. Dip your fingers in a bowl of water to stop the mixture sticking.

Bake for 15 minutes, turn over the bhajis then bake for 15 minutes more.

Onion bhajis

Slice the baguettes, spread your pickle or chutney generously. Add the bhajis then cram in the leaves.

Double pea barley risotto

Pearl barley seems to have got stuck in the winter stew category. No more! The chewy fat grains make a great summery (and very affordable) risotto.

I’m loading it up with peas but add any veg you have kicking around in the fridge. Top with radish slices, herbs and/or leaves from the top of veg.

You can find pearl barley in lots of small supermarket stores – Tesco express has a 500g packet for 55p. Carnaroli risotto rice is £1.69.

How is this eco?

Growing rice, including risotto rice, produces a lot of greenhouse gas. Rice is grown in paddies, which are flooded fields. When plant matter degrades in water, it releases methane, the second most potent greenhouse gas. Growing rice accounts for 20% of the the world’s manmade methane emissions.

And worryingly rice paddies produce more methane as the climate gets hotter, this 2012 study showed.

Pearl barley isn’t grown in paddies, so it has a much lower footprint. And we are very good at growing it in Britain. Together with France, we have the greatest yield ratio for the amount of nitrogen fertiliser used to grow it (see page 87 of this 2o12 Defra report).

Nitrogen fertiliser results in the release of nitrogen oxide, another greenhouse gas. We need nitrogen to fertilise crops but it is a huge contributor to the greenhouse gas footprint of food – much more so than transport. So the less used to grow barley, the better!

RECIPE

Ingredients

Serves 4

For the pea puree

150g frozen or fresh peas

1 tbsp oil

150ml veg stock

For the risotto

1 onion, finely diced

2 tbsps oil

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

300g pearl barley

100ml white wine

500ml veg stock

40g hard cheese, grated

Juice of half a lemon

2o0g frozen or fresh peas

Garnish – pea shoots, leafy veg tops, sliced radishes or extra cheese sliced with a vegetable peeler

 

Method

To make the puree, cook the peas for 3 minutes with the oil then add the stock and simmer for 3 more minutes. Blend with a handblender or in a mixer and leave to cool.

In a big saucepan, add the oil then sweat the onion over a low heat for two minutes. Add the garlic and pearl barley and cook for 3 minutes to toast the barley lightly. Add the white wine and cook for 2 minutes. Then add all the remaining stock, give it a big stir and put a lid on the saucepan. Keep the heat low.

After 25 minutes, check the barley is a texture you want to eat. If it’s too hard, cook for another 5 minutes or until al dente. Add the peas – if frozen, cook for 2 minutes, if fresh, cook for 4. Stir in the pea puree, cheese and lemon juice and top with any garnishes.