As the days get longer ( and thankfully warmer!) we try to make the most of cooking with whats in season, and that often means getting creative with flavour. Long gone are the days of hearty, wintery stews as we make way for fresh, clean and often lighter meal options.
To me, summer cooking is all about using the freshest, most flavourful ingredients but keeping them simple. When tomatoes, peaches, peas, and asparagus are in season, you barely need to cook them, you merely need to add something that will enhance the flavour of an already amazing ingredient. Whether that be the char of the barbecue or the freshness of an herb, summertime is the perfect season to create and experiment with delicious plant base meals. The most important thing, and often one that poses a challenge for many when trying to cook vegetarian, is understanding how to balance the dish. Whether it’s balance of flavour, texture or nutrition, there are many creative ways that you can enjoy substantial and delicious food by utilising certain pieces of kitchen equipment, or testing out new flavour combinations.
Since we want to spend much of our time enjoying the outdoors and as as little of our time as possible cooking, here are 6 quick, simple but delicious plant based meals that will convince even the most stubborn of meat eaters at the table, that vegetables can be delicious when prepared right.
Chargrilled Asparagus & Nectarine
with Quinoa, Tarragon and Toasted Walnuts
Use a grill pan if you don’t have a barbecue to get a nice char on the asparagus and nectarines. This dish is high in protein from the quinoa and walnuts.
1 cup cooked quinoa
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 tbsp neutral oil
1 large bunch asparagus, tough stalks removed
2-3 nectarines, stoned and quartered
In a large bowl combine the quinoa, lemon juice, olive oil, tarragon and toasted walnuts. Season and set aside
Coat the asparagus and nectarines with oil, season. Grill the asparagus for 6-8 minutes until nicely charred. Grill the nectarines for 4-6 minutes until golden. Top the quinoa salad with the asparagus and nectarines, garnish with extra walnut pieces and tarragon leaves.
Or, snack on some Avocado Toast with "Bacon" .
Freekah Salad with Peas, Broad Beans, Ricotta Salata & Shaved Beetroot
Freekah is a highly nutritious ancient grain that has a slightly nutty flavour and toothsome texture, it’s great in salads and soups!
1 cup cooked freekah
1/2 cup fresh peas
1/2 cup fresh broad beans, shells removed
1/4 cup ricotta salata (crumbly dry ricotta)
2-3 beetroot, washed and very thinly sliced into rounds
1/2 cup fresh mint and basil leaves, torn
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp maple syrup
3 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Make the dressing by whisking together the lemon juice, maple syrup, olive oil. Season to taste. Combine all the salad ingredients above and add the dressing, tossing until well coated.
Or, throw together this Vermicelli Buddha Bowl!
Grilled Sweet Potato Tacos with Spicy Cashew Cream
For me, nothing says summer like delicious tacos. Grilling nutritious sweet potato is a great way to add flavour as the natural sugars in the potato caramelise on the grill
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp smokey paprika
salt and pepper
1 avocado, mashed
1 lime juiced
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water
1 cup water
1-2 tbsp Sriracha
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
soft corn tortillas, lightly grilled
Mix the olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper together. Brush on all sides of the sweet potato then grill for 10-12 minutes, turning, until fork tender
Combine the avocado and lime juice, set aside
Drain the cashews, blitz them with the water and sriracha until smooth
Spread the avocado mash on the tortilla, top with a couple pieces of sweet potato and drizzle with the spicy cashew cream. Garnish with cilantro
Or, what about some Crispy Avocado Tacos?
Grilled Cauliflower “Steaks” with Tahini Yoghurt
Delicious and substantial, smokey grilled cauliflower steaks are a great vegetarian main
1 cauliflower, leaves peeled and cut into 1” steaks
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup plain yoghurt
3 tbsp tahini whisked with 2 tbsp water
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Mix together the ground cumin, olive oil with salt and pepper. Brush the cauliflower steaks on both sides then grill on the barbecue or grill pan for 4-6 minutes until charred.
Combine the yoghurt, tahini, lemon juice and zest. Spread on a plate, top with grilled cauliflower and garnish with fresh cilantro and pomegranate seeds
Or try these Spicy Vegan Cauliflower Bites!