Looking to impress with some home cooking tonight but fresh out of inspiration? Perhaps try your hand at some of these vegan recipes from Bristol charity Viva’s Vegan Recipe Club and treat your Valentine/Galentine/Palentine…

Fennel, Orange and Candied Walnut Salad

This salad is so fresh and zingy – the colours look beautiful and its given a nice, sweet twist thanks to the candied walnuts.

Ingredients:

Salad

  • 2 oranges
  • 2 bulbs of fennel
  • ½ red onion (ring sliced)
  • 2-3 handfuls of mixed leaves, watercress or rocket
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint

Candied Walnuts

  • 1 large handful of walnuts
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Pinch of salt

Dressing

  • ½ tbsp sherry vinegar (or balsamic or cider if you can’t get sherry vinegar)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 fan.
  2. Coat the walnuts in the maple syrup and salt and mix together until they are fully coated.
  3. Place the coated walnuts on a lined baking tray and bake for around ten minutes until golden.
  4. Take them out of the oven and wait for them to cool and harden.
  5. If you’re feeling fancy, you can segment the oranges but otherwise…slice the skin/pith off with a very sharp knife then thinly slice into small pieces.
  6. Peel the fennel into ribbons using a vegetable peeler and place them into a bowl of ice cold water.
  7. Spin the fennel to dry then assemble on a plate/dish, along with the mixed leaves, orange, red onion and mint.
  8. Mix the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl, jar or blender and then spoon onto the salad.
  9. Top the salad with the candied walnuts and a nice fresh sprig of mint.

Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Cashew Sauce

A beautiful combination of flavours, colours and textures. This dish is so pleasing to the eye, not to mention the taste buds. A winner for a dinner party or romantic meal ♥

Ingredients:

Gnocchi

  • 500g sweet potatoes
  • 130g grade 00 flour or plain flour
  • 2 tsp chives (finely chopped – use scissors)
  • 2 tsp dill (finely chopped – use scissors)
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (grated fresh)
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • Salt

Cashew Cream Sauce

  • 130g/1 cup raw cashews (unsalted and unroasted and preferably whole, not pieces) – soaked in a bowl of cold water and covered – for at least 2 hours but up to 8. Doing it overnight is the easiest way!
  • 120-180ml/½-¾ cup water
  • Fine salt to taste – just a pinch. Add gradually, mix in thoroughly after each addition and remember that sea salt is stronger than regular
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 10 fresh sage leaves
  • 1 tsp stock powder
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast

Salad/Garnish

  • Handful of cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • Handful of samphire
  • Vegan parmesan e.g. Violife Prosociano or VBitey hard style Italian
  • Watercress to dress
  • Edible flowers (optional)

Method:

Gnocchi

  1. Bake the sweet potatoes in their skins until tender (approx 1 hour).
  2. Once cooked, remove the skins with a knife and then crush them to ensure there are no lumps (or use a potato ricer).
  3. Add the flour and mix thoroughly with your hands.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients (Make sure there is enough salt or it can taste too bland. Taste the mixture as you go) and then form into a dough that can be easily shaped. If it is too sticky then add more flour bit by bit.
  5. On a floured surface, roll the dough into long sausages.
  6. Cut each gnocchi with a sharp knife into thumb nail long lengths.
  7. You can shape each individual gnocchi using a gnocchi board or by using a fork.
  8. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and lower the gnocchi into the water. When the gnocchi is ready, it will float to the surface. With a slotted spoon, scoop them out one by one as they float to the surface of the water.
  9. Toss the gnocchi in a little olive oil and salt.

Cashew Cream

  1. Soak the cashews (for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight).
  2. Put all ingredients into a blender and blend until really smooth, adding water a little at a time. The more you add the thinner the cream will be – although the cream will thicken when left to stand in its container. Keep blending and scraping down the sides until the mixture is very smooth and creamy and has lost its grainy texture.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a medium sized pan and bring to the boil and then simmer until heated through (approx 5-10 minutes). Add more stock/fluid if necessary/to taste.

Salad/Garnish

  1. Halve the cherry tomatoes and fry in a little oil for 3-4 minutes.
  2. Steam the samphire for 3-4 minutes.

Presentation

  1. Find a large plate and then using a teaspoon, place several blobs of hot cashew cream sauce randomly spaced (around 10 blobs).
  2. Place one piece of gnocchi on each blob of sauce.
  3. Decorate with watercress, tomatoes, samphire and top with vegan parmesan shavings and edible flowers. Try not to cover the gnocchi with the garnish.
  4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the salad to finish then serve.

Strawberry Freakshake

A gooey glass of vegan indulgence – easy to make and gets in touch with your fun, creative side…

Ingredients:

Smoothie

  • 1½ frozen bananas (make sure the banana is really ripe, then skin and cut in half before freezing)
  • Large handful of frozen strawberries (tops removed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste, extract or fresh seeds
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 200ml plant milk (e.g. soya, almond, cashew, oat, coconut, hemp, rice etc)

Optional extras: cinnamon, nutmeg, lucuma, cacao butter, buckwheat flakes, maca, almond essence, lemon

Coconut Cream Whip

  • 1 tin of coconut milk (it must be the tinned, full fat coconut milk with a thick layer of coconut cream on the top)
  • ½ tsp of vanilla extract, paste or fresh seeds
  • 30g icing sugar (or a little more to taste)

Toppings (optional)

Choose from…

  • Askeys Treat Vegan Strawberry Flavoured Dessert Sauce or make your own strawberry sauce
  • Askeys Treat Chocolate Chunk Crackin’ (make sure you get the Crackin’ version as some of the regular ones don’t have vegan chocolate)
  • Vegan popcorn e.g. one without butter or dairy
  • Vegan cookies (the ones pictured are Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip Cookies)
  • Sprinkles (see cake decorating section in supermarket) but check they are vegan because some aren’t.
  • Vegan doughnuts (e.g. Coop own brand are vegan and so are the M&S mini doughnuts)
  • Strawberries
  • Barkat Pretzels
  • Dessicated coconut
  • Cherries
  • Banana
  • Dr Oetker hundreds and thousands

Method:

Smoothie

1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth and keep in fridge.

Coconut Cream Whip

1. Place coconut milk tin in fridge over night as this hardens the thick layer, making it better for whipping.

2. Scoop the thick layer from the coconut milk tin and empty into a medium sized bowl.

3. Using a hand whisk, whip the hardened layer for approx 30 seconds until creamy.

4. Add the icing sugar and vanilla and whisk again for just under 60 seconds.

Assembling

1. Pour streaks of strawberry sauce on the inside edges of a mason jar (with a handle) or jam jar. You can also use chocolate sauce too.

2. Then pour the smoothie liquid into the glass but leave a couple centimeters at the top/free.

3. Spoon the coconut cream whip on top as piled high as you can.

4. Top with any of the toppings of your choice. (The freakshake featured includes vegan cookie, strawberry, popcorn and shimmer sprinkles).

5. Finish off with more strawberry and chocolate sauce…go as crazy as you like!