Soup – Michael’s (Minestrone Zuppa Minestra Di Pomodori)

Minestrone is great cold weather comfort food and is a complete meal in itself.

This version uses easily obtained ingredients and produces consistent results. All that is involved is chopping, opening cans and assembly.

  • 3 spring onions diced – spring onions are best because they are milder
  • 2 diced garlic cloves
  • 3 finely sliced and chopped carrots
  • 3 sticks of celery – if you are using organic then the sticks will generally be a lot smaller so I would suggest the whole bunch
  • 1/4 litre container of vegetable stock

Of course you can use home-made stock which will be fresher and superior but the emphasis with this recipe is ease of preparation

  • 1 800g can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup of brown lentils
  • 1/4 cup of Risoni – a rice shaped pasta
  • 1 average sized potato diced
  • 2 tsps of dried oregano
  • 2 tsps of dried basil
  • 4 cups of water
  • 1 good handful of beans top/tailed and sliced into small pieces – try slicing diagonally
  • 1 good handful of shredded savoy cabbag
  • 1 small can or half a large can of borlotti beans – rinsed well

While you can soften the onions and garlic in water I find that a generous glug of light olive oil produces a better end result

  • Soften spring onions and garlic
  • Add carrots, stir, and continue to soften over medium heat
  • Add celery and combine and leave for another minute
  • Add the stock and the can of diced tomatoes
  • Add lentils, risoni, potato, oregano and basil
  • Simmer until lentils and risoni are done (about 20 minutes). During this time you will probably need to add the extra water. Depending on the amount of broth you like, about 4 cups is sufficient to fkeep the dish ‘soup like’. The risoni expands and absorbs the liquid.
  • Add the green beans and simmer for another 5-10 minutes depending on how crunchy you like the beans.
  • Turn the heat off and add the shredded cabbage and borlotti beans and stir to combine.
  • Adjust seasoning and liquid – generally if you are using a store bought stock it won’t need any extra salt.
  • Leave standing for about 5 -10 minutes to allow the cabbage to just soften
  • When serving be sure to scoop from the bottom of the saucepan when filling the bowl first then skim some more liquid from the top to add in.

These amounts make around 8 – 10 bowls.
Goes well with a crusty ciabatta bread.




vegan shepherds pie with lentils

Main Courses – Shepherd’s Pie


  • 750 g potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 25 – 50 g vegan margarine
  • 50ml or more soya milk
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 75 g dried red lentils, cooked in water until tender
  • 1 x 400 g tin tomatoes, chopped
  • 150 ml vegetable stock


  • Steam potatoes until soft.
  • Place in separate bowl and add margarine.
  • Mash thoroughly, adding soya milk until potato is smooth and creamy.
  • Place aside.
  • Heat vegetable oil in frying pan and add onions and celery.
  • Fry until tender.
  • Add carrot, lentils, chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock.
  • Simmer for 20 mins or until lentils are cooked and liquid is absorbed.
  • Place in casserole dish and spread creamed potato on top.
  • Heat in oven at 180C, 350F or gas mark 4 for 15-20 mins until potato is browned on top.


vegan piza


Make your own pizza dough or use one of the convenient vegan-friendly bases (milk-free) such as Napolina. You can also use pitta breads or buy a gluten-free base (but make sure it doesn’t contain egg).

Spread with pizza topping plus thinly sliced vegetables and vegan cheese of your choice. Many companies even do pre-grated varieties now! Violife Pizza cheese melts very well and Vegusto has a fantastic flavour.


  • 1-2 pizza bases
  • Jar of Pizza topping or make your own by heating and reducing a can of chopped tomatoes, a can of tomato puree, some garlic and your favourite herbs.
  • 5 or 6 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small or half a large red pepper, cut into thin rings or slices
  • Other vegetables of your choice: sweetcorn, olives, tinned artichoke hearts cut in half, thinly-sliced onions etc are all very good
  • Olive oil
  • Thinly sliced or grated vegan ‘cheese’.
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to temperature according to instructions on pizza base packet.
  2. Lightly fry vegetables – except for ready cooked items such as sweetcorn and artichoke hearts.
  3. Add mushrooms last.
  4. Spread pizza base with tomato sauce topping, then arrange vegetables and top with cheese.
  5. Place in preheated oven (220ºC, 425ºF) & bake for 10 minutes.


vegan curry

Thai Red Curry


  • 200g firm tofu, cubed
  • 2 red chillies chopped
  • 4-5 tbsp soy sauce
  • juice 3 limes
  • 2 tbsp sunflower or coconut oil
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1 courgette, chopped into chunks
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into chunks
  • Small butternut squash (optional)
  • 100 grams red lentils
  • 200g mushrooms, halved
  • 200g sugar snap peas
  • 20g pack basil, leaves picked
  • jasmine rice, to serve

For the paste

  • 3 red chillies
  • 1 lemongrass, roughly chopped
  • 3 shallots, roughly chopped
  • ½ red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • zest 1 lime
  • stalks from 20g pack coriander
  • thumb-size piece ginger, grated
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander


  1. Blend the paste ingredients in a food processor. Marinate the tofu in 2 tbsp soy sauce, juice 1 lime and the chopped chilli.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large pan. Add 3-4 tbsp paste and fry for 2 mins. Stir in the coconut milk with 300ml water, the courgette, aubergine and pepper and cook for 15mins until the lentils are tender. You may need to add more water.
  3. Drain the tofu, pat dry, then fry in the remaining oil in a small pan until golden.
  4. Add the mushrooms, sugar snaps and most of the basil to the curry, then season with the remaining lime juice and soy sauce. Cook for 4 mins until the mushrooms are tender, then add the tofu and heat through. Scatter with sliced chilli and basil and serve with jasmine rice.

You can buy ready made curry paste but watch out for fish in the ingredients. Some supermarket own brands may be vegan.



Bean Stew


  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 3cm/1in chunks
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 2 courgettes or 1 aubergine diced
  • ½ tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin or 2 tbsps tomato puree
  • 2 400g tins mixed beans, drained and rinsed or your own choice of beans tinned or soaked and cooked according to instructions on the packet. Good choices include kidney beans, butter beans, chick peas, cannellini beans and pinto beans.
  • 125g/4½oz wholegrain long-grain rice, to serve
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation method

  1. Place a frying pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add oil, then gently fry the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, stirring regularly.
  3. Add the other vegetables: diced peppers courgettes or aubergines.
  4. Add the spices and fry gently for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, and beans.
  6. Add 300mls water.
  7. Season and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring every now and again.
  8. Serve with rice or baked potatoes.

Tip: The key to the success of this recipe is the addition of Smoked Paprika.


Spaghetti Bolognese


  • 100g Soy Mince or any ‘mince’ analogue (optional: this recipe is lovely without any meat replacement)
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red and one green pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • ½ aubergine (optional)
  • 1 courgette diced
  • 200g mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml boiling water (you can use vegan vegetable stock or bouillon but it is unnecessary)
  • 1 tin or 2 tbsps tomato puree
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp dried majoram
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 200g spaghetti (dried). (Wholewheat is healthiest and very tasty). Make sure the pasta does not contain egg.
  • fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • You can add a teaspoon of Yeast Extract for added nutrition


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the onion, peppers, courgette and aubergine (or whatever vegetable mix you have chosen) along with the garlic gently for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes more.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, dried herbs, tomato puree and ‘mince’ if using. Cover and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes. Add more water if necessary.
  3. Cook and Drain the spaghetti, spoon the bolognese sauce over the top and serve. Sprinkle with some nutritional yeast or vegan parmesan cheese such as Violife Parmesan, and some basil leaves.

Serves 4



Irish Soda Bread


  • 475g stone ground wholemeal wheat flour or wholemeal spelt flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 level teaspoon bread soda
  • 1 teaspoon egg replacer
  • 1 tablespoon olive, rapeseed or other oil
  • 1 teaspoon molasses or soft brown sugar
  • 425 mls soya, rice, oat or nut milk (any plant based milk)
  • Few tablespoons whole or ground flaxseed or few tablespoons of chopped walnuts to taste
  • Sunflower or sesame seeds (optional)
  • 9x 5 in tin greased


  • Preheat the oven to 200C or 400F, Gas Mark 6
  • Put all the dry ingredients including the sieved bread soda into a bowl. Mix well. Add oil and molasses or sugar to the milk and whisk well. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Pour into the greased tin and sprinkle with sunflower or sesame seeds.
  • Bake for 1 hour or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.

spelt bread

Spelt Bread


  • 300 gr wholegrain spelt flour
  • 100 rye flour
  • 100 gr porridge oats (Flahavans)
  • 1 sachet yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ litre lukewarm water (approx)


Sieve the spelt and rye flour, mix with the oat flakes, yeast, salt, seeds and water, transfer into a greased baking tin.
Cut lengthways approx 1 cm deep and sprinkle with oat flakes, bake at approx 200 degrees for ca. 55 mins, depending on oven type. Leave to cool before slicing.


  • Pumpkin seeds and/or pine nuts / chopped olives / sundried tomatoes etc.
  • You can also add a pinch of curry powder.


Irish Potato Cakes

  • 450 g cooked potatoes
  • 25 g vegan margarine/spread
  • 3 tblsp flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Sunflower oil for frying


  1. Mash the potatoes until smooth.
  2. Add the margarine and stir in the flour, salt and pepper.
  3. Turn the mixture onto a floured surface and press it out with your hands until it is a circle about 1cm/half inch thick.
  4. Cut into slices as you would a cake
  5. Coat a large frying pan with oil and heat. If you use a ceramic pan you can dry fry and avoid using any oil. Fry the potato cakes on a low to medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side, or until they are golden.


Flavour by adding spring onions, garlic, or chilli.




Salads can be a meal in themselves Add a baked potato or make sure you include a mix of legumes, grain salads and green salads for a light and satisfying meal.

Kristen’s Tahini Dressing

Add some freshly squeezed lemon juice to tahini. Mix well. The mixture will become very thick and firm. Thin out with some water. This is great on baked potato and with many salads.


Sandra’s Kale Salad



  • 3 large bunches kale
  • 30g/1¼oz fine bulgur wheat (quinoa, wholegrain rice, mixed grains, and barley also work well in this recipe)
  • 600g/1lb 5¼oz firm ripe tomatoes, diced into small cubes, 0.5cm/¼in square
  • 1 or 2 bunch spring onions, trimmed and very thinly sliced
  • 2 large bunches flat leaf parsley, very finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch mint leaves only, very finely chopped, any other fresh herbs you like
  • ½ tsp finely ground black pepper
  • salt
  • 1 lemon, juice and grated rind only (you can use two if you like a more ‘lemony’ flavour


  1. Cook the bulgur wheat according to the instructions on the packet. When it is cooked add the lemon juice and rind. Cool.
  2. Wash, dry and chop the kale finely
  3. Dice the tomatoes and finely slice the spring onions.
  4. Finely chop the herbs
  5. Mix everything together, including the cooled bulgur wheat.
  6. Season and add olive oil or salad dressing of your choice.


chickpea and couscous

Mint, Chickpea & Couscous Salad


  • 400g couscous
  • 600ml boiling water or vegetable stock
  • 6 spring onions
  • 2 cans chickpeas drained
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas, defrosted
  • Large bunch of fresh mint
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • French Dressing
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts


  • Tip couscous into a large bowl, pour over stock.
  • Cover, then leave for 10 mins, until all the water has been absorbed.
    (Or prepare according to the instructions on the packet).
  • Fluff up using a fork.
  • Slice the onions.
  • Add the chickpeas, peas, and onions to the couscous.
  • Add the crushed garlic and dressing and mix well.
  • Sprinkle over pine nuts to serve.

Serves 4


Cakes & Desserts


Traditional Lemon Cheesecake


  • 200g/7oz digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 75g/3oz vegan margarine, melted
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 200ml/7fl oz limoncello liqueur
  • 3 tbsp agar-agar (this replaces gelatine and is available at health stores and online)
  • 400g/14oz firm tofu
  • 400gms/14 ozs vegan cream cheese
  • 200gms/7ozs coconut cream (available in blocks in supermarket)
  • few drops vanilla essence
  • 115g/4oz caster sugar
  • fresh berries or berry sauce, to serve


  1. In a bowl, mix the crushed biscuits with the margarine.
  2. Press the mixture into the base of a 20cm/8in round springform cake tin.
  3. In a pan set over a very low heat, add the lemon juice, limoncello, a splash of water and the agar-agar.
  4. Stir until the agar-agar has dissolved.
  5. In a food processor, combine the tofu, cream cheese, coconut cream, a splash of vanilla essence, sugar and lemon zest.
  6. Blend until smooth.
  7. Pour the tofu mixture over the biscuit base and smooth the surface.
  8. Chill in the fridge for a few hours until set.
  9. Serve with fresh berries or a berry sauce.



vgan cheesecake

Irena’s Raw Vegan ‘Cheesecake’


  • 100 gr sunflower seeds (soaked overnight and drained)
  • 100 gr hazelnuts (soaked overnight and drained)
  • 6 dates soaked for 2 hours approx. (Reserve the soak-water)
  • 2 table spoons of melted coconut oil
  • Process nuts, seeds and dates in food processor (I do it in green star juicer) until dough forms.
  • Press mixture into a spring-form cake tin (23 cm/9in) to form a base.


  • 300-400 gr cashew nuts (soaked overnight)
  • 150ml/ 1/4 pint agave syrup
  • 1 1/2 dessertspoons psyllium husks
  • 1 1/2 dessertspoons lecithin granules/ optional
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 150 ml / 1/4 pint filtered water ( or use the date soak water)
  • 50gr berries (may be frozen , but allow to thaw first)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
  • 150 ml 1/4 pint coconut oil ( to melt, place container in bowl of hot water)
  • 50 gr of cocoa butter /optional ( melt the same way as coconut oil)


Put the liquid into the blender and add all the ingredients. Blend.
Pour the filling on the top of the base and put cake into the fridge to settle.
Usually I leave it there for few hours or overnight.

Variations (instead of using berries for filling)

“Choc Cheese” Cake – 1 cup Green& Black or other brand cocoa powder Citrus “Cheese ” Cake-zest of two lemons, limes or oranges + instead of 150 ml water 150 ml of orange juice+ a little bit of turmeric for yellow colour.



Raw Vegan Chocolates

Raw Vegan Chocolate Caramel Slices

Bottom layer:

  • 1 cup of almonds
  • 1 cup of dates

Middle layer:

  • 1/2 cup cashew butter (peanut butter also works very well. Use a brand that does not contain palm oil)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup of dates

Chocolate topping:

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil or raw cacoa butter (the topping sets well with cacoa butter and a little softer with coconut oil)
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup maple or agave syrup


For the bottom and middle layer, blend each layer’s ingredient in a food processor or blender and press into a cake tin. I use a food processor for the bottom layer and a blender for the middle layer. Place in the fridge whilst you make the chocolate topping. In a small saucepan on low heat, add all the ingredients together for the chocolate topping and stir until melted. Once the chocolate topping is cool, pour over the two layers and refrigerate for 1 hour. You can cut into tiny squares because they are luscious and filling.

There are vegan recipes to suit all tastes and dietary requirements. Many can be found freely on the internet. There are also some great vegan cookbooks.

Other Resources

Sandra Higgins

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