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Plant-Based Diaries: This is actually the flavour bomb your body has been craving!

A former meat-lover's guide to navigating plant-based turbulence

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As many may know, I love eating and cooking flavourful food. Over the years I have made several attempts to introduce vegetarian meals into my weekly routine, but it was always short lived.

I think a big part of why I could never stick to it was my misconception of meat being the primary source of flavour in a dish. Think about it, a meal will always lack in flavour without meat. It is like a dish is incomplete without meat, or so I thought.

Food can be magical without any fuss, believes foodie Dané Vermeulen. Photo: Dané Vermeulen

The first night I embarked on my plant-based journey I made a chickpea curry with coconut milk and I was blown away by the flavour and how much I enjoyed it. I thought to myself, this is just a one-time thing and I love curry so that explains it.

Read: Vegan Month: It’s a way of life

But the next day I made an Asian style stir fry with lots of veggies and butternut chickpea balls that blew my mind. I had this massive realisation that meat on its own is actually quite bland and we add flavour to it to make it taste however we want. I learned that whatever flavour I was adding to my meat, I should also be adding to my plant-based foods.

I must admit that mindset plays a huge part when you are eating a plant-based meal or transitioning to this lifestyle. Plant-based meals can be flavourful, enjoyable, and extremely tasty, but I would not have believed it unless I tried it for myself. So, try my recipe and let us know what you think.

Recipe: Sweet potato rosti and tomato bean stack

INGREDIENTS

1 medium sweet potato (yields 4 rostis)

Self-rising flour (chickpea flour for a gluten free option)

Thyme

Salt

Pepper

Vegetable oil (for frying the sweet potato rosti)

1 medium onion

1 small/half large green pepper

Clove of garlic

Balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon vegetable stock

1 can tomato relish

1 can butter beans

Olive oil (for browning onions)

1 medium avocado

Fresh coriander

Fresh lemon

1 spring onion

Balsamic reduction

METHOD

Tomato and butter bean stew

  1. On a medium to high heat, brown the chopped onions, garlic and green pepper in a medium sized pot with some olive oil.
  2. Add the can of tomato relish, vegetable stock and a dash of the balsamic vinegar.
  3. Add the butter beans and stir to mix.

Cook’s tip: Sometimes I like some extra heat so I add a bit of sriracha sauce or tabasco.

  1. Lower the heat to a simmer. Stir often to prevent it from burning.
  2. When most of the moisture has been cooked out of the tomato and bean stew it is ready to be stacked.

Potato Rosti

  1. In a mixing bowl, grate the sweet potato and slowly add the flour while mixing into the grated sweet potato. Stop adding flour when the mixture is able to stick together and form a ball.
  2. Add the thyme, salt and pepper.
  3. Divide the mixture into four equal parts. Roll them into a ball and then flatten to make the shape of the rosti.
  4. Heat vegetable oil in a pan and fry the rosti on each side until golden brown.

Let’s get stacking

  1. In a separate mixing bowl, cut the avocado into bit sized blocks. Add salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice and coat the avocado.
  2. Chop the spring onion and separate the coriander leaves from the stems and set aside.
  3. Make sure that the consistency is not runny, otherwise your stack will collapse.
  4. Start your stack by layering a rosti and your tomato and bean stew. You can stack it as high as you like. When you’ve finished your layering, place your avocado, spring onions and coriander leaves on top and drizzle some balsamic reduction over your dish for that final touch.

Leftover tip: If you have leftover tomato and bean stew, you can eat it the next day in a nacho style feast with some tortilla chips and guacamole.






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Dané Vermeulen
Dané Vermeulen
Dané Vermeulen is a food enthusiast with a strong belief in using fresh produce when cooking. She combines her love for food and photography to share her passions with the world. Her thirst for knowledge keeps her on the top of her game and ready to jump into any conversation, no matter the topic. She has a BSc degree in Biodiversity and Ecology from the University of Stellenbosch and she is a freelance writer for Food For Mzansi.
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