Charring the eggplants directly over gas until blackened gives the most amazing smoky flavor to the babaganoush. However, if you don’t have gas or access to a barbecue I’ve offered an oven grill alternative. You’ll find shallots at most supermarkets. They’re slightly sweeter and milder than a red onion, but if you’d prefer, use red onion instead. To keep this plant-based, use brown rice syrup instead of honey in the babaganoush.
I’ve used regular orange baby carrots, but if you can get your hands on mixed coloured ones, they would be wonderful too. Find preserved lemons at specialty food stores, or make your own in advance (I have a recipe on my site mydarlinglemonthyme.com). To make this dish vegan, use brown rice syrup or raw sugar in the dressing.
You can find dried hibiscus flowers and rosewater at specialty food stores. Hibiscus is high in vitamin C and makes a great tea if you find yourself wondering what to do with any leftovers. Simply pour a cup of boiling water over approx 1 teaspoon dried flowers and steep for five minutes before drinking. Add a touch of honey or sugar to sweeten if desired. I find you can get two brews from the flowers before they’re destined for the compost.
This dish is packed with flavour and is light but also very comforting. The braised fennel is based on a recipe in Deborah Madison’s cookbook Vegetable Literacy, however I’ve used ghee in place of olive oil and butter, and simplified the dish a little. If you’d like to keep this plant-based, use olive oil instead of ghee – though not quite as flavourful, it’s still delicious. If you’re soaking and cooking dried chickpeas, allow at least one day before cooking to soak.
This ‘cheesecake’ is loosely based on one I wrote for my first cookbook My Darling Lemon Thyme. It’s entirely plant- based and is a great make-ahead dessert. I’ve made mine in a slice tin and then cut rounds out to serve, but you can set your cheesecake in whatever tin you like. If you serve slices rather than rounds, this would make enough to feed eight or more people. If you’re unsure about the black pepper in the strawberries, start out with 1⁄4 teaspoon and increase as you see fit. You will need to allow 24 hours to soak the cashews before making. I prefer to use fresh cardamom seeds as their flavour is far superior, but you could use 1 teaspoon ground cardamom if preferred.
This vibrant crunchy salsa can be eaten after a couple of hours, but is even nicer if left in the fridge overnight where it turns the most beautiful shade of pink. I’ve served these with vegan mayonnaise to keep things plant-based, but use regular mayonnaise if you aren’t fussed.
These vanilla coconut creams are my go-to vegan panna cotta, and these are topped with tart rhubarb jelly. They’re slightly firmer in texture than a traditional gelatine-set dessert due to the use of the plant-based setting agent agar-agar, which is made from algae. Popular throughout South-East Asia, you’ll find it (sometimes referred to simply as ‘agar’) at your local health food or Asian supermarket, though if buying from the latter, make sure you buy plain unflavoured agar as there’s often flavoured agar on offer as well. I recommend always using good-quality coconut milk containing only coconut and water, and free from additives and thickeners (Chantal Organics and Aroy-D both do great ones). If you find your rhubarb stalks are more on the green side of pink, you can add a couple of frozen raspberries to the puree for a natural colour boost.
Tart and zingy all at once, this rosy-pink drinking vinegar is the perfect spring celebration. Look out for a good quality, preferably NZ-made raw, unpasteurised apple cider vinegar with the ‘mother’ to get the most beneficial bacteria.
These simple little no-bake tarts are the perfect thing for afternoon tea. If you don’t fancy making tarts, just make the curd to serve on toast, over yoghurt or with cake. If you find your rhubarb stalks are more green than pink, you can add a couple of frozen raspberries to the puree to enhance the colour.