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Vegan ramen

Is there anything better than a bowl of steaming soup on a cold evening? The only thing I can think of is a long sauna session. But I have always thought that eating Asian soups is a bit similar to visiting sauna, so ramen remains my first choice for rainy days. Also, I have bowls and pots at home, but I don't have a sauna.

Ramen is a Japanese noodle soup dish, containing Chinese-style wheat noodles, broth and various toppings. It's been extremely popular with foodies all over the world for the last few years. You can easily enjoy a great ramen in New York, London or Warsaw.

There are numerous version of the dish, starting with nearly every region in Japan taking pride in its own variation. My recipe is simple and vegan - with fried tofu, shiitake mushrooom and green chillies.

Recipe: Vegan ramen

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 l oriental broth (recipe below)
  • 200 g ramen noodles
  • 200 g firm tofu, pressed
  • tbsp soy sauce
  • tbsp runny honey
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • one carrot
  • 100 g fresh shiitake mushrooms (or dried and soaked)
  • one green chilli pepper
  • a few branches of fresh mint
Method
  • Cut the tofu into thick slices.
  • Whisk soy sauce with honey and chilli flakes.
  • Cover each tofu slice in the marinade and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
  • Pan-fry tofu slices, about 1 minute per side.
  • Peel and julienne the carrot.
  • Slice green chilli.
  • Prepare the noodles according to the instructions on the packet.
  • Cut larger mushrooms into smaller pieces.
  • Pan-fry for a few minutes.
  • Divide noodles between two bowls.
  • Top with hot broth.
  • Add fried tofu and shiitakes, carrot, chilli and mint.

Recipe: Oriental broth

Ingredients
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled
  • 2-3 parsnips, peeled
  • 1/2 celery root, peeled
  • one leek, sliced
  • 2 l water
  • 5-6 slices of peeled ginger
  • one green chilli pepper
  • a few branches of fresh coriander
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp miso paste
Method
  • Place all the vegetables, ginger, chilli and coriander in a large pot
  • Top with cold water and bring to boil.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.
  • Strain the broth through a colander.
  • Season with soy sauce, fish sauce and miso paste.

Roasted fig salad

Light salad with rosemary-roasted figs, watercress and feta. Simple, easy and delicious. Perfect with a glass of dry white wine for autumn dinner.

I hope for many sunny, relatively warm days before winter. Maybe this fall wan't be all warming soups and mulled wine. Just maybe.

Recipe: Roasted fig salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 5-6 ripe figs
  • 2 cups watercress
  • 100 g feta cheese
  • one tsp brown sugar
  • a handful of rosemary springs
  • 2 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
Method
  • Preheat the oven to 190C.
  • Cut the figs into quarters and place them in a baking dish.
  • Sprinkle with brown sugar and chopped rosemary.
  • Roast for about 30 minutes.
  • Divide the watercress between two plates and top with slightly cooled figs.
  • Top with crumbled feta and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar.

Roasted summer vegetables

Roasted vegetables are great as a light lunch or dinner. Try roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto, baby artichokes with feta dip and round courgettes with cherry tomato sauce.

Surely, they would be even greater, if grilled and consumed in a garden, by the lake or in a park. Unfortunately, that is not always possible. For instance, one might not have a garden, a lake or a grill. Unexpected rain can also disrupt an al fresco dinner. Another reason could be a group of wasps.

It was during my sailing holidays in Croatia. I have spend the entire day gutting fish, squid and octopus that I'd bought on a market, geatting ready for a BBQ evening. When we'd finally managed to find a picturesque little bay and tie up the boat, we realised there were countless wasps coming to our yacht and we had to run away. We ended up staying in a marina where barbecueing was not permitted and I had to make the squid and octopus in the oven.

What lesson can be learned from this story? Probably the fact that anything that you might want to barbecue, you can also make in the oven. It doesn't always work the other way around, but in this case it does - I have prepare these recipes for the oven, but you can make the vegetables on the grill too.

Recipe: Roasted asparagus with basil and sea salt pesto

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • a bunch asparagus
  • one tsp. olive oil

Recipe: Basil and sea salt pesto

Ingredients
  • one cup basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
Method
  • Blend basil with olive oil.
  • Add salt, combine.
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Trim asparagus' ends. Coat asparagus with olive oil.
  • Roast at 180C for about 20 minutes.
  • Serve with pesto.

Recipe: Roasted artichokes with sizzling feta dip

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4-6 baby artichokes
  • one tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • one tsp lemon zest

Recipe: Sizzling feta dip

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
Method
  • Prepare a bowl with cold water with lemon juice. To prevent artichokes from discoloration, keep the cut ones in the bow before you're ready to roast them.
  • Cut the stalks off the artichoke. Pull off the tough leaves. Cut the artichoke in half. Spoon out the inner leaves and the fuzzy choke. Very young artichokes might not have the choke.
  • Combine oil and lemon juice, coast artichokes with the mixture. Place them in a baking dish and top with lemon zest.
  • Roast at 200C for aboit 25 mintes.
  • Combine feta with oil and lemon juice.
  • Place in a ramekin and bake with the artichokes for 20 minutes.

Recipe: Roasted round courgettes with roasted tomatoes sauce

Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 round courgettes
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • tsp olive oil

Recipe: Roasted tomatoes sauce

Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • tsp brown sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Method
  • Cut the tomatoes in halves and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt and sugar.
  • Roast at 150C for about 45 minutes.
  • Cool down and blend.
  • Cut the courgettes in halves and coat with oil. Place them in a baking dish and top with chili flakes.
  • Roast at 200C for about 35 minut.
  • Serve with tomato sauce.

Broad beans and asparagus salad

This asparagus and broad beans salad is extremely easy, takes very little time to prepare, but still is a truly satisfying Spring meal. It’s green, crispy and delicious. Makes a great quick lunch or a perfect addition to your picnic basket.

Recipe: Asparagus and broad beans salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • a bunch green asparagus
  • 1/2 cup broad beans, shelled and cooked, skins removed

Recipe: Lemon dressing with chili flakes

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
Method
  • Cut off the asparagus tips, cook them in boiling water with one tbsp of sugar for 3 minutes.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, hinly slice the asparagus lengthwise into strips. Cook them for 30 seconds.
  • Whisk the ingredients of the dressing together.
  • Combine broad beans and asparagus with the dressing.

Winter tangerine salad

It's so simple that it shouldn't even be called a recipe. Let's say that I have an idea for a delicious and presentable winter salad that will help us keep the right level of Vitamin C. Works great as a light dessert or a topping for a sweet breakfast, like porridge or pancakes.

Recipe: Winter tangerine salad

Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 3-4 tangerines
  • 2 tbsp. of pomegranate seeds
  • a handful of fresh mint leaves
  • juice of 1/2 tangerine
Method
  • Peel and slice the tangerines, arrange them on a plate.
  • Top with pomegranate and chopped mint, drizzle with tangerine juice.
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