Are you doing Veganuary?  Good for you!

A few suggestions.  On a vegan diet, it’s really important to make sure that you eat a balance of 50% vegetables and fruit, 25% protein (beans or nuts) and 25% good carbohydrates (wholemeal rice or wholemeal pasta) plus a bit of oils (olive is best).

Please consider carefully before you buy out of season or exotic plants which have been flown in from afar (high carbon footprint) and may well be grown unsustainably.  I love avocados but I now have one as an occasional treat. 

Personally I don’t do supermarkets’ vegan readymeals: they are highly processed and the result is often low in nutrients.  But they are still lower carbon footprint than their meat equivalent.

OK, you are thinking now: so what can I eat?

Welcome to Edible Campus!  While there is less and less now in our Edible Campus gardens at this season, several vegetables are still thriving in the cold weather.  I visited the central gardens in early January and picked up some leeks; some beetroot; some kale; and some Jerusalem artichokes.

Here is what I cooked with them.

Leek risotto: with well cleaned and finely chopped leeks (the green parts too) and garlic in oil, then arborio rice (or pearl barley), then with vegetable stock added ladle by ladle so that the final dish is meltingly soft. (I added some finely chopped kale near the end to give extra texture and colour and taste.)  You can add grated cheese but it’s great without too.

Dal with beetroot and kale: the way to make dal is to cook the pulses first, and very slowly.  I like to use split peas, but you could use red lentils (they cook quicker) or a wide range of other pulses.  Add a lot of spices to them at this stage: I like garlic and ginger and cumin.  Add cold water (and be prepared to add more as the dal absorbs it) and bring to the boil.  Simmer as slowly as you can.  Be watchful and stir every so often until nearly completely soft. Now add grated raw beetroot and finely chopped kale.  5 more minutes and it’s done.

Pasta with roasted Jerusalem artichokes and puy lentils: my absolute favourite.  Clean the artichokes thoroughly (I admit that this is a bit like hard work) and slice into pennies.  Coat in oil and roast (or fry) quite briefly.  As soon as they soften, turn off the heat and take them out.  You can freeze them at this stage which is handy.  But this time I cooked a panful of puy lentils with a bit of onion and garlic, covered them with some boiling water and kept checking until they were nearly cooked (it can take between 20 and 40 minutes depending on the age of your lentils) and then added the roasted artichokes and also yet more chopped kale.  Eat with pasta: yum yum.

Jerusalem artichoke and beetroot soup: the problem with the standard soup using Jerusalem artichokes is that it turns out a rather greyish colour.  The remedy: add grated raw beetroot for the last 5 minutes.  Great colour, great depth of flavours.

All these vegetables are available for free at an Edible Campus garden near you.  Go pick them.  All that we ask is that you record the weight of what you have cropped.  Enjoy!

by Isabelle Low