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Wednesday 31 May 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# food envy
'The sauce is inspired by Tuscan cooking': 5 mouth-watering dishes from veggie chef Rory
Including his “fakeaway” vegan spice bag.

EACH WEEK, WE ask a home cook about the dishes they’ve been whipping up of late. The kind of food you don’t need a recipe for, from quick snacks to empty-the-fridge dinners.

This week, Rory Conlon (@veggiepunk) shared five of his favourite flavour-packed vegan and vegetarian dishes.

While he’s not strictly vegetarian, Rory, who works as a chef at Two Boys Brew, tries to cook without meat and dairy as much as he can.

“I don’t think avoiding meat has to feel like a sacrifice,” he says. “In Ireland we’re lucky to have access to seasonal produce and also to incredible ingredients from around the world. With these, we can create amazing flavours in vegan and vegetarian dishes.”

From chocolate sourdough cakes to a vegan spice bag, below are five of Rory’s go-to dishes…

1. Root vegetable pasta with lentils: While I do have a lot of love for complex dishes made with exotic ingredients, there is a lot to be said for simple, comforting meals featuring seasonal ingredients. This recipe certainly falls into the latter category. It is hearty, wholesome, and delicious and can be whipped up in less than an hour. Although this is a very simple dish, it is packed with flavour. The sauce is inspired by traditional Tuscan cooking, featuring onion, carrot and celery and flavoured with rosemary and sage.

Lentils are not necessarily traditional, but they bulk up the sauce nicely and add body and protein to the dish. One note on cooking lentils: the cooking time will depend on how old the lentils are. The longer they sit in your cupboard or on the supermarket shelf, the more they dry out and the longer it takes to cook them.

2. Umami vegan risotto: I have very mixed feelings about risotto. One one hand it is a delicious, amazingly versatile dish. But on the other hand, whenever I eat out with the intention of avoiding meat, it seems risotto is the only option on the menu. With this recipe, I wanted to make something different from the classic restaurant risotto but also keep the core elements of what makes it delicious. I tried a few different versions of this to get it right.

The aim of the game is to slowly add stock to a pot of rice as you stir it constantly. Add a ladle full of stock, stir until the rice has absorbed enough liquid so that there are no more pools or puddles, and repeat until the rice is tender. The rice will slowly absorb the liquid and release starch, thickening the mixture and creating an amazing texture.

3. Vegan spice bag: As far as “fakeaway” recipes go, this is one of my favourites. It’s a delicious combination of flavours and textures that really captures all the complex emotions of opening up a late night spice bag. The key to really getting this dish right is the tofu. Dry tofu, high heat, and lots of oil are all you need to get a really beautiful crispy exterior that will make you forget you ever wanted chicken with your chips. And don’t worry, you don’t need a deep fryer, just a large, heavy bottomed pot or wok will work perfectly well for a shallow-fry.

4. Homemade ramen: Ramen is a perfect comfort food. The flavours are intense and exotic but also deeply satisfying and nourishing. The key to ramen is excellent broth. You can play around with toppings and even with the noodles, but the broth will hold the whole dish together. Find my recipe here.

miso Rory Conlon Rory Conlon

5. Chocolate sourdough vegan mini cakes: Having recently gotten my hands on some sourdough starter and adopted a diligent feeding routine, I’ve craved any recipe with the weird funky fermented magic of sourdough. This recipe is a variation of Sandor Elllix Katz’s recipe for Sourdough Devastation Cake and it is absolutely wonderful.

More: ‘I’ve perfected my chips’: 5 delicious family favourites from mum-of-two Catherine>

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