Need a speedy supper?
This Mexican feast is vegan but don't be scared, it's delicious, filling and faff-free. Plus we grill (!) the cook for tips on dipping a toe into veganism.
This recipe caught my eye when it landed in my inbox last week – so much so I made it for dinner that very night and it was absolutely delicious. I know, I know – move over Nigella, there’s a new domestic goddess in town (just ignore the rancid unidentified food splodges on my apron).
Anyway, I reckon you too might like these black bean chimichangas with avocado dip. They’re the creation of Irish cook and blogger Áine Carlin and appear in her book, Cook Share, Eat Vegan. I really like her approach – no beardy-weirdy hard-to-find ingredients and approaching vegan food as a communal pleasure rather than any kind of hair-shirtery.
Obviously veganism is, in the immortal words of Derek Zoolander, so hot right now, so I thought it’d be interesting to get some tips from Áine on how to give it a whirl, whether you’re interested for health or ethical reasons, or both. Or maybe you’ve got teenage/ adult children who are converts and you don’t know what the heck to cook them. Or perhaps you’re just a massive fan of Gregg’s infamous new vegan sausage roll and looking for further inspo! So here’s Áine’s advice plus the recipe for that Mexican midweek livener. Bon appétit!
Áine’s top tips for going vegan
We’ve come a long way since the days of coffee shops recoiling in horror at a request for soya milk, but there’s definitely still a way to go. And for the record, vegan emphatically does not mean gluten-free – as I like to say, ‘Give me all the bread!’
The easiest place to begin is at home
You can obviously control what you cook in your own kitchen, so clear out those cupboards and start anew. This might seem drastic but if you’re serious about this vegan malarkey then having a lingering Dairy Milk in the fridge is not going to help your resolve. Yes, you’ll inevitably have to part ways with a few old faves but with so many incredible alternatives on the market now, it feels more like a swap than a sacrifice. Think vegan pesto (Sacla have two delicious flavours), plant milks (I use unsweetened soya in tea but love almond milk in porridge) and even though you might not think it now, you’re probably going to develop a penchant for tofu (thank goodness for Cauldron and their array of awesome products).
Eat with others
Veganism has an air of solitude about it and that’s why I always encourage people to cook and eat in groups as much as possible. Whether it’s a leisurely lunch or an extravagant dinner, get your friends over, open a bottle of (vegan-friendly) Pinot and celebrate all this wondrous new food you’re discovering together. Sharing awesome plant-based food is the best way to show people that it’s not a life of deprivation you’re destined for, rather a vibrant way of eating that is full of variety and abundance.
Prepare for eating out
Eating out is surely one of the most painful parts of the vegan transition. Six years on and I still find it excruciating explaining myself to the waiting staff. So I do my research ahead of time. Google is your friend in these instances or simply pick up the phone and ask all the necessary questions beforehand – this means you’ll avoid having the spotlight put on you when you go to order. Bonus.
This isn’t just about food
Veganism encompasses so much more than that. From clothing to homeware, beauty products and beyond, this is about cruelty-free living insofar as is humanly possible, and that means reading labels. Whether it’s those shoes you covet (leather is a no-go I’m afraid) or that mascara you can’t live without (keep an eye out for bunny logos) you’ll soon get the swing of things and realise you needn’t forfeit your personal style for your newfound cause. Hurrah!
Mini black bean chimichangas with avocado dip (serves 2-3)
75ml olive oil
6 taco-sized tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
300g canned black beans, with their liquid
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeños
sea salt flakes and black pepper
For the avocado dip
½ ripe avocado
1 tablespoon plain coconut or soy yogurt
1 tablespoon tahini
Juice of ½ lime
1 garlic clove, minced
sea salt flakes and black pepper
1. For the refried beans, heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, season and sweat for 2–3 minutes, or until translucent.
2. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté until aromatic, then add the black beans and their liquid together with the bay leaf and jalapeños. Season generously and simmer for 20 minutes until the mixture is relatively thick and the beans have softened further, then remove from the heat and roughly mash, leaving a few beans whole for texture. Set aside until needed.
3. To make the avocado dip, place the avocado, yogurt, tahini, lime juice and garlic in a blender. Season, add a splash of water and blend until completely smooth. Refrigerate until needed.
4. Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over a medium–high heat. Add a small piece of tortilla to check the temperature – if it is crispy and golden after 30 seconds then the oil is at the right temperature for frying.
5. Place a tortilla on a work surface, add a spoonful of the black bean mixture to the lower half and tuck in both sides before folding over the nearest edge. Carefully but firmly roll the tortilla up into a log and dampen the edges with a little water to secure. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.
6. Carefully lower the chimichangas into the hot oil in batches and fry for 2–3 minutes on each side until crispy and golden (being careful not to overcrowd the pan). Remove from the pan and drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper, then serve immediately alongside the avocado dip.
Cook Share, Eat Vegan is out now.