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Comfort and joy: 10 hearty, delicious vegan meals for an icy January – from lasagne to tiramisu


At this time of year, the air is colder, the nights are longer and all anyone really wants is something warm and comforting to eat. However, if you happen to be vegan, your options can still be embarrassingly limited. Still, never fear, here’s the pick of the best vegan comfort-food recipes around.

Tofu katsu sando

Let’s begin with Meera Sodha, who is the vegan writer of the moment. Her New Vegan series in the Guardian is full of delights, but the standout remains her tofu katsu sando with celeriac and apple slaw from last January. It’s essentially a tofu cutlet, coated with panko breadcrumbs and fried – but it’s the curried vegan mayonnaise with the celeriac and apple slaw that really make it. As she says, “it’s carb-on-carb action, and a satisfying sandwich of contrasts”.

Lasagne

I am not a vegan, but I have tried Justine Pattison’s vegan lasagne, and it is every bit as satisfying as any of its meatier counterparts. As you would expect, nutritional yeast does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to cheesiness here, but the white sauce (made with almond milk) and the filling (lentils, mushrooms, aubergine and courgette) pack so much punch that you would barely even notice.

Vegan lasagne … every bit as satisfying as its meatier counterparts.
Vegan lasagne … every bit as satisfying as its meatier counterparts. Photograph: IriGri8/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Garlic butter parmesan spaghetti

On a similarly pasta-based kick, the Cheap Lazy Vegan (my kind of vegan) website has a recipe for vegan garlic butter parmesan spaghetti. It doesn’t really need explaining as the dish has one of those titles that’s just a list of ingredients. However, it’s worth saying that the “parmesan” is a blend of powdered cashew nuts, garlic and nutritional yeast. It is also worth pointing out that this is the sort of comfort food I could happily eat out of a bucket.

Vegan pulled pork sandwiches

Tasty’s recipe for vegan pulled-pork sandwiches highlights its ability to fool omnivores. That’s not really the point, but it’s easy to see why it might. It substitutes pork for jackfruit, but treats it in much the same way, slow-cooking it with cumin, chilli powder, paprika, Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke before spooning it into a bun. I believe this is what people used to call “dirty food” in 2017 – a moment that, thankfully, seems to have passed.

Chana masala

Everyone knows that curries are more or less foolproof for vegans, but Olive magazine’s chana masala recipe really goes out of its way to meet your comfort-food needs. The star of the show are the two full tins of chickpeas that provide the dish with a heft that can sometimes go missing in the absence of animal products. Serve with a roti and you’ve got the makings of a cosy night in.

Chana masala … meets all your comfort-food needs.
Chana masala … meets all your comfort-food needs. Photograph: Brent Hofacker/Alamy Stock Photo

Braised sausage all-in-one

Weird to say it, but Nick Knowles (yes, the gameshow man off the telly) also does a surprisingly good line in vegan food. A case in point is his braised sausage all-in-one with cherry tomatoes, cannellini beans and cider. Admittedly this is a recipe that will live or die depending on the quality of vegan sausage you use, but pick a good one and its treatment here – simply roasted over veg, beans and a fat glug of cider – will make a tremendous easy dinner.

Lowly Food’s vegan Sunday roast.
Lowly Food’s vegan Sunday roast.

Sunday roast

There’s a question mark over whether a roast dinner counts as comfort food – personally I’m of the opinion that the time-consuming slog of preparing it heavily counts against the comfort you take from eating it – but in this instance I’m happy to go with the crowd. Lowly Food has a recipe for vegan Sunday roast with all the trimmings, but the main attraction is its harissa roast cauliflower: a head of cauliflower, painted with spices and baked for an hour, it’s relatively easy and quite delicious.

Cheesecake

And now for pudding. It turns out that 90% of all vegan dessert recipes are for “cheesecake” made with various Philadelphia substitutes. That said, the recipe that Solla Eiriksdottir provided for this paper in 2018 is one of the best you’ll find. The crust is nuts and mulberries, the filling is nuts and probiotic powder and the topping is pure blueberry. Magic.

Cheesecake … pure magic.
Cheesecake … pure magic. Photograph: Simon Bajada

Tiramisu

Gaz Oakley has managed to veganise tiramisu; no small feat, given that a tiramisu is essentially the dairy mother lode. The trick is a combination of coconut cream and vegan cream cheese, and the results – especially topped with a pile of grated chocolate – are truly spectacular.

Chocolate and salted caramel tarts

Finally, Lazy Cat Kitchen’s vegan chocolate and salted caramel tarts are an absolute work of art. Heavy on coconut milk, the tarts are elegant and delicate, and gooey enough to make your non-vegan friends think you’ve fallen off the wagon. Which is usually quite a patronising thing to say, but in this instance it’s true.



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