1. Preheat the oven to 180c and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
2. Cut the watermelon in half by taking a sharp vegetable knife and removing the rind of both halves, leaving the pink flesh. Slice both skinned halves into 15mm slices. You should have around 16 slices. Place on the tray.
3. Taking a small saucepan, make the marinade by mixing the rice vinegar with 4 tbsp water, grated ginger, smoked paprika and miso. Stir the ingredients over a low heat until well combined. Should only take a few minutes. Spoon all the marinade over the top side of the sliced watermelon. Clean the saucepan for step 7.
4. Place tray in oven and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours, turning half way at 45 mins. Cook until watermelon is about 5mm thick, check every 30 mins for burning. If the melon is catching, turn down the heat.
5. Prepare the wood-ear by tearing the mushrooms into half and removing any hard bits. Place in a bowl of hot water to hydrate. Leave to soak for 20 minutes.
6. Place the sushi rice in a pan with 2.5 cups of water. Cook on a medium heat until simmering and then turn down to low. Pop on a lid and let the rice cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice steam for a further 5 minutes. Portion into bowls.
7. Remove skins from garlic and finely slice into thin slices, slice the chilli and set aside. Warm up the apple cider vinegar in a small saucepan and pour into a bowl adding the garlic, sesame seeds, and sliced chilli. Leave for 20 mins to pickle. Add juice of 2 limes once cooled and mix well.
8. Prepare the cucumber by cutting it in half and lightly bashing it with a rolling pin. Cut length ways into quarters. Drain the wood-ear mushrooms and mix with the cucumber and pour over the garlic, chili, sesame seed and lime dressing. Set aside.
9. When the roasted watermelon is done, take the tray out of the oven and leave on the side for the watermelon to cool slightly.
10. Now you are ready to serve: Peel and slice the avocado and place on top of the sushi rice, add sliced radish. Add the bashed cucumber and wood-ear salad and top with roasted watermelon. Garnish with Octopus Garden pickled seaweed. Pour the remaining garlic lime chilli dressing over the top.
11. Take the Octopus Garden Umami drops to the table and add in a drop or two to the dish while you are eating. A little goes a long way and it’s a great flavour to add to the rice at the bottom of the bowl if you have eaten all the toppings before you finish. Enjoy!
Sweet Potato Shepherd-less Pie
This shepherd-less (because we love sheep!) pie is like a great big hug in a dish. Topped with deliciously fluffy sweet potatoes, it’s the perfect remedy for a long day at work or a cold walk home. Or, y’know, anything really.
Makes: one big pie, serves 4-6
For the filing…
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 brown onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
200g mushrooms, diced
2 x 400g tins of green or black lentils
500ml vegetable stock
250ml dry white wine
50ml tomato paste
2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp English mustard
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed
2 tbsp chopped fresh sage
A pinch of nutritional yeast
Salt and pepper to taste
For the potato...
6 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
350ml unsweetened nondairy milk
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Two large saucepans or pots
Large ovenproof dish
1./ First make the filling. Start out by heating two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot or pan. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and a pinch of salt. Fry on medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the mushrooms and fry for another 5 minutes. Next add the wine, tomato paste, mustard, herbs, and Worcestershire sauce. Mix in the lentils and stir together well. Cook on a high heat for about 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Simmer the filling for at least 30 minutes, giving it a stir every now and then.
2./ Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius, then make the mash. Boil the sweet potatoes in salted water till soft. Drain and mash with a masher or fork till smooth. Mix in the milk, oil, and salt until smooth and lump-free.
3./ Tip the now-thickened filling into the bottom of an overproof dish. Top with the mash, smooth over, and bake in the oven for half an hour, or till a nice golden-brown top has formed.
Creamy Mushroom Pies with Smashed Potatoes and Autumn Greens
March is a prime time for mushrooms, onions, potatoes, and watercress, and this super-filling dish makes the most of all four. The mushrooms and onions are baked into a rich, creamy, caramelised tart, which is the perfect foil for the peppery watercress and garlicky smashed potatoes.
For the pie...
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- 2 onions (c. 160g)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 300g mushrooms
- 200ml cream
- 15g fresh thyme, leaves removed
- 155g plain flour
- 75g butter
- A cup of cold water
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- For the potatoes...
- 20 baby potatoes (c. 350g)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 teaspoons chilli flakes
- Salt and black pepper to taste
For the greens...
- 2 large handfuls of watercress
- Zest and juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Large frying pan
- 2 6-inch tart dishes or similar
- 2 mixing bowls
- Rolling pin
- Baking tin
1./ First make up the pie filling. Heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan. Over a medium-high heat, fry the garlic and onion until golden and caramelised, stirring frequently. Add the sugar and the mushrooms, and continue frying. Once the mushrooms are fully cooked, add the cream and the thyme leaves (but reserve a couple of sprigs for topping), and cook for a further 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle in a tablespoon of the flour, and stir until thickened. Take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
2./ Preheat the oven to 225 degrees Celsius, then make the pastry. In a mixing bowl combine the flour with a pinch of salt, then rub in the butter with your fingertips. You’ll get something that looks like breadcrumbs. To this add some of the cold water, a tablespoon at a time, mixing and pressing the dough together with your hands as you do. You will not need all the water - just enough to form a smooth, pliable dough. Roll the pastry out on a clean, flat surface, then press into the tart dishes. Fill the pastry cases with a creamy mushroom mixture.
3./ Put the potatoes, garlic, olive oil, and chilli flakes on a baking tray or tin. Mix roughly and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Put these into the oven along with the tarts. Bake both for 30 minutes or so, until the tarts are golden and caramelised and the potatoes roasted through.
4./ While the tarts and potatoes are roasting, prep the greens by mixing the oil, lemon zest and lemon juice into the watercress.
5./ Crush the potatoes slightly with a fork before serving alongside the tarts and greens. Top the tarts with leftover sprigs of thyme.