Chef's Kiss: Signature Dishes To Try From The Plant-Based Food Accounts We Can't Stop Scrolling
Author: Courtney Kruk
DOCUMENTED BY: @imade_amess
Remember when prime-time TV shows and celebrity chef recipe books were our main source of cooking inspiration?
While there will always be a place in our hearts for a televised cooking challenge and Jamie Oliver’s smiling face on the cover of a book, we have a new numero uno source of inspiration: Instagram.
Instagram has been steadily ascending the cooking content hierarchy for some time now. But it really exploded in the last few years with the addition of Reels. This has paired perfectly with the popularity of plant-based eating; creators flocked to the platform to share their creative combinations and colourful meat-free meals.
We're not complaining. Instead of rotating the same three meals every week or endlessly scrolling websites in search of a recipe, inspiration is delivered straight to our feeds (where we endlessly scroll, anyway). The dishes are achievable, the flavours are plentiful and meat-free cuisine has never felt so exciting.
Need further proof? We chatted with three plant-based food accounts to find out why they started sharing their dishes and how their meat-free journey began. They were also kind enough to throw in a few of their favourite recipes, too.
Sabah Hussain and Maymuna Osamn
Documented By: @hungry_hunniez
Sabah Hussain and Maymuna Osamn
London-based best friends Sabah Hussain and Maymuna Osman started their plant-based food account @hungry_hunniez “to smash preconceptions about vegan food and lifestyles”.
As the eldest daughters in first-generation migrant households, their love for cooking and their seasonal and resourceful approach to plant-based eating has largely been influenced by their upbringings. “We create simple but beautiful table settings and food using the resources available to us,” Sabah explains. “The ability to make something special from nothing is how we grew up and this resourcefulness is part of our cooking. Our food is humble and down to earth but also peppered with moments of decadence.”
Familial relationships have also fueled the creativity behind their plant-based dishes: “The best thing about vegan cooking is getting to experiment and reinvent all our favourite dishes we grew up loving,” Sabah says. “When creating meals in the absence of animal products, we found ourselves recreating the depth and complexity of the dishes from our north-African and south-Asian backgrounds using plant-based ingredients we had never thought to pair together before; layering of flavours became important.” Cooking vegan pushed Sabah and Maymuna outside of their comfort zones, forcing them to become “more imaginative, discover new ingredients and take risks when dreaming up dishes”.
Whether it’s a sugar snap pea salad with radishes and mint, spicy Persian cucumbers or a veganised version of Nigella Lawson’s beef and aubergine fatteh, ultimately, the pair want to share the joy and beauty that comes from eating plant-based. “We wanted to illustrate that vegan food is not a recent western invention, but really rooted in diasporic, working-class traditions of eating and cooking. We wanted to show that this does not mean our food and tables are devoid of beauty,” Sabah says.
“We try to convey this through the content we present. We like to highlight the collective joy that comes through creating, cooking, sharing and eating together in beautiful company and settings.”
Brothy beans with onions and preserved lemons
1 tin of butter beans
½ cube of vegetable stock
½ cup of water (you may need to add more water as you cook) or ½ - 1 cup of vegetable stock
1 preserved lemon (finely chopped, including skin)
1 small white onion or half large
1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
1–2 tablespoons of olive oil
Generous serving of fresh black pepper
Salt to taste
Approximately 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley
Flaky Maldon salt to serve
Begin by pouring your olive oil into a cast iron pot on medium-high, add finely chopped onion and let it cook down for about 5 mins (onions shouldn’t be frizzled but translucent and soft). Don't forget to season with plenty of black pepper and a large pinch of kosher salt. Make sure you are seasoning at every stage.
When the onions are brown but not completely frizzled, add chopped preserved lemon and let these cook with the onions for a couple of minutes. Add drained beans and nutritional yeast, stir until coated with oil and the onion and lemon mixture. Taste and season again with salt and pepper if required.
Add stock cube to half a cup of hot water and add this to the pot. It should have a brothy/soupy consistency. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, adding more water or stock if needed.
How you finish this dish depends on your taste or mood on the day. You can drizzle olive oil, scatter chopped parsley, flaky salt, pepper, add a handful of chopped preserved lemons or a dollop of harissa on the side. We suggest doing all of the above and eating it with a crusty white baguette for mopping up the delicious brothy sauce.
Documented By: @imade_amess
Baker and cooking enthusiast Špela Turk launched @imade_amess during the pandemic as part of her digital communications studies and has kept it (deliciously) updated ever since.
While this didn’t start as a typical passion project for the Ljubljana local, Špela says food has always been an important part of her life growing up. “Food was something that gathered us around my grandma’s kitchen table every Sunday. Meals of my childhood were simple but delicious and comforting … My paternal grandmother had a big impact on my cooking, she introduced me to a lot of different ingredients, spices and herbs.”
It’s been seven years since Špela stopped eating animal products. Like many who’ve done the same, those early days were a little experimental – and not always in a good way. “At first my meals were quite strange, I ate a lot of veggie and quinoa/buckwheat/rice stir fries with tofu and pasta with strange sauces.
“I slowly started reading vegan cooking blogs and cookbooks and learned to cook delicious meals for myself. I started cooking even more in the pandemic since I had a lot of free time on my hands and cooking was one of the few things that made me feel better and gave my days some structure,” she says.
As the numerous cakes on her feed, including this masterpiece featuring an almond, miso and tonka bean sponge, prove, that practice has paid off. But don’t be intimidated if you are less skilled in the kitchen. Dishes, like this hearty jota (a popular Slovenian sauerkraut and bean stew) or this zesty zucchini, pea and mint pasta, are bursting with flavour but simple to recreate.
Orecchiette with Brussels sprouts and zesty breadcrumbs
1 piece of stale bread, preferably sourdough
½ tsp flaky salt
¼ tsp freshly cracked black pepper
½ lemon zest
1 tbsp olive oil
Orecchiette with Brussels sprouts
250 g dry pasta of your choice
500 g Brussel sprouts
5-6 medium sized garlic cloves
4 tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp salt
½ freshly cracked black pepper
100 g white wine like Suvignon Blanc, Pino Grigio, Rebula
35 g lemon juice
1 tbsp Nutritional yeast
2 tsp lemon zest
150g reserved cooking water
To make the zesty breadcrumbs, finely ground stale bread in a mixer or a blender. In a non-stick pan heat 1 tbsp of olive oil, add freshly ground breadcrumbs, flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toast the breadcrumbs until they become brown and crispy. Take off the heat, add lemon zest and mix it in. Transfer into a bowl.
Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt it well and add your pasta of choice. I like to use Orecchiette because the shape reminds me of Brussels sprout leaves. Cook according to instructions but make sure that pasta is still al dente. Drain and reserve around 150 g of pasta water.
Clean Brussels sprouts and shred them as thin as you like. I like to cut the vegetable lengthwise 4 to 5 times. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil on high heat in a non-stick pan and add one third of shredded Brussels sprouts, ¼ tsp salt and ¼ tsp salt. Don't mix the vegetables too much, we want to char them a bit and crisp them up, but still be careful not to burn them.
After 4 to 5 minutes, when Brussels sprouts are nicely browned, transfer them to a bowl. Cool down the pan a bit before adding 2 tbsp of olive oil and minced garlic. Mix the garlic around to prevent burning. Add the rest of the shredded Brussels sprouts, 1 ¼ salt and ¼ freshly ground black pepper. After a minute add white wine and cover the pan with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes, making sure you mix every couple of minutes. This will soften the vegetables and cook down the wine.
Add cooked pasta, crispy Brussel sprouts from before, reserved pasta water, lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix well, serve with zesty breadcrumbs and chopped chives.
Miso sesame cookies
115 g vegan butter (I usually use Naturli Vegan Block or Violife Vioblock)
70 g light brown sugar
70 g white sugar
80 g yellow miso paste
180 g all purpose white flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
30 g plant milk
White and black sesame seeds
In a stand mixer cream together vegan butter, brown and white sugar and miso. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda and plant milk.
Put the cookie dough in an airtight container and ideally refrigerate it overnight.
Next day, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Scoop the dough with an ice cream scoop or spoon and roll it into balls (each weighs around 45g). Roll each ball in the mixture of white and black sesame seeds.
Evenly distribute the cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for around 18 minutes. Let them cool down completely.
Documented By: @bowls_and_beyond
Stress coach and nutritionist Lisa Simonsen started @bowls_and_beyond to inspire and share a love for plant-based food with others. “I needed a place for all my food pictures because I didn’t want my other account to be filled with them,” she laughs.
Growing up in Denmark, Lisa didn’t cook a lot at home. Her parents weren’t super interested in cooking, seeing it as more of a challenge than a passion. In their defence, Lisa admits she wasn’t super interested in food and cooking either, until she started eating plant-based. “My taste buds developed when I got older after trying a lot of new things. It's funny when you suddenly love something you've always hated. Like olives, bell peppers and coffee.”
She had some help from one of her younger brothers too. When he started eating plant-based and making “the most delicious dishes”, Lisa pushed herself to get creative. “Chicken was my main protein source at the time and I thought; why not eat chickpeas instead of chicken and do less harm? I think I just didn't know a lot about cooking with beans and other plant-based sources of protein because it wasn't something our parents did or knew about either. So when I saw and tried what my brother made, I was so inspired and I think that's when it all started.”
30 g pea protein powder (unflavored, vanilla or chocolate)
30 g chopped + 18 whole hazelnuts, all roasted
30 cacao powder
40 g hazelnut butter
1 tsp vanilla (can omit if using vanilla protein powder)
Pinch of salt
150 g dark chocolate, preferably 70%
Soy or rice crispies (or chopped hazelnuts)
In a food processor, process everything except for the whole hazelnuts, soy/rice crispies and chocolate until a smooth and sticky dough forms. If it's too dry, add a splash of plant-based milk or water.
Roll into 18 balls (about 20 g each) with a whole hazelnut inside. Transfer to a plate and place it in the fridge.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Mix in the crispies. Cover each ball with the chocolate mix and transfer back to the fridge. Leave until the chocolate is solid. Store in a bag or container in the freezer.
Kale, massaged with lemon and salt
Sweet corn kernels
Avocado, sliced or diced
Pickled red onions (recipe below)
Alfalfa (or other) sprouts
For the chipotle dressing
150 mL oil (I like a high quality EVOO or rapeseed)
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 garlic cloves, halved
½ tsp dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
To make the pickled red onions: peel and cut three (more or less depending on size) small red onions in thin slices and add to a glass jar. Combine 200 mL water, 200 mL white vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and a pinch of salt in a small pot and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat when the salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour the hot water over the onions in the jar and close the lid. Store in the fridge to let pickle for a couple of hours before using.
To make the chipotle dressing: add the oil, balsamic vinegar, agave or maple syrp, chipotle peppers, garlic cloves, dried oregano, salt and pepper into a mini food processor or blender. Blend until smooth. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.
Assemble bowl using ingredients listed and finish with chipotle dressing.