Recipes: main meals | Viva! - The Vegan Charity

Recipes: main meals


Sautéed Butternut Squash with Olive Tapenade & Cannellini Beans
Serves 4 as a light meal, 2-3 as a main | 30 minutes

This is a quick way of using squash or pumpkin and very nice indeed. It’s also much quicker than roasting or baking the vegetable, yet you still get that rich flavour. Sweet potato also works well. Serve with a large salad and some crusty bread.



  • 1 medium squash or pumpkin, eg butternut - 500-600g, peeled and seeded squash, cut into medium chunks

  • 60g/2oz mixed green and black pitted olives

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley – any type

  • Half a tin of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained OR 120g/4oz home-cooked

  • 1 lemon, zested

  • Black pepper

  • 1 clove garlic (or more if preferred) and 1 tbsp olive oil OR a few squirts of oil spray

  1. Steam the squash chunks until they are tender – approximately 15-25 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, make the tapenade by chopping the olives and parsley and mixing thoroughly with the 2 tbsp olive oil, cannellini beans and lemon zest.

  3. In a large frying pan, heat the 1 tbsp olive oil or oil spray. Cook the crushed garlic gently until it starts to turn translucent then toss the hot cooked squash in the mix.

  4. Mix in the olive tapenade with the squash, add black pepper and serve hot.

Sundried Tomato & Asparagus Pasta with Pesto

Serves 3-4 | 15-20 minutes

Another big favourite from Viva!'s Incredible Roadshows for over a decade. Quick, easy and very tasty. Make it with a simple (cheese-free) pesto or use a ready made brand. It also works well cold.



  • 250g/8oz fusilli or penne pasta

  • ½ pack sundried tomatoes, soaked in hot water then chopped with scissors into bite sized pieces

  • Half a bunch of fresh, lightly steamed asparagus chopped into 2cm/1 inch pieces

  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped but not crushed

  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • Half a jar of vegan basil pesto (eg Meridian, Zest, Seggiano) OR make home-made basil or walnut pesto – see recipe below.

  • 2 tsp dried herbs such as basil or oregano OR a handful fresh coriander, chopped

  • Freshly ground black pepper/salt

1. Cook pasta in a pan of boiling water for 10 minutes or according to taste.

2. Make the pesto if using home-made - see below. 

3. Add the asparagus to the cooked pasta.

4. Add herbs and sundried tomatoes.

5. In a saucepan, heat olive oil, add chopped garlic and fry gently until lightly browned.

6. Add oil and garlic mix to pasta and stir in carefully.

7. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper

Home-made Pesto - walnut & parsley or cashew & basil

  • 30g nuts: walnuts OR cashews

  • 2-3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes

  • 1 garlic clove

  • 50g fresh parsley (for walnut version) OR basil (cashew version)

  • 4-6 tbsp olive oil + 1-2 tbsp water if necessary

  • Black pepper and salt to taste

1. Blend everything until smooth.


Gado Gado

Serves 4 | 30 minutes




















Picture courtesy of I Love Vegan, with thanks. 


An Indonesian classic, Gado Gado is basically a sumptuous pile of lightly cooked and raw vegetables mixed with a protein source such as tofu or seitan and accompanied by delicious satay (spicy peanut) sauce. It looks impressive and is very quick to make. Serve on a big platter with the sauce on the side.

NB If you want a ready-made satay sauce, Thai Taste and Yeo are vegan - neither brand contains fish/shrimp

Satay Sauce

  • 125ml/8 level tbsp smooth peanut butter

  • ½ tbsp grated root ginger

  • ½ tbsp crushed garlic (about 2 medium cloves)

  • 2 tsp date syrup

  • 2 tsp tomato puree

  • 180ml/6.5fl oz hot water

  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar

  • 1 tbsp+ soya sauce

  • Large pinch chilli powder

  • Optional – 2 tsp plain vegetable or peanut oil (if cooking off the garlic)

1. If you prefer your garlic cooked, sauté it first in 2 tsp plain oil for a minute or two.

2. Otherwise, just mix everything in a pan until smooth and warm gently until thickened. Use a wooden spoon or balloon whisk.

3. If the sauce is too thick, add more hot water but adjust seasoning to taste.


  • Choose at least THREE of these:

  • 1 large carrot, grated on largest holes OR sliced into thin matchsticks

  • 2 peppers, any colour, cut into thin strips

  • 1 bunch spring onions, sliced lengthways then into long strips

  • 100g/3½ oz mange tout, lightly steamed for a minute or two then rinsed in cold water and drained

  • 100g/3½ oz fine beans, prepared like the mange tout

  • ½ a small cauliflower, broken into small florets and lightly steamed as above

  • Cooked potatoes, diced

  • 1 pack bean sprouts, washed and drained


  • 1 pack Cauldron marinated tofu pieces

  • OR 1 pack smoked tofu, chopped into small cubes and fried

  • OR deep-fry cubes of plain tofu

  • OR 1 tin/jar seitan, sliced into pieces

1. Make sauce as above and set aside until needed.

2. Prepare all the vegetables and steam the harder ones (eg mange tout, cauliflower, beans). Rinse in cold water and drain when they are just tender.

3. Prepare tofu/seitan as necessary.

4. On a large serving plate or dish, arrange the vegetables artistically, with bean sprouts on the top.

5. Re-heat the satay sauce and either pour it over the entire dish OR serve it from a bowl.


Mushroom & Ale Pie
Serves 4 | 50 minutes, including baking time

It’s easy, looks and tastes good and is easily varied by changing the combination of vegetables in the pie. So, if leeks are out of season or expensive, try using cooked butternut squash or

red peppers – experiment!

Makes one large pie or several individual pies – cut out lids accordingly. Cook the filling first and set aside – then bake individual pastry lids to order.



Puff pastry topping (JusRol, Sainsbury's, Tesco's are vegan. Look for the green packs and check noadded butter)

  • One sheet of ready-made vegan puff pastry OR half a slab of defrosted vegan frozen puff

  • A little soya milk to brush pastry

Pie Filling

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 1 tbsp vegan margarine such as Pure or Vitalite

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 450g/1lb leeks sliced into 2cm/1 inch slices and washed thoroughly

  • 450g/1lb mushrooms, wiped and broken into medium pieces

  • 1 tbsp soya sauce

  • ½ tbsp brown sugar OR date syrup

  • 1 tsp yeast extract, eg Marmite

  • 30g/1oz wholemeal flour

  • Half a bottle vegan stout (eg Samuel Smith's Imperial Stout or Black Sheep brand) – about 115ml OR any vegan dark beer*

  • 110g/4oz frozen garden peas

  • Salt and pepper

1. Finely chop the onion and cook in the margarine until soft.

2. Preheat the oven to 210ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 7.

3. Add the garlic and leeks – leave the mixture to sweat until the leeks are soft. Add the mushrooms, soya sauce, sugar/syrup and yeast extract. Stir well and make sure the sugar and yeast extract are thoroughly melted and mixed in.

4. When the juices have come out of the mushrooms make a roux with the flour. Slowly stir in the stout, mixing well, using a whisk if necessary.

5. Bring to the boil, add the peas and simmer for 4 minutes.

6. If the mixture is too thick, dilute with a little water or stock. If too thin, mix 1-2 tsp cornflour with a little water and add to the mixture, stirring well as it comes back to the boil.

7. Measure out pie lid or lids according to the size of dishes you have. (Roll out frozen pastry if using to less than 1cm/¼ inch thick.)

8. Place the filling into the pie dish while it is still hot and put it on the bottom shelf of your oven.

9. Oil a baking tray, place your pie lid/s on it, brush with soya milk and bake in the top of the oven.

10. Cook for 8-12 minutes until pastry has puffed up and turned golden brown.

11. Take the pie filling and the lid/s out of the oven, place on top of the dish/es and serve.

12. Serve with baked potatoes/sweet potatoes/green salad – whatever you fancy.


Chestnut Paté en Crôute

Serves 4 | 1 hour total (30 minutes preparation or maybe less) Makes 1 plait

The filling and also whole plaits freeze well. The recipe can also be made into individual plaits and frozen

Serve with a well-seasoned  gravy (see Core Recipes)



  • 2 onions, chopped

  • 1 piece of celery, finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 100g/3½ oz button mushrooms, sliced

  • 200g unsweetened chestnut purée OR 200g whole cooked chestnuts, blended to leave some texture  OR 100g of each

  • ½ oz fresh soft breadcrumbs – wholemeal or white

  • 1 tbsp brandy

  • Salt and pepper

  • 1 sheet of Jus Rol or other vegan puff pastry

  • Soya milk to glaze

1. Preheat the oven to 230°C/450°/Gas Mark 8.

2. Fry the onions and celery in the oil in a large saucepan, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and mushrooms, cook for 2-3 minutes.

3. Mix in the chestnut purée, breadcrumbs, brandy and seasoning until everything is well amalgamated.

4. Unroll the pastry from the packet and place carefully on a lightly-oiled baking sheet. Pile the chestnut mixture lengthways down the middle third of the pastry.

5. Make diagonal cuts 1cm/½ inch apart on the pastry on either side of the chestnut mixture. Fold these up alternately to make a lattice covering it.

6. Trim the ends – you could make leaves from these left-over pieces and stick on top with water. Brush the pastry with soya milk.

7. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6 and bake for a further 20-25 minutes.