Simple lockdown pleasures (with all manner of vegan treats, of course)

Lockdown is, so I'm told, the perfect time to do new things. I guess the people that say that don't have heavy duty jobs, or kids to look after, or are carers. But let's pretend we're all using this time to do new things. At least in the kitchen, I am a bit. When I'm meant to be doing work or studying, I'm secretly dreaming of the new dishes that I'm going to cook when it's lunchtime.

When I was down our local supermarket, trying desperately to keep 2m away from everyone else, I stumbled into the pasta aisle, and one of the only pastas that were left were conchiglioni -- otherwise known as absolutely huge pasta shells. Ever since then, I've been thinking about making conchiglioni filled with ricotta and spinach (the vegan version, of course).

So I made this:

 I used firm tofu with nooch, miso, garlic and lemon juice let down with a little soy milk to make the ricotta, and some kale instead of spinach. I stuffed the tofu ricotta and kale mix into the precooked pasta shells, and then laid them all out on a bed of red pasta sauce (I cheated and got it out of a jar!) and baked them in the oven until everything was just touched with a hint of crispiness around the edges. It was so good! If you, like a few days ago me, have never made oven baked big pasta shells, you need to go and do it some really soon. Assuming there's any conchiglioni left were you are, that is!

Another food that's a bit hard to come by of late is wild garlic. I smelled some the other day walking through a local wood, but I couldn't see any for the life of me. What I did see though was a sign from the local council asking people not to pick wild garlic, becuase they'd been trampelling the local plant life. Luckily, the wild garlic I've been enjoying came with my vegbox, and not from the local woodland. 

I knew the one bag I had in my hands that week would probably be the only one I'll be getting this year. I've made wild garlic pesto before, and wild garlic hummus, but what's the best way to treat this single perfect bag of green leaves? I thought a simple soup. Just wild garlic, stock, and potatoes, all blended and served with a bit of Oatly creme fraiche and garlic oil. Because, y'know, more garlic.

So silky, so tasty, so very, very green.
And for foods that can transport you, may I introduce you to to Crosstown Doughnuts. I love Crosstown for making vegan doughnuts accessible across London. I used to be able to grab them on the way home from work. There's nothing to shuck off a bad day as sittng down with a cup of tea and a doughnut. Now work means sitting at home and not leaving the house, there's not a huge chance to lay my little vegan hands on all those glorious doughnuts any more. Happily, Crosstown now delivers within the M25, which means I can get a box of doughnuts delivered to my front door. I can report they were every bit as glorious as they always were.

I have a friend who every time I see her, I grab a few Crossotwn doughnuts, head down to hers, and we spend a good few hours gaming together. Only, I haven't seen that friend for months, and I miss her a great deal. So, how do you replicate meeting up with your friend when you can't leave the house? We both got a box of Crosstown's finest (mine was the vegan 'working from home' box, of course -- shout out to the rhubarb and ginger for winning the deliciousness competition on a very crowded field) and used Zoom so we could play computer games together as if we were still in her front room. It's not quite the same as being in the same place, but it'll do for now.


  1. those pasta shells bake looks amazing - a wonderful lockdown outcome. I love your doughnut zoom meeting - it is so fascinating all the experiences we have under lockdown that we never would have had before - if only it doesn't take so much death to change our perspective on the world!

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