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Vegan theme night: A three course menu to keep the lockdown blues away

How are you doing, friends? I hope you're keeping well and as unbored as you can be in the circumstances. I don't know about you, but the days here are slipping into sameness. Time has become liquid to me -- when I think about something I did this morning, it feels like I could have been doing it days ago. I forget what day it is often. I can't remember what it was like to not work from home, and how long it was since I last saw a friend or family member in person. You get the idea. So, in order to try and dodge that encroaching sameness, I've been finding ways to try and introduce more variety into my long, listless days. But there are only so many levers I have to pull -- basically, it's food and entertainment, and entertainment is pretty much Netflix, reading blogs (have a vegan blog? Drop the link below!), and listening to the radio.

This weekend, I thought I'd try and make eating tea in front of the TV a little more interesting with a bit of a theme night (I know, I know, interesting is a relative term, but this is lockdown world, and not much is that interesting!) Me and Mr Flicking the Vs have been watching a lot (and I mean a lot a lot) of Money Heist on Netflix. If you've not seen it, it's a Spanish drama (called La Casa de Papel in the original Spanish) about a gang trying to pull off an audacious heist, by robbing the Spanish National Mint of billions of euros. It's a massive hit worldwide, apparently, but less well known in the UK. If you're in need of something daft, compelling, beautiful to look at and full of (gloriously unrealistic) plot twists, there are four seasons to treat yourself to.

With just a couple of episodes left until to the end of series two (and finding out whether they'll actually pull off the heist), I decided we needed a Spanish theme night: one course per episode, with a Spanish music playlist to cook along to.

Our first course was pretty simple, but delicious: padron peppers, fried and sprinkled with sea salt. Delicious! I love padron peppers -- they taste like the start of summer. There's also the added bonus of heat roulette -- you never know if you're going to get a mild one that tastes like a smooth green pepper, or a fiercely hot one that's from the same family tree as a chilli pepper.

I wouldn't call our main meal paella, but it was definitely inspired by the classic Spanish rice dish. Traditionally, paella has meat or fish in, but mine's a vegan version, so there was a feast of plant based goodies instead -- tomato, asparagus, red and green peppers and vegan chorizo sausages (the Linda McCartney ones). According to the source of all knowledge that is Wikipedia, paella's considered as Spain's national dish -- unless you're from Spain, that is, in which case it's thought of more as a local dish from Valencia. I was lucky enough to visit Valencia a while back and had some cracking vegan food, but no paella. I don't know if I've ever eaten a paella before (how terrible is that?!) so I was flying blind a bit on making it, but some stock, wine, and a spell in the oven pretty much makes most things good, and my Spanish-esque rice was exactly that.

I didn't use a recipe to make the paella, but I just picked up ideas from a few already out there, including this one and this one.

And for pudding: flan! It's a Spanish dessert that's similar to creme caramel: a soft, wobbly custard with a layer of dark caramel sauce. The one I made is from a packet mix, so I can't claim much credit to its deliciousness, but hey I did stir the contents of the packet into the some soy milk! Pretty sure that makes me a chef, no?

We also drunk Estrella Damm beer thoughout our Money Heist marathon. Once we spotted the product placement, we couldn't stop seeing the Estrella logo everywhere (an Estrella delivery truck even plays a key role in one scene!) and so we bought some in honour of it. Salud!

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  1. Ah I feel the same 'the days here are slipping into sameness'. I did not get on with Money Heist, stuck with it for four episodes, but lost interest. My niece could not believe that i gave up on it as she loves it. Your tomato, asparagus, red and green peppers and vegan chorizo sausages paella looks colourful and really good. Yes, making Spanish flan (from a packet) indeed makes you a chef AT HOME!

  2. How nice to have a fancy meal to break up lockdown - we are finally allowed some visitors so I have plans to see friends and my parents on the weekend. But I know the feeling of being a little unsure of days and time - I got to my desk one morning and couldn't remember if I had brushed my hair - I do that at work occasionally but if I ride my bike I just think people will have to assume helmet hair - whereas the bathroom wasn't far to go and fix my hair when I was working in my bedroom! I love the look of your paella on the weekend - I had it in spain once and wonder how traditional that version was - we have a spanish stall at some farmers markets that does paella which I think is more impressive.

  3. Your paella looks sooooo good!
    And those peppers tooo!!!!!

  4. Thank you for sharing this article.


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