6 favourite winter meals

There’s nothing like savouring the first mouthful of something deliciously hot on a cold day. Here are 6 vegan family meals that will do just that.

If you’ve been around here for a while you’ll know my go-to is piping hot mashed potato piled with steamed spinach, maybe broccoli, maybe sauerkraut, and more than likely a good dollop of this insanely good walnut sauce.

But there are other favourites!

Spinach and Tofu Ricotta Cannelloni

There’s something about this dish that really hits MY MUST HAVE button when it’s super cold. It holds the heat really well and is a satisfying dish to make.

For the wraps you can use cannelloni shells, lasagna sheets, tortillas or steamed cabbage leaves. Basically anything you can stuff. You can mix up the filling also – try spicy beans or leftover chilli lentils.


(serves 4)

Bunch/bag of fresh spinach leaves, chopped
1 box cannelloni tubes
5 button mushrooms, diced
1 tsp olive oil
Vegan cheese, grated (optional)

Tofu ricotta:
450g firm tofu
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbl lemon juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper

1 Tbl olive oil
2x 400g tins crushed tomatoes
1 Tbl tomato paste
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper


For the sauce, blend 2 tins tomatoes and add to heated oil with rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 5 mins then cool.

Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes until soft, set aside.

Crumble the tofu with your hands into a large bowl. Add garlic, lemon juice, yeast flakes, nutmeg and stir well. Add mushrooms, spinach and mix through. Adjust seasonings.

Heat the oven to 200C.

Stuffing the cannelloni tubes is best done with your hands. Hold the tube over your bowl of filling and gently press the filling down to the end. Take care not to break the pasta shell. It’s a little messy but worth it!

Spread half the sauce across the bottom of a large baking dish. This is important as the dry cannelloni tubes need to come in contact with some moisture on all sides to ensure they cook properly.

Cover with remaining sauce, making sure there’s a little sauce between the shells.

Sprinkle with cashew parmesan or grated vegan cheese.

Bake for 35 minutes or until soft.

Serve with a crisp lettuce salad.

Potato-Topped Lentil Hotpot

This is the first lentil recipe I ever mastered and it’s taken me many places. In its simplest form it’s easily made on a camp stove and served over rice or potatoes.


1 cup red lentils, rinsed & drained several times
4 medium potatoes, halved
1 Tbl oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 sticks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1 tin tomatoes
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 Tbl tomato paste
Handful parsley, chopped


Add lentils to a large  saucepan of water (about 5 cups), bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Watch closely as they will boil over easily. I scoop off the froth as it bubbles up.

Boil potatoes in their skins until tender.

Heat oil in a large pan, add onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Stir over medium heat for about five minutes. Stir in curry powder, cook for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, vegetable stock and tomato paste. Simmer 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180.

Drain lentils, reserving some of their cooking water, and add to vegetables with parsley. Splash in some of the cooking water if needed.

Spoon into a large ovenproof dish.

Slice potatoes, arrange over lentils. Brush with a little oil or vegan butter. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 45 minutes or until lightly browned.

Kale & white bean soup

At the mere hint of rain I go running for my soup pot. And if I have a bunch of cavelo nero (the long dark kale) this sagey, garlicky, beany soup is my number one choice.

This is a rustic, hearty meal-in-one kinda soup. Thickened with cornmeal, full of beans and kale, it has all your nutrient groups covered.

Plus it’s got a really cool name that goes well with wild weather and red wine!

Be sure to top it with cashew parmesan.


1 bunch of de-stemed, rough chopped kale
4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbl olive oil
2 cans of white cannellini beans, rinsed & drained
6 cups vegetable stock and/or water
3 Tbl tomato paste
8 large sage leaves (1 tsp dried)
1 tsp salt
½ cup fine cornmeal (polenta)


In a soup pot sauté the garlic in the olive oil for 30 seconds. Add about half the cooked beans and half the stock.

Blend the rest of the beans, stock, tomato paste and sage. Add back to the soup pot with salt & pepper.

Mix chopped kale into soup and simmer for 30 minutes.

Mix the cornmeal with enough water to make one cup.

Pour slowly into the simmering soup while stirring to prevent lumps.

Simmer for another 10 minutes on low heat, stirring occasionally.
Adjust seasonings.

Serve topped with vegan parmesan. The recipe is here.

West African peanut stew

Eek cooked cabbage!
Not the nicest of thoughts for some of us. But paired up with orange kumara, peanuts, ginger and cayenne all your memories of soggy cooked cabbage will be forgotten.

During the winter months this dish is a weekly staple in my kitchen. It’s a throw-it-all-in-the-pot type meal and goes well over couscous or quinoa topped with fresh coriander. Adjust the hotness to your liking.

You’ll notice I’m suggesting you sauté the onion in vegetable broth. Here’s why, but you’re most welcome to sauté them how you like.


1 large onion, chopped
¼ cup vegetable broth
½ tsp cayenne
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups chopped cabbage
1 large orange kumara (sweet potato), cubed
1 large can tomatoes
3 cups vegetable stock
1 tsp salt
1 Tbl fresh ginger, minced
1 Tbl fresh coriander (cilantro)
1 Tbl peanut butter


Steam sauté onion for about 5 minutes until soft, add more stock as needed.

Stir in the chilli, garlic and saute for a couple of minutes.

Add the cabbage, sweet potato, tomatoes, stock, salt, ginger and coriander.

Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until sweet potato is tender.

Stir in the peanut butter and simmer gently.

Serve topped with fresh coriander.

Fragrant jackfruit curry

This curry can be made from whatever vegetables you have in the fridge and is just as nice without the jackfruit. But if you’re keen to see what the fuss is about, jackfruit adds great texture. You’ll find cans of jackfruit in brine in Asian supermarkets. Be sure to get the right one – brine not syrup!


1 can jackfruit, drained
1 large onion, diced
1 Tbl sesame oil
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, sliced diagonally
2-3 potatoes chopped bite-sized
1 cup pumpkin, chopped
3 cups vegetable stock
2 cups cauliflower or broccoli, flowerets
1 can coconut cream
1 Tbl yellow curry paste*
1 Tbl tamari
Salt & pepper

To serve:
Fresh coriander
Basmati rice


Sauté onion until soft in heated sesame oil, add carrots and celery, cook for several minutes.

Prepare jackfruit by making cuts lengthways on the hard end (not all the way through) and squashing slightly on the wider end of the triangle.

Add to the pot with the harder vegetables (potatoes, pumpkin), just cover with stock and bring to the boil. Simmer until veges are tender ~ 15 minutes.

Add cauliflower/broccoli.

Spoon the yellow curry paste into a small bowl and mix to a smooth paste with a little of the coconut cream.

Add to the vegetables with the rest of coconut cream. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Mix in tamari, adjust seasonings as needed. You may need a little more curry paste.

Serve over rice topped with cashews, coriander and lime.

*Not all curry pastes are made equal and most have shrimp paste in them and/or are drenched in oil.

This one is only spices and aromatics. I also use it in this Thai pumpkin soup. You’ll find it in bulk stores like Bin Inn or Asian supermarkets.

Chilli lentils with cashew cream

This is a one pot wonder and good for a crowd. Adjust the heat to your liking. Serve on quinoa or rice and top with cashew cream or guacamole and fresh coriander. Heat up leftovers and roll up in a tortilla or have on toast for a great lunch option.


1 C organic brown lentils
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 Tbl cumin powder
1/2 tsp chilli powder or to taste

1 small tub tomato paste
1 can tomatoes
¼ C fresh coriander
Jalapeno peppers, diced to taste
1 Tbl maple syrup
1 Tbl tamari
¼ tsp salt
3 Tbl savoury yeast (do not confuse with Brewer’s yeast)
1 C vegetable stock


Rinse lentils, generously cover with water and cook until soft (about 30-40 minutes). Add more water as necessary.
Heat a large pan and saute onion, garlic and bell pepper in a little vege stock or water for 3-5 minutes, adding more liquid as needed to prevent sticking. Stir in cumin and chilli and cook for 1 minute.
Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.

Try other beans such as pinto, black or kidney beans. Add sliced zucchini or corn prior to serving. Replace beans with chick peas and add a little cinnamon, allspice and paprika for a Moroccan-type flavour and top with a little fresh mint and parsley.

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