Four one-pot vegan dishes for mess-free meat-free cooking

Practically cooks itself: Pumpkin and black-bean baked rice.
Practically cooks itself: Pumpkin and black-bean baked rice. Photo: Bec Hudson/Hardie Grant

Melbourne recipe writer and food stylist Jessica Prescott is tired of doing the dishes. "Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and if you have small children, a million and one snacks in between," she says. "The mess is relentless."

In Vegan One Pot Wonders, Prescott has collected recipes that are low mess and easy to prep while also being healthy and kind to the planet. Every dish is a plant-based one-pot wonder, from no-cook meals to stovetop dinners and easy oven ideas. 

Here, the author of Vegan Goodness and co-founder of baby food brand Vegan Goodness shares four delicious, effortless and budget-friendly meat-free meals for busy people.

Jessica Prescott's new book.
Jessica Prescott's new book. Photo: Supplied

Pumpkin and black bean baked rice 

We all need meals in our repertoire that you can prep ahead of time and throw on when you get home, leaving it to cook itself while you take care of any of the bazillion things on your to-do list. This is one of those meals.

INGREDIENTS

  • generous glug of olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1½ teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
  • 440g (generous 2 cups) long-grain white rice
  • 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed (or 260g/1½ cups beloved black beans, drained but not rinsed)
  • ¼ pumpkin (approx. 500g), halved, seeded and cut into 5mm-thick wedges
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 litre (4 cups) water
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 fresh jalapeno (or ½ green capsicum if you can't do spicy), seeded and finely chopped
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

To serve:

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 lime, halved
  • vegan sour cream or cashew cream

METHOD

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  1. Preheat the oven to 180 fan-forced (200C conventional). 
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole pot (Dutch oven) or an ovenproof saucepan over a medium-high heat, add three-quarters of the onion, and cook for a couple of minutes until it is starting to go transparent. Add the garlic and spices and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the rice, beans, pumpkin, salt and water. Increase the heat to high then, once the water is simmering, cover with a lid and transfer to the hot oven to cook for 30 minutes. 
  3. While the pumpkin and rice are cooking, make a simple salsa by combining the reserved finely chopped onion with the chopped tomato, jalapeno and coriander leaves in a small bowl.
  4. After 30 minutes, remove the dish from the oven, take off the lid, give it a stir, then serve in bowls and top each serving with the salsa, diced avocado, a squeeze of fresh lime and spoonfuls of sour cream or cashew cream.
  5. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, and up to 3 months in the freezer.

Serves 4-6

This is an edited extract from Vegan One Pot Wonders by Jessica Prescott, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $29.99. Photography by Bec Hudson. 
Single use only
Pumpkin and black bean baked rice - with beloved black bean recipe
Sweet, sticky curried tempeh tray bake 
Warm chickpea salad 

Quick weeknight winner. Photo: Bec Hudson/Hardie Grant

Sweet, sticky curried tempeh tray bake 

Tempeh is an excellent source of protein, yet many people are baffled as to how to prepare it. It has a bitterness, which can be removed with steaming; however, I prefer to marinate the bejeesus out of it and hide the bitterness with sweetness and spices. This tray bake is a winner for a quick weeknight meal, or to prep ahead of time for lunches during the week.

INGREDIENTS

  • 60ml (¼ cup) melted coconut oil
  • 60ml (¼ cup) maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • about 500g pumpkin, seeded and cut into bite-size pieces (skin on, unless tough)
  • about 225g tempeh, cut into 1cm cubes
  • red onion, cut into wedges (root kept intact)
  • 2-3 handfuls of rocket or baby spinach
  • 1 small cucumber, diced handful of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

To serve:

  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 250g (1 cup) coconut 
  • yoghurt
  • 2-4 restaurant-bought garlic naan or roti (optional, but soooo good)

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional). 
  2. Combine the coconut oil, maple syrup, curry powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Place the pumpkin, tempeh and onion in a high-edged baking tray (pan). Pour the curry powder concoction over it and use your hands to evenly coat everything in the marinade, resisting the urge to separate the onion layers from one another as they will do this on their own when you toss them. Wash your hands and transfer the baking tray to the hot oven. Bake for 45 minutes, using a spatula to give everything a good toss and stir about halfway through cooking.
  4. Check that the pumpkin can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife and the edges are starting to blacken, then remove the baking tray from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Loosen everything with a spatula then top with rocket or spinach, cucumber and coriander.
  5. To serve, squeeze lemon juice over the top, then dollop coconut yoghurt over everything and lightly toss. Enjoy immediately, either as it is, or using naan (garlic, always) that you've picked up from your local Indian restaurant on your way home to make little mouthfuls with one of each ingredient, and to mop up the juices left in the pan. It's. SO. Good.

Serves 4

This is an edited extract from Vegan One Pot Wonders by Jessica Prescott, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $29.99. Photography by Bec Hudson. 
Single use only
Pumpkin and black bean baked rice - with beloved black bean recipe
Sweet, sticky curried tempeh tray bake 
Warm chickpea salad 

Middle Eastern flavours. Photo: Bec Hudson/Hardie Grant

Warm chickpea salad 

Always a crowd pleaser, this salad is inspired by fatteh – one of my favourite Middle Eastern dishes.

INGREDIENTS

For the roasted chickpeas:

  • 2 × 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 60ml (¼ cup) olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 2 Lebanese flatbreads, torn into bite-size pieces
  • handful of flaked (sliced) almonds
  • olive oil spray (optional)

For the rest of the salad:

  • 2-3 handfuls of greens such as rocket (arugula), spinach or baby kale
  • 1 cucumber, sliced into 2 mm-thick rounds
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
  • large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • large handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

For the dressing:

  • 125g (½ cup) coconut yoghurt
  • 140g (½ cup) tahini
  • 60ml (¼ cup) water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed (minced)

METHOD

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C conventional).
  2. Put the chickpeas in a deep baking tray (pan) and pat them dry with a clean tea towel. Drizzle with the olive oil then sprinkle with the spices, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and use a spoon to stir and get all the chickpeas nicely covered in oily, spicy goodness. Place in the hot oven and roast for 30 minutes, giving the chickpeas a stir about halfway through cooking.
  3. While the chickpeas are in the oven, make the dressing. Place all the ingredients in a small bowl or screw-top jar and stir or shake until well combined. Add more water if you need to, to get it to a pourable consistency. Taste and adjust the salt and maple syrup if necessary, then set aside.
  4. Add the flatbread and almonds to the baking dish (spraying the flatbread with oil if you like), and return to the oven for another 5 minutes, or until the bread is lightly golden and crispy.
  5. Remove the chickpeas and flatbread from the oven and allow to sit for a few minutes then loosen from the bottom of the dish using a spatula.
  6. Just before you are ready to eat, top the chickpeas and flatbread with leafy greens, cucumber slices, diced avocado, mint and parsley. Enjoy immediately, with a generous drizzle of dressing. Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Tip: If you have pita crisps, you can make this salad without turning on the oven. Cook the chickpeas in a frying pan (skillet) instead, for 5-10 minutes until crispy and golden, then add the spices, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and cook for another couple of minutes.

Serves 4-6

Bec Hudson/Hardie Grant – Thu, 15. October 2020 5:37 PMThis is an edited extract from Vegan One Pot Wonders by Jessica Prescott, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $29.99. Photography by Bec Hudson. 
Single use only
Beloved black bean recipe

Serve with cashew cream, coriander and nothing else. Photo: Bec Hudson/Hardie Grant

Beloved black beans

If I could eat only one thing for the rest of my life, black beans would be it. By far the most delicious of all the beans, I first discovered them when I was living in New York in 2009, and when I returned "home" to Australia, they were really tricky to find. In the decade since then, they have grown in popularity to the point where you can even find them in tins at big chain supermarkets. Praise be!

I don't soak my dried beans before cooking them, which is a nutritional no-no (soaking pulses breaks down their phytic acid, which is an important step if you want to maximise nutrient absorption), but I skip this step for two reasons – the first being that black beans cook really quickly without pre-soaking and the second being that soaking them washes away the black sediment that gives them such an incredible flavour.

You can throw a pot of these beans on at any time of the day; in the morning to enjoy as a warm lunch and then dinner that night, or even while cooking dinner, to then enjoy the following day. They freeze beautifully too.

INGREDIENTS

  • 440g (2 cups) dried black beans, rinsed and checked for stones
  • 2 litres (8 cups) water
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed (minced)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped (optional)

METHOD

  1. Put the beans and water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling add the onion, garlic, salt, spices and peppers (if using). Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1½-2 hours, until beans are very easy to squish on the side of the pan with the back of a spoon. You can serve them as is, or use a potato masher to mash them gently so that they thicken a little.

Makes 6 cups cooked beans

This is an edited extract from Vegan One Pot Wonders by Jessica Prescott, published by Hardie Grant Books, RRP $29.99. Photography by Bec Hudson. Buy now