You basically can’t walk down a supermarket aisle right now without tripping over a pack of tofu. The outdated view that vegan cuisine must be bland is slowly starting to die, partly in thanks to the amazing array of alternatives that are currently gracing the shelves. No longer a niche dietary inconvenience, veggies are in the spotlight and have never been more accessible. On a mission to reduce our meat intake, not to mention help the environment, we think it’s fair to say that as a nation we’re more open minded about giving the meat a rest, even if it’s for just one night a week – #MeatFreeMonday anyone?
Whether you’ve taken the plunge to go full-time vegan or you’re just curious about all this plant-based chat, the new M&S veggie range is a great place to start. There are convenient ready meals like Chill non Carne – we like what you’ve done there – as well as helpfully pre-spiced soya chunks ready to replace the chicken in your next dish. We’ll be keeping a few jars of the new grain dressings in our cupboard to spruce up our salads – beetroot & cumin, we’re looking at you – and the high protein pea noodles are going straight into our next stir-fry. Re-read that back – no we’re not talking about some overpriced, out of the way health food store – this is all available in your local M&S.
M&S have THE best team of chefs, tirelessly working on exciting new products for us and last week we were lucky enough to try a few. I say a few – it was a 10 course veggie tasting menu feast of pretty epic proportions.
Taking place in the beautiful Bourne & Hollingsworth Building in Clerkenwell (which is rather conveniently covered in plants), the table setting included gorgeous place names tied to tenderstem broccoli and our favourite – a bunch of radishes. We’ll be trying this at our next dinner party. We were greeted with Malfy Gin & ‘Green’ lemonade cocktails before moving on to vegan fizz.
Starters included crispy nori tostadas topped with soya chilli, avocado and a spicy salsa and bowls heaving with their velvety houmous (which we’ll happily admit we are addicted too). Next up came a few smaller plates to fight over – the pea & ricotta ravioli with asparagus, lemon and mint being a highlight which we really wanted all to ourselves. Those high protein noodles we mentioned earlier appeared repurposed with fiery tofu in a lime dressing and there was also a lentil and mushroom ragu, this time on courgetti.
It didn’t stop there – a big beautiful head of roasted cauliflower arrived, laden with a coconut & lentil dahl – a plant-based centrepiece we can get on board with. We wrote about vegan wines for The Independent and loved the M&S Barossa so much we awarded it our Indy Best Buy. It paired really well with all the herbs and spices which featured throughout the meal.
Before jumping in our taxis we settled our stomachs with a golden turmeric green tea (which they sell as tea bags in store) and a little (ok big!) slice of orange and poppy seed cake with dairy free coconut cream.
We think it’s fair to say that M&S really showed us just how exciting a plant-based meal could be – leaving us positively excited for those meat free Mondays.
Want to give some of these recipes a go? Head over to M&S for cocktails, cauliflowers, and cake.