Recipe inspiration

Below you'll find some of the delicious vegan and vegetarian recipes shared by members of Low Carbon East Oxford - why not try incorporating these into your usual weekly diet to start reducing the climate impact of your diet.

Simply click the link of a recipe that you're interested in and it will take you to the right section of the page to find out more. 
Ruth's Lentil & Pearl Barley Soup
This is a hearty soup, quick and easy to make, and which is a meal in itself.  This recipe was passed on to LCEO member Ruth by a dear friend, now living in Canada. Sharing recipes with friends can be a way of feeling connected - perhaps the next best thing to sharing a meal with them!

1 mug dry red lentils
half a mug of pearl barley
1 medium onion, 2 medium carrots, 1 stick celery, all finely chopped
half tsp cumin powder
quarter tsp chilli powder (or more or less, to taste)
quarter tsp cayenne pepper
5 mugs veg stock
1 tbsp olive oil

  • Heat oil, onion and carrots and saute until onions are transparent.
  • Add pearl barley, lentils, spices and stock, plus salt if desired.
  • Cook until all ingredients are soft (approx 45 mins).
Scrambled tofu

Originally from the Book of Tofu but changed over the years. Different every time, depending on what you have available. Here’s a basic framework – adjust as you like!

100-125g firm tofu
2 handfuls of mixed chopped veg
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons of peanut or sunflower seed butter or tahini
Oil and water to cook

  • Start by heating some oil in a frying pan – ideally one with a lid – and sauté a choice of veg: e.g. onion, garlic, celery, carrot, firm red or white cabbage, mushrooms, celeriac, till coloured and starting to soften. Add in at least a teaspoonful of turmeric and mix well. Salt, pepper, a dash of cayenne pepper, other favourite flavourings can go in now.
  • Prepare your firm tofu by mashing in a bowl with a fork. Add into the veg mix and keep it all moving.
  • Now mix your nut or seed butter with a little water and add into the mixture. Stir in well. Add water almost to cover the mixture, turn down the heat and put on the lid to cook at a gentle simmer for around 10 minutes. Check to see if it’s got too dry. You’re aiming for a moist but not watery mixture, a bit like scrambled eggs.
  • When you think it’s nearly ready, prepare some toast if that’s the plan, or eat with potatoes or some kind of grain.

Variations: endless possibilities!
You can scatter on roasted nuts or seeds, use up cooked leftovers, which you would add in with the tofu, or near the end of cooking add in a handful of chopped greens e.g. rocket, cress, coriander, to wilt in and add colour, flavour and goodness. Equally a few frozen peas or French beans are good and just need cooking long enough to thaw and soften up a little, say 5 minutes. 
Bean spread/dip
An alternative to all those little tubs of hummus. Helps with cutting down on cheese.

400g tin of beans – e.g. haricot, borlotti. You can also use beans cooked from scratch. Ideally use a blender. Or strong hands for mashing and chopping!
Your favourite oil
Lemon juice and/or your favourite vinegar
Paprika, salt and pepper, tahini.
At least 2 handfuls of something green – parsley, rocket, cress, coriander or other. Or a mixture.

  • Start by pulverising the beans with a little oil.
  • Gradually add in everything else, tasting as you go.
  • If you want a firm spread for sandwiches, go easy on the liquids; if you want a sloppy dip texture, slosh them in.
  • Don’t hold back on the greens – with pale coloured beans this can end up completely green and seem to be made of expensive baby broad beans.
  • You can omit lemon altogether and get the kick from vinegar instead. Garlic or onion are of course an option, but might get a bit too powerful! 
Grain and protein and veg - endless variations
This way of cooking is inspired by the Tassajara Cookbook from the 1970s, created by residents of a Californian Zen monastery. They ate dairy produce but no meat or fish. Their basic principles and improvisatory practice remain sound after all this time.

  • Take a cooked grain such as barley, rice, quinoa; a source of extra protein such as nuts, seeds, tofu, pulses; whatever vegetables are in season.
  • Think about how you could combine them. If you have some large vegetables like aubergines, squash or even big tomatoes, you can combine the cooked grains with some diced veg, raw or fried first, and cooked pulses like whole lentils as a stuffing.
  • Bake the stuffed veg for 30-40 minutes. ( Squash or aubergines need softening up  in the oven for 20 – 30 mins first. )
  • Equally, you can chop all the veg up, make a stir-fry with tofu and eat it over the cooked grain. Or, you can fry the veg with spices and herbs, add in cooked grain and pulses and some water for a short gentle simmer and create a kind of risotto/paella imitation.
  • Or just mix it all up into a salad with the added flavour coming from a tasty pack of flavoured or marinated tofu and plenty of nifty dressing ( oil, vinegar or lemon juice, mustard, honey,  fresh herbs.... )
  • If there’s just a little left-over grain, make soup from everything else and pop the grain in to heat through thoroughly toward the end of cooking. And so on.
Anti-lasagne pasta layer bake
If you’ve ever struggled with lasagne, this is easier. Use short pasta like penne or fusilli. You need a decent sized oven-proof dish deep enough to take several layers of veg, pasta and sauce.

Suggested ingredients
Fried onions and garlic
Fried mushrooms
Pasta cooked in advance till not quite soft ( with the pasta
You can also throw in carrots, celeriac, parsnips, swede, diced to cook in the same amount of time)
one or more sauces like tomato, mushroom, herby or plain white.

  • Layer them all up, starting with some veg and finishing with a sauce.
  • Add a topping such as polenta, ground sunflower seeds, or a mix of nuts and seeds with paprika, breadcrumbs with lots of herbs, sliced tomatoes scattered with any of those, or plain.
  • Bake for around 30 minutes in a medium oven and let the top get crispy. Easier to serve than lasagne as well. Eat with something green.
Zingy Roast Veg Salad (serves two hungry adults)
Sweet potato
Five carrots
Two red onions
Two cloves of garlic (optional)
Oil for roasting (olive/rape/avocado are all good)
Cashew nuts, a big handful
One clementine
Green salad leaves
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar or lemon juice
Quinoa or potatoes to serve it with

  • Peel, chop and roast one sweet potato, five carrots and two red onions, with a drizzle of oil and a sprinkle of salt.  If you like it, add two roughly smashed garlic cloves. (The sweet potato will cook much quicker than the carrot, so chop the carrots small and the sweet potato chunky.  Onions in four or six pieces.)
  • Toast some cashew nuts in the oven at the same time, checking regularly to make sure they don’t burn.
  • Cook some quinoa, or roast/bake/sautee potatoes to accompany the salad.
  • Peel and chop up one good clementine.  No need to peel the segments.
  • Assemble some washed green leaves (a romaine lettuce chopped into strips, or rocket, or kornsalat, or baby spinach, or anything seasonal).
  • At the very last minute before serving (so the leaves don’t wilt in the heat), in a large bowl mix the hot roast veg, the nuts, the clementine and the leaves, add a twist of black pepper and drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  
  • (Also recommended is a variation with celeriac instead of sweet potato, apple instead of orange, and walnuts instead of cashews.)
Fabulous no-fry felafel
The main
ingredients are dried chickpeas and carrot. Helped along with garlic, spices and some gram (chickpea) flour.

You'll need to soak the chickpeas overnight for this recipe. The results are definitely worth it.

Preparation time - about 20 minutes
Check out the full recipe here

This is one of Meera Sodha's great range of vegan recipes published by the Guardian.

The felafel are baked in the oven - crispy on the outside, moist inside - and they are gluten-free!

Felafel fresh out of the oven

Creamy cauliflower soup

This is a delicious, creamy cauliflower soup, with a velvety texture. The recipe is really easy, it’s cheap, and it doesn’t require many ingredients. You’ll probably like it even if you don’t love cauliflower.

Miso Soup

Miso soup is a fast and tasty lunch.  Here’s a delicious 15-minute, one-pan recipe:

Veg Chilli

Veg chilli cooks up a storm! Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has this great recipe for vegetable chilli, which is easy to scale up and freezes well.



Dhal is a brilliant thing to have in your culinary repertoire - filling, tasty, easy to make, a great source of protein and super cheap.  Goes wonderfully with rice, naan bread, or even a baked potato. There are as many different dhal recipes as there are lentils in the bowl, but here’s a great one to get you started (or to inspire you if you’re bored of your regular dhal recipe).  The Cowley Road will provide you with any ingredients you don’t yet have.

Cauliflower and coconut curry.

Full of zingy flavour and coconut milk!


Easy Vegan Muffins


This recipe is easily adaptable to any kind of sweet-muffin - go wild! The blueberry can be exchanged for any kind of berry, and LCEO’s Ruthi has also enjoyed using windfall apples, peeled and cut into blueberry-sized cubes, with a little cinnamon. Or you could turn these into chocolate chip muffins - add cocoa to the dried ingredients, and replace the fruit with chocolate chips.  For a truly spectacular batch, Ruthi recommends combining chocolate and raspberries. Delicious!


Homemade popcorn

Popping corn is cheaply available from local, independent shops. So quick and easy to make! No need for butter - use coconut oil!

Beetroot Seed Cake

Nigel Slater’s delicious beetroot seed cake is dairy free. You can use your favourite egg-replacer if you want to make it completely vegan.



Chana Masala

Delicious chickpea and tomato curry.  Filling, cheap, easy to make, and very tasty!


Polenta Chips with Rosemary



Filo Pastry Parcels

You can buy a large pack of filo pastry cheaply from Erdem (and many other local stores).  This is great for making parcels of roasted vegetables.  Roast the veg with a bit of oil and some seasoning until done. Brush the sheets of filo with a vegetable oil, fill with the veg, and then bake the parcels in a hot oven. This is a quick and easy way to make something that looks really special and gourmet!  Alternatively, a topping of cooking apples and vegan mincemeat makes a delicious dessert - serve with a vegan vanilla yogurt.




Roasting nuts and seeds

Pep your meals up with roasted nuts and/or seeds, for added flavour, texture and nutritional oomph. Next time you have the oven on for something that can be interrupted ( not a cake! ) take your favourite nuts or seeds, alone or in a mixture, and spread them on a baking tray or over the base of a wide ovenproof dish in a shallow layer. Pop them into the oven and check them every 10 minutes. Stir them around and put them back ( re-set the timer! ) until they’ve changed colour to your liking and have started to smell good. No extra fuel needed. Just don’t forget them at the crucial moment! They’re great to keep in an airtight container and sprinkle over porridge or rice or yogurt or soup or salad or mashed potato or….. If you add paprika, salt, soy sauce, caraway seeds or any other flavour, that could be delicious, but might restrict your options. Experiment! You can use a grill, or a dry frying pan on the top of the stove, but that takes more energy and you really can’t leave them alone. 

East Oxford shops

We are so fortunate in East Oxford that so many ingredients from all parts of the world are easily (and often) inexpensively available. Here are some favourite stores:
  • Erdem Food Centre – 236 Cowley Road, OX4 1UH 
  • Oriental food store Jing Jing - 188 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1UE for varieties of tofu, great root ginger, garlic stalks, miso paste
  • Souya supermarket - 132 Cowley Road, OX4 1JE which sells delicious foodstuffs from Iran, amongst other things
  • Maroc Deli – 66 Cowley Road, Oxford OX4 1JB
  • Tahmid - 53 Cowley Rd, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1HP
  • Zenobia -  75 St Clement's St, Cowley, Oxford OX4 1AH - sells ingredients for Syrian food