Catalan-Style spinach with caper raisin purée
The foods vegans cook with are combinations of vegetables, fruits, nuts and dried pulses. Dairy products, eggs, meat and fi sh are all off the menu. Once you’ve come to terms with the limitations, new possibilities open up. Delicious sauces can be made by puréeing vegetables, and garnishes are easy using sprouts, nuts and herbs. Citrus and seasonal fruit juices can add flavour and texture, and vegetable oils are a substitute for the unsaturated fats I’m used to.
I was intrigued to find one Auckland hotel offering a full vegan menu. The executive chef of Hector’s Restaurant at Heritage Auckland, Jinu Abraham, has developed a range of vegan dishes for both the restaurant and the lobby snack bar. Vegan food is prepared in its own kitchen, so there is no cross-contamination with meat products.
- To make the purée, put the capers and raisins in a small saucepan and pour in just enough water to cover. Cook gently for 5-10 minutes until the raisins are soft and plump. Cool for 15 minutes.
- Blend in a food processor with half the liquid to a fine purée, stopping once or twice to scrape the mix from the sides of the bowl. Add a little more water if the purée is too thick. Keep this sauce aside.
- Heat a large pan, then add the canola oil. When the oil is very hot, add the apple cubes and cook until slightly browned (about 1 minute).
- Add the dark raisins to the salt and stir together over the heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until they have browned for 20 seconds.
- Add the spinach leaves, mix and sauté over high heat until the spinach starts to soften. Remove the pan from the heat, as the spinach will continue to wilt. Squeeze half the lemon juice into the spinach. Taste and add more salt and lemon if needed.
- Pan-fry the tofu in a little canola oil so the outside is crisp and golden. Drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar.
- To serve, spread some of the caper raisin purée on the plate. Place the spinach in a pile on the purée and top with two slices of the tofu.
- Garnish with a little extra caper and raisin purée.