My favourite vegan snack

img_1711-600-x-450With Veganuary declared well and truly over in this household, we suddenly find ourselves faced with a huge variety of ‘new’ foods to eat. While I did enjoy my roast chicken last night, we only had a really small amount and I can’t say I am desperate for more meat any time soon. I cut the chicken in two and only roasted half of it – this was tons for the three of us, with a bit leftover for the felines.

One thing I did find challenging during January was coming up with ideas for lunchtime snacks, particularly if we needed a packed lunch to take on a walk. I did get into the habit of making vegetable pasties, my favourite of which was spinach, leek and mushroom, which proved to be both freezable and portable (I promise to post the recipe when I next make them).

Not eating eggs and cheese this last month has made me realise what versatile ingredients they both are. I don’t actually like eggs, but I admit they are extremely useful as an ingredient, and cheese is wonderful for giving everything a lovely salty savoury flavour – something I struggled to replace while eating vegan.

Luckily, we have been getting fantastic avocados, which seem to be coming in from India, judging by the label. Not great in terms of food miles, but very good indeed in terms of something yummy to eat on my toast – especially as they work fantastically well instead of butter – and everything in this life comes at a price.

Now, I realise you don’t need a recipe for avocado on toast, but I also imported my friend Penny’s ‘balsamic tomato slop’ as part of the dish, and I now think this is my favourite snack.

Penny produced this simple but wonderful dish on a daily basis for our lunch when we were on holiday in Gozo with a group of girlfriends about 100 years ago. It takes seconds to throw together but it is one of those dishes where the end result seems better than the sum of its parts, particularly if you let it stand for a few minutes, so that all the flavours can mingle. It also has the advantage of making the best of the limited flavour and sweetness of winter tomatoes – even here, they are not up to much in January.

I think Penny maybe added a little minced garlic, which is fine when you are on holiday, but raw garlic might not be very friendly if you’re at work – I will leave it for you to decide.

Avocado on toast with Penny Taylor’s ‘balsamic tomato slop’

Enough for three slices of toast

3 slices of good bread (the bread in the photo is my  crusty cornmeal bread)
½ – 1 ripe avocado, depending on size (the ones we get here are huge, so half is plenty)

For the tomatoes:

2 plum tomatoes or a handful of cherry tomatoes
A couple of sprigs of basil or mint, chopped
A very generous sprinkling of salt and black pepper
A couple of slices of red onion (optional)
A pinch of sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil

First prepare the tomatoes – cut them into small chunks and finely dice the onion slices (if using). Put them into a small bowl with the rest of the ingredients and give it all a stir – make sure you season generously with the salt, pepper and sugar. Leave to stand at room temperature for ten minutes or so if you have time (a bit longer is even better).

Toast the bread on both sides and spread thickly with the avocado. Season with salt and pepper. Top with the tomatoes, spooning over any juices that remain in the bowl.

Serve straight away.




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