COOKING IN YOUR van can be a joy as well as a challenge – fortunately at Van Live! we’ve got some fantastic inspiration and advice.
Vegan Bunny Chow
from Mark and Sophie at Vanlife Eats.
Serves Two • Prep Two minutes • Cook 30 minutes
- 1 medium potato, diced
- 1 cup spinaach
- 200g chickpeas, drained
- 200g chopped tomatoes
- 3 curry leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick (1cm)
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 cup coriander leaves
- 1 tsp flavourless oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 large crusty rolls
- Heat the oil in a pan
- Add the cardamon pods and cinnamon stick and heat for 30 seconds
- Add the onion, curry leaves and garlic, then stir and cook until translucent
- Add the chopped tomatoes and curry powder and cook for five minutes
- Add the diced potato and chickpeas
- Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes
- Add the spinach and coriander for last five minutes; season with salt and pepper
- Cut a hole in the top of each roll and squash the bread inside to the inner wall, making room for the filling
- Fill each roll with the curry mix
Chicken & Leek Pie
Lyndon Gee transforms traditional winter comfort food into an easy, satisfying yet lighter dish.
This is classic winter comfort food, but is often made with lots of cream, bacon and high-fat puff pastry. However, making these few tweaks will give you a delicious, simple, lower-fat meal.
You can easily switch the puff pastry for filo, which contains far less fat. Rather than double cream as a base for the sauce we’ve used stock, adding just a little half-fat crème fraîche at the last minute for a really creamy texture. This pie has more leeks than the traditional recipes and we’ve left out bacon altogether – although you can, of course, add it back in if you like!
Serves 4 • Prep 10 minutes • Cook 15 minutes
- Half a 270g pack of filo pastry
- 3 free range, skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cubed
- 2 large leeks, cleaned and chopped
- 300ml chicken stock
- 1 tsp cornflour mixed with 50ml milk
- 1 heaped tbsp half-fat crème fraîche
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil
- Good pinch fresh thyme, plus a good pinch to serve
- Good pinches of salt and white pepper
For the pasty case
Lightly oil a large baking sheet. Place four small ramekins upside down on this and brush the bottoms with a little oil.
Cut the filo pastry into 10cm squares and brush a little oil on one side. Arrange three filo squares, oiled side down, over each of the ramekins, to create a flower shape.
Bake the pastry cup in a preheated oven (gas mark 6/200°C) for five minutes, then gently remove from the ramekin and place the pastry on a plate.
For the filling
- Add 1 tbsp of oil to a pan, then add the chicken and stir until lightly browned.
- Add stock, leek, thyme, salt and pepper and bring to the boil, put a lid on the pan, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Mix the milk and cornflour, then bring the chicken and leek back to the boil and slowly stir in the cornflour mixture until the sauce thickens. Stir for another two minutes.
- Finally, stir in the crème fraîche, and carefully add the filling to the four pastry cases. Sprinkle each with a little fresh thyme and serve immediately.
Chef’s tip: Pastry cases can be made in advance before you go on tour. Once you’ve arrived, try them filled with ratatouille and topped with cheese, or with mixed berries and crème fraîche.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
This comforting staple doesn’t have to be calorific to be tasty. Lyndon Gee makes a quick, delicious low-fat version.
Shepherd’s Pie is a fantastically soothing and satisfying meal, but it’s usually high in saturated fat, because of the mine and the butter in the potato topping.
Instead of meat, we’ve used canned lentils – although you could, of course, use lamb for a traditional pie. We haven’t added any butter to the mash. Instead, we’ve used extra milk to give a little creaminess, plus Dijon mustard for flavour.
Serves 4 • Prep 15 minutes • Cook 30-40 minutes
- 800g potatoes
- 100ml milk
- 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard
- Good pinch salt and white pepper
- 400g can Puy lentils
- 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- Good pinch thyme
- 1 vegetable stock cube, dissolved in 100ml boiling water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- Dash sunflower oil
For the topping
Peel and roughly chop the potatoes and add to a pan of boiling water. Cook for 15-20 minutes until soft.
Drain, season with salt and pepper and beat in the mustard and milk, using a wooden spoon, until the mash is smooth and creamy.
For the filling
- Put the oil in a pan, add the onion and cook for five minutes while stirring.
- Add the carrot and continue cooking for a further five minutes, until the onions are golden brown
- Add the thyme, tomatoes, lentils, pepper, vegetable stock and soy sauce stir and bring to the boil, then turn down the heat, cover and simmer gently for five minutes.
- Put the lentil mixture into an ovenproof dish and top with the potato.
- Bake in a preheated oven at gas mark 6/200°C for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with green vegetables.
Chef’s tip: If you are pressed for time, instead of preparing fresh potatoes for the topping, keep things simple and use packet mash.
Apple & Blackberry Crumble
Lyndon Gee has a gorgeously guilt-free version of this delicious, warming dessert for your next tour.
Fruit crumbles are a fantastic comfort food in winter, but made with lashings of butter, sugar and white flour, they can be a little unhealthy!
This version, however, is packed with superfoods and yet is still a satisfying and delicious pudding.
In this recipe, we’ve used a tasty mixture of oats and wholemeal breadcrumbs, instead of white flour, which provides more fibre, vitamins and minerals.
Instead of butter, we’ve added some ground almonds. And instead of using lots of sugar, we’ve drizzled honey over the top, which gives a little sweetness and makes the topping pleasantly crunchy.
By making this recipe with Cox apples instead of cooking apples, there’s more natural sweetness, so there’s no need for sugar and we’ve added a little apple juice, which helps to create a tasty sauce.
Serves 6 • Prep 15 minutes • Cook 25 minutes
- 4 slices wholemeal bread, roughly crumbled
- 50g rolled oats
- 50g ground almonds
- 2 Cox apples
- 200g punnet blackberries
- Half a cup apple juice
- 2 tbsp runny honey
- Place the crumbled bread, oats and almonds into a bowl and mix well
- Roughly chop the unpeeled, cored apples into chunks and put in an ovenproof dish
- Sprinkle the blackberries over the apples and add the apple juice
- Sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit, then drizzle the honey on top
- Bake in a preheated oven (gas mark 6/200°C) for 15-20 minute until golden brown
- Serve immediately with custard
Chef’s tip: To add extra crunch to your crumble, try adding a handful of sunflower or pumpkin seeds to the topping. For an extra treat, you can always also sprinkle with sugar!