Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin

You may have noticed that while the bulk of my recipes are vegan, I’m not one for pigeonholing my diet. So why am I reviewing a vegan-only recipe book?

Well, Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin* is a brilliant example of nutritious day-to-day recipes that happen to be vegan. We’re not talking replacement recipes, meat alternatives, or strange get-outs for mayonnaise. Instead, her meals are simple, easy-to-follow and filling, while also seamlessly healthy due to her use of a rainbow of fresh fruit and vegetables.

To be honest, I think Aine Carlin, while promoting a vegan-only diet, does strike the balance right. Her recipes run from superfood salads to naughty peanut butter banana sundaes, and she has realistic ideas for dinner parties or impressing the parents too. I also find I return to her book quite regularly for recipes that are practical and usually make use of ingredients I already have in the house.

Alongside Aine’s beautiful cookbook and accessible writing, she runs the blog Pea Soup Eats. The constant across both of these is the beautiful photography and out-of-the-box recipes that I’m always bookmarking to try!

My favourite of these so far has been her baked aubergine dinner with tahini dressing, which tastes summery but is filling enough to be a regular mealtime treat. It might be a little out of season now, but around May you’ll start to see aubergines filling market stalls and supermarket shelves so keep this recipe up your sleeve until then and trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

Baked Aubergine with Lemon-Infused Couscous

1 aubergine, halved lengthways
2 tsp harissa
4-5 tbsp olive oil
150g couscous
Juice of 1 lemon
Lemon zest
1 tsp smoked paprika
3 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
30g fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
100g tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 tsp salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and lightly oil a baking tray.
  2. Score the aubergine flesh diagonally both ways, creating a diamond pattern. Place on the baking tray. Spread a teaspoon of harissa over each half, covering all the crevices. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over each, season generously and bake for around 40 minutes until the flesh is completely soft, turning over halfway through to ensure the skin doesn’t crisp or dry out.
  3. Place the couscous in a bowl with the lemon zest strips. Add 150ml freshly boiled water, cover and set aside until all the liquid has been absorbed – about 10 minutes. Discard the lemon zest and fluff the couscous with a fork.
  4. Scoop the flesh from the centre of each aubergine half, leaving enough around the sides to keep its shape. Roughly chop the flesh and place in a bowl. Stir through the couscous along with the lemon juice, smoked paprika and remaining olive oil. Season, then add the toasted pine nuts and parsley. Divide the mixture evenly between the aubergine skins. Return to the baking tray and bake for a further 15-20 minutes.
  5. To make the dressing, place the tahini in a bowl with the lemon juice, oil, maple syrup or agave nectar, salt and 2 tablespoons water. Whisk until smooth, adding a little more water if necessary – or use a hand blender.
  6. Remove the stuffed aubergines from the oven and serve with a dollop of tahini dressing and a sprinkling of sesame seeds and parsley.


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