Two fantastic plant-based mains you must try this Veganuary

Simple recipes for scrumptious stuffed aubergines and a savoury onion tarte Tatin

14 January 2021 - 06:00
Vegan stuffed aubergines.
Vegan stuffed aubergines.
Image: Sunday Times Food archives

Veganuary — an initiative which encourages people to go vegan for the first month of the year — has been gaining momentum globally since it was started by a British non-profit organisation of the same name in 2014.

The hope is that after people have got a taste of veganism, they’ll adopt a plant-based lifestyle more permanently.

We might be nearly halfway through January, but it’s not too late to take up the Veganuary challenge. Here’s what you need to know:

What is veganism?

One step beyond vegetarianism, veganism is a lifestyle choice where you exclude any products derived from a living source from your diet.

While vegetarians may eat eggs, dairy products like milk and cheese, and honey, these are off the menu for vegans along with fish, poultry and red meat.

So what can you eat?

The vegan diet is completely plant-based — think grains, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Protein is derived from pulses (beans and lentils), nuts, soy-based products like tofu and meat substitutes made from seitan, a protein, gluten, found in wheat.

There are a growing number of vegan-friendly convenience foods in supermarkets.

Why go vegan?

Apart from the health aspects, it is an excellent way of restoring the body after the excesses of the festive season. If we all adopted a vegan lifestyle it would mean the end of the slaughter of animals and in so doing, humankind would be kinder to the environment.



Serves: 2


150ml olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 large carrot, peeled and grated

3 firm red tomatoes, peeled and chopped

5ml (1 tsp) ground cumin

A handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 large aubergines

10ml (2 tsp) sweetener of choice

Juice of 1 medium lemon


  1. Heat 30ml (2 tbsp) of oil in a pan and fry the onions until softened.
  2. Add the garlic, carrot, tomatoes, cumin and parsley. Cook over medium heat till you have a thickish sauce.
  3. Using a sharp knife make 3-4 deep incisions lengthways in the aubergines, cutting from the rounded end, but leaving the stalk end intact.
  4. Place the aubergines in a baking dish and, holding each slit apart, spoon the tomato mixture into the slits and spoon any remaining sauce over the top of the aubergines, sprinkle with sauce and squeeze over lemon.
  5. Cover and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for 30 minutes until tender. Remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes. (If the aubergines are large, they may require further baking.)
  6. Serve with French loaf or pita breads to mop up all the juices. This is delicious enjoyed with hummus or a dollop of plain vegan yoghurt and a sprinkling of pomegranate jewels.
Savoury vegan onion tart tartin.
Savoury vegan onion tart tartin.
Image: Sunday Times Food archives


Serves: 4


30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil or coconut oil

1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed

4 large white or red onions, peeled and halved horizontally

15ml (3 tsp) fresh thyme leaves, plus extra to serve (or use chopped sage leaves)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

15ml (1 tbsp) balsamic vinegar

250ml (1 cup) vegetable stock

1 roll of vegan-friendly ready-made puff pastry, thawed

Slices of non-dairy cheese (optional)


  1. Preheat the oil in a 25cm diameter pan with an ovenproof handle, or a shallow metal baking dish.
  2. Add the garlic, then the onions, arranging them in a circle in the pan. Add the thyme and season generously.
  3. Cook on one side till golden brown and just softening, then turn and cook on the other side till golden and just softening.
  4. Turn up the heat and pour over the balsamic vinegar and allow to caramelise, then gently pour over the stock and cook until the onions are softened and the liquid is syrupy.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside to cool.
  6. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pastry to about 5mm thick and cut a circle about 30cm in diameter. Wrap the pastry around the rolling pan and gently roll out over the top of the pan with the onions. Tuck in the pastry so the pan is completely sealed.
  8. Bake in the oven till the pastry is golden brown and the juices are bubbling through.
  9. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in the pan before carefully turning the pan upside down onto a serving platter and unmoulding the tart so the pastry is on the base and the onions on top. Garnish with slices of non-dairy cheese, if desired.
  10. Cut into wedges and serve with a salad.