Festival food

I remember when I used to go to festivals as a teenager and festival food was more or less synonymous with warm beer, greasy chips and overpriced burgers. But fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

I went to Green Man Festival at Glanusk Park in the Black Mountains last weekend and was overwhelmed by choice. There were dozens of food and drink stalls, offering freshly cooked dishes, as well as local ciders and ales.

Thali Cafe

Thali Cafe is based in Bristol, but has been catering at events for more than 11 years. As I walked past the stall, it was impossible to resist the fragrant herbs and spices, although it was difficult to decide what to order!

I finally went for a butternut squash and red pepper curry with seasoned basmati rice, which was delicious. The portions were hearty and at £5.50, it was good value for money. What’s more, all the packaging was recyclable and biodegradable.

Green Man Festival

Green Man Festival

Pieminister

I first came across Pieminister at the Bath Food Festival and have been looking out for them ever since. They serve some delicious vegetarian pies, including a wild mushroom and asparagus variety and my personal favourite, the heidi pie.

The heidi pie is filled with goats cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion. You can opt to have the pie on its own (£5) or with mash, peas and vegetarian gravy (£7). The veggie gravy is tasty, but slightly tricky to eat from a takeaway box.

Shepherds

Shepherds is based at Cwm Farm in Herefordshire and specialises in ice cream made from sheep’s milk. During the summer, they run stalls at agricultural shows, music festivals and other outdoor events.

The stall offered 16 different flavours of ice cream, including chocolate, ginger and banana toffee crunch. Sheep’s milk contains more minerals and less fat than cow’s milk, so you don’t even have to feel guilty about indulging..!

Video: Sue Gibson

Photo of the week

Strawberry

Strawberry

With Wimbledon over and the sun finally emerging, it’s definitely the time of year to enjoy some strawberries and a nice glass of Pimm’s. This stunning macro picture was taken by Nick Dimmock and shows a close-up of a ripe strawberry.

If you have a photo you would like to see featured on the site, please email lizannday@gmail.com or tweet @thegreenveggie.

Mexican bean burgers

Mexican bean burgers

Mexican bean burgers

This summer may be proving a bit of a washout, but you can still manage the odd barbecue between the inevitable cloud bursts! After last week’s post about vegetarian barbecues, I thought I’d share this recipe for tasty Mexican bean burgers.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time:10 mins

Serves: 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • small bunch coriander, stalks and leaves chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp fresh salsa
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Tip the beans into a large bowl, then crush roughly with a fork.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs, chilli powder, coriander, egg and salsa.
  3. Season to taste, then mix together with a fork.
  4. Divide the mixture into six and shape into burgers.
  5. Now they’re ready to stick on the barbecue. They should take about 5 minutes on each side until golden and crisp.

I like to serve these in fresh granary rolls with corn on the cob and a couple of vegetable kebabs. Just spear slices of courgette, pepper, mushroom and halloumi, sprinkle with paprika, drizzle with olive oil and grill on the barbecue for five minutes. Yum!

Photo: Cowomally

Vegetarian barbecues

Vegetarian barbeque

Barbecue

After a very long slog, I finally finished my exams last week, which I thought called for a celebration! And what better way to celebrate than with a nice, sunny barbecue? Although I admit, the sunny part was slightly ambitious for Wales…

I love eating outside and was feeling the need to get my fix of Vitamin D after too many days spent shut away in my study with my head buried in a textbook! So armed with bean burgers, halloumi and plenty of cider, I set out to meet my friends.

Bean burgers

But unfortunately, it seems that barbecues are just another of those times when it’s not socially acceptable to be a vegetarian. As far as I can work out, there are three such occasions: 1. Christmas dinner, 2. Full English breakfasts, 3. Barbecues.

Your normally understanding friends are likely to do one of the following:

a) Look bemused and ask: “But what DO vegetarians eat at barbecues?”

b) Argue that beef burgers are far superior to bean burgers and swear that the smell of sausages will convert you.

c) Try to make a joke out of the whole thing by saying something like: “Well, for every cow you don’t eat, I’m going to eat two..!” (Yes, I really have heard that one.)

Vegetable kebabs

All in all, barbecues are a trying time for vegetarians. Even if you manage to persuade your friends that actually, vegetable kebabs are very tasty and that the smell of burgers probably won’t stop you being veggie after 10 years, you still have to deal with the barbecue itself.

There are a number of pitfalls here. If you’re the only veggie present and your host has provided you with a separate barbecue, you instantly feel like you’ve caused trouble and then you look like a loner with their own “special” food.

Worse still, you have to cook your food alongside all the meat and however hard your friends try to keep their burgers away, someone will inevitably say: “Sorry, I think I just got meat juice on your veggie sausages.” This is far from ideal.

But despite all this, I still love barbeques. As soon as the sun comes out, I just want to head to the beach, crack open a nice cool beer and enjoy the long summer evenings.

Photo: Spiros K

Polenta with grilled vegetables

Polenta and grilled vegetables

Polenta and grilled vegetables

This is a brilliantly simple summery dish. Just slice the polenta and vegetables, stick everything under the grill and voila – easy! You can even adapt this recipe to use on the barbecue for those sunny summer evenings.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 10 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of polenta
  • 1 courgette
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 pack of cherry tomatoes
  • A handful of mushrooms
  • A handful of black olives
  • 1 packet of halloumi
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tsps of pesto
  • Fresh basil leaves

Method:

  1. Cut the polenta into slices, so that each slice is about 1cm thick.
  2. Lay the polenta slices on a baking tray, then brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
  3. Put the polenta under the grill on a low heat and grill until it starts to turn golden. Turn the slices over when they start to brown.
  4. While watching the polenta, cut the vegetables and halloumi into bite-sized pieces.
  5. Toss the vegetables and halloumi in olive oil and season well.
  6. Remove the polenta from the grill and keep warm in the oven.
  7. Spread the vegetables and halloumi on a baking tray and grill until the vegetables have softened.
  8. Mix the tomatoes and pesto in a saucepan over a gentle heat and season well.
  9. Lay the warm polenta slices on to plates and arrange the vegetables and halloumi over the top.
  10. Finish by spooning over the tomato and pesto sauce and garnish with the basil leaves.

Lovely with a chilled glass of rosé…

Photo: Harald Walker

Veggie fairs and festivals 2012

It’s shaping up to be a great year for veggie fairs and festivals. With exciting stalls, fantastic demonstrations and a whole range of freebies on offer, don’t miss out! Here’s thegreenveggie’s pick of the best…

February

Kicking off on February 4, we start with The Viva! Incredible Veggie Show in Cambridge. Whether you’re thinking of turning veggie or have been vegan your whole life, this show will have something for you. Be inspired by cookery demonstrations, sample some tasty morsels and discover a myriad of stalls. What’s more, it won’t cost you a penny.

Then prepare to get loved up in Croydon for the Veggie Valentine Fair on February 11. Offering a wide range of vegan and Fairtrade beauty, health and wellbeing gifts, this will be the perfect place to find a thoughtful gift for your valentine. Plus, all profits will go to Animal Aid and Macmillan Cancer Care.

March

Why not head to sunny Brighton in March for the two-day extravaganza that is Brighton VegFest. Taking place from March 17 – 18, this festival is a celebration of all things vegan. Stalls, campaign groups, info, demonstrations, performances, passion and positive energy – find it all here (with some freebies to boot!) We’re particularly intrigued by the Great Sausage Tasting Competition…

Food fair

Food fair

May

Make tracks to Lancaster for the West Lancashire Vegan Fair on May 12. The event promises to be bigger and better than ever, with plenty of stalls, talks, films, free samples and live music.

Then get ready for National Vegetarian Week – the biggest veggie event of the year. The event will kick off with Meat Free in Manchester and will run from May 21 – 27. National Vegetarian Week is the UK’s annual awareness-raising campaign, promoting yummy vegetarian cooking and the benefits of a meat-free lifestyle.

Vegetarian Week will reach Cardiff on May 21, with the Cardiff Vegetarian Festival. This festival is returning for its third year and promises an enticing line-up of caterers and entertainment. They’re recruiting volunteers now, so if you’re a musician or photographer, or just want to be part of things on the day, get in touch pronto.

And then, prepare for The Return of the VegFest, with Bristol VegFest, which runs from May 25 – 27. So for all those herbivores who missed out in Brighton, make a beeline for Bristol and get in on the action! We can’t wait for the Ready Steady Cook competition. That and the crazy golf…!

So that’s it for now, but events are being announced all the time, so watch this space!

If you’re holding a veggie event that you would like to see featured on the site, please email: thegreenveggie@gmail.com or tweet: @thegreenveggie.

video: viva! Incredible veggie roadshow, photo: Lee McCoy