smokey cider casserole

A recipe perfect for the winter months (with a small glass of cider into the bargain).

Serves 3-4 depending on how hungry you are.

  • 1 block (approx 200g) smoked tofu, cubed and marinated in shoyu or tamari for a few hours
  • 250ml dry cider (I’d recommend Westons Strong Organic Cider)
  • 1 tin (approx 400g) tomatoes, liquidised
  • 1 tin (approx 400g) baked beans
  • 2 medium onions (red if available), halved and thickly sliced lengthways
  • 2 medium carrots, thickly sliced
  • 4 sticks celery, thickly sliced
  • 4 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 200g mushrooms, thickly sliced
  • 125g sweetcorn
  • 1 red pepper cut into 2.5cm chunks
  • Bay leaf
  • 1-2 fresh sage leaves, shredded
  • Black pepper
  • 1 tsp or to taste chili powder / flakes (optional)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube (I use Kallo organic stock cubes)
  • 1 tbs tomato puree
  • 1-2 tsp wholegrain mustard (optional)
  • 1 heaped tsp cornflour mixed into a thin paste

Preheat an oven to 180C (gas mark 4, 350F).

Steam the potatoes and carrots for 10 mins until just starting to soften on the outside. While they’re cooking, fry the tofu in a little oil until browned all over. If you don’t have tofu, use 4-6 vegan sausages or some Sosmix balls instead (cut sausages into quarters when cooked).

Put all of the vegetables, including the potatoes and carrots, and tofu into a large casserole dish and mix together. Add the tomato puree, stock cube (crumbled), mustard, chili and herbs, pour over the beans, tomatoes, cider, cornflour and enough water to bring the liquid to just below the top of the veg mix, and mix again. Add a good grind of black pepper and put a lid on the casserole dish.

Place into the oven and cook for approx 1 1/2 hours, gently mixing every 30 mins, until everything is soft and the liquid has thickened (you can add a bit more liquid during cooking if it’s getting too thick). I sometimes turn the heat down to around 150C (gas mark 2, 300F) after 45 mins then give it an hour and a half or so at this temp to really slow the cooking down and intensify the flavours. Drink the rest of the bottle of cider while you’re waiting.

Serve with steamed Savoy cabbage, a chunk of bread if you’ve got a healthy appetite, and another bottle of cider.

Tastes even better the next day, so try and save a portion. Difficult, I know, but your tongue and belly will thank you.

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