Soulara recipe writer and food scientist Kylie Alla shares five simple tips to help busy people prepare plant-based meals that are quick, tasty and nutritious.
Roasting is a very hands-off cooking technique and a great way to get max flavour with minimal effort. The dry high heat of roasting causes the natural sugars in veggies to caramelise and makes them incredibly flavourful. Turn the oven to 200oC, roughly chop 2 or 3 of your favourite vegetables, chuck them on an oven tray, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with flaky salt. 20 minutes later you have the perfect addition to a grain bowl, roasted veg salad or a plate of pesto pasta.
Want more flavour? Toss the veg with your favourite herbs and spices and roast with a couple of garlic cloves.
Choose fast-cooking ingredients
Your food prep begins at the supermarket. If you want to be in and out of the kitchen as fast as possible, then you need to select fast cooking ingredients. Choose zucchini, capsicum, onions, leafy greens, eggplant and fennel in the fresh produce aisle. Quinoa, white rice (long-grain white basmati has a lower GI than brown rice!) and rice noodles can be prepared in under 15 minutes. For curries, soups and stews on the double, stock your pantry with tins of beans, legumes and tomatoes.
Stick with what you know
If you’re new to plant-based cooking, stick to the cooking techniques you feel comfortable with. If a fast mid-week meal for you is a steak on the grill pan, swap it for grilled tofu. Cut a block of tofu into half centimetre slices, drizzle with oil and toss with salt, pepper and a little garlic powder and grill for 2-3 minutes on each side. Similarly, swap ground meat for a tin of brown lentils in a bolognese or chickpeas for chicken in your favourite curry.
Learn to make a fast salad dressing
Grain bowls are more than just a trend; they make fast, nutritious meals. No grain bowl is complete without a delicious dressing. Place equal parts tahini and water in a jar with a lid. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or apple cider vinegar, a generous pinch of salt and a dash of maple syrup. Place the lid on the jar and shake. Done!
Customise your dressing with your favourite herbs and spices.
Other ways to serve the dressing? Try it with green salads, as a dipping sauce for wedges or cauli wings or as a mayo replacement in sandwiches.
Don’t be afraid to take a few shortcuts
Not everything that comes out of your kitchen needs to be made from scratch. With more options than ever before, keep an eye out for plant-based sauces, pestos and curry pastes. The brands with the least ingredients and a low sugar content will be the best quality. These store-bought additions will help you breeze through a korma, stir fry or pasta arrabbiata.
For those who are time poor or perhaps a nervous nelly in the kitchen, Soulara have taken the guess work out and you can order a pre-prepared chef ready-made plant-based meal from only $8.50 each.
About the author: Kylie is a vegan chef, recipe writer and food stylist. She has been creating recipes for plant-based meal delivery service Soulara since 2018 and has been vegan for five years. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science and Nutrition alongside a Bachelor of Science in Pastry and Bakery Arts Management, she has a unique viewpoint on plant-based cooking.
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