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A veggie dish kids will love

These fritters are, whisper it, vegan and gluten-free, but totally delicious and, as well as making a hearty evening meal, would also be perfect stuffed into a pitta for a healthy packed lunch.

Dave Fung of Bristol-based catering company Little Wild Catering is on something of a mission. Formerly an employee at The Soil Association and a chef at The Potted Pig in Cardiff, Fung’s passion is creating healthy, ethical and delicious food using responsibly sourced ingredients. He launched Little Wild Catering at the end of last year after spending seven months in Kenya running a sourdough bakery whose profits went to fund local access to eye care. His jerk tofu and salt beef sandwiches at Bristol’s pop-up market BS5 in December were a sell-out hit and now, as well as setting up stall at farmers’ markets, he delivers superior lunches – his signature sandwiches, as well as a seasonally changing menu of vegan and meaty dishes – to office workers by bike. And you’d be hard-pressed to leave Pret A Manger spending less. He also does special events and corporate dos and here, he’s very kindly donated a recipe in aid of the ‘how can I get some veg down my kids’ necks’ cause.

A pretty unfussy set of ingredients (chickpea flour and tamari soy sauce were the only things I had to buy specially) and a pretty straightforward set of instructions, I roped the youngest mudlet into helping me and together we whipped these up in about half an hour.

And I tell you what, my mudlets wolfed them down in blissful ignorance that they were eating a VEGAN, gluten-free meal full of wholesome VEGETABLES. Result! The fritters would be brilliant in lunch boxes too, perhaps stuffed in a pitta with a bit of houmous or mango chutney. Yum!

Dave Fung’s vegetable fritters with mashed squash and orange and soy sauce 

Some kids can be very fussy eaters, I was one. Getting them to eat plant based diets can be even trickier. This vegan recipe should satisfy even the fussy ones, and can be simplified or made more complex, while getting lots of veggies into them. It’s also delicious and can be very grown-up. It can be adapted to use seasonal, local veg and whatever spices you have kicking around, whatever the time of year. It’s also gluten-free.

Serves 4 adults or more kids

Ingredients

Fritters
3 cups gram (chickpea) flour
2 pinches baking soda
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp mild chilli powder
500g mixed seasonal veg such as: cauliflower / broccoli florets; shredded spinach / chard / cabbage / kale, onion, leek, cooked beetroot, cooked potato (the list is endless)
Salt and pepper

Mashed squash
1 medium butternut or other sweet fleshed squash e.g. crown prince, onion squash etc (about 1kg)
Toasted and chopped nuts e.g. hazel, cashew, pistachio (optional) (just toast in a dry frying pan)
Chopped coriander or parsley or spring onions (optional)

Sauce
4 tbsp dark soy sauce (tamari if gluten-free)
Juice of 2 oranges (blood oranges are in season right now, and mega delicious)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C / gas mark 6.
  2. Peel and chop the squash into chunks roughly (3 cm squared), simmer in salted water until very soft), drain most of the liquid but keep some to add back in. Mash the squash, season to taste with salt and pepper and add the extra flavours if using, adding a little of the reserved cooking water until you get the consistency you want. You can also add milk or cream or non-dairy substitutes e.g. almond milk for a creamier taste. Keep warm on a very low heat, stirring occasionally.
  3. Mix the gram flour, spices, baking soda, gradually add cold water while whisking to make a thick batter (it should just coat the back of a spoon). Combine with the shredded veg and season with salt and pepper. There should be enough batter to coat all the veg.
  4. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and drop spoonfuls of the vegetable batter into the pan. Don’t overcrowd the pan or they will stick to each other. Once browned on one side, flip them over and brown on the other side then transfer to a tray. Once you have browned all the fritters put them on a tray and finish cooking them in the oven for 10-15 minutes.
  5. While the fritters finish, add the orange juice and soy sauce to a hot sauce pan and reduce by about half. If you reduce it too much, add a little water and simmer some more.
  6. Pile the mashed squash onto a warmed plate, arrange the fritters on top and drizzle the sauce around the plate and serve.

Little Wild Catering, tel: 07534 283791. littlewildcatering.co.uk. The Ujima Bakehouse in Kenya is a social enterprise bakery providing funds to support low-income Kenyans with eye care and young adult orphans with hospitality training and employment opportunities. ujimabakehouse.com

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