Locals gave it six months, but Mildreds restaurant has far surpassed that after humble beginnings in 1980s Soho, where founder Jane Muir launched it upon an unsuspecting public.
Bringing fresh, inspiring dishes from a variety of culinary styles and cuisines from around the world, Mildreds is now a three-strong family of restaurants across London – Kings Cross, Camden and Dalston – which gave way to its first cookbook in 2015. Now, the team showcase their favourite plant-based recipes with Mildreds Vegan Cookbook.
Behind the book’s recipes are chef Daniel Acevedo and development chef Sarah Wasserman, who are keen to break free of the misconceptions around vegan eating. The book includes reinvented brunch classics, Middle Eastern and Asian-inspired starters, BBQ mains, beautiful bowls and fruit-filled deserts as just some of it’s sections. Here are three must-try recipes from the collection.
Yellow courgette, asparagus and pea shoot salad with red basil oil and cashew cream
This elegant and simple raw salad is all about letting the natural colours and flavours of summer vegetables shine through. If you can’t get yellow courgettes, you can use regular green ones.
2-3 yellow courgettes
12 asparagus spears
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ tsp sea salt flakes
150g pea shoots
4-6 tbsp cashew cream
For the red basil oil
30g red basil, tough stems removed
Grated zest and juice of ½ orange
¼ tsp agave syrup
100ml light olive oil
Sea salt flakes
Using a French-style peeler, slice long, thin strips off the courgettes until you reach the seeds, then discard the seedy centre. Remove the tough part of the asparagus by bending each spear at the stalk end and allowing it to snap where the tender part begins. Discard the tough ends (or save them for stock), and cut the tender part into strips as thin as you can manage.
Toss the courgette and asparagus strips with the lemon juice and salt in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave them to stand in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. To make the red basil oil, simply blitz all the ingredients in a blender, or in a measuring jug with a stick blender, until smooth.
Give the courgettes and asparagus a little squeeze to remove the excess liquid, then toss with the pea shoots and 4 tablespoons of the red basil oil in a large bowl. Put a tablespoon of the cashew cream on each plate and then a small handful of the salad. Drizzle over a little more of the red basil oil to serve.
Butternut squash and pistachio borek
Boreks are Middle Eastern or Turkish pies made with filo pastry and, as most shop-bought filo pastry is vegan, this is a simple starter to make. The sweetness of the roast squash and caramelised onion pairs well with the salty, crunchy nuts. We make the filling quite thin so that the moisture in the squash doesn’t turn the pastry soft. You can use pumpkin instead, though I would stick to a starchier variety, not the wet Halloween-style pumpkin. We serve it with sautéed spinach with golden sultanas and salted pistachios.
Makes about 6 boreks
700g butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into thin slices or small cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
6 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked and chopped (1 tbsp)
2 tsp Lebanese seven spice mix
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp blended oil (olive and sunflower or light olive oil)
500g onions, sliced
1 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
60g salted shelled pistachio nuts
40g salted blanched almonds
225g filo pastry, defrosted if frozen
100g vegan margarine, melted
Sautéed spinach with golden sultanas and salted pistachios (to serve, optional)
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Mix the squash with the garlic, thyme, spice mix and olive oil in a large bowl, making sure it is well coated. Spread out on a baking tray and roast for 20-25 minutes until fully cooked.
While the squash is cooking, caramelise the onions. Heat the blended oil in a frying pan, add the onions and cook over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Add the sugar and cook for a further 5-8 minutes or until the onions are dark golden.
Put the nuts in a bowl or onto a clean tea towel and use a rolling pin or similar blunt instrument to crush them slightly, then set aside. Remove the roasted squash from the oven once it is done, and reduce the oven temperature slightly to 190C/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
Cut the sheets of pastry in half across to make 2 rectangles from each sheet. Keep the rectangles covered in cling film or baking parchment with a damp, clean tea towel over the top. Brush one rectangle with a little melted margarine, then brush another and lay it on top to double the thickness. Place a small amount of the roasted squash, caramelised onion and crushed nuts in the centre of the pastry. Fold in the sides over the filling. Then fold the bottom up over the filling and continue folding the pastry over onto itself to form a closed parcel. You should get around 6 parcels, depending on the size of the pastry sheets.
Place the parcels on the baking tray, brush the tops with the rest of the melted margarine and sprinkle with any remaining nuts. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Serve hot with the spinach, if desired.
Sautéed spinach with golden sultanas and salted pistachios
We love the beautiful colour in this simple Middle Eastern side dish, and it illustrates why we find it baffling that the stems of spinach are often discarded when they are so tender and delicious. If you can’t find golden sultanas, you can use regular sultanas or raisins. You can buy ready-prepared salted shelled pistachios, but if you can’t get hold of them, salting your own is pretty simple.
30g golden sultanas
100ml warm water
Squeeze of lemon juice
500g large leaf spinach with stems
Light olive oil
1 white onion, very thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
60g salted shelled pistachio nuts
Salt and pepper
Soak the sultanas in the measured warm water and lemon juice for 30 minutes to an hour. Wash the spinach thoroughly and drain, then trim the ends of the stems and discard any tough bits. Cut the leaves, including the stems, into 2 or 3 pieces depending on their size.
Heat a splash of light olive oil in a frying pan, add the spinach and sauté over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring, until it begins to soften. Remove from the pan and drain in a colander. Add a little more oil to the pan, add the onion and garlic and sauté for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden. Drain the sultanas and add to the onion, then return the spinach to the pan and warm through over a medium heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Finally, toss in the salted pistachios and then serve.
Thai green congee with brown rice
Congee is a breakfast dish found throughout Asia, which is usually made with glutinous white rice to achieve a soft porridge, but we love the nutty texture of this fragrant, brown rice version. By all means eat this at breakfast time if you wish, but we see this as a lovely light lunch or dinner dish. The ingredients list for the broth is a little long, but you are essentially making a stock and therefore you can swap most of the vegetables for something similar you need to use up.
The recipe makes a large batch of broth, so you can freeze any extra in zip-seal bags if you want to prepare a smaller quantity of congee by reducing the amount of rice. Equally, we love all the green vegetables piled on top, but you can be selective and use whichever veg you like.
300g short-grain brown rice
For the broth
Splash of sesame oil
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
½ large fennel bulb, roughly sliced
2 spring onions, roughly chopped
4 fresh or dried shiitake mushrooms, roughly sliced
½ sheet of nori seaweed
50g fresh root ginger, peeled and sliced, plus 20g peeled and very finely sliced for adding at the end
6 garlic cloves, peeled
100g coriander stems (reserve the tops to garnish)
6 fresh Kaffir lime leaves, roughly sliced
1 lemongrass stalk
1 green chilli, sliced
2 star anise
4 tbsp water
4 tbsp tamari
500ml apple juice
60g palm sugar (or raw coconut sugar, or 40g light muscovado sugar)
6 tbsp Asian sweet tamarind concentrate
Juice of 3 limes
For the broth, heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan, add all the vegetables along with the nori, sliced ginger, garlic, herbs, chilli and star anise and sauté over a medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are starting to soften. Add the measured water, tamari, apple juice, sugar and tamarind and bring to the boil, then simmer until the broth has nearly reduced by half, stirring frequently.
Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and salt to taste, then leave to cool for 30 minutes before straining. Meanwhile, wash the brown rice thoroughly and then drain. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add the rice and bring back to the boil, then cover and simmer until nearly cooked (usually around 20 minutes, but check in relation to the cooking time on the packet). It should still have a fair amount of bite. Drain the rice and add to the broth. Cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes until the rice has fully cooked and the broth has reduced. Stir in the remaining finely sliced ginger.
For the vegetables
Splash of blended oil (half sesame and half sunflower)
6 tenderstem broccoli stems, cut into batons
300g Chinese cabbage, sliced
4 pak choi, quartered
100g kale stripped of its stems, chopped
100g shiitake mushrooms, sliced
100g shelled edamame beans
½ fennel bulb, trimmed, cored and sliced
1 courgette, finely sliced
6 spring onions, cut into small batons, plus extra, sliced, to garnish
Lime wedges, to garnish
For the vegetables, heat the blended oil in a wok to a high heat, add all the prepared veg and toss a few times, then add a ladleful of hot broth and cook for a couple of minutes until softened but still crunchy. To serve, place a large cup of rice and broth in each bowl and top with the vegetables. Garnish with the sliced spring onions, the reserved coriander tops and a lime wedge. Serve with a side of seed-weed (toasted seeds and seaweed).
We just love this! It’s delicious on stir-fries and salads, not to mention being jam-packed with goodness. You can chop and change the seeds in this recipe according to your preference, but just keep the total quantity to around 200g.
50g sesame seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
50g sunflower seeds
25g hemp seeds
25g chia seeds
2 tbsp agave syrup
4 tsp tamari
4 tsp sesame oil
30g (2 sheets) nori seaweed, chopped and blended in a food processor or chopped by hand into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3½. Mix all the ingredients, except the nori, together in a bowl and then spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the nori, tossing to mix, and bake for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool, then store in a clean, airtight jar or other container in a cool, dry place. It will keep for up to 3 weeks.
‘Mildreds Vegan Cookbook’ by Dan Acevedo. Published by Mitchell Beazley (£25)