You know how certain smells have the ability to send you right back into childhood? It could be a particular brand of soap or perfume, the comforting smell of a bookstore or the salty scent of the ocean – whatever it is, you’re instantly transported back in time within the blink of an eye.
I’m like that, but with food. Nothing has the ability to conjure up nostalgic memories quite like a good meal. Even my favourite childhood films aren’t safe – I mean, the chocolate cake scene in Matilda? Iconic.
Even now, I still vividly remember watching cartoons on Saturday mornings while my mother served me the 90’s version of vegetarian bacon. As a child, I had strong opinions on animal welfare – that is, until I discovered dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.
My father’s Sunday roasts, my grandma’s homemade cupcakes and my Nana’s mustard mashed potatoes (seriously, try it) all feature prominently in my childhood memory bank. And it’s not just the good times: I’ll never forget my mother’s first (and last) attempt at making fish pie, or the mince and potatoes that my Scottish father insisted I would love. I can now confidently say that in my twenty-eight years on this planet, I have never acquired a taste for chewed-up looking meat.
One of my fondest food-related memories involves the most incredible loaded potato wedges, served by the permanently hungover staff at a cafe overlooking Raglan harbour in New Zealand. The portions were huge – my parents would always try to convince my sister and I to share a plate between us, but we always insisted on getting our own. No way were we giving up even one of those prized chunks of potato loaded with sour cream, bacon and way too much cheese. Even the little ginger cat slinking between the tables didn’t get a look-in!
Since going vegan, I haven’t been able to get those wedges out of my mind. I may be residing in London instead of the sunny shores of Raglan, but I was determined to recreate that relaxed, hippie-like vibe in my own kitchen. Spoiler alert: I totally outdid myself. With the addition of colourful sweet potatoes, a great vegan cheese and my secret (until now) recipe for homemade sour cream, this plant-based take on a classic dish is guaranteed to impress.
Vegan Loaded Potato Wedges
- Two large orange sweet potatoes
- Two large yellow sweet potatoes
- Two purple sweet potatoes
- One large regular potato
- Herbs and spices of your choice (I like cumin, paprika and a little Cajun)
- 200g unsalted cashews
- Two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
- Juice of half a lemon
- Two cups of water
- Two creamy avocados
- One large tomato, finely chopped
- One small red onion, finely chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Grated vegan cheese (My current favourite is Sainsbury’s Cheddar-Style)
- Sliced jalapeños
- Chopped green onion
- Tomato salsa
- Preheat your oven to 180°C and roughly chop the potatoes into thick wedges.
- Bring a saucepan of water to a boil and add the regular potato wedges, leaving to parboil for around seven minutes. You can skip this step for the sweet potatoes as they are quicker to cook!
- Drain the regular potatoes and then lay all your wedges out on a couple of baking trays. Sprinkle with herbs and spices and then pop into the oven to bake for around 30 minutes (keep checking and turning them to ensure they don’t burn!)
- Bring another pot of water to the boil and add the cashews, leaving to cook and soften for 15 minutes. Drain and add to the blender along with the rest of the sour cream ingredients. Blend until smooth, adding a little extra water if necessary.
- Scoop the avocados into a bowl and roughly mash with a fork. Add the rest of the guacamole ingredients and combine together until everything is coated in avocado.
- By now, your wedges should be ready to come out of the oven. If you’re topping them with vegan cheese, sprinkle it over the wedges and pop back into the oven until the cheese is melted and delicious.
- Divide the wedges onto two separate plates and pour a generous serving of sour cream over them, along with a large spoonful of guacamole. Top with tomato salsa, chopped jalapeños, green onion, chives, extra vegan cheese – anything you like!
What’s your favourite food-related childhood memory? Have you ever tried to recreate it as an adult, and did it live up to the hype? I’d love to know!