“I do think the conversation has become quite charged, quite loaded,” she says thoughtfully. “Even the word ‘wellness’ sometimes makes people think of weird and wacky things in LA, with shamans and cleanses. When you hear it, you don’t necessarily think of going for a walk and then making a bean chilli, which feels more within your remit.
“The wonderful and wacky make more interesting stories, which I so appreciate,” she adds, “but the reality is, I think in most people’s eyes, what we need is a meal that’s pretty easy to make and you can make a really big batch of, and then just chuck in the freezer.”
So what can you expect from her latest book? Deliciously Ella fans will see all her signatures - comforting vegan food taking inspiration from a variety of cuisines, but with more of an emphasis on batch-cooking and quick recipes.
Spinach and chickpea curry
(Serves 4 with rice)
1tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 x 400g tin of coconut milk
A 2.5cm piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp ground coriander
1tbsp medium curry powder
1tbsp ground cumin
24 cherry tomatoes, sliced
2 x 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2tbsp plain yoghurt (we use a pure coconut yoghurt)
Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper
1. Put the coconut oil into a large saucepan with the onion, garlic and celery, and some salt and pepper, and let them cook on a medium heat for five to 10 minutes, until the celery and onion have softened.
2. In a separate pan, wilt 100g of spinach with a splash of boiling water. Once wilted, add half the coconut milk and use a hand blender to blitz the spinach, so that it’s smooth.
3. Once the celery and onion have softened, add the ginger, mustard seeds, coriander, curry powder and cumin. Let the spices toast for a minute or so before adding the pureed spinach, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and the rest of the coconut milk, plus a big sprinkling of salt and lots of pepper.
4. Turn the heat up so that it starts bubbling, then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, adding the rest of the spinach for the final few minutes. Once the spinach has wilted, add a squeeze of lemon and the yoghurt plus a sprinkling of chilli flakes, if you’re using them, and serve.
Mushroom and walnut ragu
(Serves 4, with a little left over)
20g dried porcini mushrooms
250ml boiling water
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
400g chestnut or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
1tsp dried thyme
1tsp dried oregano
1tsp dried rosemary
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
1-2tbsp nutritional yeast
4 portions of pasta (about 80g per person)
Salt and pepper
Handful of chopped parsley, to serve
1. Start by soaking the dried mushrooms. Put them into a bowl with the boiling water and leave for 20 minutes. Once soaked, drain well (but keep the liquid), then cut the mushrooms into small pieces.
2. While the mushrooms are soaking, chop the walnuts into tiny pieces - they need to look like large breadcrumbs. Place them in a large, deep frying pan over a medium heat and toast for about five minutes, until golden, stirring every now and again. Once toasted, remove from the heat and spoon into a bowl. Place the frying pan back on the heat.
3. Add the onion, garlic and celery to the frying pan, along with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Cook for five to 10 minutes, until soft.
4. Add the fresh mushrooms and red pepper, with the thyme, oregano and rosemary, and cook for about five minutes, until soft.
5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, tamari and dried mushrooms with their water. Leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes - you want the ragu to be thick and have lost the excess liquid. Stir in the walnuts and nutritional yeast and leave them to cook in the sauce for a final five minutes.
6. While the ragu is simmering, cook your pasta in a pan of boiling water, following the instructions on the packet. Drain well then stir into the ragu once both are ready. Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
Chocolate banana muffins
3 large overripe bananas (about 350g, peeled weight)
150ml almond or oat milk
3tbsp coconut oil, melted
4tbsp cacao powder
200g spelt flour
100g coconut (or brown) sugar
1tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
80g dark chocolate (we like 70% cocoa solids)
About 12 walnuts (or pecans), roughly chopped or broken (if you want to make these nut free leave these out)
1. Preheat the oven to fan 180°C fan and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cases.
2. Chop the dark chocolate into chunks, roughly the size of a chocolate chip.
3. Mash the bananas in a large bowl using a fork, until smooth and creamy.
4. Add the almond milk, coconut oil, cacao powder, spelt flour, coconut sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt, then stir until a smooth batter forms.
5. Stir the dark chocolate into the mixture. I always keep a small handful of it back so that I can put it on top of the muffins, as it makes them look even more chocolatey and delicious.
6. Spoon two tablespoons of mixture into each muffin case, scatter over some walnuts, if using, and add a little piece of chocolate to the top.
7. Bake for 25 minutes, then leave the muffins to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving. PA/TPN
Deliciously Ella Quick & Easy: Plant-based Deliciousness by Ella Mills, recipe photography by Nassima Rothacker, is published by Yellow Kite.