SHAUN VAN DEN BERGH: You don't have to be vegan to enjoy this pretty starter

The senior sous chef of the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel has created a delicious vegan starter. You don't have to be vegan to enjoy it, says Shaun van den Bergh, but be warned, your vegan friends might not want to share...

Thursday, 1st March 2018, 12:28 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 2:56 am
Beetroot hummus with coconut whip and quinoa salad

Veganism is a fast-growing trend that we chefs ignore at our peril. So, we’ve been busy creating new vegan dishes for both our La Brasserie and Urban Café menus with the aim of ensuring that they have all-round appeal.

It’s a challenge to create dishes packed with flavour when you can’t include key ingredients. The trick is to use strong flavours like garlic and beautiful colours to satisfy the eye as well as the palate. I’ve also discovered how to turn coconut milk into a velvety whip that adds that cream-like luxury to the dish.

We serve this starter with pickled baby vegetables and so far it’s flown off the menu.

Shaun van den Bergh

La Brasserie is Sofitel’s two AA rosette restaurant. Call 01293 567070 or email [email protected] Follow us on Twitter @SofitelLondonGA or share your recipes on Instagram by tagging @SofitelLondonGA.

Beetroot Hummus with Coconut Whip and Quinoa Salad

Serves 4

For the hummus:

400g can of chickpeas

2 tabs tahini paste

1 clove of garlic, crushed

Juice of one lemon

100g cooked beetroot

400ml tin of coconut milk

For the quinoa salad:

150g quinoa – 50g each of black, red and white quinoa

One vegetable stock cube

1 salad tomato, skinned, deseeded and finely chopped

¼ of large cucumber, peeled, deseeded and finely chopped

50g dates, finely chopped

One shallot, peeled and finely chopped

Two tabs of olive oil

Salt and pepper


Dissolve half the vegetable stock cube in 500ml of boiling water in a saucepan (a whole stock cube makes the quinoa too salty). Add the quinoa and simmer for 10mins until the quinoa starts to shoot. Drain and leave to cool.

To make the coconut whip, pour the liquid from the tin of coconut milk into a saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer until it is reduced to about a quarter of the volume. Leave to cool. Whip the solid part of the milk until smooth, then beat in the reduced liquid to form a smooth cream.

To make the hummus: blitz the chickpeas, tahini paste, garlic and lemon juice in a blender until smooth. Season to taste. Blitz the beetroot separately until smooth and stir into the hummus.

Add the chopped tomato, cucumber, shallot and dates to the cooled quinoa. Stir in one to two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, put a layer of beetroot hummus on each of four plates. Top with a layer of coconut whip and then pile the quinoa salad into the centre of each dish.

The beetroot hummus is also delicious as a filling for jacket potatoes.

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