Summer means barbecue and barbecue means sweetcorn. In my opinion there is nothing better or more summery than a deliciously charred corn on the cob, which I’ll admit to previously smothering in butter but since going vegan I’ve finally been able to appreciate how divine that naked corn actually is. What was I thinking masking that fabulously sweet flavour all these years? Bbq’d corn needs nothing to enhance its already perfect taste.

I was more than surprised then to find this most perfect of treats in a rather unusual place. Unusual in in the sense that it would never normally have entered my head to visit this establishment when I was a meat eater and more so now that I do not consume animal products. But when you’re in a strange city at 10 o’clock at night starving hungry and surrounded by nasty take-out joints and noisy bars, Nando’s seemed like a safe haven.

Am I seriously saying that the home of Peri-Peri chicken was a safe haven for a vegan? Well, kinda. What I will say is that I was more than pleasantly surprised at their veggie offerings – three ‘burger’ options: veggie, beanie and portobello mushroom. I went for a portobello mushroom pitta with pineapple and a side of corn on the cob. I was slightly concerned about the sauce which looked creamy so I had to ask what the ingredients were. I sorta felt like a dufus because Nando’s is basically one notch up from McDonalds and I wasn’t really expecting the employees to know anything about the food and what went into it. So when the waitress brought out a book with all the nutritional information laid out clearly I was amazed. There it was in black and white  – ‘safe for vegans’. Written in the official Nando’s book! I can’t believe us vegans were even taken into consideration given that the place is famed for it chicken.

Now, I do realise many vegans would take issue with me even contributing to the consumption of an unhealthy amount of white meat but I gotta tell ya I was pretty darn happy I discovered another place I could frequent in the ‘real’ world. Why do I even want to be part of the ‘real’ world? Well, it’s like this really – I figure if I don’t eat in ‘normal’ restaurants and make a point of enlightening these places to the fact that not everyone eats meat or dairy then they’ll be more reluctant to put any veggie options on the menu because no-one is ordering it. Whether we like it or not that’s the way the world works and all I’m trying to do is change it one meal at a time – or two if you include my Hubbie’s order;) Sure I could take myself out of the equation completely and only eat at vegan places or at home but what good is that going to do? The more we bring awareness to our vegan needs the more likely we are to be catered for in the future.

So I take my hat off to Nando’s for thinking of us veggie’s when they had no real need to because there are no shortage of peri-peri chicken lovers out there. Maybe the next time you find yourself in a Nando’s why not broaden your horizons and try one of their non-chicken options. I know I’ll be having a side of ratatouille as well as that sumptuous chargrilled corn.

savoury sweetcorn pancakes (make 6 medium sized pancakes)

1 cup flour (I finished off the buckwheat flour I had but will use plain next time)

1 heaped tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup soya milk

1 can organic sweetcorn

1/2 onion

2 cloves garlic

pinch of chilli flakes

small handful chopped parsley

oil

salt and pepper

Heat a little oil in pan. Finely chop the onion and add to pan. Season, add the chilli flakes and allow to soften for a few minutes.

Mince the garlic – I like to do it by hand because I hate washing the garlic press and there’s no waste! Add to pan and cook for a few minutes.

Drain the sweetcorn, add to pan and allow to heat through before tossing in the parsley and mixing thoroughly.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Pour in the soya milk bit by bit until you get the correct consistency – thicker than a normal pancake batter but still pourable. You may need a little less milk or a little more, that’s why I recommend not pouring it in all at once.

Lastly mix in the sweetcorn ensuring it is evenly dispersed throughout the batter. Wipe the pan clean, heat a little more oil and ladel or pour in the mixture – I was able to fit two medium sized pancakes in my pan. Wait until it starts to bubble slightly and then turn over for a minute or so until the other side is cooked. Keep warm in the oven (a very low heat is recommended) or in a pancake warmer – I want one sooooo badly:(

I served mine with a baked sweet potato and a colossal salad – yum!

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