I was more than happy to get on board when my son decided to take part in ‘meat free January’ and cook some tasty, nutritious, satisfying meals.
We have had some delicious, quick and easy to make suppers. Whether you are vegetarian or just want a meat-free meal, there are some great options below.
Mary Berry Cook Now Eat Later // This is a great, all round cook book with a substantial vegetarian section. A favourite this month has been the Pistou Pasta with Rocket. (I used the broccoli pesto from The Healthy Life instead of the Pistou in the recipe – I’m a bit of a rule breaker when it comes to following reciptes)! I have made this twice once with the broccoli pesto because I had already made this and once with the pistou and we prefer it with the broccoli pesto.
250g dried penne pasta
150ml white wine
2 shallots, finely chopped
450g mixed wild mushrooms, coarsely sliced
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons of pouring double cream
1 x 50g bag of rocket
Coarsely grated Parmesan
Pistou (broccoli pesto)
25g basil leaves
50g Swiss chard or spinach
1 head of broccoli steams and roughly chopped
2 spring onions roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoons cold press extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon water (filtered!)
Salt and pepper
(Process all ingredients in a food processor until well combined and smooth)
Boil a pan of salted water for the pasta. When boiling add the pasta and cook for about 12 minutes or accordingly to the packet instructions.
Meanwhile, make the pistou/pesto (see pesto recipe above).
Boil the wine in a large frying pan and reduce for a few minutes. Add all of the mushrooms and stir over a high heat for a few minutes until the mushrooms are cooked and the liquid has reduced to approximately 2 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper and add the pistiou/pesto.
Drain the pasta and add to the mushroom mixture in the pan, Check for seasoning.
At the last moment stir in the rocket leaves and serve with Parmesan.
Another meal I made from Mary Berry’s Cook Now Eat Later was the Bean Bangers. These were tasty and remarkably filling. I usually need a bedtime snack but had no room for one after eating this. Instead of shaping them into sausage shapes, I made burgers (oops, going off piste again) and served in a bread bun with garlic mayonnaise and sweet potato fries. My husband chose to have seconds of the Bean Banger (burger!) over his meat version. These were a little on the soft side, so perhaps a tweak of the ingredients may be needed next time? Serves 4.
Half a red onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 x 410g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 x 300g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
50g sun-dried tomatoes coarsely chopped
50g cheddar or mozzarella cheese, grated
2 tablespoons beaten egg
Salt and pepper
50g fresh breadcrumbs
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Put the onion, parsley and thyme into a food processor and puree until fairly smooth. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the breadcrumbs and oil to the processor and process until smooth.
Shape the mixture into 12 sausages (or burgers). Put the breadcrumbs on a large plate and coat the sausages/burgers in them to coat evenly. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the sausages/burgers until golden (I skipped the stage and oven baked mine – I think they would have ended up a huge mess if I had to flip them)! Turn them carefully, so that they do not break up. Lower the heat and continue to cook until the sausages are hot right through.
Hemsley + Hemsley: Good and Simple // This is a great book for hearty home-cooked food which is also good for you, again, perhaps not one for vegetarians as it is quite meat heavy, but I did find this Teriyaki Noodle Stir-Fry surprisingly tasty (in fact, the nicest stir fry I’ve tried) in there. As with all stir-fry’s once the vegetable chopping is done, it’s ready in a flash. Serves 4
300g buckwheat (soba) noodles
1 tables spoon extra virgin olive oil
300g raw diced vegetables (such as carrots, courgettes, red peppers)
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 small cabbage or 2 big head of pak choi
4 spring onions
1 large ripe avocado sliced
1 handful of flax seeds
1 large handful of fresh coriander
For The Teriyaki Sauce
4 tablespoons of tamari
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 garlic clove, finely grated or diced
1 teaspoon fresh root ginger diced
A pinch of white or back pepper or diced red chili or chili flakes
1 tablespoon tahini or other nut or seed butter
Cook the buckwheat noodles in a large pan of boiling water according to the packet instructions.
When tender, drain and rinse in cold running water for about 15 seconds to stop them cooking further. Set aside to drain, then toss with the olive oil in a large serving bowl to stop the noodles sticking. Set aside.
Rinse the noodle pan and add all the teriyaki sauce ingredients. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. If using carrots, fry these first, giving them a 2 minute head start, then add the rest of the diced vegetables and stir fry for 4 minutes until tender.
Once the diced vegetables are just tender, add the cabbage or pac choi to the pan with the teriyaki sauce and heat through for 1 minute.
Tip the contents of the pan into a serving bowl and mix well with the noodles. Garnish with the spring onions, sliced avocado, fax seeds and coriander.
Nigella Feast: Food That Celebrates Life // I wouldn’t recommend this book for vegetarians, but I can recommend the Vegetarian Chili in here. This is a dish I cook regularly throughout the year – I love it served with guacamole, sour cream and tortilla chips. This freezes very well too, so worth cooking extra and popping in the freezer. *Note this recipe is to serve 10 people so needs to be adjusted accordingly.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large bell peppers, deseeded and finely diced
2 teaspoons dried chili flakes, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cardamon pods, crushed
300g red lentils
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 x 400g red kidney beans
4 tablespoons tomato ketchup
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon cocoa
In a large pan – one that can take everything later and that has a lid, heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and peppers until everything softens. Add the chili, coriander, cumin and cardamon pods, stirring everything around in the spices. Tip in the lentils and stir again.
Stir in the chopped tomatoes, water, kidney beans, ketchup, tomato paste and cocoa and bring mixture to the boil. Simmer, covered for about 45 minutes stirring frequently. If the mixture is too liquid, uncover the pan slightly as it cooks.
Deliciously Ella // I find Ella Woodward’s story incredibly inspiring, although a lot of her recipes are a little too extreme for me. I have, however, found a few favourites, this Chickpea, Quinoa and Turmeric Curry is one of them. Deliciouslyella.com is a great place to look for healthy, meat-free inspiration. You can find this recipe here.
I thought I’d include some of the reality photos – not as pretty as the ones above!
Do you have a favourite vegetarian meal?