It’s getting towards the end of term now, funds and creativity are running low: pasta has become the staple once more. BUT- we’ve found a great way to save a bit of money on food, and to get more cold-fighting vitamins in your diet, is to eat vegetarian for a week. Some great substitutes for meat include: lentils, tofu, eggs, Quorn and beans- we give you some recipes to help you incorporate these ingredients into your cooking. So here you have it: five tasty vegetarian recipes that taste so good you won’t even miss the meat!
-Rustic Tomato & Pepper Stew with Dippy-Eggs
-Parsnip, Carrot & Ginger Soup
-Lentil Balls with Tzatziki Pittas
-Baked Sweet Potato with ‘Chilli con Quorn-e’ & Sour Cream
-Chilli & Sesame-Glazed Tofu
This is a dish I have been making since the start of my second year. It is the perfect hangover-cure brunch to share with friends but also makes for an incredibly easy dinner if you’re trying to cut out meat. I have been adapting and perfecting this dish over the last couple of years, but it wasn’t until I found a version on The Londoner that I got really got it right.
Time: 20 mins
1 (400g) can of tinned tomatoes
Half a pack of cherry tomatoes, chopped
2 peppers (red and yellow for a bit of colour variety), chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
A pinch of paprika
A pinch of oregano
A pinch of sea salt
A toasted baguette, to serve
Heat the oil in a large skillet, and start by gently sautéing your onion in the oil. While the onions are browning, chop all your veg.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and add your garlic, stirring it in with the onion. Keep an eye on your garlic to make sure it doesn’t start to burn.
Add the cherry tomatoes and peppers and stir in with the onion and garlic.
Sprinkle the cooking veg with paprika and a bit of chilli powder. I like to add some oregano as well, for extra flavor.
Pour in your tinned tomatoes and stir in a blob of honey. Mix it all in, then create two holes in the middle. Crack your eggs in the holes, and leave them to cook gentlly in the tomato stew.
When the eggs are almost done, sprinkle over your feta and coriander.
Serve with a generously buttered toasted baguette or ciabatta and get stuck in!
I decided to try making my own version of this soup after being very impressed by a parsnip and ginger soup in a lovely little Edinburgh café recently. The parsnip gives it that rich, wintery taste and the ginger adds a heat to it that is perfect on a cold day (is there any other kind of day at the moment?). I used the Jamie Oliver recipe as my guide, but I added carrots instead of some of the parsnips, which tasted great! I also added a couple of extra garlic cloves and omitted the chilli and coriander, but that is just personal taste. The recipe said that this served four but when I made it, it was enough to comfortably serve about eight! I used large parsnips and carrots so if you want a lot of soup- this is the way to go! It’s easy enough to store and is incredibly cheap. The great thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t have too many obscure ingredients and you’ll probably already have most of them in your cupboard. You will need a hand blender for this one though so if you don’t have one- ask a friend, it’s definitely worth it!
Time: 40 mins
4 large parsnips
2 large carrots
1 white onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger
1 tbsp garam masala
1 litre vegetable stock (2 stock cubes worth)
500ml milk (semi-skimmed)
Salt & pepper (to taste)
Crusty bread (to serve)
Peel and then chop the parsnips and carrots into medium sized chunks and set aside
Using a very large saucepan, put the butter, a good glug or two of olive oil, the onions, garlic and ginger into the pan then add in the tablespoon of garam masala and fry for about 10 mins on a medium heat until soft and golden
Now add in the parsnips and carrots and coat them all in the mix. Pour in the milk and the stock and mix thoroughly.
Bring this mixture to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for around 15–20 mins (or until you can feel with a knife that the vegetables have gone soft)
Once the vegetables are soft, take the pan off the heat and leave for 5 minutes to cool down a bit
Now for the fun part! Get your hand blender and place it in the mixture towards the bottom of the pan (to avoid splashing of hot liquid)- keep blending away until the mixture is smooth and creamy
Taste the mixture and add as much salt and pepper as you like
Serve with crusty bread (I like it toasted and buttered) and a dollop of sour cream or Philadelphia on top!
I found the basic lentil balls recipe on one of my favourite blogs that specializes in vegetarian dishes and fresh produce, The Sprouted Kitchen. I decided to go for the Tesco ‘lentilles vertes’ from the whole foods section, because they’ve got that really nutty, earthy flavour. Like tofu, lentils are a low-fat and low cholesterol source of protein that will leave you feeling full and satisfied. They are also a good source of iron, so are a great energy and metabolism booster! Although the initial lentil mush in this recipe appears somewhat unappetizing, the balls go deliciously golden and crispy in the oven, making them a perfect accompaniment to any yoghurt-y based dip. The recipe provided here works as a filling main dish, but these balls could also be used as a simple appetizer with a variety of dips: tzaziki and any hummous variety.
Time: 1hr 30mins
For the lentil balls:
2 cups of cooked lentils
A handful of pumpkin seeds
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp of sea salt
¼ cup of cottage cheese (or Greek yoghurt for a lighter option)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
A pot of Tzatziki (or any yogurt and mint dip: make your own if you’re feeling more creative)
Cherry tomatoes, chopped
A handful of chopped spring onion
A handful of chopped parsley
Start by cooking your lentils. Rinse the lentils in cold water, and then boil for ten minutes. Leave to simmer on a low heat for half an hour.
When your lentils are cooked, blend them with a food processor or hand blender.
Add your garlic, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, oregano, thyme, chopped parsley, sea salt and cheese. Mix it all together with your hands. Add the egg and continue to mix, gradually adding the breadcrumbs as you go,
Leave the mixture to sit for about 15–20 minutes.
Roll your mixture into little individual lentil balls. Drizzle with olive oil, this way they will go crispy in the oven.
Place in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes
Serve your lentil balls in a pitta with tzatziki, spring onion and chopped parsley. I like mine with sautéed greens or a simple side salad. For an alternative to the tzatziki pitta, the lentil balls are also delicious in a simple spicy tomato sauce with pasta or couscous (as seen in the picture above).
This is not your average jacket potato…Not only is sweet potato more nutritious than normal potato, it is also far more flavoursome. It is a perfect match for my very own recipe for “chilli con Quorn-e” (excuse the Quorn-e joke…) with a dollop of sour cream and grated cheese on top. I added a side of fried kale for even more superfood goodness (and because it’s so delicious), but you could add a simple side salad instead for more of a fresh kick. Any excess chilli can be stored and then paired with rice or crusty bread at a later date for a bit of variety. Filling and delicious!
Time: 40 mins
2 large sweet potatoes
150g (1/2 pack) Quorn mince
200g (1/2 tin) red kidney beans
1/2 medium white onion
2 garlic cloves
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp tomato ketchup
400g tinned tomatoes (1 tin)
500 ml vegetable stock (1 cube)
1 small wine glass of red wine
1 large glug of olive oil
Salt & pepper (to taste)
Sour cream or Philadelphia (2 dollops)
Ground black pepper
Roughly chop up the onion and garlic and set aside.
Microwaving the sweet potatoes for a few minutes before putting them in the oven to bake dramatically reduces the time they take to cook so, being the impatient person I am, I suggest you also use this method. Preheat the (fan) oven to 180 degrees (or 200 degrees if gas or electric) and then wash the sweet potatoes thoroughly. Prick them all over with a fork then place them both on a plate in the microwave and put on 800 watts for 10 minutes.
Once your sweet potatoes are in the microwave, fry the onion and garlic for about 5 mins in the pan with a good glug of olive oil.
Add in the paprika, oregano, cumin and cinnamon and fry together for a further 5 mins. If the mixture gets dry add a bit more olive oil.
When the sweet potatoes have finished in the microwave, place them on a baking tray, drizzle in a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Put them in the preheated oven and bake for about 20 mins whilst you finish your chilli.
Add the Quorn into the pan and mix thoroughly, then add in the chopped tomatoes and red wine.
Stir for about 5 mins on a medium/high heat until the red wine has reduced and then add in the tomato puree and ketchup. Stir it all together.
Now add in the stock and cook on a medium/high heat whilst stirring for about 10 mins until the chilli has reached a thick consistency.
Once you have reached the right consistency, add in the kidney beans (make sure to drain them first) and stir. Leave to simmer for a couple of minutes to heat the beans through.
Once your chilli is ready, your sweet potatoes should be ready to get out of the oven. Check that they are nice and soft then cut them in half. Top with a generous helping of chilli, a dollop of sour cream/philadelphia and a sprinkling of cheddar- then enjoy!
This is my dad’s basic recipe, one that he created from an amalgamation of different sources. I had to go on a bit of a quest around Durham to get my hands on some tofu, as it isn’t sold in Tesco or M&S surprisingly. Luckily, I found the kind I wanted in the chilled fridge in Holland & Barrett. People tend to scoff at tofu, assuming it is slimy and tasteless. If cooked in the right way, however, it can be a delicious and satisfying substitute for meat. It is a very nutritious form of protein, without the fat content that comes from meat. It is also supposed to be great to maintain healthy hair and prevent hair loss!
Time: 40 mins
1 pack of firm tofu (100g)
3 tbsp Sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp Dark soy sauce
Fresh chilli (chopped)
2 tablespoons of oil
Half a pack of button mushrooms
Small pack of sesame seeds
1 full cup Basmati Rice
Coriander (small bunch)
2 Spring onions
You’ll need to start by ridding the tofu of excess water. Wrap the tofu in lots of layers of kitchen towel and a tea towel. Place something heavy like a plate on top. Leave to sit for twenty minutes.
Chop the tofu into small cubes and dust them with cornstarch
Heat 3 parts water to 1 part rice in a large pot until the water boils. Leave to simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the mushrooms until they start to soften.
Add the tofu and gently fry it for about five minutes on a medium heat, until it turns golden brown.
Mix the sweet chilli, dark soy sauce and fresh chilli in a bowl.
When the tofu has started to brown, add the sauce. Stir it around in the pan until all the tofu is coated.
Add the sesame seeds and mix it all together. Don’t leave the tofu in the pan too long or it will start to burn.
Serve with the rice, fresh coriander, spring onion and chopped fresh chilli.