I'm going by the title of part-time veggie at the moment. One of my goals for this year was to cut down my meat intake and it's something I've followed through on, without any hassle.
For me, the meat cut down has been a pretty easy thing to add to my routine, but I get that the veggie option often still has the label of being bland or feeling like there's something missing.
This week is World Meat Free Week - the initiative asks you to have just one meal through the week that doesn't have meat in the ingredient list. I've gone one further and picked five of my favourite veggie recipes that are repeat cooks in my kitchen.
Try them each day this week, or gradually introduce these easy vegetarian meals into your home menu. Trust me, veggie cooking doesn't have to be bland at all. Here's where I've found my favourite flavours...
Veggie shepherd's pie
Image from BBC Good Food
This is one of my favourite winter comfort food dishes. At home, it's on the menu as 'winter pie', but add some seasonal veggies and you've got yourself a summer recipe.
The meat is swapped for lentils and carrots, but you can of course chuck whatever you want into this. Don't skip the thyme as it makes the dish. Topped off with a layer of sweet potato mash and a healthy sprinkling of cheese makes this the perfect thing to come home to after a long day. Prep the day before and then cook on the night for a little less prep time after work.
Find the recipe here.
The trashy sandwich
It's stacked high enough that this is a meal in itself for me, but if you need a little more in the evening, serve with salad, fries or potatoes to top up your plate.
Treat yourself to some nice, freshly baked bread and then stack away. I adapted the Minimalist Baker vegan recipe to include real cheese and typically swap the sprouts for mixed leaves. It's not an elegantly eaten dish but it is so good and an easy option for the evening, or to build at work - if you don't mind the mess, al desko.
For one sandwich, you'll need:
- Half an onion
- 2 slices of hearty, crusty bread
- 2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp maple syrup
- A good smear of hummus
- A tomato
- Half an avocado
- Mixed leaves
- Sriracha mayo (optional)
To prep, start by slicing the bread, tomato and avocado. Fry the onion until caramelised and season with a pinch of salt. Mix the maple syrup and mustard, add more mustard for spice or more syrup for a sweeter taste.
To assemble, start with a slice of bread and smear on the hummus, top with the onions, then layer the tomato and avocado. Layer over the mustard mixture and top with the mixed leaves and a drizzle of sriracha mayo. Top with the second piece of bread then gently press down and slice in half. Serve with any side dishes you like, or tuck straight in, kitchen roll at the ready.
Recipe adapted from Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking.
For me, a classic. Something I've grown up with and a dish that is usually the answer when we have nothing fresh in and essentially, can't be arsed with much of an effort.
The moderation possibilities are endless with mac and cheese - some of my favourites are from Anna Mae - but for the classic, cheap and quick weeknight dinner, the recipe from my childhood is my favourite. Finish by grilling on high for a crispy finish to the gooey goodness below.
This recipe is a good one. For some extra flavour, add gruyere, manchego and/or smoked cheese. I always add peas, either on the side or stirred into the pan before serving.
BBQ veggie burgers
Image from Minimalist Baker
I'm obsessed with veggie burgers. So many flavour combinations available and usually a lot lighter than a meat patty. This is another Minimalist Baker recipe that I've slightly tweaked and I'm still on my way to perfecting to my tastes, but it's one of my favourite at home veggie burger recipes.
I serve with a dollop of barbecue sauce, or a striping of Sriracha chipotle mayo and some fries. Serve for a group, or it's another great serve to take to work the following day.
For four burgers, you'll need:
- 1 can of chickpeas (425g)
- Half cup of cooked quinoa
- 3/4 cup of breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2-3 tbsp of BBQ sauce
- 4 brioche buns
- Your choosing of topping; Sriracha mayo, Sriracha hot sauce, barbecue sauce or cheese are all great!
Drain and rinse the chickpeas then mash with a fork or the back of a spoon, leave a few whole for added texture. Add the cooked quinoa, breadcrumbs, all the spices and BBQ sauce. Stir to combine and add more breadcrumbs if it appears too wet, more BBQ sauce if it looks too dry. Taste and add more spices, sugar or salt depending what you need.
Create four patties from the mixture. The best hack I've learned to keep them even is to use a cup measure (half cup for large patties, use a third cup for smaller patties) and line with clingfilm. Smush the mixture into the cup and press down firmly, then lift out and slightly flatten to make an even shape.
Heat a large skillet or frying pan over a medium heat and add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the top of the patties with salt and chilli powder then place, seasoned side down, into the oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Season the top side, then gently flip over and repeat.
Transfer to the burger buns (toasted, if that's your thing), top with any condiments, cheese or salad bits, then tuck in.
One of my most made dishes for the simplicity and speed, plus there's a ton of green in there so I get an added dose of healthiness. This is a one-pot wonder that is so simple, but so tasty.
I typically use Tenderstem broccoli, green beans and asparagus but you can chuck whatever greens you have available into this. Finish with the essential sprinkling of lemon zest and *chef kisses fingers*.
For four people, you'll need:
- A small jar of pesto (or go wild and make your own)
- 700g of mixed green veg (as above)
- 350g of rigatoni (any pasta works, this style is a little nicer for the recipe)
- Half a lemon
- Fresh basil
- 30g parmesan cheese
Get the pasta cooking in salted water, then prep your greens, trimming the beans and asparagus - keep each vegetable separate. In the same pot as the pasta, add the green beans six minutes before the pasta is done, the Tenderstem three minutes before and the asparagus two minutes before.
Once done, drain the pasta and veg, setting a cup of the water aside. Put the pasta and veg back into the pan and stir in the pesto, I usually use two thirds of the jar. Serve up then top with basil leaves, grate the lemon zest over the plate and sprinkle over grated parmesan before tucking in.
Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver's Superfood Family Classics.
If none of the above are getting you excited about vegetarian cooking, my favourite for some inspiration is Minimalist Baker; all vegan and often gluten free and Pinterest; an endless world of foodie inspo. Don't be afraid to adapt ingredients or techniques where you need to and maybe invest in some cup measuring bits in prep for the slew of American recipes.
Have you got any favourite meat-free recipes? Share them below and keep an eye on my Instagram where I'll be sharing some more dishes 🌱