Vegetable-arian Grub

Between that horse-meat scandal and the shocking insinuation that bacon might be bad for you, it seems like meat-related dramas are everywhere of late. It's led me to conclude that there is only one remaining option left to everyone: accept that vegetarianism is the way to go and move on with your lives.

I haven't done a food post for a while, so here are some vegetarian recipes to get you started.

(On Instagram.)
Broad Bean (or Pea) and Lemon Risotto
I'm not sure where I picked up this idea, but I've always believed risotto to be one of those notoriously tricky food stuffs, up there with the likes of French macarons, that should be ordered in a restaurant and only cooked at home by the especially gifted among us. Turns out that's a lie. Risotto is ridiculously simple to make.

- 200g arborio rice
- 850ml (approx) vegetable stock
- 60g (approx) tinned broad beans or peas
- Juice & zest of 1 small lemon
- 1 tbsp garlic & herb Philadelphia or some parmesan

To make this, begin by making up 850ml of vegetable stock - I just use one Knorr Stockpot, but it depends how strong a flavour you like. Heat a large pan and, in a teeny bit of oil, very lightly toast your rice. From there, you simply add the stock to the rice, one ladle at a time, stirring gently now and then. It should take about 20-25minutes to absorb all the stock.

You then add about 60g of peas (frozen or tinned) or bread beans, along with your lemon. I like my food really lemony so I use the juice and zest from a whole lemon, but you can add as much or as little as you like.

Serve as it is - or for a little extra creaminess add a spoonful of Philadelphia (garlic and herb works well) or some Parmesan - and season to taste.

Chilli Non Carne
This is probably my all-time favourite recipe and is so easy to make. It's a bit of a chuck-in-whatever-you-have-to-hand kind of dish, so the ingredients below are only a rough guide. Mine's been known to contain carrots, green beans, baby corn, sweetcorn and more kinds of tinned beans than I can actually name.

- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 chilli, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 2 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 x vegetable stock pot/cube
- 1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, drained
- 2 x 290g tin of beans (e.g. borlotti, cannellini, pinto, or chick peas), drained
- 1 x 200g tin of butter beans, drained
- 1 x red or green pepper, chopped.
- salt, pepper & chilli powder/flakes

This makes enough to feed a good six people (or three of us for two meals), so if you're cooking for one and don't feel like eating chilli for a week, use 1 tin of tomatoes and fewer beans.

To make, fry off your onion, chilli and garlic in a wok or large pan. Once the onions are lightly browned, add in your chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Add in your kidney beans next and simmer for another 5-10minutes, followed by the rest of your beans and peppers, or alternative veg. It's really a case of using common sense about when to add things in -- soft beans like butter beans will only need to cook for a short amount of time, while hard veg like carrots would be better off going in with the tomatoes at the start. The dish should thicken up over heat given the amount of beans, but I have been known to crumble in a veggie burger when the sauce was particularly wet.

You're a smart cookie - you'll know when it's ready to eat. You'll need to taste it and add salt, pepper, or possibly another stockpot and, if you're anything like the folks in this house, you'll need a good few chilli flakes to add in too.

Serve with tacos, lettuce and sour cream; or, for a healthier alternative, on a bed of boiled rice.

Lemony Bulgur Wheat
(In case you don't know, bulgur wheat is a whole wheat grain, usually found near the lentils and dried couscous on your supermarket's shelves.)

- 250g bulgur wheat
- 1.25 litres of boiling water
- 1 x vegetable stock cube/pot
- 1 x medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 x red or yellow pepper, chopped
- 1 x 100g tin of sweetcorn, drained
- 1 x garlic clove, finely chopped
- Chilli flakes
- Juice & zest of 1 lemon

To make, bring your water and vegetable stock pot to the boil in a large pan and add in your bulgur wheat. Turn down the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and keep covered for another 15 minutes.

Whilst that's sitting off the heat, fry your onion, garlic, and veg with some chilli flakes in a separate pan. Add these to your bulgur wheat along with the juice and zest of one lemon and stir.. Et voila! You're ready to serve.

I eat a bowl of this on its own as a meal, but it can also be served as an accompaniment to another main, as a kind of alternative to rice.

And there we have it! Why would you bother with the dodgy-meat-riskiness when vegetable dishes are so tasty and so easy to make?!

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