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Easy Vegetarian Meat Alternatives

Easy Vegetarian Meat Alternatives

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From the 13th to the 19th of May it’s National Vegetarian Week and this week we are sharing some meat-free alternatives which can be enjoyed whether you are vegetarian or not! Get involved this National Vegetarian Week and find out not just how delicious vegetarian dishes can be but also how simply they can be to make with small tweaks to transform your favourite meat dishes into veggie delights.

When we say meat alternatives, we’re not just talking about adding Quorn chicken to your curry instead of regular chicken, we will show you exciting new ways to create vegetarian dishes that you have probably never thought of before. Often vegetarian options that mimic meat can be very processed which is why, if you want to steer clear of processed foods, we are showing you some other ways to make up for the meat in a vegetarian dish.

Meat-Free Shepherd’s Pie

A classic meat dish is shepherd’s pie, but this is also something that can be enjoyed if you are vegetarian or just interested in trying out some vegetarian cooking. We advise not to replace the minced beef with a vegetarian imitation, but instead to use green lentils.

The addition of green lentils to this dish is not only great for vegetarians but can also allow those who can’t eat red meat to enjoy the dish. It’s also a lighter way to enjoy all the shepherd’s pie flavours you love.

We suggest using your favourite shepherd’s pie recipe (but make sure you use vegetable stock!) and simply replace the minced beef in the recipe with the green lentils. You will need to cook the lentils before they are ready to be added to the pie.

Dry lentils can take a while to soften; you will need to boil them on the hob and it’s best you put them in a pan, cover them with water so it’s about 2 inches above them and then begin to boil them on medium-low heat. After 20 minutes the water should be boiling, so at this point reduce the temperature and leave them there for another 40 minutes; make sure you keep stirring so they don’t stick to the pan. You can test the lentils by either squeezing them between your fingers or try eating a few to check they’re not hard or crunchy.

So you now know how to prepare lentils to replace your beef in your shepherd’s pie. You can also use lentils like this in a vegetarian salad to make it more filling. Just wait for them to cool and then mix them with your favourite greens, veg and dressing.

Vegetarian Thai Curry

One of the advantages of making vegetarian dishes over meat dishes is that they are often quicker to prepare as vegetables take less time to cook than meats that you must ensure aren’t raw at all. Thai curries are a great place to start if you are looking to make a quicker dish still with all the great tastes of a chicken Thai curry.

Two members of the vegetable family that work really well in Thai curries are pumpkin and chickpeas which are equally great used together or alone. If you can’t get your hands-on pumpkin, butternut squash also works great with the Thai curry flavours.

Whether you decide to use chickpeas or pumpkin or butternut squash or a combination, you can make a delicious veggie dish combining them with ingredients such as lemongrass and coconut milk to make a Thai style curry. The great thing about using vegetables in a curry like this is that not only will the dish be vegetarian, but a lot of the time it will be vegan too, so it is a great way to try out not only vegetarian eating but vegan eating too!

Spicy Cauliflower ‘Wings’

As much as we love our classic dishes such as cottage pie or a Thai curry, we also love to indulge in a bit of junk food from time to time, such as chips and spicy chicken wings. Chips are safe for vegetarians, but how do they get their fix when it comes to a meat-free spicy chicken wing alternative? We have the answer!

The answer is simply cauliflower! Not only vegetarian but also no doubt a healthier option to the deep-fried spicy chicken wings from the takeaway, and here’s how you can transform cauliflower into spicy ‘wings.’

Cut your cauliflower into chunks, each about the size of a chicken wing. Prepare a coating for your cauliflower by using water, flour, a small bit of oil, your favourite chilli sauce and chilli flakes. The great thing about preparing this coating is that you can make it exactly how you want, you can control how spicy it is and add your own additions such as garlic or other herbs and spices.

You should mix the coating so it’s not a paste but not runny, a bit like a batter as the next step is to cover your cauliflower chunks in it. Once you have ensured each cauliflower chunk is evenly covered by your coating, they are ready to be fried. You can fry your cauliflower in a frying pan; make sure there’s plenty of oil and it is hot when you add your coated cauliflower to it. Keep turning the cauliflower so it becomes evenly browned on each side and once it is it’s ready to serve!

So vegetarianism need not be such a chore when you have these great vegetable replacements for your favourite meaty dishes. It’s worth giving these veggie alternatives a go and who knows, they may even become a staple in your diet past National Vegetarian Week!

We often teach clients how to make vegetarian dishes at our cooking lessons or treat our dinner party diners to delicious vegetarian menus.

If you’d be interested in organising a vegetarian cooking lesson or dinner party with us then contact us, today!

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