National Vegetarian Week 2021: Five easy vegetarian meals

This week marks National Vegetarian Week 2021 and, having been a vegetarian all my life, I thought it was only right for me to do a blog. I was a little stuck on what to do this blog on but I finally decided to share some of my go-to recipes or dishes which really don’t take much time to make but are so delicious!

Stir-fried vegetables
I think you can chuck pretty much anything you have and make it into a stir-fry and as it’s usually vegetables, you can season and stir to your taste in all instances. My go-to vegetables for stir-fries are peppers (any and every colour), broccoli, babycorn, edamame, mushrooms, mange tout, pak choi, leeks, onions… and my fave ingredient, the humble water chestnut. These vegetables are pretty much all versatile and you can pick and choose which ones you want to add or take away. Aside from this, I sometimes also include courgettes but feel they can be a bit watery (bit like the mushrooms) but a good vegetable nonetheless. And, if you like, you can add in some quorn or soya pieces or even some tofu! Equally, you can also choose to add in rice or noodles too – I personally change it up all the time.

Vegetable Pastries
Yes, it’s perhaps not the most healthiest thing but pastries can provide a great option when making vegetarian food. I usually buy a puff pastry roll which are refrigerated or you can get frozen puff pastry – which will need defrosting before you use. There are so many options you can choose to make out of pastries including parcels, wellingtons, open pizzas, turnovers. The trick with puff pastry is to ensure that whatever you are putting inside or on top is well seasoned, been cooked a little (maybe a stir fry or steam if you like) and then dried out. If you choose to put something saucy in then it will most definitely seep out and create a whole load of mess! My most favourite pastry I made has been a mushroom wellington which also had potatoes and spinach – was so delicious!

Curries
This is a given and, given that in the UK the most loved takeaways are Indians, this is a no-brainer. Curries are perhaps one of the most versatile things you could make as a vegetarian. They can include vegetables together or just focus on one vegetable but, once again, seasoning and sauce consistency are key. My favourite curries include creamy sweetcorn curry and palak paneer – I swear I order the same things even if I go out to a restaurant! You can choose to have a thick sauce or not and you can also cook curries in different ways – such as in a saucepan or a pressure cooker. You can also cook some curries in the oven to get a different depth of flavour altogether. The possibilities are endless!

Pasta or Tray Bakes
Can one ever go wrong with pasta? The real answer is yes but most people find it super easy as a food to cook. The reason I said yes is that when I first started experimenting, I remember cooking the most awful pastas with flavours that literally didn’t turn out as I’d hoped. Since then, I’ve discovered the beauty of whizzing vegetables together and disguising them in a healthy sauce and then making sure I put in a lot of the flavours I like. My favourite flavour in most things is garlic, even though it’s pretty stinky. But the key to good vegetarian pastas can often be in what your tastes are. I sometimes crave a really tomatoey pasta with lots of vegetables, but other times I might feel like a pesto pasta with mushrooms and only mushrooms. It really depends on a mood and a craving at the time. These days I’m quite into Orzo pasta because it’s so versatile and can also be a part of salads. And, yes, I do know that pasta salads can be made with any type or shape of pasta! As for tray bakes, these are great when only wanting to concentrate on “good carbs” but without the likes of a rice or pasta included.

Salads
Many will refer to salads as “rabbit food” even in this day and age but, with all due respect, I think the humble salad have evolved in time. It is now ok to have it as a substantial meal and not feel like you’ve eaten only half a meal, for example. Salads are also pretty versatile but when many feel that they need an addition of chicken or another meat, I’m here to tell you otherwise. You can choose to make a healthy and wholesome salad with the likes of spelt, pearl barley, cous-cous or even any beans to help fill you up and they can be bloody scrumptious too. Also you can put in avocados, oranges or other fruits in order to make sure the wholesome feel stay. My favourite fruit to add into a pasta or leafy salad is a green apple because it can provide just the right amount of tang often needed for the flavour to elevate. But the bottom line here is don’t shy away from the possibilities of salads.

So there you have my go-to dishes when it comes to easy, innovative and delish meals as a vegetarian. I still hear, even in this day and age, that it’s hard to be a vegetarian but I beg to differ. I’ve been vegetarian my whole life and it’s only in very few places I feel that I’m not able to have a choice to what I eat because there’s only one thing on the menu. In most restaurants, the menus cater even for vegans so I think the restaurant market has become more aware of what people are consuming and it doesn’t always require meat.

Let me know your thoughts about being or cooking vegetarian. I would love to see!
Much love,
AT x

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