…and my meat-free(ish) plans for 2019.
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This year I’m trying to eat more vegetarian food than ever. In fact at the beginning of 2019 I secretly swore that I’d become fully vegetarian only to discover that on the 4th January my Aunty had made a ridiculously tasty meat ragu with spaghetti for dinner – turns out that you actually have to tell people you’re vegetarian. This combined with my recent discovery that Pret’s Kale & Cauliflower Mac & Cheese is everything, but the one with Proscuitto is even more, has meant that I fell off the full-time veggie wagon even sooner than I expected.
That doesn’t mean that I’ve given up completely though and we’ve still stick with our rule of not eating meat in the home and generally trying to cut down our meat consumption. One – it’s nice for the animals ain’t it? Two – it’s cheaper and our food budget has drastically cut down in the two years since we started to eat less meat. Three – my gut feels better for all the vegetables that I now consume. I’ve cooked with chard! Leeks! Jackfruit (although the jury is still out on that one)! It’s forced me to be more experimental in the kitchen and thanks to some tasty meal-filled cookbooks I’m feeling more inspired and satiated than ever. Fancy feasting on some home-cooked veggie food? Here are my favourite reads…
‘The Green Roasting Tin’ by Rukmini Iyer*. This is my most recent purchase and I’m in love. 75 dishes – half vegan and half vegetarian – organised into groups of recipes that are quick and easy, to some that take a little more time to cook, all of which can be rustled up in one roasting tin. Genius, right? I feared that this book would be too samey, but once I’d had a flick through I was surprised by just how versatile it was. There’s a bit of everything in there; from gratins and bakes to tarts and curries. The Leek and Puy Lentil Gratin with Crunchy Feta Topping (P.178) has been the best recipe I’ve tried so far. I made it for friends one weeknight and we ALL went back for leftovers. I cooked it from start to finish after my friends had arrived and it didn’t take much prep or time at all. Next on my list is the Butter Roasted Harrissa Leeks and Beetroot with Bulgur Wheat and Feta (P.216). Can you tell I’m having a cheese and leek love-in at the moment?
‘The Modern Cook’s Year’ by Anna Jones*. I first got into seasonal cooking thanks to Madeleine Shaw’s book ‘A Year of Beautiful Eating’. It just makes sense. The ingredients are ripe and ready and at their best – so why not use them when they are in season? It’s by far our most-used cookbook and we actually do tend to stick to cooking recipes at the appropriate time of year (only rarely skipping back or jumping forward to the next season). I could probably fill a whole blog post with my personal picks from the pages, but here are a couple of highlights. Mark loves making the Vanilla and Blackberry Drop Scones (P. 312) for an indulgent weekend breakfast. The Chard, Lentil and Bay Gratin (P.350) is what we’d have every night for dinner if it was socially acceptable to eat a block of cheese everyday. Then we make the Miso Roast Squash and Potatoes with Almond and Kale (P.406) as the vegetable side dish for accompanying dinners about twice a month. It goes with everything, is so easy and actually makes kale edible. Even my Dad eats it! Side note: There’s actually a tonne of these recipes published on The Guardian if you want to try before you buy.
‘A Modern Way to Eat’ by Anna Jones*. My first ever fully veggie cookbook! We bought this because a lot of our friends are vegetarian and we were finding it tough to find recipes to cook then when they came round for dinner that weren’t just a stuffed mushroom or pepper. We wanted something that felt different and just as good as a meaty dish and this book delivers exactly that. It’s funny flicking through because the book automatically falls open on the Dhal with Crispy Sweet Potato and Quick Coconut Chutney (P.128), which perfectly demonstrates how much this dhal is loved and cooked in our household. The Honey-Roasted Radishes (P.238) make a great side dish too and I’ve subbed in beetroots when we had a load left over and they were delish. A tried and tested crowdpleaser is the Salted Caramel Crack Brownies (P.300); ditch the homemade caramel and buy yourself a pot of the good-stuff to save yourself the bother, serve with ice-cream and get ready for everyone to scrape their bowls clean.
‘A Modern Way to Cook’ by Anna Jones*. I got this for my Birthday last year from my Mother-in-Law (cheers Jill!) and it rounded off my ‘Anna Jones Museum of Books’ collection nicely. This book was her second release and focuses more on speedy weeknight dishes and bakes. I’d say that it’s my least used out of all the ones that I’ve mentioned here and a little tough to navigate as sweet and savoury recipes are peppered throughout, but it’s a good one to flick through when you want something tasty and you want it fast. The Salted Almond Butter Chocolate Bars (P.320), certainly didn’t turn out as picturesque as hers did, but damn they were delicious. Oh and the Butternut and Cannellini Gratin (P.212) is a good one to wheel out for guests; whether they are veggie or not. When I first discovered this recipe I made it twice in one week. Cheese AND bread in a dinner dish? What’s not to love?
Photos by Emma Croman
‘An Edited Life’ is now available to purchase worldwide HERE