From Monday May 14th to Sunday May 20th, it’s National Vegetarian Week here in the UK. Happy National Vegetarian Week everyone! It’s a whole week dedicated to getting more people eating yummy veggie grub, consuming less meat and discovering new ways of cooking to expand your horizons and taste buds alike.
Eating more vegetarian meals doesn’t mean you’ll have to eat endless salads or bowls of vegetable soup, although obviously you can if you want to. Here, we’ve compiled some of our favourite recipes for burgers, ‘meat’balls, pies and even scotch eggs, with not an ounce of meat in sight.
Veggie burgers from a packet are a million miles away from homemade ones – the same goes for meat ones too tbh. Making your own means that you can add whatever herbs and spices you like, so you can create a patty that suits your taste preferences perfectly.
Mashed beans make a good base, and can be turned into a tasty burger in as little as ten minutes, as explained in this recipe from Tinned Tomatoes. Serve them on a brioche bun or a seeded roll with cheese, tomato, a dollop of sour cream and perhaps even sliced avocado. The texture’s so good that even the keenest carnivores won’t miss the meat.
Falafel scotch eggs
Scotch eggs are all about sausage meat, right, so how can they possibly be made veggie? Well, veggie sausages duh. Or you could get a little more creative and surround your hard-boiled eggs with a homemade falafel mixture instead, like Healthylicious Foodie has done.
The falafel mix is made from chickpeas and a medley of herbs and spices, which combine to create a texture not too dissimilar to that of sausage meat, but a whole world away when it comes to taste.
Roll your falafel-coated eggs in beaten egg and then through breadcrumbs like you would with a meaty scotch egg and you’ll have the perfect picnic snack.
Kidney bean 'meatballs'
You CAN have pasta and meatballs if you’re vegetarian – well, pasta and ‘balls, anyway. You can get a similar texture and an even better taste by using kidney beans or borlotti beans to make little ball shapes to season and serve with your usual pasta sauce.
Vegan Heaven has a gorgeous recipe for meat-free ‘meat’balls that are made from kidney beans and oats. The blog suggests serving them with a tomato-based sauce packed with veggies, spaghetti and liberal amounts of cheese.
The recipe just so happens to be vegan too, so keep a lookout for vegan cheese in your local supermarket to make this the ultimate meat-free meal.
Stir fry with peanut butter instead of meat (?!)
Now, we know that peanut butter is not the same as meat, but it sure is tasty. If you’re making a simple stir fry with noodles, beansprouts and whatever other odds and ends of veg you’ve got rattling around in your fridge, instead of adding meat and tofu, stir through some peanut butter.
Lazy Cat Kitchen has a recipe for this, which produces a dish with a flavour reminiscent of satay, which turns this simple midweek dinner into something really special and scrummy.
This got us wondering whether peanut butter can be a substitute for meat in other ways too; we already know it’s excellent in sandwiches, so why not on burger buns at barbecues or encased in pastry too? Why not indeed.
Jerk halloumi skewers
Jerk marinades and seasoning are usually associated with chicken dishes, but these spicy yet zesty flavours work just as well coating vegetable chunks and pieces of halloumi, like in this recipe from Big Spud for jerk halloumi kebabs.
We recommend cooking these skewers using your Tefal OptiGrill, which will make sure your veggies and cheese are mouth-wateringly crispy on the outside, but beautifully soft in the middle.
As Big Spud notes, you could use any kind of marinade or seasoning for these kebabs, from piri piri to BBQ or sweet chilli. Based on our above musings, we suggest experimenting with peanut butter to create satay-style skewers too. We dare you.
Mushroom, ale and lentil pie
Hearty doesn’t have to mean meaty – it can do, of course, but it’s not essential. Lentils are brilliant for adding filling power to veggie dishes, and combining them with mushrooms and rich ale in a homemade pie in the style of The Veg Space guarantees a hearty yet meat-free meal.
This pie is a great veggie alternative for Sunday roasts or for chilly evenings – it’s the perfect vegetarian comfort food.
Make extra filling to stir through pasta or eat on its own as a stew, as you glug down the rest of that gorgeous ale. Happy National Vegetarian Week indeed.