Oh hey, it’s National Vegetarian Week ! If you’re veggie or vegan, this has been a solid week for eating out at places that are usually a bit rubbish for meat-free dining, and visiting supermarkets you don’t normally go to, to see what extra stuff they’ve got in store. If you’re a meat-eater or pescatarian, it’s prime time to have a crack at taking time off from meat and fish and seeing just how flippin’ easy it really is to live that trendy veggie life.
Research shows that eating a vegetarian diet instead of an omnivorous one can reduce your risk of developing several kinds of cancer, can reduce your cholesterol and knocks your chances of getting heart disease down by more than 30% – although that’s not to say it isn’t very, very easy to find a plentiful amount of vegan and vegetarian junk food these days.
If you’re a member of the ever-growing flexitarian tribe and keen to cut down your meat intake, or you’re already converted to the veggie way of life and just need some inspiration, hopefully you’ll like some of these no-fuss veggie food ideas to keep your tastebuds happy through the end of National Vegetarian Week and beyond.
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it for your own health, to save the planet, to save animals or for all those reasons – every little helps! (Even if you’re just doing it for a bet, these are tasty dishes to try.)
Veggie sausage casserole
Creation time: 30 mins
Serves: 4, or 2 dinners and two leftover lunches
- 6 Veggie Sausages (I use Linda McCartney or the Quorn Vegan ones)
- 2 tins chopped tomatoes
- 1 red or white onion (diced)
- 1 tin of cannellini beans (drained)
- 1 red pepper & 1 yellow pepper (diced or in strips)
- 1 vegetable or red wine stock pot/stock cube
- Optional garlic – works without, also works with 5 cloves if you like garlic as much as I do
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- Sprinkling of salt and pepper
This works equally well with basically any kind of potato produce on the side – roasties, boiled new potatoes, chips, wedges, mash, croquettes, smiley faces… all of the above?
Let the sausages defrost a bit while you’re chopping the peppers, onion and garlic, and draining the beans. Once they’ve softened up a bit (or before, if you’re strong) chop them into little pieces and throw in a frying pan with a little oil and the onion.
After 4-5 minutes, add in the garlic, beans and chopped peppers. Wait another 2 minutes, then chuck in your chopped tomatoes. Mix it all together, crumble in a stock cube or stock pot and swish your smoked paprika, salt and pepper in – voila, you’re almost there. Now you just have to keep stirring the pan every now and then for about 8-10 minutes, and dinner is served.
One-pot lentil and sweet potato curry
Because more pots = more effort.
Creation time: 35 minutes
Serves: 5 (always about that leftover life)
- 1 cup dried red lentils
- 3 cups vegetable stock broth
- 1 medium sweet potato, cubed
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 1 (average-sized?!) onion, also diced
- 1 tin coconut milk
- A big handful of spinach
- 1/2 tin chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp each: ginger powder, turmeric, mild curry powder
- Pinch of salt & black pepper
Don’t see ‘lentils’ and think ‘effort’ because as I recently discovered, lentils are actually not An Effort to cook with. They’re actually considerably Less Effort than dicking around with animal produce.
This one’s easy: heat some oil in a big pot. Soften the onion in it, then add your lentils, potato, carrot and spices and mix the whole lot together. Now add the broth and tomatoes, and bring your pot to the boil. Reduce to a simmer, cook for about 20 minutes, stir in the coconut milk and spinach, and cook for 5 more – there you go. You’ve made a fancy dinner and you’ve only messed up the bare minimum of things. High five. (Serve with microwave rice for added lazy vibes.)
Lazy pesto pasta’n’veg
If you think I’m going to tell you to make your own pesto, ya have nae read the title properly.
Creation time: 20 minutes
Serves: 3-4, depending on how good your spaghetti portioning is
- Half a white onion
- 1 small courgette/half a large one, diced
- A handful of chopped mushrooms (I like to use about 100g of chestnut mushrooms, but button/closed cup/mini portobello are also good shouts)
- A handful of spinach (two if you’ve got tiny hands)
- 2 tbsp pesto (I use Sacla or Tesco Free From Green Pesto usually, but the Sacla Chargrilled Aubergine one is a solid alternative)
- About 250g spaghetti? Maybe? Unless you’ve got one of those fancy spaghetti measuring hole things, do you even really know? Use wholewheat pasta if you want to feel righteous
The fact this requires a pot AND pan makes it mildly more ‘fuss’, but it’s still stupidly easy. I’m assuming you all know how to cook pasta, so we’ll focus on the rest. While your spaghetti is boiling away, fry the onion until it softens and then add your courgette and mushroom to the pan. Once they’re looking pretty cooked (4 mins?) add in the spinach and watch in awe as what looked like a whole bag suddenly turns into about 3 leaves. The magic of science.
Combine cooked pasta with cooked veg, then stir in your pesto until everything looks suitably green. Ta-da.
I thought about adding a trendy hipster soul bowl / ‘Buddha Bowl’ to this list, but decided that seeing as I’ve never actually made one of those in my life, now might not be the time to start pushing them on other people. I’m more of a hash brown sausage sandwich kinda gal.
If you’ve got any favourite veggie/vegan recipes that don’t take much effort, feel free to share links below!