#JanuaryJoy – Try a Veggie Day

I’ve never been a vegetarian and a rare steak would be among my favourite meal choices. Couple that with a husband who LOVES his meat and veggie days are few and far between in my house.

There are a lot of benefits to trying a vegetarian day or week though. You’ve got the obvious positives of packing more of your five a day in and if you stay away from cheese as a meat substitute, you’re often going to end up with a healthier, lower fat meal too. If you want to save a few pennies this January, you can bring down the shopping bill when you don’t have to spend money on decent cuts of meat. So for all of those reasons and simply for the sake of variety in our usual meal repertoire, I thought it would be fun to explore some vegetarian recipes.

Pasta recipes often get a bad reputation for seeming student-y, but I think this one strikes the balance between fast simple food and elegant complex (if rustic) flavours. Plus it has the added benefit of being one of those dishes that you can always knock up with store cupboard ingredients. Taken from a Christmas gift we received, Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Cookery Course it’s a great week-night meal.

Pasta with tomatoes, anchovy and chillies. (Serves 4)
400g dried spaghetti
Olive oil, for frying and drizzling
2-3 galric cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 dried red chilli, crumbled.
1 x 50g tin anchovies in oil, drained and finely chopped
200g pitted black olives, roughly chopped
3 tbsp capers, drained and rinsed
250g cherry tomatoes, halved
Seasoning and basil leaves to garnish.

  • Cook the pasta until al dente
  • Heat a frying pan with some olive oil and fry the chilli, anchovies and garlic for 1-2 minutes until the anchovy starts to melt into the oil
  • Add the remaining ingredients and stir for another 4-5 minutes until the tomatoes collapse and the ingredients are well combined.
  • Drain the pasta and toss into the pan with the sauce. Toss until the sauce coats the pasta. Season to taste and serve topped with basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

Do you try to eat vegetarian food regularly and why? Have you got a favourite veggie dish that you make?


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44 thoughts on “#JanuaryJoy – Try a Veggie Day

  1. Might not go down too well with vegetarians if it’s got anchovies in….it’s the age old vegetarian/pescetarian debate! Looks highly delicious to me though….I am a rampant carnivore but being married to a vegan means reading every single packet label and being constantly amazed by how much of the processed food we consume has animal products. Milk in crisps? Fish in Lea&Perrins? Oh yes. Seriously though, if anyone is extremely interested in having a super healthy January, try a vegan diet for a bit as a detox! If nothing else it’s an incredible challenge in the kitchen…


    • I did think about that Penny! As I’m not doing this to avoid meat or fish it didn’t bother me, but take your point! I think a dollop of pesto, or black olive tapanade would be a suitable replacement 🙂

  2. One of my favourite veggie recipes is Tana Ramsay’s Butternut Squash Spaghetti Lasagne. It’s a bit labour intensive but the results are amazing. Delicious. It’s not on line but it’s in her book Real Family Food.

    We try to have at least one veggie day a week, and getting our Abel & Cole Fruit & Veg box delivered weekly makes this not only easier, but fun too.

    I also always maintain the most simple recipes are the best and I’ve got a mum who’s taught me just to make things up. A real winner in our house is a simple pasta dish:

    Olive Oil
    Garlic (as much as you can bear)
    Red Chilli (ditto above)

    Cook the spaghetti according to pack instructions
    In a (heavy based if you have) pan, add a good flub of olive oil and heat. Add the garlic (chopped) and Red Chilli (finely chopped) and sauté, careful not to burn. Add the Asparagus (part steamed, microwave easiest) chopped into chunks (I like to use the bigger asparagus for this receipe) and cook until hot. Add the whole lot to the cook spaghetti and coat. Serve in bowls with a good grating of Parmesan.

    Absolutely delicious and so quick.

    Erin xx

  3. I like the sound of this. We too love our meat and have tried to take on board the ‘Meat Free Monday’ idea recently. A tasty and quick dish I make for Eleanor (and now us!) is pasta, with broccoli florets thrown in half way through cooking time and peas thrown in for the last minute. Drain and mix with green pesto and sprinkle with parmesan. A quick tasty meal that we all now love and in contains 2 of your 5-a-day!

  4. We do veggie weeks every now and again when we need to kick start our healthy eating. I’ve just bought the Leon cookbook so I can try and recreate their sweet potato falafels and amazing coleslaw, I’ll let you know how I get on.

  5. I like to cut out meat, but find it tough to convince my husband, other than using Quorn or another meat substitute my most successful veggie meals (as in my husband eats it!) would be a chilli – this one is great http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pulses-recipes/vegetarian-chilli
    and a pasta with roasted veg, tomato sauce and mozarella. Although your recipe looks lovely, and I will try it, it isn’t a veggie meal if it has anchovies in it?!

  6. I’ve been a Veggie since I was 11, so that’s almost 16yrs. The reason I stopped eating meat was purely an animal rights thing. I just couldn’t bear the thought of something being killed so I could eat it. I still feel just as strongly about that and doubt I’ll ever eat Meat again. Just the thought makes me feel sick.
    I have never pushed my views on other people though. Turning Vegetarian is a personal choice and not for everyone. But having less meat in your diet is not only good for you, but it helps the planet too (as well as your purse).
    My husband has been amazing and has practically given up meat too. He is a Rugby/Gym fanatic but even he admits he feels better when he doesn’t eat meat, althought he caves in to the occasional steak.
    Vegetarian food these days is amazing, I only wish more people would try it.
    ps I get really annoyed when people that eat fish call themelves veggie!

    • I think this is what Alex means when she says that going meatless for a meal/veggie for life, can help the planet:


      It’s a fascinating concept. Imagine if all of use who eat meat cut our meat consumption in half from this moment on; I wonder what lasting impact that would have on pollution and global warming. Interesting!

      After this whole TESCO burger debacle (I wouldn’t regularly buy a burger anyway and don’t even live in the U.K. any more) it does make you think twice, yet again, about what you choose to put in your trolley and in your mouth.

      I have long lived by the idea of buying one organic chicken once a fortnight, a couple of fish fillets and some organic, free range beef and trying to make that small amount go the distance over month or so; bulking out with lentils, chickpeas, veggies etc and always using the chicken carcass for a stock.

      Now living in the U.S., my current bug bear is the difficulty I have in getting free range eggs-you can get ‘cage free’ anywhere, but that just means the chooks have a free for all in a large, closed off barn. A far cry from real ‘free range’!

      Finally, I agree with Rebecca-tapenade would be a great replacement for the anchovies!

      • Lottie-This is exactly what I mean. It takes on average 15 times as much land to produce 1kg of beef than 1kg cereals and 70 times as much than it does the same weight in veg!!! That’s crazy! Then there’s the water consumption, it takes the equivalent of 50 baths to produce one steak!
        By 2050 humans could be eating 120 billion animals, double our current consumption. That’s a lot of water and land to find

    • Me too. I get even more cross when restaurants have the Vegetarian symbol against a dish that has fish in too..they should know better!

  7. Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook – I actually look forward to cooking vegetarian! We buy meat at the beginning of the month in our big online shop and then not again until the next month although we’re constantly topping it up with market veggies. It keeps a lid on how much we spend on meat/how much meat we eat and means we frequently have veggie meals.

    But then again sometimes I really crave a good steak!

  8. My husband is a vegetarian and as Penny says, you’d be amazed how many products have animal products in them. A huge amount of cheese isn’t vegetarian for instance (it has rennet in it) and so a lot of cheese-flavoured crisps aren’t either. There was an outcry a few years back when Doritos changed their recipe so it wasn’t suitable for vegetarians anymore and they had to change it back!

    Anyway, I cook a lot of vegetarian meals and when I can I substitute meat for myself (eg. I’ll have roast chicken pieces and he’ll have Quorn fillets or I’ll have pork&apple sausages and he’ll have Linda McCartney ones). I quite like having to be inventive with curries, pies and other “whole” dishes though and I must admit that Quorn mince is as good as “real” mince when in Chili or Bolognese or a pie.

    It’s harder when we’re travelling or out for dinner as husband doesn’t like mushrooms, aubergine or courgette which always seem to be the main ingredients in veggie meals.

    A really easy quick option is Frittata (like a Spanish omelette or like a quiche without the pastry base) which is also great for using leftovers or can be easily tarted up with cupboard ingredients. I like to make it with really crispy garlic rosemary potatoes and salad on the side.

  9. I love veggie food, and quite often eat it. I was veggie for 11 years, but then I guess I just got bored and now I love my meat too. I buy free range eggs and meat whenever I can. What I’m not sure about though is whether organic meat is all its cracked up to be – my understanding ( please correct me if I’m wrong) is that organic animals are not allowed any vaccinations, or antibiotics if they get an infection, as well as any feeds/chemicals to make them grow faster. Obviously you don’t want them having the latter, but I also don’t want them not to get help if they get an infection. Can anyone clear this up?

  10. ps vegan lentil bolognese

    onion, garlic, mushrooms, fried in a little olive oil, bit of thyme, (generous) splash of vegie approved red wine, about 200g of lentils (for 4 people),2x tinned tomatoes, a bit of tomato puree, vegie stock cube, salt and pepper, simmer for 10 mins, then in the oven for as long as you can wait ( at least 1 1/2 hours) at 180 or so. serve with pasta and green salad with balsamic dressing. yum! oh and generous lashings of parmesan if you’re vegie rather than vegan.

  11. We are not vegetarian, but due to living overseas where the meat is imported/local meal quality not as good, we eat mostly fish based or vegetarian dishes and save a good meaty meal for dinner out (you can imagine how we overdosed at Christmas by being back home!).

    Anyhow, our favourite meal is a simple, cheap affair but delicious and filling, and healthy too-its’s bean burritos.

    First saute some peppers and mushrooms, add Old El paso fajita/burrito mix sachet (cheat).Then add tin of mixed beans in spicy sauce (I use Waitrose). Heat, then add to tortillas. Top with sensible amount of cheese (15g is enough to satisfy). Heat in oven for 10 minutes or until golden. Serve with side salad.

    It’s cheap, quick and easy and my go to when tired and need to cook a meal quickly. 🙂

    Some delicious recipe suggestions here ladies, thanks x

  12. I confess I do love meat – but I love vegetables too. I actually get withdrawal symptoms if I go too long without salad, such is my love of leaves (it’s possible I was a giraffe in a previous life!). But I try to avoid carbs – primarily sugar, bread, rice and pasta but also potato – as it stops my blood sugar levels going quite as screwy. Veggie food seems to be all about the carb so it’s rarely an option for me sadly.

  13. I do love a good veggie meal HOWEVER I can see the global warming argument but I think of the farmers aswell…
    Can you imagine how many people would be out of a job if the meat consumption in this country suddenly dropped? We have a fantastic farming heritage in this country that has had way too many knocks the last few years.
    I do see the the otherwise of the argument tho, truly I do but so often it the poor farmers and their families that pay.

    • Interesting take, but I have a feeling that you are assuming that farming is still what it was 50 or 100 years ago – it isn’t. The vast majority of our meat comes from industrialised farming, not small ‘family’ farms – but massive corporate entities where food quality and the treatment of animals (and their employees) are equally abysmal. These are the companies that are forcing the farmers you’re thinking of out of business.

      How/whether/what meat to eat a very difficult choice, and an individual one for everyone, but I would have thought that if anyone is serious about helping out farmers, they steer clear of anything on a 3 for a tenner offer and visit your local butcher and buy some locally, non intensively reared meat.

      • Couldn’t agree more with the visit your local butcher, the meats of a far superior quality.

        Being a farmers daughter though I do know that not all the meat on our supermarket shelves is intensively reared (chicken may be the one exception) and supermarkets and those 3 for a tenner deals etc are what’s causing the farming industry problems. I just thank god we aren’t anywhere near the like the states and their horrific approach to intensive battery farming of cattle – appalling. I’m also not naive enough to think that most people shopping choice (mine included) are dictated by ££ so whilst I appreciate a veggie choice is always cheaper than meat I think we also have a responsibility to buy out meat with a conscious where possible.

  14. We regularly make a massive batch of lentil curry, and portion it up for dinners when we are totally skint (quite often!) as it freezes really well. In my opinion, the hotter you make it the less you notice the lack of meat! It’s also a great way of using up any odds and sods you’ve got kicking about in the fridge, I hate throwing food away – it’s so wasteful. It’s also super low calorie – about 200 per portion so I can treat myself to a wee Malteaser bunny afterwards 😉 x

  15. My fave veggie dinner is the spinach and chickpea curry, I think it was Zans. It’s become a regular dinner in our house x

  16. Wow you have caused a bit of a stir. I won’t mention the “a” word.

    I’ve been vegetarian since I moved to England – coming from South Africa they don’t really get the concept. I don’t try and convince people to become vegetarian but do encourage people to eat less meat as the impact of a high animal protein diet isn’t too good for the planet. There is a great interactive site on our virtual water use and the role of livestock in that http://angelamorelli.com/water/, but carbon emissions, waste and pollution are also issues.

    This month I am trying veganism and it offers an opportunity to challenge myself in the kitchen with trying new recipes. There are so many great foodie blogs which do a lot of vegetarian and vegan meals. One of my go to’s in vegan months is Love and Lemons (http://www.loveandlemons.com/) but 101 cookbooks (http://101cookbooks.com/index.html) is a perennial favourite (http://101cookbooks.com/index.html)

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