Maybe you’re new to vegetarianism or you’re busy with your job or the kids so you know you don’t want to spend hours preparing dinner.
Giving up meat needn’t mean you need elaborate cooking skills. In fact, sometimes you don’t need to cook at all, which can come in handy when you get ill or don’t have the time.
Here are a selection of quick and easy recipes you can make in minutes:
The Mediterranean diet is prized for protecting your heart and helping you live longer! To make Greek salad you will need:
A handful of black olives (or whatever variety you like)
Three tomatoes, cut up
One cucumber, cut into cubes
One red pepper, one yellow pepper, cut into pieces
One small red onion, sliced
One small diced lettuce
150g of feta cheese, cut into cubes
Three tablespoons of red wine vinegar
100mls of olive oil
A few pinches of dried oregano herb
Mix it all together and hey presto, you have the most delicious salad you’ve ever tasted, that’s very good for you too.
If you want to reduce your preparation time to less than 10 minutes you can buy pre-packed salad and just add the feta cheese, olives, olive oil, red wine vinegar and oregano, but make sure you wash the salad thoroughly. You can also reduce time by buying feta cheese that is already in cubes.
If the kids are fussy about eating salad, here’s a recipe they’ll love. It is quick to make and will fill them up for longer so they are less inclined to snack.
250g of macaroni and 250g of cheddar cheese (this amount serves four people, if feeding more, increase the amount by 62.5g per person)
40g butter and 40g of plain flour (increase by 10g for each extra person you are feeding if more than four people)
One pint of organic milk (add another half pint for each two extra people)
50-100g of grated parmesan cheese.
Cook the macaroni in boiling water for 10 minutes (TIP: if you boil the water in a kettle first, the pasta will cook faster)
Drain in and put on a counter in a bowl
Heat butter in a large saucespan
Add in flour and stir, then slowly add in the milk and keep stirring. It will thicken into a sauce. If you add the milk too fast or don’t stir enough, it can go lumpy.
Once the sauce is nice and smooth, take it off the hob and add in half the cheddar and parmesan
Once the cheese has melted, add in the cooked macaroni and mix, then put it in a large ovenproof dish under the grill, sprinkle over the remaining cheese and cook for a few minutes until the cheese has browned. Then serve.
If your children liked meat, you can buy vegetarian ‘bacon’ strips and cut these into cubes to add to the pasta to give it a bit of a ‘meaty’ flavor.
Other variations of pasta dishes can be cooked very simply. For instance, spaghetti with a tinned pasta sauce, vegetarian mince, parmesan cheese and a few chopped vine tomatoes always goes down a treat and requires little preparation.
Toasted sandwiches can also be made quickly and are nutritious. A favorite amongst children is lettuce, sliced cherry tomato, a very small amount of sliced onion, vegetarian ‘bacon’ slices and a bit of organic ketchup, toasted together in a sandwich toaster.
You can also make hummus (chickpea spread – bought from a store is quicker) toasted sandwiches with grated carrot and sliced black olives. It sounds like an unusual combination but it really works. You can reduce preparation time by buying the carrot already grated, although do wash it first.
These take a long time to cook, sometimes more than an hour, so if you’re pushed for time, bake them the night before you need them and then store them in the fridge. Then all you have to do is re-heat them in the oven for a few minutes and make up your filling. Simple filling ideas include:
Garlic mushrooms – you can either make your own using butter and crushed garlic or you can buy them ready prepared.
A good old fashioned can of baked beans – this is under-rated but a source of protein.
Grated cheddar cheese – you can have this on its own or add it to baked beans.
Black olives, mozzarella cheese and sliced sun-dried tomatoes (if vegan you can have it without the cheese or add in a cheese substitute).
A can of mixed salad beans
Bangers and Mash
Another favorite with the kids, it takes about 25 minutes to make.
Peel the skin off the potatoes and boil them for around 20 minutes until soft, while at the same time cooking broccoli.
5 minutes after cooking has started, put some ready made vegetarian sausages under the grill (you can make your own but it takes longer)
Then drain the potatoes, add butter and mash with a fork or food processor.
Put veggie sausage on top of a scoop of mashed potato and add the broccoli to the side. If you want a bit of extra flavor you can always add a bit of cooked garlic or a pinch of pepper.
Fancy soup? Here’s a new take on a traditional recipe:
French Onion Soup
Normally made with beef stock, you can substitute with vegetable stock instead. You will need:
1kg of brown onions
2 tablespoons of thyme herb
50g of butter (or margarine if you’re vegan)
1.2 litres of vegetable stock
A bit of white flour or cornflour
Fry the onions in the butter until golden, add thyme and vegetable stock, then slowly add flour and stir until the soup has thickened slightly. You can then add croutons (available pre-packaged) if you wish.
If the soup is for grown up’s only, you might want to add a bit of a kick to your soup by adding three tablespoons of dry sherry.
Another quick and easy soup recipe is to get leftover vegetables and whizz them around in a blender with a bit of vegetable stock.
This grain is really easy to prepare. You don’t even have to cook it, you just put a bit of boiling water or stock over it and wait for it to expand. It can be used as a faster alternative to rice. Then you just add your ingredients to it. Then add diced brazil nuts and dried apricots (about 30g each), a tiny bit of fresh chopped coriander, a pinch of pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice and you have a really yummy dinner.
Another idea is to put diced dried apricots, diced almond nuts, grated orange rind and a splash of orange juice in and this is equally as tasty.
If you want to cheat on cooking you can buy quick cook rice (10 minutes) and a ready made vegetable or mushroom curry (of course, it isn’t as good for you as if you made your own, but it can be done if you’re in a hurry). Children’s curry can be made with a ready made mild curry sauce (you can always add a tiny bit of coconut milk into it to make it creamier), a handful of saltanas and a few vegetarian ‘chicken’ chunks.
Risotto Done Quickly
This is really easy, just boil some risotto rice in vegetable stock for 10 minutes, then add in some frozen vegetables and peas and cook for a further 5 minutes until soft.