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Getting better at vegetarian food

I've decided to cook more vegetarian food. Meat-eating is one of our biggest contributors to CO2 emissions and climate change, and certainly it's the biggest one that I can do something about. The nice thing is you don't have to go vegetarian - it's not all-or-nothing - just eat a bit less meat than normal, and you're on your way to improving your carbon footprint.

I'm not a fan of the "fake meat" vegetarian route (quorn, lentil sausages, etc) so what I've done is asked friends for some good new everyday veggie meals. So how's it going so far?

  • The top award goes to Warm spiced cauliflower and chickpea salad with pomegranate seeds. It's easy to do and it makes a proper main course out of a cauliflower. The recipe is by Nigella Lawson, and thanks to Kitty for sending it me! I know pomegranate is not the most everyday thing ever - I've made it without them and it's OK - but if you've got them it's nice, and fancy.
  • African peanut stew is a great way to use some peanut butter from the storecupboard to make a stew into something rich and hearty. (Thanks Chrystie.) You can also do it with chopped peanuts, as I discovered when I didn't realise I was out of peanut butter...
  • While we're on the subject of cauliflower, by the way, you can't beat a classic cauliflower cheese, flavoured with a dab of mustard and nutmeg, served with crunchy bread/toast and a few leaves.
  • A butternut squash is a handy thing to have on standby. Roast it for an hour with walnuts, garlic, chilli, and some whole sprigs of herbs - covered for the first half an hour - then finish it off with the juice of half a lemon just before serving.
  • And here's another thing you can do with a squash: curried lentil, squash and apple stew (thanks Felix)
  • Veggie moussaka is good, more interesting than veggie lasagne cos after all, the aubergines are still key, so put them together with green lentils and there you go. Warning - this recipe takes a while to put together because of pre-cooking the things and then assembling them. (Thanks to Rachelle and Miranda.)
  • This one might be obvious if you're into Indian food. With lentils and a few other things from the cupboard you can easily make a dhal, to have with some chapati (or other flatbread). I haven't found a recipe I'm particularly into yet, to be honest, but it's a simple thing to do when I'm out of ideas!

Some other nice little recipes I came up with are beetroot nisk soup and kale and rosemary flatbread.

I've been adapting/replacing meaty recipes as I go along - a nice example is to adapt the fab standby tupperware chorizo recipe and simply use mashed black beans (or kidney beans) instead of pork mince. Hey presto you've got this stuff you can keep in the fridge for ages and fry it into a simple meal to add some depth and complexity. Of course the texture is nothing like pork but that's not what I was trying to do.

I'm still eating meat but definitely less, and I find now that I don't need to have meat always in stock as a default fallback. Just add a handful more everyday veggie recipes to your lineup.

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