Weekly Meal Plan #4: Everyday Vegetarian
I had lunch a couple of months ago with someone who said they liked how my recipes were not really meat heavy, but were also not overtly vegetarian. So, this week for my Weekly Meal Plan I’ve decided to highlight five weeknight recipes that happen to be vegetarian without even trying to be, and that I think will still satisfy the meat eaters in your life, even if you usually dish up something without meat in to them and you’re met with protests, complaints and queries (if you eat meat, but you prefer to eat mostly veggie, you’ve been there too!) Tell them that eating this way is both cheaper and healthier, and let them be amazed by the flavours!
Monday: Freeze Ahead Red Lentil Ragu
It is a shocking indication that I’ve only recently moved into my new flat that there are not several portions of this stashed in the freezer. This is one of my favourite comfort foods, and it makes such a wholesome, delicious alternative to traditional meat ragu or bolognese sauce. And the best bit? While you get a better texture defrosting each portion at room temperature, it is still totally delicious if you defrost and heat up your frozen lump of ragu in a saucepan with a splash of water while your pasta cooks when you don’t want to cook!
Now, hear me out. This grain bowl might look like more of a lunch dish, but served warm it makes a stupidly satisfying supper that I would happily tuck into any day of the week. And, as an added bonus you can then scale it up and take it into the office for the rest of the week. To mix things up a bit, double up the things you’re roasting, the fresh herbs and on feta, then mix the warm mixture into freshly boiled pasta (try a small shape like orzo?) or a drained can of mixed beans, and eat that for lunch the next day instead.
Wednesday: Penne with Walnut & Aubergine Pesto
I know it seems a little cliched that I’m the author of a student cookbook and one of my favourite midweek comfort foods is a big bowl of pasta, but hear me out. This is not your student pasta bowl, studded with walnuts and fresh tomato pieces, and enriched with a bucketload of butter, roasted aubergine flesh and parmesan cheese. If you’re looking for this to be truly vegetarian, make sure you use cheese of the same ilk.
Mexican food so often relies on having something meaty as the star ingredient unless eggs are the order of the day, but that is not to say you can’t apply Mexican flavours to veggie dishes. While I originally wrote the recipe of my Mexican Roasted Sweet Potato, Radish & Tomato Bowl as a lunchtime venture, there is no reason why you can’t make it a dinnertime affair while the radishes and sweet potatoes are still warm? It’s Thursday so you’re almost at the finish line: why not treat yourself to a Beer Margarita from Student Eats alongside?
I always love to produce something a bit more communal on a Friday night, so next week may I suggest you join me in making Indian potato wraps? So much of Indian food is meat-free and all the more delicious for it, and this is a great dish to just put everything on the table to let people build their own. If you’re worried about double-carbs here (don’t be!) and want to pack in even more veggies, serve this with a bowl of shredded gem lettuce for people to pack into their wraps, too.
A little bit of inspiration for the weekend ahead: why not try your hand at a few cocktails if you’re planning a Saturday night in with my Short Southside Fizz or my Blueberry-Lime-Cinnamon Vodka Smoothie Coolers, brunch on some Green Eggs and Ham or some Dippy Eggs with Anchovy Butter Soldiers, or big batch for the week ahead with my (okay, let’s be honest, my mothers) Simple and Delicious Bolognese Sauce?