Like most households these days, we are trying to include more meals in our weekly dinners that rely heavily on veggies rather than meat. I'm a committed carnivore but it makes sense to bring more variety into our meals. The key to including more vegetable-forward meals is to bring both colour and flavour to the table. And this week's recipes do just that.
My cauliflower curry, despite its long list of ingredients (mainly pantry essentials), is easy to throw together and leaves you with a really colourful dish that will draw people to the dinner table. Florets are roasted until they turn golden and just a little crisp, then stirred through an aromatic curry sauce and served with saffron rice and quick-pickled onion - it will make you look at your Saturday night takeaway in a whole new light.
There are certain dishes I turn to for lighter eating, particularly after a period of gorging and guzzling. One of them is a vegetarian chilli consisting of quinoa, lentils and kidney beans. It's a spunky recipe that always surprises. The secret lies in the simple little extras - a twist of lime, a smoky charred corn salsa and creamy avo. This recipe gets a regular spot on my meat-free dinner table.
Lastly, an exciting recipe to bring all that's great about Thai food and apply it to the mighty aubergine. A saviour of mediocre veggie meals since the beginning of time, aubergine is the perfect vehicle for that essential Thai combo of salty, sweet, spicy and sour. In this quick pan-fried supper, sliced aubergines melt away in the pan until they are tender and lip-puckeringly delicious. Served with rice and fresh herbs, it's a meal in minutes that makes veggies the star of the show.
This is a really solid veggie curry that's easy to prep. The genius tip of roasting the cauliflower first is from Susan Jane White's wonderful book Clever Batch and adds even more flavour. It may look like an extensive ingredients list but many are kitchen staples.
For the roast cauliflower:
1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped
2 tbsp curry powder
2 tbsp coconut oil
For the curry sauce:
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
5cm piece ginger, grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
2 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp curry powder
400ml can coconut milk
750ml vegetable stock
250g frozen peas
150g baby spinach
For the saffron rice:
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt
250g basmati rice
Pinch saffron fronds
500ml vegetable stock
Small handful coriander
Small handful mint leaves
Pickled red onion
1. Preheat oven to 200°C. Toss the cauliflower with the curry powder and oil on a roasting tray. 2. Arrange in a single layer and roast for 30 minutes until golden and crisp. 3. While the cauliflower is roasting, heat 1tbsp oil in a large sauté pan over a low heat. Add the onions and allow to sweat down in the pan until they become soft. Stir the garlic, ginger, chilli and spices into this. 4. Next pour in the coconut milk and stock; bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Season to taste.
5. Stir through the peas and spinach along with the roast cauliflower. Simmer until the peas have cooked and the spinach is wilted.
6. For the saffron rice, place a pot over a medium-high heat, add the oil and fry the onion for 6-8 minutes until tender. Add the rice to the pan and stir through. 7. Top with the hot stock and add in the saffron and salt. Bring to a steady simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the liquid is completely absorbed. 8. Remove from the heat. Fluff up with a fork when serving.
9. To serve, scoop the rice into a wide bowl, spoon in the curry and top with herbs and pickled red onions.
Replacing beef or pork with grains like quinoa and lentils makes for a deliciously light, yet rich and filling meal.
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
Large thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
250g puy lentils
2 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
1 litre vegetable stock
400g tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the smoky corn salsa:
2 x corn on the cob
1 tsp coconut oil
2 tbsp coriander stalks, finely chopped
1 tsp smoky Tabasco sauce
2 ripe avocados, thinly sliced
Large handful of coriander leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges
1. Melt the coconut oil in a large casserole over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery and ginger, and fry for 4-5 minutes until just tender. Stir in the garlic, red chilli, coriander and cumin seeds, chilli powder and paprika, and fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
2. Add the quinoa, lentils, plum tomatoes and vegetable stock, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, season with salt and pepper, and simmer gently for 45 minutes, or until the grains are tender and cooked through. Keep adding liquid if required until the grains are tender.
3. Add the kidney beans and cook for a further 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning and cover with a lid until ready to serve.
4. While the chilli is cooking, prepare the corn salsa. Boil the corn in a pan of water for 8-10 minutes, or until tender. Slice the cooked corn kernels off the cobs. Heat a large frying pan over a high heat.
5. Add the coconut oil and fry the corn kernels, without stirring, until slightly charred. Stir through the chopped coriander stalks and Tabasco, and season generously with salt and pepper.
6. Serve the chilli in deep bowls, topped with avocado slices, spoonfuls of corn salsa, coriander leaves, lime wedges and a dollop of yoghurt, if using.
You won't miss the meat at all in this filling bowl of super-tender aubergines in a rich sticky sauce.
2 large aubergines, sliced into fingers about 2cm thick
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Thai red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
100ml reduced-salt soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sunflower oil
300g jasmine rice
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of small young mint leaves
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
1. Put the aubergines into a dish. Use a fork to blend the garlic, chillies, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce and half the oil together in a small bowl until smooth. Pour this over the aubergine fingers to coat them and leave to marinate (if you have the time) for at least 10 minutes. 2. Cook the rice according to the packet instructions. 3. Heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Remove the aubergine fingers from the marinade and slowly fry for 10 minutes over a medium heat until very tender and browned. Add the rest of the marinade to the pan and cook until sticky. Add the lime juice to taste.
4. Spoon the rice into bowls and top with the sticky aubergine. Scatter with the mint leaves and peanuts, and serve.