This week is National Vegetarian Week so if you've been um-ing and ah-ing about whether or not to take the leap to a meat-free diet - here's your chance to try it out.
It's a super healthy, low in fat diet that can cut your chances of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Plus, studies show you're far more likely to get your recommended 5 daily portions of fruit and veg in by giving up meat.
There's loats of yummy veggie discounts going on across the country this week in honour of National Vegetarian Week as well as workshops and competitions. To have a peek at what's happening in your area head here.
The good folks over at the Vegetarian Society have put together seven extra special recipes submitted by members for this week including a particularly delicious looking tomato mushroom roast, which you can find over at their website. They've also got lots of other yummy recipes listed so we had a quick look and put together our dream veggie dinner party menu. Follow the instructions below to make the ultimate meat-free meal that even the most die-hard meat fans will be giving up their steak for.
Starter: Warm New Potato and Asparagus Salad
700g baby new potatoes (cut in half if more than 4 cms)
For the Dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 good tsp runny honey* (or 2 scant tsp apple concentrate)
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
25g walnuts, roughly chopped
16-24 asparagus spears (at least 6 spears per person if thin or 4 spears if asparagus is thicker)
80g young spinach leaves
100g soft vegetarian goat’s cheese log, thinly sliced* (or 75g vegan soft cheese)
6 large radishes, sliced
Pre-heat oven to Gas 6/200F/400F. Parboil the potatoes for 15 minutes until slightly tender. Drain and cool for 5 minutes before placing in a roasting pan.
Mix the dressing ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper if desired, and pour half over the potatoes, mixing well. Roast for approx 25 minutes until soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. Sprinkle the walnuts on a separate baking tray and dry roast for 3 - 4 minutes to intensify their flavour. Do not let them burn!
Trim the woody ends off the asparagus spears and discard. Steam the asparagus for 5 to 7 minutes (depending on size) until tender. Place in a dish and pour over the remaining dressing.
To assemble the salad: cover the base of a large, wide salad bowl with spinach leaves; place the potatoes on top followed by the sliced goat’s cheese (which will melt slightly), and then by the asparagus. Finally sprinkle with the roasted walnuts and garnish with the radish slices.
Main: Vegetarian Kievs with Moroccan Red Cabbage
For the Kievs:
50g butter (*or vegan margarine) at room temperature
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g baking potatoes, peeled
75g green lentils
35g puy lentils
15g sesame seeds
20g sunflower seeds
35g brazil nuts
50g fresh wholemeal bread
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
3 sprigs thyme, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
2 tbsp onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 free-range egg (*for vegan use 1 tbsp soya flour, 1 tbsp gram flour, 4 tbsp water, 1 tbsp oil, pinch salt, pinch sugar)
200g fine fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
For the Cabbage:
2 tsp butter (*or vegan margarine)
1 small red onion
½ tsp allspice
400ml red cabbage, shredded
1 tsp pomegranate molasses (from Asian and Middle eastern supermarkets)
1 orange, juice only
3 tsp light muscovado sugar
3 tbsp dried cranberries
2 strips fresh orange peel
½ pomegranate, seeds only
1 tbsp flaked almonds
For the Kiev’s:To make the garlic butter: put the butter or margarine in a small bowl together with the parsley and crushed garlic. Work together with a wooden spoon until well combined.
Put all the garlic butter onto some baking parchment and use the parchment to work into a log about 5cm long. Wrap in the parchment and chill in the fridge or freezer until firm.
To make the kievs: steam the potato, then mash. You should have about 150g of mashe dpotato. leave to cool.4. Cook the green and puy lentils together until cooked, but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Drain well and leave to cool.
Put the sesame and sunflower seeds, brazil nuts and wholemeal bread in a fodo processor and blend into fine crumbs.
Mix together the mashed potato, lentils, crumb mixture and onion, and season well.
To form the kievs: divide the mixture into five (or if you like big portions, four!). Take the log of garic butter from the fidge and cut into five (or four) slices.
Take one portion of the lentil mixture and form into a round. Make a dint in the centre and place a piece of the garlic butter in. Form the lentil mixture round the garlic butter to enclose it, finishing up with a flattened cake shape. Do the same with the rest of the mixture and garlic butter.
For the coat: whisk the egg, (*or beat together the soya and gram flours, with the water, oil, salt and sugar until smooth). Dip the kievs into the egg (*or soya flour mixture) then into the breadcrumbs. Press the crumbs in well. Chill for 30 minutes.
Heat some oil in a large frying pan and fry the kievs until golden and crisp all over. Take care not to split them, otherwise the garlic butter will spill out. Serve hot.
For the Cabbage: Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan and saute the onion until golden. Add the allspice and cook for a further minute before adding the cabbage.
Mix the pomegranate molasses and orange juice together and pour into the pan together with the sugar, dried cranberries and orange peel. Cook gently for 30-40 minutes until cabbage is soft (not soggy) adding extra water if necessary.
Just before serving, add the pomegranate seeds and garnish with toasted almonds.
Dessert: Raspberry Frangipane Tarts
210g frozen ready-rolled puff pastry
25g lemon flavour biscuits crumbs
½ tsp lemon rind, finely grated
125g white marzipan cut into thin slices
150g frozen raspberries
4 tbsp brandy
20g flaked almonds, lightly toasted
1 tsp cinnamon powder
Custard or cream
Pre-heat oven to Gas 6/200C. Roll the pastry out very lightly to make a 27.5cm square and then cut out four circles approx 13cm diameter. Place each one in a small 12cm loose bottom tartlet tin/or Yorkshire pudding tins so that a little of the pastry comes up the side.
Mix the lemon rind, biscuit crumbs and, keeping a border of 1cm around the edge of the pastry, sprinkle a heaped teaspoon over the base. Then cover with marzipan slices and place 14 or 15 raspberries upright on top.
Drizzle 1 tbsp brandy over the fruit on each tart, place on a heated baking tray and bake for approx 20 minutes until the pastry is golden and rises around the edges.
Shake a little cinnamon powder over the raspberries and sprinkle with flaked almonds.