I am in awe of all of my friends who are vegans and I can see how positive it is physically, environmentally and in many ways spiritually. Problem with me is I truly love steak and I like it rare and bloody (i’m currently day dreaming of a Hawksmoor porterhouse with Bernaise sauce and creamed spinach), yet with the blink of an eye I am yet again envious of my vegan friends and all their vegetables.
It’s with these paradoxical thoughts that 12 months ago (almost to the day) the Johnson household started “meat free Mondays”… we knew we couldn’t be vegans (unless I was willing to be a two time divorcee by the end of March), nor could we even manage veganuary but Meat free Monday we have stuck too and a year later I can’t see it stopping. Though only once a week, even that small change has benefited our health (which equates to more wine on Friday, right?) and done a little bit for the environment too, plus, I personally really love it and have added more vegetarian and vegan meals into my diet (it’s not had the same affect on my husband but he doesn’t hate Mondays dinner).
It would be fair to say that we have had a few fails, one evening I tried to make a certain Mr Oliver’s best ever bean burgers, my eldest daughter and I devoured ours with words like “who needs meat” and “let’s have these every Monday”… I looked up to my husband who’s face was like a hamster storing his food, he was in fact storing his best ever bean burger because he couldn’t actually swallow it. After removing said mouthful into a bit of kitchen roll he didn’t eat another bit and requested that he never had to again. I haven’t made them since.
A year later and I have come up with our top 5 meat free Monday offerings and I thought I would share them. They are easy and delicious (my 11 year old eats them all too, so family safe) and none of them should bust the bank. It’s a small change and nowhere near being vegan but it’s a healthy step and opened my eyes to different options, why don’t you give it a go?
Tofu Thai curry
1 pack of Cauldron organic marinated tofu pieces
1 pack baby sweet corn
1 pack mange tout
1 pack tender stem broccoli
1 red onion
Veg stock pot
2 tsp Red or green Thai curry paste (mae ploy)
1 can coconut milk
Fry onion in a pan till soft and add garlic
Add in veg (cut the broccoli a little smaller and half the corn lengthways)
When it’s a softening add in the tofu and the stock pot
Add the Thai paste and mix in till all the vegetables are cooked, then add the milk and cook until hot through and then take off the heat.
Add a small splash of fish sauce and serve with rice.
(Sometimes I add extra tofu (if on offer) and whatever veg is on offer/ reduced also if you don’t mind and only have chicken stock then add that, I also like throwing in some cherry tomatoes at the end too)
Roast veggie Tart
1 sheet puff pastry
8 Sundried tomatoes
1/2 jar pasta sauce (or red pesto, but anything you have left over in the fridge will do)
130g goats cheese
Caramalised onion marmalade
(Side salad of your choice)
Preheat oven to 180
Chop all veg up and put in an oven dish, season and pour some of the oil from the jar of sundried tomatoes, add oregano
Put in the oven for 40mins
On a large baking sheet lie the puff pastry down and score around the edge about 1cm in.
Spread the sauce over the inside of the base
When the veg is done spread that on top of the sauce
Sprinkle over the goats cheese, add a few blobs of the caramelised onions and season
Stick back in the oven for 20minutes and serve with a side salad
Cauliflower, spinach and chickpea curry
1/2 cauliflower (cut into small steaks) (add some broccoli too if you have any)
Red onion thinly sliced
Pataks tikka masala paste
Veg stock pot
Fry the onions until soft and add the garlic
Add the cauliflower and fry so it’s browned then lower the heat and add a few splashes of water and put a lid on the pan, leave for 5 minutes.
Add 2 tblsp of curry paste and add the drained chick peas
Stir and add the stock pot, if it gets dry then add water as needed
When the cauliflower is cooked then add the coconut milk, when it is heated through turn off the heat.
Now stick the spinach on top and put the lid on it. Leave for a minute and then stir the spinach through.
Serve with rice
Butternut squash risotto
1 small butternut squash
1 red onion finely chopped (or white onion but the red onion gives it a caramelised taste)
300g risotto rice
1 litre vegetable stock
175ml white wine
Heat oven at 180
Cut butternut squash into small cubes, put on an oven tray, drizzle with olive oil, season and sprinkle with thyme
Cook for 45 minutes (this can be done ahead of cooking the risotto)
Get a large frying pan and melt a big knob if butter and add the onion
When it’s softened add the rice, stir around till the rice is slightly translucent and then add the wine
Once the wine has cooked into rice add the first label of stock and a pinch of Maldon salt
Keep stirring the risotto with the heat down
When it gets dry just add more stock and keep stirring, continue this till the rice is cooked (if you run out of stock then add boiling water)
Add in the butternut squash and stir till it’s hot, turn off the heat and add the Parmesan. Season well and serve.
My gorgeous Tabitha (aged 7) loves to cook with me and though she did eventually get bored making risotto (it is a labour of love), she helped me start and i think its really important to get kids cooking early and loving food.
Last but not least…
If you are busy and gymnastics over runs or you can’t find the brownie uniform the last recipe is the one
Jacket potato beans and cheese
Potatoes (sweet or jacket)
(I won’t insult you with the method)
If you try the recipes please let me know how you get on, I am no chef and simply a mum who tries to cook good meals, cheaply and as quick a possible.