Do-It-Yourself Vegetarian Recipes

Joyce Pearce
Some people choose a recipe, go and shop for a list of ingredients, and follow the instructions to the letter. Good luck to them! Others look round larder/fridge/garden at the last minute, and cook whatever they can find, with unpredictable results. If you are in the latter group, here are some suggestions.

Many traditional recipes can be easily adapted for vegetarians. Cottage pie can be made using soya mince /TVP, with lots of onions, herbs, yeast extract and other flavourings. Toad-in-the-hole can contain vegetarian sausages, tinned or frozen; so can sausage rolls. Quiches can have a great range of pre-cooked vegetables such as onion, mushroom, broccoli, leek,celery, incorporated, along with a variety of cheeses. Curries can be made with vegetables and cubed firm tofu. (Tofu, a good source of protein, needs lots of added favour, such as soy sauce and vegetable bouillon powder, so is good in curries or ratatouille.) Risotto works well with broken cashew nuts incorporated. Stews and casseroles can have a tin of mixed beans, or chick peas, added.

There are easy and hard ways to do things. Don't assume it's cheating to use short cuts! You can buy a great range of different beans, peas and lentils etc. ready cooked in tins; houmous in cartons; nut roasts in packets (add water and bake); nuts ready shelled; frozen ready-made pastry. (If you want or need to cook beans and peas from dried, allow lots of time. Soak over-night, change water, fast boil for ten minutes, simmer for as long as it says on the packet, or until they taste soft.- anything up to several hours for soya beans! However, black- eye beans are quick, and red lentils cook from scratch without soaking in twenty minutes.)

Some of the easiest meals are delicious and nutritious; don't scorn them; -baked beans on toast with salad; 4 or 5 different vegetables, steamed, boiled or stir-fried, with grated cheese or cheese sauce; baked potatoes with cheese/houmous/baked beans and salad.

Many vegetarian dishes consist of a cereal food, a high protein food, and several flavourings, all combined together. (Many are equally good hot or cold, with several cooked vegetables or with a salad. A surprising number start by chopping up a large onion very finely, and cooking it gently in a little vegetable oil for 5 or 10 minutes, with or without a little crushed garlic.)

    choose one of these:-
  • Wheat - e.g. wholemeal flour, bread, various pastas, semolina, pastry, bulgar wheat, weetabix, etc.
  • Oats - e.g. porage oats, oatmeal
  • Rice - various, especially quick brown
  • Millet - flakes
  • Barley - e.g. pot, pearl, flakes
  • Maize - e.g. sweet corn, cornflour
(Now work out how to cook them ! Read the packet ! Some are instant, like bread; bulgar wheat cooks in 10 - 15 minutes; brown rice takes about 40 mins.; pot barley in a stew takes at least an hour.)
    High Protein Foods.
    Add one or two of these:-
  • Nuts - e.g. cashews, almonds, hazels, brazils, pine kernels, peanuts;
  • Seeds - e.g. sunflower, pumpkin, sesame
  • Beans - e.g. kidney, haricot, butter, borlotti, flageolet, soya Tofu; soya mince or chunks; soya milk; Sosmix, etc.
  • Peas - e.g. chick peas; houmous
  • Lentils - red, green, brown
  • Eggs - free range
  • Cheese - many now vegetarian
  • Milk and cream
    Add several of these:-
  • Onions, garlic, leeks; mushrooms, red and green peppers; tomatoes -fresh, dried, tinned or pureed; herbs, fresh or dried, e.g. parsley, mint, thyme, marjoram, basil, sage; vegetable stock cubes or bouillon powder such as Marigold; yeast extract, eg. Marmite; spices, eg. cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, chilli, nutmeg, pepper, curry powder; soy sauce or salt; lemon juice.
And doubtless many others. Don't use all the flavours at once ! Experiment.

Now you can make up your own vegetarian/vegan recipes.

For example, try a lentil curry. Saute a large chopped onion in a little vegetable oil for a few minutes, stir in a tablespoon of medium curry powder, stir for a couple of minutes; add 1 cup washed red lentils, 400 gram tin of tomatoes, 2 cups of water, 2 teaspoons of bouillon powder, 1 teaspoon yeast extract, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally; add a handful or two of oats or brown bread-crumbs or crumbled weetabix for the last couple of minutes. Or make a cheese, oat and lentil savoury. (Simmer some red lentils for 20 minutes or so , adding more water if necessary; stir in a handful of porage oats at the end , so it is like porridge; off heat, stir in lots of grated cheese, a teaspoon of yeast extract, and a beaten egg. Bake in greased dish, preheated oven, 30-40 minutes at Gas 4.)

Learn how to make wholemeal pastry. (9 oz wholemeal flour, 2 level teasp. baking powder, salt; 4 oz veg marg, or marg and a white fat like Trex; rubbed to bread-crumb-like state; trickle in a little cold water, stirring with fork; roll out on floured board, cook at Gas 5 for 30 mins, or gas 6 for 25 mins.) Now you can make bean pie (a tin of baked beans and a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs, between two layers of pastry in a sponge tin.)

Or vegetable pie. (Lots of different vegetables, especially potatoes, onions and other root veg, chopped and cooked and drained; put in deep pie dish, with half cup of the veg cooking water with stock cube, yeast extract, mixed herbs, salt and pepper dissolved in it; top with tin of any beans or peas, or grated cheese, then a layer of pastry; bake. You can make a de- luxe version of this, including mushrooms and chestnuts, and call it Christmas pie, to answer one of the questions vegetarians are most often asked.)

Learn to make fritters with thick batter. (4 tablespooons wholemeal flour, salt, beaten egg, a little milk.) Add a tin of baked beans, or a drained tin of sweetcorn and lots of grated cheese; fry spoonsful on both sides in a little vegetable oil. (Fruit fritters with grated apple and chopped banana, to eat with lemon and sugar, are hard to beat.)

Make up some good sauces, with onions and tomatoes and other flavourings, to go with pasta and beans.

Try a cheese and rice savoury. (Cook a cup of quick brown rice; drain if necessary; off heat, stir in lots of grated cheese, an egg beaten in half a cup of milk, a teaspoon of yeast extract, salt and pepper. Bake in a greased pie dish for 30 - 40 minutes in pre-heated oven Gas 4.) Or substitute bulgar wheat for the rice.

Use nuts and seeds. A packet of nuts and raisins is a good snack for walkers. Nut pate is useful for salads, sandwiches and baked potatoes. (One cup each of almonds, sunflower seeds, and broken cashews, or substitutes; grind in food processor; dissolve 1 veg stock cube or some bouillon powder in 1 cup of boiling water; whizz in with ground nuts. Refrigerate; freezes well.)

There are dozens of ways to make a nut roast, which basically consists of ground nuts and bread crumbs, mixed with sauteed onion, herbs, yeast extract, and enough water to give a fruit-cake mixture consistency; baked at Gas 4. (E.g. saute medium chopped onion in veg marg or oil until transparent; add 1/2 pint of veg stock or water, 2 teaspoons of yeast extract, 1 teaspoon mixed herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to boil. Grind 8 ozs mixed nuts such as cashews, brazils, hazels, peanuts, and 4 oz wholemeal bread; combine. Bake in shallow greased dish in pre-heated oven, mark 4, for 30 - 40 minutes.) You can vary it by substituting cooked rice, or oats, for the bread crumbs, using different nuts, and adding tomatoes or tomato puree, mushrooms, raisins, grated carrot, curry powder, etc. (not all at once!) You can use it to make rissoles, sausage rolls, and stuffing for marrows, peppers, tomatoes etc.

Your comments, complaints and suggestions are warmly welcome.

Joyce Pearce

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