It’s the life choice that’s swept the nation. We’re loving lentils, in the midst of an avocado overload, and (thankfully) on the other side of a surreal iceberg lettuce shortage – with chickpea rumoured to be next.
Whether your reasons are ecological, economical, or simply to feel better in yourself, an increasing number of people are moving on from meat.
To celebrate the start of National Vegetarian Week, running from 15th – 21st May, we caught up with Julia Pearson, our assistant food buyer and an enthusiastic vegetarian advocate.
Having been a vegetarian for around 13 years (way before it was cool) Julia tries to find new ways to add excitement to humble vegetables. Thanks to this veggie rush, it’s never been easier. If you’re the same, make sure you head to our recipe page online, with four veggie meals with each season. We’ve got the spring curried cauliflower chapattis (pictured above) on our to-make list, plus autumn’s pumpkin and sweet potato ravioli would impress the fussiest of dinner guests.
For Julia, your kitchen cupboard essentials are the best place to start: ‘Chilli, garlic, honey, etc, etc, etc – I could go on!’ she explains, ‘They’re such simple ingredients you always have in the cupboard, but add so much flavour to your meal. I love honey roasted carrots and parsnips with my roast dinner!’
Melefsis offer a gorgeous range of pure, natural, and high-quality honey sourced from different regions of Greece. They’ve taken honey one step further and created intense infusions of beautiful flavour combinations, meaning jazzing up your veg has never been easier.
With this three-piece sauce selection you get Curry and Saffron, Five Spice, and Smoked Chilli varieties; each putting an exciting twist on every day meals. From stir-fry to pancakes, boasting an impressive list of spices and herbs, your kitchen cupboards only need these three bottles to widen your culinary horizons.
Yoghurt is another humble saviour for vegetarian cooking that may not immediately spring to mind. Take this cooling treat out of your ‘dessert-only’ file, and drop it in your ‘dinner delight’ box.
Julia recently made a yoghurt dressing to go with aubergine, and was pleasantly surprised: ‘It was so easy to make, I sprinkled sea salt, black pepper and cumin on to the aubergine wedges, and while they were baking in the oven, whisked Greek-style yoghurt with garlic, lemon juice and olive oil. A quick, tasty, and guilt-free meal!’
You can also bake yoghurt with your vegetables or meat substitutes. From a spiced cauliflower coating to pasta bake sauce, this versatile ingredient adds substance and a gorgeous creamy texture to your dishes.
Easiyo’s 20-piece set is ideal for stocking up on Greek-style yoghurt as you get a kilo of yoghurt… per sachet! It’s a great source of calcium and protein (a vital bonus without your usual red meat intake), plus the yoghurt has no artificial colours added. There’s not much better than enjoying thick and creamy yoghurt you’ve made yourself by hand. You can even make cheese with it too by sieving the yoghurt using cheesecloth, a coffee filter or kitchen roll and leaving for around 10 hours.
The Real Pie Company are another vegetable champion, with their delicious Vegetarian Pie Selection. The six-piece collection is available in a choice of Cheese, Potato & Onion or Chestnut Mushroom, Leek and Stilton. Serve with creamy mash, fresh veg and your perfect gravy for the ultimate feel-good dinner.
‘These veggie pies receive rave reviews from our customers,’ Julia says: ‘Finding a filling, flavoursome vegetarian main meal can be a tricky task.’ The Real Pie Company ensure their vegetarian meals aren’t your average last-minute option. Take the cheese and potato pie – they add smoked Applewood cheddar, leeks, red and white onions, plus crushed new potato to ensure it’s full of deliciousness with every forkful.
Restaurants can carry on with their usual stuffed peppers, grilled halloumi and nut roasts; at your house, the vegetarian menu is far more appetizing!