Dear SJ readers: please don’t hate me for what I am about to tell you.
A few weeks ago, after a lot of thought and practise runs in my head, I ‘came out’ to my family. I chose a good moment in the evening—quiet, relaxed, after my dad had finished bottling his home-made wine and (very unusually) didn’t seem to have anything to do. I offered them a cup of tea. And I told them: look, guys, I’m going vegan again.
There was mild horror on their faces. My dad took it pretty well, probably because he’s used to me announcing that I am Going On A Diet and eating only lean chicken and eggs for a couple of days before finding that I start saying yes to helpings of apple crumble at the Sunday dinner. My stepmum, on the other hand, was furious. “So does this mean you are not eating turkey on Christmas Day?! Where will you get your protein?!”
Sidenote: Cringe. There are hundreds of plant-based sources of protein.
I have since made a Herculean effort to provide nourishing meals that are positively chockablock with veg-powered protein sources. The results have been quite delicious – a pleasant surprise to the ever-disdainful hoards of relatives who will undoubtedly give me an ear-bashing every time I sit round the dinner table with them.
If you’re interested in introducing more plant-based protein sources to your table – or perhaps already count yourself a fully-converted herbivore – then look no further. Here are three fantastic meals you can make that are full of protein, accompanied by the loud, proud (and absolutely true) slogan, ‘no animals were harmed in the making’.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 medium aubergine, diced
- 2 10 ounce packages frozen chopped spinach, defrosted
- 1 jar tomato sauce
- 1 lb lasagna sheets
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. Sautee the garlic for two minutes, then add the aubergine and stir. Cover the frying pan and cook until the aubergine is just tender, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Cover the bottom of a 9x12 inch baking pan with 2 cups of the tomato sauce, then cover the tomato sauce with 4 or 5 uncooked lasagne sheets. Cover this with a thin layer of sauce, then add the cooked aubergine and another thin layer of sauce. Add another layer of pasta followed by a thin layer of sauce, then the spinach and another thin layer of sauce. Add the remaining pasta and sauce.
- Cover tightly with foil and bake for 45-50 minutes. The pasta is cooked when it can be pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven, leave to cool, and serve with a big side salad!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp butter (or olive oil for vegan version)
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 large portobello mushrooms, sliced
- 2 to 3 cups button, brown or cremini mushrooms, sliced
- 1/2 cup cooked brown lentils
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 tbsp flour
- 2 to 3 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 to 2 cups pearl onions, peeled
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sour cream and parsley for garnish (optional - omit sour cream for vegan version)
- In a large, heavy skillet, heat a drizzle of oil and saute the onion for 2 to 3 minutes, until soft. Add the butter, garlic, thyme and mushrooms and cook until the mushrooms release their liquid, soften and then start to brown. Add another drizzle of oil if the pan seems too dry.
- Add the lentils and cook for 1 or 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for a few minutes more, scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the skillet, until the wine has almost cooked off. Sprinkle the flour over the lentil and mushroom mixture and stir to blend, then add the stock and tomato paste.
- Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and dark and the mushrooms are tender. If the sauce is too thick, add a little more stock.
- Meanwhile, heat a drizzle of oil in a small skillet and cook the pearl onions over medium-high heat until golden and soft; add to the mushroom mixture. Serve hot, over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup frozen sweetcorn
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh coriander (not essential - I loathe coriander so I leave this out)
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper, and saute until lightly browned. Mix in the garlic and heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the quinoa, then pour in the vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Stir in the frozen sweetcorn and continue to simmer about 5 more minutes, until heated through. Remove from the heat and stir in the black beans and cilantro. Serve warm - or cold in the summer months as an accompaniment to a barbecue buffet!