As you may recall I’ve quite recently reduced our meat content in favour of more vegetables so that I can afford to buy more ethically and sustainably produced meat and poultry. In doing this we now eat quite a few vegetarian dinners each week – which I had great plans of sharing on here but it somehow never happens. These meals are sometimes are hard sell as much for the girls as they are for the devoted carnivore Mr Good. But I have found some definite winners, so here are my top five quick and easy vegetarian dinners as voted for by the Goods (well voting with empty plates and few complaints).
1. Okonomiyaki – or Japanese Pancakes.
I shared my (probably not particularly authentic) recipe for these a while ago and we have them a couple of times a month. They are very versatile so you can play with the ingredients quite a bit. I often use half bok choy or pak choy instead of the cabbage, I don’t always include bean shoots (I’ve started wondering where these come from? Do we grow bean shoots in Victoria?). I love the addition of mushrooms, but I’m sure a mixed variety of mushrooms would be even better. What makes these great for the family is that you can make the pancakes whatever size you want, so the girls get quite small ones which they love and Mr Good and I get two larger ones. The addition of mayo (Japanese style is best) and BBQ sauce also make them very appealing to young ones (and Mr Good).
2. Quiche or frittata
Eggs are very popular around here, eggs in any form really, but one way we make the humble egg into a veggie-filled, satisfying dinner is to make a quiche or frittata (depending on whether I feel like using pastry). Again the additions are quite inter-changeable (great for small harvest of lots of bits and pieces), roasted root vegetables, silverbeet, peas, tomato, capsicum are all worthy ingredients along with things like cheese (a must really), olives and plenty of herbs.
3. Spinach (or silverbeet) and Ricotta Anything
We just love this combination, it works in any kind of filled pasta though most commonly I do large pasta shells or cannelloni, as an alternative to meat sauce in lasagna or in filo pastry. Adding some goats cheese or feta to the ricotta is also a good variation.
4. Pesto Pasta
It doesn’t matter whether it’s basil pesto, parsley pesto or broccoli pesto we love them all and they are probably the quickest of all the meals to prepare. We do occasionally add a little crispy bacon bits to the top of the broccoli pesto, but mostly it’s done without any meat at all.
A bit of a catch all granted and I do have a three year old who is adamant about her dislike of all forms of soup, but the rest of us are fans so I’m sticking to it. Depending of the type of soup I’m making they are not always that quick (anything with dried legumes that need soaking overnight and then a long slow cook time would not be considered quick), but they are all very easy. And something like a broccoli or cream of celery soup can be done in about half an hour. Our favourites are pumpkin (especially if it roasted first) or leek and potato soup and my mother-in-law makes a great Thai red curry and sweet potato soup which I really should get the recipe for.
There were lots of dishes that I left off this list for various reasons, sometimes because only I enjoy them, because they are too complicated or take too long (like eggplant parmigiana) or because there were already several pasta dishes on the list (what can I say, I love pasta!) There are two other dishes I wanted to mention – even though that makes seven. One is home made vegetarian pizza, super fast if you already have the bases made or buy them, but a bit time consuming if you have to make the dough, prove it, knead it again and then roll it out. The topping combinations are endless, though we’re a bit boring and always make a margarita (tomato, basil and cheese). The other dish is Liz’s fabulous cauliflower risotto, a winner all around but did take a little while to cook and I’ve only made it once so far. If you haven’t tried it you must, it’s delicious!
And speaking of soup, check out Liz’s latest list.