Whether you’re entertaining a vegetarian guest, want to eat more healthy vegetables or just fancy a change, there are plenty of simple ways to switch your favourite main meals to vegetarian versions, without compromising on taste.
The first thing that comes to most people’s minds when you talk about switching meals to vegetarian is using a meat substitute, such as Quorn, or an own brand equivalent product. Quorn is low fat and is very healthy, and because Quorn products are intended to directly replace food items, for example mince and chicken pieces, it is a case of a straight swap. Health food shops often carry more exotic meat substitutes such as “mock duck”, which is made from gluten and even fish free fish fingers.
If you want to be a little more creative, there are many other ways to switch meals to vegetarian without using meat substitutes.
The next time you make a curry, instead of using meat consider a combination of paneer (an Indian cheese which is perfect in curries), butternut squash, courgettes, potatoes or chickpeas. Frozen peas are also ideal for filling out curries and give plenty of flavour.
Stir fries can be made with tofu instead of chicken, or just with plenty of vegetables such as peppers, sweet corn and mange tout. Vegetarian stir fry is a great low fat meal, and can be made in minutes.
Lasagne is easy to change from mince to vegetable. Try using spinach and butternut squash in place of mince for a deliciously different taste! The mince in bolognaise can be replaced with lentils and vegetables such as carrots and celery added for flavour.
Sweet potatoes are an underrated vegetable, and can be baked or mashed the same way as regular potatoes for a bit of variety. Another often overlooked vegetable is celery. Frequently found raw in salads, cooked celery is a tasty addition to many vegetarian meals such as stews.
Of course if you would normally use a stock in any of the above meals, you should use a vegetarian stock if you want your meal to be completely meat free. Remember, if you’re not a fan of any of the above vegetables, just choose something with a similar texture that you do like. I dislike mushrooms but find aubergine an easy substitute as it has a similar density and texture, but I prefer the flavour.
Hopefully the above ideas have given you some food for thought if you’ve ever fancied trying vegetarian meals. Vegetarian food is very flexible so you can adapt meals to suit your family’s own preferences.