Cooking dinner is my favourite part of every day. I get to make delicious meals for my family and I take that time to unwind after a day of work. I usually make a rough plan of what I’m going to cook in the week and improvise from there, and I try to include a lot of variety. If you’re looking for some new recipes or if you’re trying to transition to a vegetarian diet, here are a weeks-worth of my favourite vegetarian dinners.
Bangers and Mash
This my take on a British classic. I was never a fan of bangers and mash because I thought it was bland, so I adapted my version to suit my tastes. First, fry some veggie sausages in some Worcestershire sauce until the sauce has been absorbed. Dice and steam 2 large sweet potatoes and mash them. Fry ¼ inch pieces of leek in butter. Mix them into the mash with another knob of butter, some smoked paprika and black pepper. Finally, heat up a can of chili beans on hob and serve everything on a plate.
Many people think that risotto is difficult to make, but that is far from the truth. All it takes is a bit of patience and some short grain rice. You can buy arborio rice at your local supermarket or online, at somewhere like https://riceselect.com/product/arborio.
Start with soaking some dried porcini mushrooms according to the packet instructions and reserve the stock. Next, sauté some shallots, garlic and the porcini mushrooms in the pan with some butter and sage until they are almost soft. Measure out a cup of arborio rice, add it to the pan and fry gently for a few minutes.
Measure out 4 cups of liquid. This can simply be water or a vegetable stock, and should include the porcini stock you saved earlier. The general rule is to use a 4:1 liquid to rice ratio, but you should only pour in a bit at a time. Let the rice soak up the liquid, then add more. Keep tasting it. If you think the rice is cooked before you’ve used up all the liquid, then that’s okay, but if it still hasn’t cooked, don’t be afraid to add a bit more liquid. Once it’s ready, top with more sage and parmesan cheese.
This recipe gives me an excuse to use up all the vegetables in my fridge, and I always have some left over for lunch the next day.
Fry some peppers, onions, tenderstem broccoli, mushrooms, baby spinach, asparagus, and any other vegetables you want in a pan. Beat 6 eggs and 2 tablespoons of whole milk or double cream together. Sprinkle the cheese of your choice on top of the vegetables. Pour the egg mixture into the pan, making sure the veggies are covered, and cook on low until it’s almost cooked through.
You have two options when it comes to cooking the top of your frittata. If your pan has a metal handle, pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. If your pan has a plastic handle, you’ll have to flip the frittata. Place a plate in the pan and flip it. Then slide the frittata back into the pan to finish cooking the other side. You can serve your frittata by itself or have it with salad.
You don’t have to stick all of the veggies I mentioned into your frittata at once—you can pick and choose a few that you like and add different cheeses.
French Onion Soup
This is a simple recipe, but it does take a while to cook! Dice 12 onions into large pieces and fry them in butter with a pinch of sugar until they’re caramelised. Add the onions to a large pot with some minced garlic, ¼ cup of red wine, and fill the pot with veggie stock. Allow it to simmer for 30 minutes. Pour the soup into bowls and top with either cheddar or gruyere cheese. You can also go for fontina cheese substitute. Serve with baguette slices or crusty rolls.
Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
Spinach and ricotta cannelloni is tasty and really filling. It’s definitely one of my top 5 comfort foods. Start by wilting 1kg of spinach. It may sound like a lot, but once it wilts, it will reduce. Mix the spinach with 500g of ricotta, a pinch of nutmeg, and some black pepper. Use a teaspoon to gently fill approximately 9 cannellonis with the mix. Cover the bottom of a baking dish with passata, place the cannellonis on top in a single layer, then cover with the rest of the passata. Sprinkle over some cheddar and bake until the pasta has cooked and the cheese is golden and bubbly.
You can put your own spin on this recipe by swapping out the cannelloni pasta for conchiglie (large pasta shells) or manicotti pasta. You can also top it with mozzarella instead of cheddar.
You can stick all of your favourite veggies in a stir fry. May favourites are pak choi, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, onions, carrots, and mange tout. Chop and slice your veggies and fry them until they are soft. Boil some egg noodles according to the packet instructions and mix with your vegetables. Stir in the sauce of your choice and top with some sliced spring onions for some added crunch. Add some variety to your stir fry by trying a different sauce. You can choose from sweet chili, hoisin, black bean, and soy sauce, among others.
Sweet Potato Wraps
When I’m pressed for time, this is my go-to recipe. My family loves these wraps, and I always make sure we have the ingredients in the house. Simply cut a large sweet potato into bite-sized cubes and steam them. Prepare a salad, drain a can of black beans, and put a wrap on each plate. Place the pieces of steamed sweet potato in each wrap with the salad and beans, and grate over some cheese. You can top the wraps with soured cream, coleslaw, or your favourite salad dressing. If you’re not a fan of sweet potato, you can swap it out for any kind of squash or pumpkin. This dinner is so easy and versatile and only takes 15 minutes to make.
Image Credits: Engin Akyurt