Ditching the animal part of a meal makes it cheaper – and better for the environment. BRI LEE gives us a run down of her five fave recipes to make even the staunchest carnivore ask for seconds.
I was a vegetarian for seven years and sat through every single version of what I now call The Rabbit Food talk. (My eye-balls are permanently damaged from the excessive rolling-back-into-my-skull.) Now I’ve got vegan mates, vegetarian mates, pescatarian mates, and straight up meat-lovers mates, so one of my little goals in life is to bridge the great dinner table divide. This humble collection of Meat-Free Monday recipes are super filling, big on taste, and legit affordable.
Fun fact: I asked my mates for veggie recipe recommendations on Facebook and there were 74 comments on my post within two days. Pictures of my dog don’t get anything close to that! Some of these recipes are inspired by links they sent me and the moral of this story is that this. food. is. delicious.
Brekky is pretty easy to make vegetarian, so what you’re looking for here is something that will effectively distract bacon lovers from the lack of bacon. Cue the straight-outta-the-oven-spectacular shakshuka. It’s dead easy. I used this recipe as a starting point but made mine simpler (you’ve probably got most of this stuff in your pantry) and added feta and parsley.
1 brown onion (chopped)
A few cloves of garlic (chopped or mashed)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tin whole tomatoes in sauce
1 red capsicum (sliced or diced)
2+ eggs (depending on hungriness of guests and supply of eggs)
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C
2. Fry your onion, garlic, and cumin until they’re all soft and brown
3. Plop the whole can of tomatoes and sauce into the pan, add the capsicum, and sautee it all together for a few minutes more
4. If you’re using a separate dish to bake in, transfer the mixture to it. If you’re using a multipurpose stove-to-oven pan like the one picture, just take it off the heat
5. Crack the eggs into a separate dish, make space amongst the big tomatoes for where you want the eggs to sit and cook in the pan, then pour the eggs into the mixture slowly
6. Cook for at least 15 minutes, depending on how runny you like your eggs
7. Sprinkle with parsley and feta then present your morning masterpiece to the table, ideally alongside some toasted bread for dipping
(Vegan option: swap eggs for falafels and sprinkle with dukkah instead of feta.)
2 / 5
Lunch – Sausage Rolls
One of my mates was digging into his second one of these before he asked me “what kind of mince” I’d used. Fooled him! You can freeze the mix if you make too much, and hey, they’re an Aussie classic. This recipe was recommended to me for an easy vegan option, but I’ve used eggs and walnuts because they’re cheaper and just as tasty.
1 cup of walnuts (chopped up superfine or wizzed in a food processor)
1 brown onion (chopped up superfine or wizzed in a food processor)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped up superfine or wizzed in a food processor)
½ cup of bread crumbs
½ cup of rolled oats
1 tablespoon or one cube of dry vegetable stock
3 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 sheets of puff pastry
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
1. Separate the sheets of pastry out to thaw
2. Preheat your oven to 180°C
3. If you do have a food processor, chuck the nuts in there for a bit but not until they’re completely powdered – same goes for onion and garlic – just a couple of spurts of the processor will do
4. If you don’t, just mix all the chopped stuff in a big bowl
5. Add the bread crumbs, rolled oats, stock, eggs, and soy sauce, and mix it all up together until it has a soft and sticky texture
6. Cut the pastry into long rectangular strips and use your hands to bundle the mixture into long, sausage-like shapes that run along the length pastry
7. Roll em up! (Make sure you leave at least a 2cm overlap where the pastry connects and put the connection line on the underneath when they go in the oven)
8. Cook them for 15 minutes, take them out of the oven and brush them with a little milk or water, sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and bake for another 5-10 minutes until golden brown
9. Serve with tomato sauce, duh!
3 / 5
Entrée – Whole Tandoori Cauliflower with Mint + Coriander Chutney
This has the same “WOW” factor as the shakshuka does. I recommend taking the whole thing to the table and cutting it like a cake. Epic. The goal of any good entrée is to make the mouth explode with flavour without filling the belly, and I’m telling you it doesn’t get much better than this combo. The original recipe lists how to make your own tandoori powder from scratch, but I bought a bottle from the supermarket and it was ace – just marinate the cauli for a bit longer and she’ll be right.
1 whole cauliflower (rinsed with the leaves removed)
2 tablespoons of tandoori paste or powder
2 cups of unsweetened yoghurt for the marinade and one more cup for the chutney (I used natural Greek – the thicker the better)
1 brown onion (very finely diced)
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or mashed)
Juice of one lemon
A pinch of salt
A big bunch of mint
A big bunch of coriander
Juice of one lime
2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon of honey or brown sugar
1. Make the marinade by mixing together the tandoori paste, onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and 2 cups of yoghurt, then cover your cauliflower in it and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or two (I would recommend turning your cauliflower upside down and filling up some of the inside with a little of the paste as well. If possible, check on how it’s marinating half way through the allotted time and re-cover it with marinade that has dripped down the side of the big bowl you’ve got it in)
2. Before you ask me, marinade is the noun and marinate is the verb
3. To make the chutney, chop up all your fresh herbs (I used equal parts mint and coriander, but the balance is up to you) and mix them together with the lime juice, honey, oil, and remaining cup of yoghurt, and keep it in the fridge until you’re serving
4. Preheat your oven to 200°C then cook the cauliflower on some baking paper, uncovered for 45 minutes or until perfectly browned (as with the marinating, I recommend pulling the dish our half way through and using a spoon to collect any tandoori marinade that had pooled at the bottom, and put it back up on top of the cauliflower)
5. Serve it whole and piping hot to the table and listen to people say “ooh” and “aah”
4 / 5
Main – Fried Rice
I discovered with this recipe that you can make vegan fried rice taste just as good as egg-and-meat fried rice if you know what sauces to use. (The secret is peanut butter.) Brown rice finishes with a better, more chewy texture, but if you’re cooking for people who narrow their beady little skeptical eyes at “health foods” white rice is also fine. I prefer using fresh sweetcorn instead of adding sugar to the sauce because I also like how crunchy and juicy it is. Pro tip: short on time and money? You can buy bags of mixed frozen peas + carrots + corn for this as well as one cheap pre-cooked bag of rice. I won’t tell if you won’t.
2 cups of brown rice
1 brown onion or 6 stalks of eschallots (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped or mashed)
2 carrots (diced)
1 cob of corn (kernels cut off the cob)
1 cup of frozen peas
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
3 tablespoons of oil (sesame oil tastes the best, but olive or canola would be fine too)
2 tablespoons peanut butter (crunchy is best, as always)
Firm tofu or tempeh (optional but delicious especially if marinated in a little soy sauce and garlic beforehand)
1. If you’re adding tofu or tempeh, fry it in a little oil to make it crispy, then put it on some paper towel to the side while you make the rest of the rice, then just add it back in at the end when you add the frozen peas
2. Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic until brown, then add the peanut butter and stir it with a wooden spoon until it softens and melts
3. Add the carrots first because they take the longest to cook, and then dump all the rice in after a few minutes, stir until the onion and sauce is even spread through the rice, about 5 or so minutes
4. Add the soy sauce, corn, and frozen peas, mix it altogether and let it cook for 15 minutes
5. Garnish with eschallots (if you used them) and/or fresh coriander – a slice of lemon wouldn’t hurt either!
5 / 5
Dessert – Stonefruit Crumble with Icecream
Super easy challenge for the end of your day: vegan dessert. I picked this recipe as an example of a stonefruit crumble because it’s the end of summer so nectarines and mangoes are on special at the supermarket. Also, I was thinking to myself if listing soy icecream was a copout? But I think it’s a great example of how easy it is to avoid dairy and be a whole lot healthier.
Enough fresh, chopped stonefruit to fill whatever dish you’re using to bake with
The juice of one orange
Lemon zest or peel, about a tablespoon, depending on how tangy you want it
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger chopped really fine (optional)
I cup of brown sugar (add more if you’re using a huge dish)
100grams plain flour
1 cup of rolled oats
½ cup of slivered almonds, or any other preferred kind of nut
5 tablespoons of Nuttelex or olive oil spread
1 tub of soy ice cream (don’t panic, every Coles and Woolies sells it)
1. Preheat your oven to 200°C
2. Put all the chopped fruit, orange juice, lemon zest, and ginger, into your baking dish and cook it uncovered for 20 minutes
3. Mix the plain flour, oats, and sugar together, then use your fingers to rub the nut or oil spread into the dry mix
4. Take the dish out of the oven, cover the top with the crumble mix, then put it back in and cook it for another 40 minutes
5. Add the almonds to the top and cook for another 5 minutes, until they’re crisp on top but not burnt (duh)
6. Serve it fresh with the icecream!
Bri Lee is a Brisbane-based writer and the Founding Editor of Hot Chicks with Big Brains. Her first book, Eggshell Skull will be released in early 2018.