I was instantly tempted to buy the new River Cottage Veg everyday book after seeing the first programme in the series of the same name. Serious carnivore Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (who has got rid of his floppy hair!) has decided to go meat free for a few months in a bid to encourage us all to give it a go – even if it’s just for one month, one week or one day a week.
I have, for several years now, reduced the amount of meat I use in meals, for many reasons: I like to buy good quality meat and therefore I can afford less of it, it is healthier and in fact many vegetarian dishes taste better than many meaty ones. Cooking meat can be the lazy option – pan-fry a steak, serve with chips and mushrooms – not really creative or mouth-popping. But a delicious stir-fry of different seasonal vegetables, with chilli, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, honey and lime – sprinkled with toasted nuts and fresh coriander, now that is exciting and colourful and healthy.
This is not to say by any stretch of the imagination I am going to stop eating meat (and I don’t think Hugh is going to either) but we can all make an effort to eat a little bit less meat. For those of you still unconvinced it is also environmentally friendly because producing meat in large quantities in this country is totally unsustainable (in some instances plain cruel).
So to the book…. This is a chunky tomb of recipes, over 200 recipes in fact. I fancy cooking at least half of them and the rest all look delicious as well. My short-list to try as soon as possible includes pinto bean chilli, aubergine and green bean curry, herby peanutty noodly salad, hot squash fold-over and refried beans fold-over. There are substantial meals, hearty soups and lunches. But Hugh also describes how you can put together several smaller dishes, that you might have previosuly considered side dishes, to create a family meal. Simply put lots of dishes on the table and pass the plates around.
This week I tried Hugh’s Chachouka, a North African pepper and tomato stew with cracked eggs in. This easily made a filling dinner with some crusty bread for dipping and mopping and a crispy green salad.
I heartily recommend this book, but if you don’t buy it at least give a meat-free dinner a go this wee and see what you think. Some of my own favourites from Food4two includes:
Thai-style stir-fry https://food4two.wordpress.com/2011/04/28/577/
Roasted vegetable and grilled goats cheese salad https://food4two.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/roasted-vegetable-and-grilled-goats-cheese-salad/
Mediterranean frittata https://food4two.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/mediterranean-frittata/
Squash and spinach curry https://food4two.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/hobgoblin-curry/