Saturday 12 March 2022

The Saturday List #340 - My top seven meat alternatives for a tasty roast dinner

 There is nothing better than a tasty roast dinner. It is perhaps the favourite tradition in our family. The only problem is that my wife and one of my daughters are vegetarians. This presents a challenge, but it is one that I've embraced. I thought I'd share these with you. As they eat dairy, this is used, but there are good non dairy cheese options that can be used.

1. Baked stuffed mushrooms. This is perhaps the favourite option. I get the big flat mushrooms from the Mill Hill Broadway Food Centre. These are ideal. I also get some Shitake mushrooms. I remove the stalks, chop them up with some Shitake mushrooms and fry in olive oil and grated garlic and chopped shallots. I give the tops of the mushrooms a quick fry, to lightly brown. I then put the fried shitake mushrooms, etc, in the and top with some thinly spread tomato paste and top with Parmesan cheese. These go in the oven for about 20 mins.

2. Aubergene steaks. I get really frustrated with the fact that almost no one seems to understand the potential of the Aubergene. Too many of the dishes are slimey and watery. I have found that the best way to cook Aubergene is to slice in to 1cm thick slices fry it until lighlty brown in olive oil, seasoning with smokled paprika, pepper and salt. I then season with pepper and garlic salt, put a thin layer of grated garlic on it and top with cheddar cheese. These go in the oven for 15-18 minutes, until the cheese is nicely melted. 

3. Baked Cauliflower. There is a train of thought that Cauliflower is a sort of vegan chicken. It isn't. If you pretend it is, you will end up very disappointed. However if you get away from that silly notion, you can transform it into a magnificent and tasty treat. I get a whole cauliflower and split it into the individual florets. I then fry these in chilli oil for about five minites, to lightly brown. Season with smoked paprika, pepper and garlic salt. Then put in silver foil. I then add Marks and Spencers Deliciously versatile Teriaki sauce, although a good dark Soy is almost as good. I then bake for about 75 mins. It is wonderful.

4. Stuffed Peppers. This is an old favourite. Chop the top off and remove any seeds etc. When you have stuffed peppers in restaurants, they are often dry affairs, with rice etc in. To me this is just a lazy lack of imagination. I like to do them with Puy lentils, chilli, mushroom and shallots. Cook the Puy Lentils in a good stock as per the instructions. Fry up the chilli, Mushrooms and chopped shallots with garlic salt and pepper and add to the lentils. Sear the skins of the peppers in the frying pan, then stuff with the lentils etc. Top with parmesan and tomato paste and bake for 20 mins. 

5. Mushroom burger steaks. These are great meat alternatives and really easy to make. Get a couple of potatoes and chop into four pieces and boil for 15 minutes. Drain the water and mash. Add salt, pepper and smoked paprika to taste, leave to cool. Chop up the mushrooms add some chopped chilli, grated garlic, and leave to cool.  Then mix in mash and chopped dill. Form the mixture into genrous burger size patties and fry for 3-4 mins a side or until crispy brown on the outside on a medium high heat. Tranfer to a baking tray and cook for 20 mins in the oven.

6. Lentil, cauliflower and onion burgers. These are really good. Cook red lentils as per instructions in a decent stock and drain any excess liquid. Leave to cool. Chop up the onion and cauliflower quite finely, I add chilli flakes. Season with salt, pepper and smoked paprika and fry. Leave to cool and then mix in with the lentils. Form into generous burger sized patties. Fry until crispy on both sides (3-4 mins on medium high heat) and then finish in oven for 20 mins. 

7. Battered Haloumi steaks. Haloumi is a really good meat substitute. I quite like it fried in beer batter. Beer batter is really easy to make.  3/4 cup plain flour, 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, 1 bottle beer of your choice, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika. Mix until consistant. Dip in the Haloumi and deep fry until golden. If you are vegan, this also works well with cauliflower. 

At some point, it is my intention to make Youtube videos of all of these, so that you can follow on a step by step basis.

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