One of the biggest misconceptions about vegetarian food is that you need to put in a lot of time and effort to make vegetables taste good. I know that personally, I’m often put off by long lists of exotic ingredients and laborious cooking instructions when I’m looking for plant based recipes.
When you’re tired, stressed and only have 10 minutes to eat before you have to head back to the library to panic write an essay, it’s easy to opt for a microwave meal or a meat dish that you know will satisfy. But when you have the right ingredients in your store cupboard and a fool proof recipe in front of you, it’s so easy to make a quick and yummy veggie dish.
Aubergines are my absolute favourite. They’re so tender, salty and moorish; I think they’re a perfect alternative to meat. This week’s recipe is garlic fried aubergine drizzled with sweet teriyaki sauce – the ultimate comfort food and it takes literally 10 minutes! The only slightly bizarre ingredient is Mirin, but this is definitely something you should think about investing in! Japanese rice wine is a vital ingredient in teriyaki sauce and tastes amazing in stir fries, salad dressings and on rice.
I’ve compiled a list of other kitchen essentials you might find useful for cooking vegetarian meals below. Having the right ingredients to hand can make life so much simpler when trying to reduce your meat consumption.
- Tinned tomatoes – tomatoes form the base of so many great veggie dishes, from pasta sauce to chilli to curry. Make sure you always have a few tins in your cupboard!
- Sriracha – gives a spicy kick to any bland vegetable dish.
- Thai green/red curry pastes (check these are the veggie versions before you buy!)
- A wok – for stir fries, egg fried rice etc.
- Cans of beans/chickpeas – I often rely on meat to fill me up, but beans and chickpeas are really satisfying too.
- Brown rice
- A blender – so useful for making pesto, soups and smoothies!
Below is this week’s Japanese inspired recipe – happy Meat-Free monday!
Recipe for Sticky Fried Aubergine
Ingredients: - Olive oil - 1 aubergine - 1 clove of garlic - 1 tbsp of mirin - 1 tbsp of soy sauce - 1 tbsp of honey - 1 cup of rice - 1 handful of curly kale - Chopped spring onion - 2 tsp sesame seeds
1. Put some rice on to boil – brown rice is best as it’s more sustainable and healthier than white.
2. Chop the aubergine into bite-sized pieces and fry in a generous amount of olive oil on a medium/high heat. Season with salt and pepper.
3. While that’s cooking, place some kale on a baking tray, garnish with olive oil and a generous amount of salt and put it in the oven at 200 degrees C. for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and remove from the oven when it’s nice and crispy.
4. Next, make the teriyaki glaze by pouring the mirin, soy sauce, crushed garlic clove and honey into a bowl and give it a good mix.
5. Once the aubergine has really softened, pour the teriyaki glaze into the pan.
6. Leave on a medium heat and stir every now and again, until the sauce thickens.
7. When ready, pop the rice into a bowl and top with the teriyaki aubergine, crispy kale, spring onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds!