Monday, 26 March 2018

6 Best Family Vegetarian Recipes

So you know that to help the planet, your health, and your wallet, it's best not to have meat for dinner every day.  But you have a family to feed.  And it just gets complicated trying to find vegetarian recipes that your kids will actually eat.

Well, I know your kids will probably have a completely different set of preferences to mine.  Occasionally I read one of those family recipe books where they will say, "This dish disappears in a flash in our house," and I read it and think, "My children wouldn't touch that!".  They don't like most beans, soup, or tomato sauces, and Toby doesn't like eggs.  They do like things with lots of toppings that they can add, baked beans, refried beans, and cheese.

So I don't present this as the complete answer to your dinnertime woes.  But here are some of the veggie dishes that work best for us.

(Most of the links are to Monthly Munch posts; scroll down to find the recipe at the end)

1. Black bean burrito bowl


This is nice and easy to make and eat.  The boys love heaping up the toppings.  We often don’t have the avocado, even though it’s nice, but we usually have cheese, yoghurt and chilli sauce in the house, and I try and remember to get the tortilla chips to add some crunch.  You can always add some extra vegetables (sweetcorn is good) or more beans to make it go further.

200ml rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1 smallish onion, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 red pepper, finely diced
1 x 400g can black beans, drained and rinsed
250ml vegetable stock
1 ripe avocado, thinly sliced
crumbled feta or grated Cheddar
natural yoghurt
chilli sauce
tortilla chips

Put the rice in a pan with 400ml boiling salted water.  Bring to the boil, turn the heat right down and cook for 15 minutes with the lid on.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Cook the onion and celery until softened, then add the garlic, paprika and cumin.  Stir for a minute.  Add the red pepper, black beans and vegetable stock and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add seasoning to taste.

Scoop the rice into bowls and ladle the bean mixture over the top.  Put all the extra bits on the table so that people can add whatever they like.  Serves 4.

2. Easiest ever vegetarian lasagna


This is the only way I make lasagna any more, because it's a doddle to put together and the only thing I need to remember to buy is a tub of cottage cheese.  When spinach is whizzed up to make the sauce, it apparently doesn't count as the normally-disdained green leafy stuff.
Vegetarian lasagna

3. Carrot cornbread

This stuff is very delicious.  I usually make it to go with vegetable chilli (which the boys won't eat, so they get baked beans and cheese or whatever useful leftovers are lying around).  Using pure cornmeal makes it very crumbly; if you're not avoiding gluten you can substitute in some plain flour to hold it together better.  This makes plenty, but it freezes well and can be eaten for breakfast (with butter and syrup, like pancakes), lunch or dinner.
Carrot cornbread

 4.  Home made pizza

Yeah, I know.  This one does require you to be around a few hours in advance of the meal.  But Theo loves helping to roll out the dough, and it fits the lots-of-toppings requirement perfectly.  Grated cheddar, tomatoes, peppers and olives are what we have to have - anything extra is a bonus.  Try dollops of pesto, mushrooms, sweetcorn, or an egg cracked on top.

Home made pizza

5. Fajitas

These are somewhere between fajitas and tacos, and would be scorned by any self-respecting Mexican.  But we love them anyway.  I make the seasoning mix up in bulk and keep it in a jar, so I don't have to mess around making it every time.  It works for the black bean burrito bowl too.  I use mild chilli powder and leave out the cayenne, but to be honest, the boys mostly just have beans, cheese and salad in their tortillas.


1 heaped tbsp Taco Potion #19 (or similar fajita seasoning)
1 large onion, chopped
2 peppers, chopped
mushrooms / sweetcorn / cooked diced squash if you like
about 200g frozen Quorn mince or chicken-type pieces
4 large flour tortillas / wraps
grated cheese
1 can refried beans
plain yoghurt or sour cream
salsa
chopped tomatoes / cucumber / lettuce / fresh coriander

In a large frying pan, heat some oil and fry the onion and peppers (and any other raw veg) until just softening.  Add the seasoning and a splash (50-100ml) of water and give it a good stir.  Add the Quorn mince along with frozen sweetcorn and any cooked veg.  Make sure there's a bit of liquid in the bottom so it doesn't all stick, but you want the finished mixture fairly dry, so don't put too much water in.  Put a lid on and leave it to cook for 15 min or so, stirring once in a while.

Meanwhile, grate the cheese, chop the salad, clear the kids' homework off the table, and all that stuff.  When you're about ready, heat up the refried beans in the microwave, and give the tortillas a few seconds in there to warm up too.

Put the frying pan on the table along with all the other bits and pieces, and let everyone make their own fajitas.

6. Pasta with roasted vegetables

This recipe comes from a 20-year-old book called the Oxo book of food and cooking.  Every single dish contains Oxo cubes of some description, most of which I've never seen in the shops.  The dressing is a kind of nutty pesto; it adds lots of flavour, but substitute bought pesto if you need to.
 Pasta with roasted vegetables

 I hope that gives you some new ideas!  If you have any favourites in your family, let me know - I'd love to hear about them.

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