One man’s meat another man’s……..


With so many carnivorous Joe publics out there, we tend to forget about a high number of people out there who for several reasons do not eat; some nor any form of meat. Based on so many reasons, from religious reasons, to those do not believe in the butchering of animal for our consumption or even those that do not like the taste texture or look of meat.
So why does is it become an issue when preparing non meat dishes for people. Maybe we feel there are not a large variety of ingredients to make meals with. Or we are so used to cooking meat that we cannot comprehend a meal without it, or maybe because we have been conditioned into believing that the only source of protein for a balanced is meat.
A balanced diet should consist of carbohydrates, protein and fats/oils which are essential to sustain the human body, providing it with all the useful nutrients required. The most common substitute to meat is seafood, but a great number do not eat this either. So we as chefs have to seek and tastefully prepare protein substitutes.
Beans, lentils, plantain are a few examples. And since the first two
come in various varieties. There is a lot we can do with them.

Quorn is the one substitute that I find most unappealing. Quorn is the leading brand of mycoprotein food product in the UK. A mycoprotein is any protein-rich foodstuff made from processed edible fungus.
Well I am a carnivorous, maybe the though of a substance that is meant to taste like meat troubles me.

I do believe it’s the British way of eating, that every dish has to have a meat element to it. This mostly stems from the olden days where meat was expensive and only enjoyed by the elite and aristocrats at the time. So the modern British meals have incorporated meat into everything, excluding desserts. But all around the world such classics have been retained and improved on. And some of the “peasant” foods are now referred to as classic cuisine.
Examples of these are Panzanella; This is made from stale bread, peppers, chilli, capers, olives garlic and olive oil. Calzone; is a fold over pizza with the previous day’s leftovers. Ratatouille made of aubergines, courgettes, onions and tomato.

Most times out of many the same vegetables tend to re-used over and over again. such as aubergines and courgettes. I think to myself not the same ones again. Used in vegetarian sandwiches, stacks and ratatouille. So I was compelled to feature a few dishes which include the proteins mentioned above.

Lentil roast.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 medium red onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
14 oz / 400 g tin pre-cooked brown lentils, rinsed and drained
3 slices brown bread, crusts removed
3 oz / 75 g grated (mature) cheese
½ large carrot, grated
1 tsp mixed dried herbs,
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten
4 fl oz / 125 ml warm water

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F / 190 degrees C.
Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium flame and gently fry the onions and garlic until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Stir regularly.
Put the lentils in a large bowl and crumble in the bread. Add the grated cheese and carrot, and season with the dried herbs and salt and pepper. Mix well.
Finally, stir in the egg and about ¾ of the water. The mixture should be soft and moist but not wet. If it is too dry, add a little more of the water.
Lightly oil a bread tin and pour in the lentil mixture. Push down the mixture and smooth the surface with the back of a spoon.
Put into the bottom of the oven and cook until firm and just turning golden.
Serve with a salad of your choice.


Curried Red Lentils with Sweet Potatoes


Ingredients:

3 tsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
375g dried red lentils
1 bouquet garni
2 litres chicken, meat or vegetable stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp curry
1 tsp ground cumin
4 large sweet potatoes
Chopped oregano, to serve

Preparation

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and fry the onion, celery and carrot for 10 minutes, until soft. Add cumin and curry then add the lentils, bouquet garni and stock. Season.
Bring to the boil. Simmer, covered, for 25 minutes or until the lentils are very soft. Remove the bouquet garni.
Add the lemon juice.

Boil the sweet potatoes till they are cooked, run under cold water and peel the skin.
Cut into wedges and flash fry them in butter, and season
And serve with lentils, garnish with fresh chopped oregano

And most importantly, meat can be added to these dishes to make great
tasty dishes.

So when someone says they are vegetarian or vegan. Do not panic. Because it is
easier than you thought to produce a gourmet meal

Enjoy your vegetables.

Take it easy.

Peace and catch you later

Chef