Looking to up your family’s veggie intake, or perhaps you just need some more vegetarian meal inspiration?
Here are three tasty and easy recipes to help you create more of a plant-based meal plan. Carnivores in the family need not worry, as these vegetarian recipes are packed with so much flavour, you’ll never miss the meat! As always, the “use it up” motto means that leftovers can be turned into a lunchbox filler or for used another meal.
Arriba, arriba! Bring a little spice to your family’s meal and send them loco for this tasty yet simple dish. It’s extremely versatile and can enjoyed with rice or tortilla chips and topped with cheese, salsa or guacamole (or even all three!). This recipe makes four to six servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to three days, or frozen to be reheated for another meal.
2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
1 x large onion (about 280-300g), chopped into 1cm cubes
1 x medium-sized carrot (about 70g), chopped into 1cm cubes
200g dried green lentils, soaked overnight (or for at least 2 hours)
1 x can tinned tomatoes (or 3-4 peeled tomatoes)
1 x can kidney beans
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1.5 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp cornflour
Salt to taste
1 handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped (optional)
- In a large saucepan, warm the oil over a medium heat.
- Add the onions, carrots and salt and sauté for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, oregano, chilli flakes and paprika and sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the lentils and stir well to combine. Add the tomatoes and water. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the kidney beans and cocoa powder. Allow to simmer for 15 to 17 minutes until the lentils are tender (but not mushy). Taste the chilli and add more salt if needed.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the cornflour in 3 tablespoons of cold water. Pour into the chilli, stirring continually to combine well.
- Allow the chilli to simmer for 3 to 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in the coriander leaves (if using).
- Serve immediately with rice or tortilla chips, Greek yoghurt and/or guacamole.
Lunchbox Leftover Ideas:
- For a quick salad – shred lettuce, slice fresh tomatoes and serve with tortilla chips.
- For a healthy enchilada – roll up in a soft tortilla with extra veggies, yoghurt and/or salsa, top with grated cheese and grill for 10 to 15 minutes
Tangy Tomato Pasta
You might find your kids want two helpings of this pasta dish! It has a load of hidden vegetables in a tasty, addictive sauce that adults can enjoy too. This recipe makes four to six servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to two days.
1 x large onion, roughly chopped
1 x celery stick, roughly chopped
1 x carrot, roughly chopped
1 x leek, roughly chopped
1 x red pepper, deseeded & roughly chopped
4 x tomatoes (medium-sized), roughly chopped
2 x cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive or sunflower oil
½ tsp caster sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
400g dried pasta (Conchiglie, Fusilli, Farfalle or Penne)
Large handful grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little more for garnish
- Warm the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and carrot. Fry for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the pepper, celery, leek and a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn down the heat to medium-low. Cover the saucepan with a lid and continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Turn down the heat to simmer the vegetables for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- While waiting for the vegetables, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
- Remove the large saucepan of vegetables from the heat. Use a hand blender to blend the vegetables to a smooth sauce. Taste the sauce and add more salt or pepper if needed. Return the sauce to a low heat.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked pasta to the large saucepan. Add the Parmesan cheese to the large saucepan. Stir well to combine and evenly coat the pasta in the sauce.
- Serve immediately with a little grated Parmesan cheese across the top.
Green Pea Masala
This extremely simple, South Indian dish can be knocked up in less than 20 minutes for a hungry family and will pack a serious flavour punch. Reduce the black pepper and chilli powder if needed for younger palettes. This recipe makes four servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to two days, and reheated for a quick snack with flatbread or rice.
1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
150g white onion, sliced (about 1cm thick)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder (or chilli flakes), adjust to taste
150g tomatoes, sliced (about 1cm thick)
300g peas, defrosted if frozen
1 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
Salt, to taste
- Warm the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the mustard seeds and stir. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Lower the heat and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes until the onions start to turn a golden brown.
- Stir in the chilli powder, ground coriander and turmeric. Sauté for 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes and 4 tablespoons of water. Mix well to combine, cover the saucepan and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the peas and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until the peas are tender. Taste and add more salt, chilli and pepper if needed.
- Remove the pan from the heat and stir through the coriander leaves.
- Serve immediately with warm flatbread or rice and a dollop of Greek yoghurt or raita.