Vegetarian Christmas I – parsnip and cranberry nut loaf

parsnip

It is no secret that parsnips are my favourite root vegetable. They are delicious, versatile and cheap. Last week I tried a new recipe featuring the humble parsnip – a parsnip, chestnut and cranberry nut loaf, which I made as part of a Christmas-inspired dinner. If you’re looking for vegetarian Christmas mains, this is the way to go. Its festive and won’t look out of place next to all the usual trimmings, as well as being fairly simple, filling and delicious.

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carrot, kale and chickpea heaven

kale_chickpeas_and_carrots

I find that I often get in a food-rut when I’m cooking for myself. It becomes so much easier to make the same tried and tested dishes over and over again if I know that they are seasonal, easy, cheap and healthy. It feels as if I must already know all the meal-options in the world (madness!) so I just vary between the same handful. At the moment, I’ve been eating a lot of vegetable soups and curries with squash, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms. But I was completely knocked out of my food rut when I tried an unusual dish from my Ottolenghi cookbook. I am now completely inspired to try new meals because its clear that I haven’t tried it all. There are plenty of cheap, easy vegetarian dishes out there!

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spinach, leek & mushroom gnocchi

spinach gnocchi

I surprised myself yesterday by whipping up a surprisingly tasty and cheap meal from items I already had at home. Leeks are apparently one of the only vegetables that will survive the Scottish winter, and friends of mine are still harvesting them from their gardens! I’ve definitely grown to love leeks since moving to Scotland, even though apparently they are popular in Bavarian cuisine as well.

Serves: 2

Cost: about 45p per serving

Ingredients:

  • half a packet ready-made gnocchi 30p
  • handful spinach (frozen is fine), defrosted 10p
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms, sliced 25p
  • 1 leek, sliced 15p
  • 2 tablespoons single cream (optional) 10p
  • nutmeg, salt & pepper, dried thyme & sage

Instructions:

  1. cook the gnocchi in a pan of salted water for 2-3 minutes (according to the instructions on the packet)
  2. heat a few tablespoons oil or butter in a frying pan
  3. add the leeks and soften for about 5 minutes, then add the mushrooms
  4. cook on medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until they are soft
  5. add the gnocchi, cream, spinach, a sprinkling of nutmeg, and thyme or sage if you have it on hand
  6. cook for another 5 minutes until the ingredients are combined and then season with salt & pepper and serve

soup #3 tomato and basil

tomato-soup

We apologize sincerely for the silence, at the moment our time is being eaten up by two monstrosities: dissertation and a music event we’re organising. In the meantime, we have been managing to feed ourselves and have learned a thing or two about meals that you can make so quickly that they don’t even count as a study break. Yes, this is possible. But before we share those, here is a delicious and simple tomato soup that has become a staple in this house.

Serves 2, 45p per serving

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 2 sticks celery
  • handful basil
  • 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup red lentils (optional)
  • salt, pepper, oil

Instructions:

  1. chop the onion and slice the celery into discs
  2. heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a deep pan on med-high heat
  3. add the onion and celery and fry until the onion is translucent
  4. add the chopped tomatoes, stock, lentils and basil
  5. cook for 15 minutes and then blend using a stick blender
  6. season with salt and pepper

Roast pumpkin with red onion and goat’s cheese

roast-pumpkin

This is one of those recipes that is so simple, it barely deserves a set of instructions. Perfect for a mid-week dinner panic, all you need is some goat’s cheese, red onions and half a small pumpkin. Cheap, simple, healthy and delicious. If you’re really hungry, you could even serve this with some pearl barley or cous cous. I’m always excited when I find recipes that manage to make cheap and seasonal ingredients like onions and pumpkin into an enticing meal, so I hope you enjoy this one.

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Our favourite autumn chili

mexican 1

This is by far my favourite meal to make for friends. Kasia and I made it for a band who stayed with us last week, Sunshine Social, and they liked it so much we got a shout out from them during their set. Yes, it is that good.

The great thing about this recipe too is that most of the ingredients are tinned, meaning  you can usually find them lying around your pantry, and can make it any time of year. Vegetarian mince is the secret ingredient in this recipe, as it keeps the cost low and tastes just like mince with the right spices. You can make one giant pot for all your friends – non-veggies won’t know the difference (we’ve actually tried and tested this, it’s true)

So hold on to your sombreros, because I’m about to spill the mexican beans on how to make the most delicious, easiest, quickest and cheapest veggie chilli sin carne you will ever eat. Ha!

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Happy world vegetarian day!

botanical-art-print

botanical print from poppytalk

Today is world vegetarian day! Seeing as we are both vegetarians, we thought we’d spread the veggie love. This feels like a big moment, coming out of the closet as vegetarians. Vegetarianism is not an ideology or a reason to judge people, its a lifestyle choice. The reason the two of us are veggies is because it is the quickest, easiest and cheapest way to lower our negative impact on the environment. Perhaps this is a good time to mention that we won’t be posting any meat recipes on this blog, not because it is a ‘vegetarian blog’ out of principle, but because we have yet to find a cheap, environmentally sustainable meat-recipe.

P.S. We’ll still love you even if you do eat meat. There are plenty of ways to make sustainable lifestyle choices, and eating less meat is one of them, even if its just a couple meat-free days a week.

Here are some interesting articles if you’d like to learn more about the impact of meat production and consumption on the environment:

Eating Animals by Jonathan Foer

10 ways vegetarianism can save the planet by John Vidal

How eating less meat can lessen our environmental impact by chooseveg.com