That is until I decided to become a chef and realised that by being both a veggie and a chef I would be a walking contradiction. Therefore I became more open-minded towards the whole thing.
This doesn’t mean I am addicted to red meat, with the possible exception of my trips to Argentina where I literally can eat a cow. In the UK both meat prices and low quality meat quite often put me off.
After all, I grew up in a country where you can slice meat more smoothly than you can a chunk of really soft butter. Therefore I admit it is quite possible that my meat standards are impossibly high most of the times.
In these cases, it is inevitable that your food diet changes.
Whereas now I am not a complete vegetarian and never will be again, I do like the vegetarian dish from time to time, as I said, being in England, that happens more often than not.
So here are a few proposals for those of you who want to go for the veggie option from time to time.
Best vegetable quiche adapted from Linda’s Kitchen by Linda McCartney
625g small courgettes (I used round courgettes de Nice), sliced thinly
2 large cloves garlic, sliced finely
3 free-range eggs
200g queso mantecoso or to taste *
2 tsp garam masala or to taste (optional)
200ml single cream (I used milk instead)
Sauté the courgettes in the margarine or butter until soft and turning golden brown. Remove from the heat and add the garlic and optional garam masala (I omitted it).
Beat the eggs with the milk and season with a little salt and pepper if you wish.
Arrange the courgettes at the bottom of the pan and sprinkle the cheese on top. Carefully pour the egg and milk mixture over the top.
Bake at 220°C for 30 minutes.
· Queso mantecoso is a very creamy cheese from Argentina. To my knowledge, it doesn’t exist anywhere else. The closest I’ve come was to use some Brie though it’s not exactly the same. If anybody knows another cheese that resembles it, please let me know!!!!!!
Savoury flaky pastry for quiche – from La Cocina Divertida by Blanca Cotta
Flour 1 cup
Egg yolks 2
Salt, 1 teaspoon
Vinegar, 2 tablespoons
Really cold water, 3 tablespoons
Margarine or butter, 100 grams
How to make:
1. Place the flour on to the worktop like a ring.
2. Right in the centre, place the butter or margarine, egg yolks, salt, vinegar and cold water.
3. Mash the ingredients in the centre with a fork until you get a shoe-polish consistency.
4. Mix with the flour until you achieve a soft and smooth dough.
Hot Dogs and Tomatoes from Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking by Linda McCartney
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 large onions, chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
2 x 14oz/397g tins chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon paprika
8-12 (depending on size) vegetable frankfurters or bangers
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the garlic and onions over a medium heat.
Add the chopped green pepper, cover the saucepan, reduce the heat and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the caraway seeds, tomatoes and paprika. Cover again and simmer for a further 20 minutes.
Add the vegetable frankfurters and allow to cook for 3-5 minutes.
Add the seasoning, stir well and cook for 10 minutes.
Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.
Chickpea and Leek Soup adapted from a recipe by Jamie Oliver from The Naked Chef
340g/12 oz chickpeas, soaked overnight (I used tinned ones, in which case, you obviously don’t need to soak them)
1 medium potato, peeled
5 medium leeks
1 tablespoon olive oil
knob of butter
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
850ml/1 ½ pint chicken or vegetable stock
extra virgin olive oil
freshly grated Parmesan
Rinse the soaked chickpeas, cover with water, and cook with the potato until tender. Remove the outer skin of the leeks, slice lengthways from the root up, wash carefully and slice finely. Put the chopped leeks in a colander and rinse thoroughly under running water, removing any dirt.
Warm a thick-bottomed pan, and add the tablespoon of oil and the knob of butter.
Add the leeks and garlic to the pan, and sweat gently with a good pinch of salt until tender and sweet. Add the drained chickpeas and potato and cook for 1 minute. Add about two-thirds of the stock and simmer for 15 minutes. If the soup is too thick, loosen it with a little boiling water.
Now decide if you want to puree the soup in some sort of processor, or leave it chunky and brothy, or do what I do which is puree half and leave the other half whole – this gives a lovely smooth comforting feel but also keeps a bit of texture.
Now add enough of the remaining stock to achieve the consistency you like. Check for seasoning, and add Parmesan to taste to round off the flavours.This is classy enough for a starter, but I like it best for lunch in a big bowl with a good drizzle of my best peppery extra virgin olive oil, a grinding of black pepper and an extra sprinkling of Parmesan.