Top 5 Vegetarian Recipes
I was vegetarian for many years … until I married the world’s biggest carnivore and started writing restaurant reviews and news. I guess it just became easier to eat meat (especially as Franz did a lot of the cooking) and I do enjoy some meat dishes now. But I also still lean very heavily to vegetarian recipes (as a quick glance at my recipes page will show), especially if I’m cooking for myself or need something quick and tasty to serve friends. So whether you’re a committed vegetarian, or just looking for a bit more balance in your diet, here are five of my favourite vego dishes from around the world, which even my most meat-loving friends enjoy. And – as my carnivorous husband says – vegetarian dishes go so well with meat! Whatever you choose to eat – eat well!
Despite the name suggesting a connection with the northern Italian town of Parma, this easy crowd-pleaser is typical southern Italian fare, rich in tomato and olive oil. It’s traditional to Naples and the surrounding countryside, famous for the delicate fresh buffalo mozzarella that makes eggplant parmigiana so irresistible (I use Vannella). And it can be prepared in advance and baked when needed.
Dhal is my favourite part of any Indian meal and one of my favourite quick dinners with steamed rice and yoghurt. I usually make it with red (masoor) lentils as they don’t need soaking so are quick to prepare, and I always add spinach (‘palak’ in Hindi). The fried fresh curry leaves and spices added at the end take it from good to great.
Chilli sin Carne
This is a vegetarian play on the famous Tex-Mex dish, chilli con carne (‘sin’ meaning ‘without’ in Spanish). I add mushrooms for extra umami and like it with the nutty flavour of brown rice, but white rice works just as well. And I always make extra, so I can use the leftovers for nachos the next day!
Asian Rice with Deep-fried Egg
This quick-to-assemble-dish isn’t traditional, so feel free to mix it up using whatever Asian staples are in your pantry and fridge. I always have Chinese pickled mustard greens, kim chi, furikake and deep-fried shallots on hand to dress up leftover rice, so they’re my standbys with or without the fried egg. I’ve included suggestions for other variations with the recipe.
This versatile dish is great in chunky slices or folded into little triangles or rolls for more filo crunch. My recipe was developed in consultation with a Greek friend whose Mum made the best spanakopita I ever had; she said that plenty of dill and green onions are the secret! Try the lesser-known prasopita (leek and cheese pie) too.