Mix Up Your Menu With Meat-Free Dinners
Even if you’re not keen on the idea of an entirely meat-free diet, there are many reasons to add more plant-based dinners to your routine, chief among which is the fact that it will probably make your diet more healthy. That is as long as you don’t take meat-free to mean just a plate of chips. We eat meat-free meals most of the time in my house and I’ve noticed that doing so means I’ll plan out and cook a healthy and tasty meal which contains a few portions of my five-a-day.
Here are three meat-free dinners that I make regularly. All of the recipes are designed for two big portions, because I eat a lot of food, but you can opt for smaller serving sizes and save some leftovers for the next day.
Pan-Fried Gnocchi With Chilli And Tomato Sauce
The first time I came across pan-fried gnocchi was in a HelloFresh recipe, and I was so taken with the method I use it all the time now. Frying the gnocchi rather than boiling them creates delicious crispy sides, and who doesn’t like delicious crispiness? The sauce is a simple mix of tomato, garlic and chilli that you can make while the gnocchi fries, so the whole meal only takes about 20 minutes to cook.
200g mushrooms, chopped
1-2 fresh chillies
400g can chopped tomatoes
Basil, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
One white onion, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Fry the gnocchi in olive oil over medium heat for 10-15mins until brown.
2. While that's frying put the onions in a saucepan over a low heat for five minutes until they soften.
3. Add the garlic and chillies to onions and cook for a minute, then add the mushrooms.
4. Fry for five minutes until the mushrooms cook down, then add the chopped tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for five to 10 minutes.
5. Add the fried gnocchi and basil into the pan and stir to mix with the sauce.
Cauliflower Mac And Cheese
Not the healthiest option, and when I cook it the amount of cheese involved tends to spiral out of control, but you’re still getting a chunky portion of cauliflower and you have plenty of time to whip up a salad while it’s in the oven.
1 cauliflower, cut into small florets
200g cheddar, grated
3 tbsp flour
1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Put the pasta on to boil and steam the cauliflower above it.
2. Once cooked, drain the pasta and put it to one side while you make the sauce.
3. Melt the butter in a pan and then stir in the flour. Then add the milk and most of the cheese and season with salt and pepper. Stir until the sauce thickens but don’t let it get too sticky.
4. Mix the pasta and cauliflower with the sauce and put it into an oven dish. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top and cook for 20-25 minutes until the top starts to turn golden brown.
Spicy Sweet Potato Jumble
This is a meal we eat all the time throughout the summer in particular. It’s about as easy as cooking gets – chop stuff up, put it in the oven, mix it all together – and it tastes really fresh and packs a zingy punch, depending on how much chilli you throw into the mix.
2 sweet potatoes, chopped into 2cm cubes
2 red onions, chopped into 8ths
2 peppers, chopped
1 block feta, chopped into 1cm cubes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chilli powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 220°C. Put the sweet potatoes, onions and peppers on a baking tray or oven dish, drizzle over with olive oil and mix in the paprika, cumin, oregano, chilli and salt and pepper. Feel free to add more of the spices as you prefer, and smoked or hot paprika is also a worthy inclusion.
2. Cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
3. While the veg is in the oven prep the rest of the ingredients and add them into a mixing bowl.
4. Once the veg is cooked add it into the bowl and mix everything together.