A vegan misadventure

I knew that Andrew would not be particularly excited by my miso aubergine with Japanese rice and pickles last week (I say ‘mine’, it’s Jamie Oliver’s), but I wanted to restart meat-free Mondays for 2020. Although cheese undoubtedly makes food (vegetarian or otherwise) even more delicious, I did think an over-reliance on cheese might not be the most healthy option. So although I wasn’t aiming for intentionally vegan food, the miso aubergine did sound delicious, and a worthy choice for the first meat free Monday of 2020.

miso aubergine vegan

Unfortunately the dish didn’t really tick any boxes, and has not helped to convince Andrew that reducing meat in your diet can still be tasty. I have some work to do … but not this week, as I’ll be in Paris on Monday and so Andrew will have to fend for himself (and Ioan), and toast is about as vegetarian as Andrew will get when left to his own devices.

So back to the miso Aubergine: it wasn’t awful, but we didn’t enjoy the texture of the aubergine, and the miso was too salty but not much else. I ended up adding some sweet chilli sauce to the glaze to jazz it up a bit, but I was fighting a bit of a losing battle. The Japanese rice (with rice vinegar and sugar) was nicely seasoned but a bit too stodgy, and we loved the little pickles, but ultimately we wouldn’t make this again. Someone on instagram suggested that the miso might have been the issue, as a good quality one is essential. That could definitely be one of the problems, as I don’t think even chicken would have tasted nice with the glaze (although the texture would have been less slimy).

Anyway, you live and learn, and it’s good to try new recipes. Let’s hope next time I have more success!

The rest of the week was successful. My (also vegan) packed lunch salad of roasted sweet potatoes and cauliflower with giant couscous and herbs was delicious, filling and packed full of veggies:

Packed lunch for first week of 2020

Broccoli soup (hey, vegan too!) was a super tasty working lunch:

Broccoli soup working lunch

Even better, it was also Ioan’s favourite!:

Ioan eating broccoli soup

Homemade pasta with tomato sauce which was leftover from our Christmas Eve meal and frozen was also a great success. Not veggie as I did add a few prawns sautéed in garlic, lemon and parsley to mine and Andrew’s:

Pasta with tomato soup and garlic prawns

Continuing with the fishy theme, I had a delicious restaurant lunch at Cliffords in Chancery Lane, which included the somewhat unusual combination of cods roe with crispy egg, which was actually taramasalata (and the best one I have ever tasted) with a soft boiled egg coated in breadcrumbs:

cods roe and crispy egg

I followed this with ‘place veronique’ which is fish cooked in a creamy sauce. It was nice, although a very rich lunch, and I wasn’t overly fond of the grapes (!) in the sauce:

plaice veronique

My final fish dish was actually a simple weekend lunch which I made, following on from a quick visit to our local fishmonger (Green Lanes Fisheries) – hot smoked salmon, dressed crab, salad, pickles and bread. Wow – the perfect combination of flavours and textures to come back to after a long walk in the park to burn off some of Ioan’s energy:

fish platter

And then moving into the realm of meat eating, but still packed with veggies, this super simple chicken and pea traybake ticked all of the boxes, and was another resounding success for Ioan:

Chicken and pea traybake

And the final meal to share was a carnivore’s dream of steak and chips. I cooked the chips in goose fat from Christmas so they were very indulgent!:

Steak and chips

So overall our menu for the first week of 2020 has been quite well balanced, with a good proportion of our meals being meat free. Although we’re likely to be a bit more meaty this week, I’ll aim to keep breakfasts and lunches plant based so that there is still plenty of opportunity to pack in the veggies.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ll be in Paris for work on Mondays, so Andrew and Ioan can have the leftover Poule au Riz (today’s Cookbook Challenge and Sunday lunch) for dinner. Later in the week I am going to have spinach, sweet potato and lentil Dahl for packed lunch – I used to make something a bit like this as a soup, but I plan for this week’s lunch option to be a bit thicker and substantial.

For evening meals, I have in mind the following:

  • Stirfry
  • Shepherds pie
  • Homemade fish and chips
  • And two (TWO!!!) Cookbook Challenge recipes from my new cookbook about Tuscany: Beef stew with beer (certainly appealing to Andrew) and Savoy cabbage with sausage.

Do you have any plant based recipes to share with me, which are perfect for the meat eater in my life?!

2 Replies to “A vegan misadventure”

  1. Each to their own but I love slimey eggplant

    1. Haha, the world would be a boring place if we all liked the same thing. Maybe it’s because I hate mushrooms too (because of texture AND taste?

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