By Ren Behan
Lots of us are doing our best to add more veggies to our diets. Really easy ways to do this are to take part in ‘Meat-Free Mondays’, look into having a weekly veg box delivered to your door – or simply look out for more seasonal fruit and veg offers at the local market or supermarket.
Having a themed vegetarian night per week is also a fun idea for family mealtimes; picking a few countries each month and then finding and cooking their famous dishes. It might be as simple as choosing Italy and making a veggie homemade pizza or vegetable lasagne, or we might venture further afield and choose Mexico, making wraps filled with tinned beans, grated cheese, spring onions and sour cream or a Veggie chilli.
Vegetable curries are another good way of making veggies the star of a meal. Curries made with coconut milk are usually mild enough for younger children. We like this Keralan veggie curry with poppadoms, rice & minty yoghurt – the recipe uses cauliflower, tomatoes, chickpeas and pineapple chunks, along with the coconut milk and a few spices. Sometimes I add green beans and potatoes, which I either chop into small pieces to make go further, or whizz with a hand blender for a smoother texture. Serving crispy poppadoms on the side or naan bread with plenty of dips, such as fresh mango chutney, gives the kids something extra to get stuck into at the table, too.
If you’re looking for a cold dish inspired by the warmth of the Middle East, chickpeas are a great cupboard standby. This Summer chickpea salad is really quick to throw together and makes an easy meal for grown-ups. Open up and drain a can or jar of chickpeas and add chopped chillies, baby tomatoes, lemon, and fresh herbs from the garden or windowsill. Mix in plenty of crumbled feta cheese before serving.
Turning to British local produce, quiches and tarts are lovely for a summer supper and are perfect to eat with a big salad on the side whilst lazing in the garden. You can always eat any leftovers cold the next day. Try a simple Late Summer Tomato Tart; it’s a great recipe to have to hand if you are experimenting with growing your own tomatoes on the patio or in the garden. Although why wait for a ‘late’ summer – any summer will do!
Ren Behan is a mum-of-two and a food writer – find out more at www.renbehan.com