Monday, 12 November 2018

Meatfree doesn't have to mean expensive "fake meat"

We've been vegetarian for years and dip in and out of vegan cooking too both intentionally when we feel we've overdone the dairy a bit and unintentionally, just because you can easily make really tasty meals without animal products in them at all. Looking around the supermarket at the weekend I was amazed at just how many of the products in the shiny updated vegan and vegetarian section were actually just fake meat products - "steak" pies; "sausage rolls"; "chicken" and vegetable pies and really expensive fake meat products at that. Now don't get me wrong, if you like these and are happy to pay for them fine but I'd hate to think that anyone toying with becoming veggie or even just reducing their meat in-take for health or environmental reasons, were put off by the costs of these foods or felt that a meal could only be tasty and satisfying if it looked and tasted like meat. So here's a quick and easy recipe that should give you a filling "Meatfree Monday" meal that tastes great and doesn't cost a fortune.

For other ideas please drop in on the expert at super cheap healthy food Jack Monroe (@bootstrapcook) who even has a whole section dedicated to vegan food on her website for folk who want to extend meat-free to completely animal-free without spending a fortune doing it.

Carrot, Feta and Spinach pie

For a 9x9ish pie dish for 4 good sized portions.

Shortcrust pastry - I use 200g dairy free margarine rubbed into 400g of plain flour and sufficient water to mix into a soft but not sticky dough but you can use ready made if you want. Chill for half an hour or so to make it easy to roll out and less likely to overstretch.
Divide finished dough into 2 approx. 1/3 for the lid and 2/3 to line bottom and sides of pie dish.

Any leftovers can make quick and easy nibbles/ jam tarts/ fruit turnovers/ pasties or cheese straws....

For the filling - Mix the following ingredients in a bowl:
1 large carrot grated
1 small onion chopped and lightly fried
4 small potatoes sliced thinly and parboiled
Approx. 100g cooked spinach, chopped
1 200g pkt feta cheese diced (you can also use cheshire or wensleydale just add salt to the seasoning)
2 tablespoons green pesto - you can get a good Vegan one from Sacla
Either 2 crushed garlic cloves or approx 1/2 tsp of Garlic powder
2 teaspoons dried Thyme
Black pepper and salt to taste (if I'm using feta I don't bother with salt!)

Spoon filling into pastry lined pie dish and pack down well. This mix should be just enough to fill the dish to the rim level if packed down well and give you a really chunky filling pie that even the most ardent meat eater should enjoy!

Cover packed filling with pie lid, pinch edges, trim and make a steam hole in the top.

You can glaze the lid with beaten egg or a little milk (soya milk works too!) but I tend not to bother for everyday pies.

Bake for approximately 30-40 minutes on Gas Mark 6 until pastry is golden brown.

Serve hot with green veggies or salad or just on its own.

This re-heats well in the oven for next day's lunch too!

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