Saturday, 9 March 2013

Less Flesh More Veg Please!

Last night my husband and I had a great meal out at the Spotted Cow in Farnham. Since having our son two years ago we have always tried to have a date night once a month. It is great to have unhurried time together just the two of us to talk and enjoy each others company away from the busyness of the home, our business and the demands that go with having a young child. More often than not we choose to go out for a meal. We enjoy great food and being inspired by the surroundings and menu. Last night we enjoyed a very delicious meal. For starter we shared a seafood platter; prawns, crab cakes and smoked salmon. For main we both had chicken breast wrapped in bacon and stuffed with cream cheese, served with creamy mash, carrots and broccoli (more about the veg in a bit), We managed to find room for dessert, I had a delicious apple and sultana crumble and my husband had sticky toffee pudding. It was a real treat!!

Now back to the veg part. We are constantly being told by the Government how important it is to get our five a day in terms of fruit and veg and some reports now even suggest we should be eating eight portions a day to protect against heart disease and cancer. I love fruit and vegetables and as a family we eat a lot as part of meals and healthy snacks. My two year old son has always loved his fruit and veg. Home made vegetable soup is one of his favourite teas. So why is it that when you go out to a restaurant for a meal the veg you get offered is often very limited? It's mainly carrots or broccoli and is a small portion in proportion to the meat and potatoes on the plate. Shouldn't restaurants be trying to encourage us to eat more veg by offering greater variety and more creative and exciting ways of serving them? Since watching Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall's series River Cottage Veg (where he chose to give up meat and fish for 3 months). I have been inspired to make one or two vegetarian meals a week for us as a family in place of meat and fish. At first my husband was a bit sceptical and thought that the meals wouldn't be very exciting and that he would still be hungry afterwards! But now he enjoys them just as much as the meals where we do have meat or fish and says that they can often be more interesting and flavoursome. This week we will enjoy aubergine kedgeree (from River Cottage Veg Everyday) but with my own twist added - mango chutney. I am also trying sweet potato and sweetcorn burgers for the first time. I have enjoyed developing my cooking skills in this area and the challenge of trying to create a tasty and filing meal without the meat or fish. So how about giving it a go and giving yourself that extra veg boost. 

Aubergine Kedgeree. 
Serves 4.

2 medium onions
2 aubergines
2 tsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp medium curry powder
300g basmati rice (brown or white, I prefer brown as it gives a more nutty flavour)
4 large eggs
1 tbsp mango chutney plus extra to serve
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 190c/gas mark 5
Peel the onions and cut into eighths.
Cut the aubergines into large chunks. 
Place in a large roasting tray. Pour over 2 tsp sunflower oil, sprinkle with the curry powder and some black pepper. Roast for 40 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times.
While they are roasting cook the basmati rice in a pan of boiling water (10 minutes for white or 25 minutes for brown).  Drain, then leave in the pan with the lid on to keep warm. While the rice is cooking boil the eggs for 7 minutes, drain, cool slightly and peel. Cut into quarters. 
When the veg is cooked toss with the rice, stir in a tablespoon of mango chutney (according to taste), heat slightly. Serve topped with the egg and a bit more mango chutney if desired!

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