A meat-free meal basically requires replacing meat with vegetable protein. The best plant-based protein sources are pulses (beans and lentils), although many people tend to be a bit wary of them, thinking you have to be up all night soaking them. Yes, some beans do need soaking but you don’t have to stand there watching them!
I use mainly split pulses such as split lentils and split peas because they cook more quickly, or small pulses such as mung or adzuki beans. Some people also worry that pulses are indigestible and cause bloating. This can be a problem, but the secret is to really cook them well so that the indigestible elements break down properly. These are mainly carbohydrates or starch, which are chains of sugar molecules. Cooking breaks them into shorter chains, making them more digestible and slightly sweeter to the taste. They are broken down further in your mouth where the digestive enzyme amylase continues the process. Another good reason not to eat too fast!
Red kidney beans originated in South America. They are delicious, easy-to-use and have the benefit of adding colour to a meal. Raw kidney beans are toxic and they must be soaked overnight and properly cooked for at least 60 minutes. They should not be sprouted or eaten raw. Once cooked properly they are a great filler for wraps and spicy dishes. They are also good mixed with other cooked beans to make colourful salads.
This vegan recipe is similar to a Bolognese sauce, but with a spicy twist of paprika, chilli and coriander. Great served with rice, or as a potato or pie filling.
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion finely sliced
2 sticks celery finely sliced
1 small red pepper diced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 courgette diced
1 carrot diced
2 garlic cloves crushed
½ small red chilli finely chopped
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp ground paprika
300 ml vegetable stock
1 tsp jaggery optional
250 g tomatoes peeled & chopped
3 tbsp tomato purée
400 g tin kidney beans rinsed & drained
salt & pepper to taste
- Sauté the onion and celery in the ghee/coconut oil for a few minutes. Stir in the red pepper.
- Add the ground coriander and cumin and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the courgette and carrot and continue cooking for a few minutes.
- Add the garlic, chilli, herbs and paprika. Continue cooking for a few minutes to soften the vegetables.
- Stir in the jaggery, chopped tomatoes and tomato purée, then add the stock.
- Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, adding a little more stock if it becomes too thick.
- When cooked, add the kidney beans to the tomato mixture.
- Reheat and season to taste with salt and pepper.