Food, wine, travel, music
With our high consumption of meat in Ireland, having a vegetarian day is a good idea. Researchers from Harvard School of Medicine last year discovered that cutting down the amount of red and processed meats in our diet by the equivalent of one large steak a week could prevent almost one in 10 early deaths in men and one in 13 in women. Replacing this amount of meat with whole grains, vegetables, poultry or fish cut the risk of dying prematurely by up to one fifth. It’s easy to make small changes, and a vegetable based sauce for pasta or rice can be quick and economical. I have plenty on my blog at rozcrowley.com and follow me on Twitter at rozcrowley1 for daily updates. There is plenty of fun to be had with delicious veggie burgers. There is a great recipe for these in a book I edited last year. My Goodness – easy wholesome food by Liz Nolan (www.onstream.ie and bookshops), has already won an award for its particularly economical and easy recipes to help convert even one day a week to meat-free.
For this survey we started out looking at vegetarian lasagnes, but came across a few products aimed at vegetarians that I thought worth trying.
On the Pig’s Back savoury tart, 130g €2.70
This delicious tart has superb pastry and is filled with plenty of creamy goats cheese spiked with olives. All tasters loved this. Good with a green salad or grated raw beetroot salad on the side. Needs to be warmed gently in the oven. This one scored for a night of conversion. Available in the English market and Douglas Woolen Mills outlets
Vegideli Gourmet Vegan Beanfeast Paté, 150g €1.99
Made in UK, black eyed, black turtle, pinto, haricot, butter, aduki and mung beans certainly provide a wide range of beans. Blended to a paste with tofu and vegetable oil, bite and interest is added with linseeds, white and blue poppy and hemp seeds, but overall it’s quite smooth. While there is no flavour of the listed herbs and spices, we did get a general peppery lift. All tasters liked it, though one thought it tasted of nothing in particular but would be happy to use it on crackers or brown bread. A good blend of wholefoods for a low fat lunch. Available in health/whole food stores
Heaven’s Cakes savoury tart, 220g €3.80
In the English market we found this attractive plum tomato topped tart which has a base of lightly herbed cheese filling. All tasters wanted more and were happy that the generous size justified the price. Good with a salad or baked potato for supper. Warm gently in the oven. Pastry is not good microwaved. This one is good cold too. Another for conversion for a meat-free night.
Tesco Finest Italian Cheese & Spinach Cannelloni Al Forno, 350g €4.30
Ricotta and regato cheeses combine to provide a deliciously creamy sauce with plenty of juicy spinach. While the mustard powder and garlic purée are not discernible, the final result is rich and full of flavour. At 2.4g per pack which is enough for two at a push, salt content is high, partly due to the cheese. All tasters would buy this product for a meat-free night. Good with a winter slaw made from raw cabbage and carrot.
Marks & Spencer Vegetarian Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagne, 400g €3.99
18% butternut squash goes a long way here and is in good, toothsome chunks. The spinach is a bit tasteless and stringy so only adds colour interest, and the overall tomato colour is good. The dried herb flavor was a bit strong and the cheese flavour was not quite enough. Pasta was flavourless but with good, firm texture. The overall creamy texture of cheesy béchamel sauce was enjoyed.
Dunnes Stores Mediterranean Veg Pasta Melt, 900g €5
Nice firm tortiglioni pasta is mixed with chargrilled red and yellow peppers, courgettes, onion and grilled mushrooms. A light tomato sauce binds it all together for a pretty good value pasta meal which could feed three or four. A tangy flaovur of dried herbs was the only real criticisim and tasters said they liked the freshness and lightness of the blend. If the tray is divided amongst four, salt at 1.6 per serving is high.
Clive’s Pot Of – Aduki Bean Stew, 400g €4.99
Soil Association approved organic leeks, squash, carrot onions, broccoli, water, aduki beans combine to make a light vegetable stew. There are quite good chunks of broccoli and some leeks for texture with aduki beans for colour and interest. Some herbs and spices make it palatable, and there are no nasty additives, but not enough flavour and texture to convince meat eaters to convert for a meal. From Quay Co-op.
Linda McCartney Vegetarian Lasagne, 360g €2.39
A minced meat feel is provided by textured soya protein and is like the quality of poor, knobbly minced meat and not liked by any tasters. While there is vegetarian cheese, onion, tomato purée, nutmeg and herbs, there is no depth of flavour or rich cheesiness. While the list of ingredients seems quite healthy, none of the tasters would buy this product. Available in supermarkets