Meat-free Mondays

There is nothing like really crisp crackling on roast pork, a whole chook roasted with garlic, lemon and thyme, a perfectly cooked steak to your liking with Dijon mustard on the side. I could go on.

Nevertheless it’s good to have a break now and again: for you and for the environment. You don’t have to do what I did in 2009 and become a vegan for a whole year (another story).

But just giving up meat one day a week is a healthy commitment.

It also wakes up your cooking skills. And your tastebuds.

Cooking without meat (and even animal products) is not hard but does require a bit of thought otherwise it’s just veggie stir frys, curries or stews.

We can do better than that.

Each Monday, Talking Adelaide will suggest a meat-free option that we’ve cooked ourselves and which should also suit the season (first one below)

Enjoy – and don’t forget to share your recipes with the rest of us.

TA loves a good recommendation. So send them in.

Diary note: Meat-Free Week, March 24-30, 2014

www.meatfreeweek.com

 

 Rustic Tortilla Soup.  Source Flickr

Rustic Tortilla Soup.  Source Flickr

Rustic Tortilla Soup

Mexican is so on-trend at present so this should go down a treat.

This should probably be credited to Jamie Oliver; my clipping is ripped from an English newspaper and doesn’t show who the chef is but it sounds like Jamie. It uses tortilla chips the way the French use croutons. The chips are meant to slightly soften in the soup by serving.

 

For the soup

Olive oil

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

2 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped

2 green peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 yellow peppers, deseeded and roughly chopped

2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 fresh baby leaves

2 vegetable stock cubes (use chicken if not a meat-free day)

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

seat salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the garnishes

1 ripe avocado

1 lime

1 fresh green chilli, finely sliced

2 large handfuls of tortilla chips (I’ve started using the rectangle ones that come in a brown paper bag)

1 heaped tsp dried sage

 

Put a large pan on low to medium heat and pour in a good measure of olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots and peppers and fry gently for 10-15 minutes, until softened, stirring every so often so they don’t catch on the bottom of the pan.

Add the chopped fresh tomatoes and bay leaves, crumble in the stock cubes and add the tinned tomatoes. Pour in about 2 tin’s worth of water, then bring to the boil and turn down to simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Heat your oven to 180C. While the soup simmers, peel and stone your avocado and dice into 1cm cubes. Put these on a plate, grate over some lime zest and squeeze on the juice to stop it turning brown. Put it in the centre of the table next to a plate with the green chilli slices.

Lay your tortilla chips on a baking tray, drizzle with a good lug of olive oil and sprinkle over the dried sage. Heat in the oven for a few minutes until warm through. Meanwhile, check the soup. If you like looser or thinner soups, add some water at this stage. If you like it thicker, you can leave it to cook  a bit longer. You can leave it chunky or pulp it up a bit with a hand-held blender.

Serve with the tortilla chips in the bowl – and allow diners to add their own green chilli and avocado.