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Cook Dorset!

PUBLISHED: 12:55 26 April 2011 | UPDATED: 19:15 20 February 2013

Lesley Waters celebrates National Vegetarian Week with a tasty meat-free pie and saucy accompaniment

National Vegetarian Week, which runs from the 23-29 May, is a great opportunity to try some inspirational vegetarian recipes. I am not a vegetarian but I am a great fan of vegetarian food. Vegetables play an essential role in a healthy balanced diet and yet are rarely considered for a starring role, which is disappointing considering the masses of flavour and colour they can bring to a dish. Vegetables lend themselves brilliantly to fresh, fast dishes as they can be woked, steamed, fried or baked to provide a delicious dinner in no time at all.
When Im creating vegetarian dishes, I think of flavoured oils, dressings, salsas and raitas to drizzle, and nuts and seeds to add crunch and texture. Spices and herbs also make a great contribution, bringing freshness and zing to any dish. Peas, beans, lentils, wholegrains and rice give added interest and are all great carriers of flavour and if you eat a good variety of these foods, then your body will receive all the protein it requires.

Modern vegetarian food is not dull or boring; its fabulous and tasty, and should appear on the dinner table more! Im not saying dont eat meat and fish; like I say, Im not a vegetarian. Just dont overlook all those other great-tasting healthy dishes out there, because if you do, youll be missing a treat!

Stock Check Pie
This delicious pie is made up from ingredients found in your store cupboard, hence the name. Serve it warm or cold with red onion chutney or a blob of brown sauce!
Serves 6
350g shortcrust pastry
1 tbsp grainy mustard
1 x 400g can cooked green lentils, drained and rinsed
115g Denhay oak-smoked cheddar cheese, roughly cubed
6 eggs
1 egg, beaten (for glazing)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to gas mark 6/200C/400F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out 2/3 of the pastry until large enough to line a 23cm flan tin. Fit the pastry into the tin but do not trim the edges.
2 In a large bowl, toss together the mustard, lentils and cheese, season with black pepper and spoon into the pastry case. Crack the eggs, straight into the pie over the mixture, taking care
not to break the yolks.
3 Roll out the remaining pastry to form a lid. Brush the edges of the pie with the beaten egg and lay over the lid. Gently push the edges to seal with the base, trim any excess pastry. Crimp the pie edges and brush the lid with the beaten egg to glaze. Bake for 35-40 minutes until golden.

Red Onion Chutney
Serves 8
2 tbsp olive oil
675g red onions, very thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 tsp thyme leaves
55g demerara sugar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
150ml red wine
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions, bay leaf and thyme, season with salt and pepper, then cover and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the onions have softened but not coloured.
2 Stir in the sugar, vinegar, wine, orange zest and juice and cook for a further 1 hours, uncovered, until no liquid remains and the onions are a dark rich red colour. Stir frequently during the last hour of cooking to prevent the onions from burning.
3 Transfer the cooled mixture into sterilised jars and keep in the fridge.

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