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Making meat matter



I am no vegetarian, far from it. Still I kind of understand that meat is one of the luxuries that we need to cherish and take in moderation to be able to continue enjoying it.

To make meat go further, I have been experimenting with two things…to date.

(1) make meat go further… made some tomato sauce with meatballs, but instead of half of the meatballs I used a can of flageolet beans. It was a resounding success, even my four year old approved.

(2) do without meat a few days… this is really difficult… but it is really astonishing what you can make into a ‘burger’… carrots, courgettes, onions, oats, eggs and cashew nuts a wonderful patty make.

I am not going to give up meat, but can completely see there is a lot beyond meat to enjoy. Do you have a veg eating side?


We try to eat at least one vegetarian meal a week, and fish at least once a week. Generally, we like to try to find dishes which are simply made from vegetables, rather than being explicitly vegetarian versions of meat-based dishes, if that makes sense. There is a lot of variety out there - pumpkin and blue cheese risotto is a favourite, and I’m very partial to anything with aubergine. And having said that we don’t normally go for vegetarian versions of meat dishes, we’ve found that the Korma Courgette and Chickpea Burgers recipe from Ainsley Harriott’s Barbecue Bible goes down an absolute storm with our meat-eating friends.


Interestingly, when I am making a curry I do not feel obliged to use meat at all. Paneer, mushrooms and legumes rock and roll.


If the lady is working late and I’m gonna be cooking for me and her later in the evening, I just feed the kids something simple, and with say pasta or chips I often use stuff like quorn chicken nuggets. Hopefully - nay, surely - better than breaded bits of mechanically recovered bird.

And when I make burgers, I always flesh out a small amount of beef mince with bulghur wheat. But I must give beans a go, too.


Completely agree - lots of good curry recipes without any meat at all.


We have switched towards a lot more fish and for easy teas, things like fish cakes. Most of our red meat now comes from the local butcher - it’s much more expensive but much nicer, and as a consequence we enjoy our meals more, eat more healthily and support a local business.


We’ve also cut our meat consumption pretty much by half. Since my daughter decided to turn vegetarian 18 months ago - we had to adapt our weekly menues and in a sense re-think how we eat. Having said that, I’ve grown up in Israel eating lots of fresh vegetables, and things like couscous and bulghur wheat salads were staple, so it hasn’t felt too radical a change.

The meat we do eat is always bought from our wonderful local butcher, but we also buy lots of game which we freeze and eat over a period of time - so less farmed meat, and more wild/managed game meat, which also has the benefit of being low fat.

Like @szaki1974, our home-made curries rarely feature meat - there’s so much texture and substance to aubergines, chickpeas, cauliflower and paneer, that meat feels superfluous.

Fish ans seafood are still a significant part of our diet, though, and I don’t think I could do without them…


We’ve cut down our meat consumption a lot, agree that anything with aubergines is likely to be a winner. I used to resent paying what seemed like an extortionate amount for them (and probably is), but compared to the amount I would spend on higher-welfare meat, 70p for an aubergine is pretty cost-effective.

Lots of chickpeas/lentils/beans. Love the electric pressure cooker (instant pot) for bean-based things which I can then shove a load of spinach in afterwards and/or put some fish on top and put the lid back on to cook in the residual heat.

We’ve also started having vegetable stir fries more. I had them so often growing up that I was put off them for years, but now I see why my mum cooked it all the time- cheap, quick, healthy, tasty.

I also bloody loves me a cabbage, in almost any form.


Well you don’t get much more veg oriented than being a vegetarian (though I do very occasionally eat fish). I do a lot of pasta sauces and very often use haloumi cheese in them. Makes a great meat substitute; not pretending to be meat but giving that extra bit of texture and bite that veggie food often lacks. Slice it first then fry or grill until browned then chop up into smaller bits and add to the sauce. Really easy and really great; all the meat eaters I know who’ve tried it love it.

Paneer is great too and I use it in most of my curries. Again usually fry it first to firm it up.

If you want a fantastic and very traditional vegetarian sausage then try the Hairy Bikers Glamorgan sausages. Just fantastic and one of my staples (they freeze really well).


I don’t think of them as ‘a vegetarian’ meal, just a meal.
This week we are having

M Don’t know, at pub with friends
T Penne with grilled slices of aubergine in a tomato and basil sauce and mixed salad
W Roast cauliflower steaks with dal and stir fried pak choi in oyster sauce
Th Grilled sausages with roasted tomatoes
F Plaice fillets with new potatoes, fresh peas and mixed salad


Although I’m a bit of a meathead, I couldn’t agree more with your first point. I actually prefer many mince based dishes with half the meat content but with a can of beans added to replace.

Shepherds pie, cottage pie, meat ragu, all benefit from the addition, in my case, of a can of cannelinni or butter beans. Other beans work just as well though. Not only is it healthier and cheaper but it’s also tastier, in my opinion, for having an additional texture.

And should you wish, gives you another pound to spend on the wine to go with it.


Sausages !
This is a definition of a sausage…
“an item of food in the form of a cylindrical length of minced pork or other meat encased in a skin, typically sold raw to be grilled or fried before eating.”

even poetic licence can’t make those things sausages :rofl:


Ah but they have a long tradition in Wales (presumably amongst folk that couldn’t afford much meat). They do have leeks in them after all!


Interesting that nobody has mentioned tofu yet. I know that’s it’s often derided as lacking taste, but having a Chinese wife has opened my eyes to the array of flavours that it can carry - it’s all about the sauce. To be honest, I don’t cook it much, but often eat it in Chinese restaurants. We’ve enjoyed this recipe very much, as recommended by @NickFoster.


Great thread! Like many on here we have cut down meat consumption and eat better quality.

Cooking with vegetables, pulses etc has been transformed thanks to Ottolenghi. If you don’t know of him, he is from the Middle East and has a few mostly vegetarian places in London. His cookbooks are fantastic and really tasty dishes without meat or fish. Also lots of ideas to replace potatoes which have been a staple in my diet forever!

My other big revelation is halloumi. I never fancied it much but then threw some slices on the barbecue and ate with couscous. Delicious, filling and good substitute for meat (also in burgers).(


From Israel, to be exact :slight_smile:


Great thread! I’m certainly going to be borrowing some of those suggestions.

We have slowly been cutting back meat for a number of years. This was first initiated when we were students and didn’t have much money for good quality meat and did not want to eat poor-welfare meats. Since then we have carried it on.

We usually eat meat ~2 days a week and fish at least once. This week for example:

Monday: Aubergine dhal (no recipe) with Turmeric roasted cauliflower non-alcholic beer like nanny-state
Tuesday: Rick Stein’s simple artichoke pasta we abstained but i was tempted to a glass of Rose
Wednesday: My own hot-smoked salmon potato salad (a bit like this)
Thursday: Puy lentil bolognese or Feta and asparagus frittata (let the weather decide)
Friday: Something meaty from the butcher, i’ve got my eye on something from the cellar which may embrace juicy proteins?!
Saturday: Tiger prawn linguine with some lovely juicy whole tiger prawns (shells boiled up for flavour!)
Sunday: Roast with a mouthful of Friday’s red if any survives that far.

We use the leftovers from roast day to supply sandwiches for lunches and snacks in the week and leftover gravy to gives curries and stews an extra kick.

Has anyone found a vegetable dish which stands up to Bordeaux blends?


We usually reserve Bordeaux blends for our meat days, but have had success in pairing a Bordeaux blend with three-bean veggie burgers, topped with melted cheddar and accompanied by roasted potatoes. We also enjoyed it with veggie Bolognese made with minced Quorn.


My wife loves quorn. I’m less keen - I have a slightly illogical dislike for ‘meat alternatives’ in my non-meat meals :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:. The exception being quorn picnic eggs. I don’t know what they put in those things but cannot get enough of them.

My veggie burgers have a habit of disintegrating - think I shall have to persevere!


You’re not alone there - lots of people I know feel the same about meat ‘substitutes’. I feel the same about ‘cheese’ substitutes. Why bother when it’s so vile :nauseated_face:

Having said that, Quorn works really well for us, and especially for my daughter who turned from carnivore extraordinaire to a veggie virtually over night. For her, it’s a sort of comfort. So she can still eat things like Katsu curry (which we make with Quorn ‘nuggets’) or Bolognese or even sometimes Chilli (though we usually just up the beans/lentils content), but feel virtuous. :smile:

Whatever works, I guess!

Man - I got to try these! sounds a tad addictive, though… :thinking: