Our national trainer Jo reveals a handful of her favourite vegetarian dinner recipes she thinks you'll love to try at home
Autumn has well and truly arrived. The days are getting shorter and, as the temperatures drop, most of us start switching up our recipe repertoire to include more comfort cooking. Stodgy stews and meat casseroles are traditional family fare at this time of the year. But they aren’t the only options. Over the years, our national trainer Jo Underhay has compiled a diverse collection of tasty vegetarian dinner recipes. So, she reveals a handful of her favourites here:
I think there are many good reasons to include more plant-based meals in our daily lives. Firstly, there are health benefits. Public Health England recommends a diet that’s low in saturated fat, and high in whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables. Fortunately, a vegetarian diet can easily meet these nutritional needs. Animal welfare is another key issue – as is the environment. According to The Vegetarian Society, going veggie is one of the best things you can do to help stop climate change.
It estimates that by eating vegetarian food for a year, you could save the same amount of emissions as taking a small family car off the road for six months. But it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. The “flexitarian*” or “casual vegetarian” approach – which combines both meat and plant-based meals – is an increasingly popular compromise. Whichever option you’re keen to explore, read on to be inspired!
A flexitarian* – reducing meat consumption and only indulging in occasionally, choosing to cook less meat at home, for example
I’m a huge fan of soup all year round, but it really does come into its own in the autumn/winter months. With so many mushroom varieties now in season, this mushroom version is the perfect starter for any family dinner. Making soup from scratch really is much easier than you might think – and it’s always worth the effort.
This is one of those simple vegetarian dinner recipes where everything is cooked on the hob. Our new C886G Gunmetal gas hob would be perfect for this soup. It features four burners – including one large triple ring – sturdy cast iron pan supports, plus a flame safety device. The black glass and gunmetal colour combination is super stylish too!
Top tip: Add some good bread, and perhaps a few chunks of cheese, and this soup recipe would work equally well as a warming, substantial lunch.
I LOVE lasagne. It’s tasty, filling and just the aroma of it instantly transports me mentally to happy Italian holiday destinations. However, if you’re looking for a lighter, family-friendly vegetarian version, I think this recipe is one of the best. I adore the combination of sweet potato, peppers, courgette and spinach. Aside from the sauces, which are made on the hob, it’s the oven that does the hard work where lasagne is concerned.
Our SO110 Built-In Combination Steam Oven allows cooking methods to be customised to suit different types of food. There are ten functions to choose from, including fan heat, steam and boost, turbo grill and defrost. Its roomy 36-litre capacity comes in handy if you’re cooking for a crowd. I especially like the practical double-glazed removable door and descaling programme.
Mac and cheese
The quintessential comfort food, mac and cheese is one of my all-time favourite autumnal vegetarian dinner recipes. This version takes just 20 minutes to prep, followed by a further half-hour in the oven. I suggest you use mature cheddar cheese for maximum flavour – and don’t skimp on the paprika!
Family-friendly portions often call for substantial oven space: step forward our C3371 Electric Double Oven. With an impressive 101-litre total capacity and two pairs of handy, full-extension telescopic runners for easy access, it’s ideal for large families and keen cooks who love to entertain. Other useful features include triple-glazed doors, a touch-control programmable electronic timer and a tangential cooling fan.
Top tip: Because it contains animal rennet, authentic Parmesan cheese isn’t vegetarian. So either omit it or substitute with a vegetarian-friendly version, such as this Italian Hard Cheese from Waitrose.
artichoke + spinach cream pizza
Pizza is perfect for cosy weekend evenings en famille. However, takeaway versions can be high in salt and saturated fats. This homemade vegetarian dinner recipe uses soft cheese which will help to keep the calories under control (323 Kcals per serving). But rest assured, there’s certainly no compromise on taste. I think artichokes don’t always get the attention they deserve. They’re delicious, filling and packed full of powerful nutrients and dietary fibre.
Artichokes work surprisingly well as a topping, especially when paired with spinach. This recipe provides an option to use Ciabatta bread for your base, so it’s a speedy serve when time is tight. All you need is a really hot oven: our C2237 Classic Electric Single oven would be perfect. Combining affordability, functionality and style, it also features an easy-to-clean enamel interior (perfect for those inevitable cheesy pizza drips!).
I’m always on the lookout for unusual vegetarian dinner recipes, so I was thrilled to come across these broccoli quinoa cakes. Made with simple store cupboard ingredients, they are quick, nutritious, filling yet light. Everything is cooked on the hob and, after prep, these ‘cakes’ take just ten minutes from pan to plate.
Top tip: This recipe’s seasonings are deliberately fairly basic. So, don’t be afraid to jazz things up with your favourite herbs or spices.
Risotto is another irresistible vegetarian dinner recipe that’s perfect for hearty family meals. This creamy tomato versionis topped with crispy garlic breadcrumbs for extra deliciousness. Risotto does have a reputation for being a little bit needy. But all that stirring seems less of a hardship with a modern induction hob, such as our C857i. I love the bridgeable zones and automatic pan detection.
vegetable + lentil cottage pie
This recipe is an excellent meatless take on a classic autumnal comfort dish. Golden brown mashed potatoes never fail to lift my spirits on cold, grey days. Here, they top a fabulously filling combination of red lentils and heaps of colourful vegetables – perfect for weekday family dinners.
The pie is prepped on the hob then cooked in the oven for around 30 minutes. Simply pop the dish into an oven such as our C2105SS Electric version. With a soft-close hinge, it’s perfect for gentle closing rather than frantic slamming, which is never a good idea.
Top tip: Feeling super organised? Keen to cook ahead? This pie freezes beautifully for up to three months. For best results, cook in a casserole dish (not a cast-iron pan) and allow to cool completely before freezing.
I think crumble is perhaps the perfect autumnal family dessert – and rhubarb is one of my favourite fruits. So it’s no surprise that this rhubarb crumble is my pudding of choice when it comes to vegetarian dinner recipes. I like mine in single portions with custard, but cream or ice cream works equally well. If they’re available, I also add some strawberries – not exactly seasonal, but the flavours work so well.
This is another dish that requires nothing more than a simple bake: no fancy equipment required. Our C2105 Electric Single Oven would be perfect. From our Sense collection, it performs well, looks great and offers great value for money.
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