Food is kinda a big deal in our house. We probably talk about it more than your average couple, sending approximately 2.5 work emails per day deciphering what’s going to be on the table tonight, where we plan to eat out next or sending links to recipes we’ll add to our never ending-list for later. Sundays we hit the farmers markets and daydream of fresh German bread and coffee, reminiscing on the best things we’ve eaten overseas.
Man, he’s going to love this post right?
I’ll give the bf a big shout out and say I’m pretty lucky to have someone as into food as I am, who will swap out pretty much anything for quinoa without complaining and makes a mean green smoothie. I’ve also heard his slow-cooked pork tacos are legendary.
But ladies, it hasn’t always been rainbows and sunshine when our plates collide. And it’s taken us a while to get into our food groove.
At first it was totally separate meals – meat/carb heavy for him, and snack food for me (I wasn’t exactly a big 3-meals-a-day kinda girl back then). I wanted a few rice paper rolls, he wanted sausages. Enter pre-shopping tension and supermarket stand offs with the end result being separate baskets. Any of this sounding familiar?
Two factors helped us get more in sync. I began to eat a more whole foods, plant based diet which included proper meals every day, and in turn he became more interested in nutrition, and eating unprocessed local foods. Soon, TED talks were being watched and dairy discussed. (Talks by Mark Bittman and Jamie Oliver are a great place to start lads). More importantly we became masters of the healthy-filling compromise, and built an arsenal of mostly vegetarian meals that had enough bulk to fill a 6ft3 Swede with a god given metabolism. Relationship nirvana – tick. Well, we’re getting there.
Here are our favourite vego meals that have been given the thumbs up from a hungry boyfriend.
1. Best Barley Salad
What you’ll need:
- 1 x cup barley
- 3 x spring onions
- 1 x punnet mixed cherry tomatoes
- 2 x lemons
- 1/2 x red onion
- 1 handful each of coriander, mint and parsley
- 1 x small block feta or goats cheese, cubed
- 3 x handfuls chopped kale or baby spinach
- 2 x tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Olive oil
* Non-vego option add marinated chicken
2 x free-range chicken breasts sliced thin.
2 x tsp Chinese five spice
2 x Tbsp soy sauce
1 x tbsp honey
1 small chilli (optional)
How to go about it
1. Cook the barley in salted water as per packet instructions and set aside to to cool.
2. In your biggest bowl, add thinly sliced red onion, the zest and juice of one lemon, and leave for 5 mins.
3. Add the cooled barley, chopped cherry tomatoes, feta, kale, herbs (I like herbs whole), spring onions, olive oil and balsamic and mix well with your hands.
4. Spread the salad out on your biggest chopping board, serve with lemon wedges.
NB: If you’re adding chicken, sprinkle it with 5 spice, salt and pepper, add your soy and honey and and marinate for as long as you can. Grill on the BBQ and set aside. Add to salad once assembled on the board.
2. Pumpkin, fennel and sweet potato soup with brown rice
Soup? I know what you’re thinking, but this rich, thick and spicy brew well and truly hits the sweet spot. It’s super crazy good. Add the brown rice and a big crusty loaf of bread and you’re guaranteed a new kitchen staple.
- 1x quarter pumpkin
- 1x small sweet potato
- 1x bulb fennel
- 1x brown onion
- 2x carrots
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- Thumb sized knob of ginger
- 2x clove garlic
- 2x tbsp massaman curry paste
- Sprinkle sesame seeds
- Sprinkle cumin seeds
- Cooked brown rice
- Chopped coriander or flat leaf parsley
How to go about it:
1. Get your brown rice cooking
2. Roughly chop pumpkin, sweet potato, fennel and carrot and lay out on baking trays. Sprinkle with cumin seeds, sesame seeds and drizzle with honey. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast in a hot oven for 20 minutes or until slightly softened.
3. While the veggies are roasting, brown the onion, garlic and ginger in a large pot with a little olive oil. Add the curry paste and cook until fragrant.
4. Add the roast vegetables to the pot, along with the vegetable stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Blend using a stick blender until thick and smooth.
5. Serve soup over a good serving of brown rice and top with coriander. Delicious, thick and satisfying.
3. Green Tea Soba Noodle Salad
Trust me, this salad is all time – the dressing is definitely worth the effort.
What you’ll need
- 1/4 Green Cabbage (sliced)
- A few handfuls mixed green salad
- 1 bunch mint
- 1 bunch coriander
- 1 x cucumber (sliced length ways)
- 1 x punnet cherry tomatos (halved)
- 1 x avocado (cubed)
- 1 x packet green tea or soba noodles
- 1 x Black Sesame Seeds
- 3 tsp rice vinegar
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 2 tsp sugar or natural sweetener of choice
- 3 tsp soy sauce
- 3 tsp grated white onion
- 5 Tbsp ground white sesame seeds (mortar and pestle or blitzer)
- 2 Tbs whole egg mayonnaise
Turn into a main meal:
Add firm tofu, cubed
Add poached free-range chicken breast
How to go about it
1. Cook the noodles as directed and allow to cool
2. Assemble all remaining ingredients in a bowl, add a little dressing and mix with your hands.
3. Top with tofu or chicken (optional), dressing and sprinkle with black sesame seeds
4. Veggie Burgers
I posted this recipe a while back, and it’s still one of our all time favourites. Make a big batch at one time and you’ll have your office lunches sorted for the week. Recipe here.
5. Jamie Oliver’s Vegetarian Pizza
An all-time favourite, making your own dough is healthier and 100 times better than ordering in. I’m a fan of Jamie’s dough recipe – it’s super easy.
Our fav vego toppings
1. Buffalo Mozzarella, Basil, Olive or Chili Oil, Cherry tomatos (top with fresh rocket)
2. Pumpkin, feta, caramelised onion (top with fresh rocket)
3. Jamie’s potato, rosmary and thyme
6. Smokey Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chilli
I’ll confess chilli has never been a favourite of mine, the meat heavy version anyway. This recipe uses the density of the black beans and sweet potato to create a vegetarian version that we’ve come to love – especially in the winter time. Recipe from Food52 here.