vegetarian/gluten free/lactose free/can be made vegan
This is a really easy way to start lots of different recipes. It is basically a vegetarian bolognaise-plus, packed with flavour and good-for-you feelings. You can practically taste the vitamins. Use it as it is for spaghetti bolognaise or combine it with other stuff for dishes such as lasagne or chilli con carne.
I am not vegetarian myself but I much prefer to use this recipe rather than standard mince and many people I have served this to never even guess that it’s vegetarian. When I was growing up my Mum used to produce batches of this and freeze it for a handy quick-start to dinner on busy days. I normally just make slightly more than I need each time and freeze a portion or two.
- The vegetables that you add to this can actually be really varied, it’s great for using up all of that old veg that accumulates in the back of the fridge. I like to swap out the celery for mushrooms when my mushroom-hating husband isn’t eating it and add some aubergine too. Just experiment and see what you prefer. If you cannot eat onion/garlic it is possible to omit the ingredients containing it from this recipe with no adverse effects – you might just want to add a bit more of the other flavoursome ingredients)
- The Quorn mince that I use is not vegan as it contains egg however many supermarkets do their own brand of vegetarian mince that is vegan – I know Sainsburys do, you might just need to shop around. Or, if you’d rather omit the mince altogether it’s just as nice with extra veg added instead. Mushroom is good substitute I think.
- At the time of writing, standard Marmite contains barley but not wheat, which is fine for me but not for the totally gluten-free. For bizarre reasons which I can’t quite fathom, their vegetarian version however does contain wheat. Again, supermarket own brands often have different ingredients so it might be worth double checking. If you really can’t find any that’s gluten free and/or vegan don’t worry – it’s totally optional. Try some vegan yeast flakes instead or just add another stock cube.
- The cooking times on this can also vary depending on how much time you have. This recipe can be cooked pretty quickly (as given in the instructions) or left to gently simmer for longer. I prefer this option as I like my veg thoroughly cooked and I think it gives a better favour. I either use the slow cooker for this or fry everything up in a wok with a lid instead of a frying pan, pop the lid on, turn the temperature to the lowest setting and leave it for about half an hour or more, checking occasionally and stirring to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Makes 5-6 portions
- A packet of Quorn mince
- 1 large sweet pepper (I prefer red but whatever colour’s your preference)
- A couple of sticks of celery
- 1 medium courgette
- 1 carrot
- 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of concentrated tomato puree
- A tablespoon of Marmite or Vegemite
- Salt and pepper
- Italian herb mix
Optional Ingredients for added flavour
- 1 small onion
- A couple of cloves of garlic
- A vegetable stock cube (most contain garlic)
- Worcester Sauce (most brands contain garlic)
- A splash of red wine
- A pinch of paprika
- Chop the vegetables into small cubes. Fry on a medium heat with a drizzle of veg oil until they start to brown and soften (usually about 5-10mins)
- Add the mince still frozen, straight from the packet. Stir in and cook for another couple of minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, marmite, Worcester sauce, the stock cube, herbs and seasonings. Stir in.
- Turn the heat down and simmer gently for another 10-15 minutes.