The market for vegetable protein meat alternatives is huge and growing fast. They vary enormously in texture and flavour. From traditional staples like the Quorn and Linda McCartney ranges to newcomers such as The Vegetarian Butcher, Beyond Meat and Richmond’s Meat Free products, there has never been so much variety. Some of these products aim to replicate the flavour and texture of meat closely, whilst others aim to offer a similar use (sausage shapes for a vegan breakfast, for example) without being too meaty.
Choice here is a matter of personal preference. Having been a veggie for a long time, I find that I don’t enjoy products that are too similar to meat, but the meat substitutes that are most similar can provide a more satisfying choice for those who still enjoy meat but are looking to cut down.
A happy medium for me is TVP mince. The texture isn’t too chewy, and the TVP takes on the flavour of the other ingredients, making it ideal for a bolognaise or a chilli. It also works particularly well in a lasagne, which is this week’s recipe.
- Vegetable oil
- 2 carrots
- 1 stick celery
- 2 cloves garlic
- 200g TVP
- half can of tomatoes or good squeeze of tomato puree
- 450ml vegetable stock
- bay leaf
- 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 1 pint milk or soya milk
- 100g cheese or vegan cheese
- Lasagne sheets
- Extra cheese to sprinkle on top
- Put the oven on at 200°C.
- Chop the carrots, celery and onion. Finely chop the garlic. Gently saute the veg in a little oil in a large heavy based pan until softened. Make up all the stock in a jug and have it to hand.
- Add the TVP, the tomatoes/puree, the bay leaf and some of the stock. Simmer for 10 minutes or so. The TVP will soak up the stock as it heats, so keep adding stock whilst the mixture simmers, to make sure that the sauce stays moist. You probably won’t use all of it. Just use what you need. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Put 2 tablespoons of veg oil in a saucepan with the flour over a medium heat. Stir to coat all the flour in oil and then add the milk a little at a time to make a bechemel. Keep stirring continuously until all the milk is added and the sauce has thickened.
- Turn off the heat and stir in the cheese whilst it melts.
- Remove the bay leaf from the bolognaise sauce and pour half of it into the base of an oven-proof dish. Add a layer of lasagne sheets, then half the cheese sauce. Add more pasta sheets and the remaining bolognaise and then the final layer of pasta and then the last of the cheese sauce.
- Put in the oven and back for 15-20 minutes until hot, bubbling and just browning on the top.
If you make a double batch of the bolognaise sauce you can use the extra bolognaise sauce as it is with spaghetti, or top with mashed potato for a cottage pie.
Food waste tip:
If, like our household, yours doesn’t really eat celery except in soups and casseroles etc, then chop the remainder of the celery and freeze it. Then you can grab a handful straight from the freezer and add to cooking as required.