There are many reasons and desires that come into play whenever we sit down for a meal. Hunger and necessity for food as a biological need of course, but food at some point for virtually everyone, can satisfy something more than just nourishing the body and providing energy. It can trigger memory, serve as a reward, provide comfort, inspire, celebrate or memorialise an event or person… the list goes on.
There are some people in this world who can eat the same thing on a daily basis, or slight variations of it, and be perfectly content and satisfied, seeking and receiving the emotional or creative fulfillment elsewhere. I am not one of those people.
I am constantly inspired and inquisitive when it comes to food, cooking and eating. I also get great satisfaction from exposing my young girls (as well as Nick and I to a variety of foods and the cultures from which they originate. And, as someone who spent nearly ten years as a non-meat eater, stemming from both ethical reasons and gastrointestinal needs, I am always on the look out for interesting ways to use vegetables. One part cultural anthropologist, one part patient, one part parent.
Reading recipes from a variety of origins is part of what I do for a living. And little pleases me more than when I can take the ideas, flavour combinations, and ingredients I read about, translate them and incorporate aspects of them into family dinner.
Here are some of the things we make that help to shake up how we get our five-a-day. Most are slightly watered-down versions of the ‘authentic’ versions of the dishes, but they keep variety and inspiration and therefore happiness in the kitchen. And 9 times out of 10 they aren’t met with too much protest.
- Spinach & Feta Pie (Spanikopita)
- Egg & Vegetable Fried Rice
- Vegetable fritters (grating whatever veg we have in the house)
- Peanut and Broccoli Rice Noodles
- Vegetable-infused meatballs
- Roasted carrot/pepper/tomato sauce
- Green veg pesto (spinach, basil, avocado, coriander, pea)
- Vietnamese Summer Rolls
- Veggie and cheese quesadillas
- Sweet potato and coconut curry
- Muffins & Breads (Banana & Courgette, Spinach & Cheese, Squash & Carrot…)
- Shakshuka (similar to baked eggs)
- Roasted chicken and vegetables
- Blended vegetable soups
What have been some of your vegetable-infused favourites? What cuisine do you find you draw from the most? I’d love to hear your ideas!