Or how I learned to stop worrying about meat and eat a vegan dinner
I didn’t get a picture of this recipe so I’ve used a lovely photo I found on Flickr.
So today’s post will be a little different. Most of the time the recipes I share or meals I post about feature meat, fish or animal products in some way. Even if it is just egg in the pasta or cheese atop the finished dish a ‘vegetarian meal’ may still have something which came from an animal along the way. Well today the gloves came off (so to speak) and we didn’t just go vegetarian, we went full vegan… for one meal and a desert anyway.
Before we go any further and for anyone who doesn’t know me I will preface this post by saying I love meat and fish. I’m a big fan and I don’t think I could ever give it up completely. I have made my peace with eating animals, it’s a personal decision we all make consciously or unconsciously. I’d rather they all had a good and comfortable life first and I know some of the conditions they are kept in are pretty horrendous (I’m thinking battery hens here) but over all, meat eating – I’m not against it.
If being vegetarian is your thing I’m not here to convert you to streaky bacon and thick cut steak. I love cooking and eating vegetarian meals too, just not every day. My theory, balance is key in your diet.
So back to the vegan lasagne. If I’m such a big old meat eater why did we have this for dinner? Well we’ve prepared vegetarian lasagne many times before. Hana has a great vegetarian cookbook from Cornucopia in Dublin. Every time we’ve had one of these variations they have been fantastic and I have experimented cooking my own recipes as well. I think lasagne is a dish which lends itself really well to being vegetarian. You can replace the beef or lamb mince with Quorn mince or beans, lentils or other pulses or just a great vegetable ragu.
This time we took the recipe a step further as we had invited a friend over for dinner who had recently become vegan. To be honest initially we were a little stumped as to what to make. I know a lot of wonderful vegetarian dishes but vegan is a stretch. This recipe comes from the October 2012 copy of the BBC Good Food magazine since then I have found the recipe (Lentil Lasagne) on their website and you can find it here. I thought I wouldn’t write it out again as you can find it on the Good Food Website and they have a good set of step-by-step instructions which as nice and easy to follow.
Hana cooked this recipe so and it seemed to be as easy to prepare as any other lasagne, in fact it went quite quickly for a lasagne recipe really.
The main difference between this vegan lasagne and the other vegetarian lasagna’s we have prepared in the past is the bechamel sauce and topping. Being vegan you can’t use dairy products which rules out both the cheese, butter and milk needed to make this. Instead the recipe comes up with an ingenious solution.
You boil up some cauliflower till tender and puree it, mixing it with soya milk and nutmeg to make an approximation of the taste and texture of a bechamel. I think this is a good approximation when you can’t use dairy products but (and this is in my opinion) this is where the recipe falls down.
Personally whilst the cauliflower ‘sauce’ is okay, it is (as all substitutes are) not as good as what it is imitating. Personally I’d rather have a better sauce which could use vegan cheese and butter, I am guessing something such as this does exist?
So will I be going vegan?
The quick answer is no. This was a nice meal but I think it would have been a much better recipe if it had been a vegetarian lasagne. Maybe I will try throwing the odd vegan meal in here and there, after all they always tell us it would be better for the planet!
Text and photos By Russell Bowes