Whether you’re new to vegetarian cooking or you’re a seasoned veggie, these vegetarian cooking tips and hacks are real game-changers. If you have not yet checked out my amazing vegetarian and vegan recipes you can find lots here that I am sure you will love.
I’ve covered all sorts of culinary tricks that will save you money, brighten up dull plates and inject new flavours and textures. So if you’re ready to learn some new cooking hacks for vegetarians, keep on reading!
When it comes to vegetarian cooking, many people find it difficult to get their protein fix in a way that satisfies their cravings for certain flavours and textures. Fortunately, I have a few vegetarian cooking hacks that will help keep the protein portion of your vegetarian meals exciting and flavoursome.
What substitute protein products can I have?
Embracing substitute protein products is a sure-fire way to replicate familiar meaty flavours and textures when cooking for vegetarians. Stores have introduced such a wide variety of vegetarian/vegan foods such as sausages, steaks, burgers, escalopes and even ‘chicken’ nuggets. These foods make it easy to plan meals that are quick and easy, and packed with protein.
How to use Tofu
Tofu can be bland, so it’s always best to season it and pair it with big, bold flavours. Fortunately, it’s also incredibly versatile and can be marinated, fried and even turned into noodles.
When you marinate tofu, don’t use oil. Tofu is full of water and using oil in your marinades will just result in a big slick of oil and less flavour being absorbed by the tofu. Use extra stock, soy sauce, vinegar or lemon juice instead. Try this recipe.
Pan-frying tofu can cause tofu to stick together, so coating the piece in cornflour or semolina helps prevent it from sticking to the pan and to the other pieces. It also makes the tofu lovely and crispy.
Freezing tofu makes it chewier, firmer and spongier.
Lentils, Beans and Pulses and great protein sources
Packing your food full of lentils, beans and pulses is one of the best vegetarian cooking hacks around.
Packing your food full of beans is a great way to add extra flavour, protein and texture. You can make food go a lot further by simply adding some mixed beans.
Grated carrot is another healthy way to bulk out meals and make your sauces go further. Use when making pasta sauces and chillies.
Try this red lentil soup for an easy way to use lentils.
Making recipes with Quorn
It is really easy to adapt recipes to use Quorn, as a vegetarian myself I do it often. It is always worth remembering that Quorn takes less time to cook when substituting it for chicken or mince.
Check out my selection of Quorn recipes, all perfect for all the family whether vegetarian or not, some are vegan too.
Using fruit and vegetables well in a vegetarian diet
Invest in a spiralizer to turn courgettes into noodles. You can turn all sorts of other veggies into noodles too, such as carrots, squashes and sweet potatoes. You can even make the perfect curly fries using potatoes, some oil and your favourite spices.
Cauliflower is the king of all vegetables when it comes to vegetarian cooking hacks. It can be used to replace all sorts of foods to create low carb meals (such as cauliflower rice) and even marinated to make Cauliflower steaks.
If you’re missing the texture of meat, pierce an aubergine and roast it over the flame of a gas hob, then seal in a bag or box to steam. After a while, you’ll be able to shred the aubergine with a fork. It makes a great meat substitute for many meals.
Bananas can be mashed up and frozen to produce healthy, delicious ice cream. Never let a bruised banana go in the bin ever again!
Peel potatoes easily by scoring around the centre and then boiling them whole for 15 minutes. Remove with tongs and plunge into cold water – iced water is best. The skins will come right off, no more wasted time peeling spuds!
Seasoning and herbs in vegetarian cooking
Growing your own herbs using a kitchen windowsill herb garden is a great way to get an endless supply of fresh herbs for your vegetarian meals.
Quick and easy sauces, such as hummus, pack huge flavours and can be used to bring a little extra something to your vegetarian meals.
Store Cupboard vegetarian essentials
Get a ready filled spice rack and experiment with flavours. Simple meals can become so much more with a sprinkle or two of the right spices.
Get yourself some speciality oil dispensers and start to explore the rich, varied flavours of different cooking oils. Sesame, chilli and coconut oils are all popular, flavourful oils perfect for cooking and garnishing. You can also infuse your own oils.
General Vegetarian Cooking Tips
You can buy lentils in cans, or buy dried split lentils – buying split lentils is cheaper and you can just throw them in while your sauces cook. They take about 20 minutes to go soft.
It works out cheaper to buy dried beans, however, these need soaking for quite some time. Instead of waiting, boil them in a pan for an hour and they’ll be ready to use. This is a great vegetarian cooking hack when you’ve forgotten to soak them overnight. If you have a pressure cooker they can also be done quickly in there!
More tips with veggies!
Some vegetables can be regrown when you’ve finished with them. Spring onion ends (with the root) can be placed in water and within a few days, you’ll have a whole new spring onion to use.
No steamer? No problem. Pour a few cm of water into the bottom of a large pan, create a base from tin foil that exceeds the level of water and place a heatproof plate on top. Place your veggies on the plate and pop the lid on for perfectly steamed vegetables.
Give gherkin brine a new life by boiling and then pouring over green beans, cucumber, radish or onions to create a whole new jar of pickles.
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