Sunday, 29 May 2011

National Vegetarian Week: Sunday Lunch

Sunday lunch is such a traditional British meal: a roast joint of meat, roast potatoes, vegetables, gravy. But it isn't just meat eaters who can enjoy a traditional Sunday meal. My mum and I are both vegetarian, my stepdad a meat eater, and we eat a Sunday lunch every week.

A winter-time Sunday lunch (sprouts and parsnips)

Naturally vegetarians can't roast a hunk of lamb for Sunday dinner. Unfortunately there don't seem to be many suitable meat-equivalent roast options which actually taste of anything; Quorn do a roast but it tastes of, well, Quorn, which doesn't taste of much. Instead, we have breaded filled fillets or escalopes (my favourites are the Mozzarella and Pesto kind).

Roasting vegetables is really easy. Almost anything can be roasted - just make sure everything is cut into similar-sized chunks and don't try to roast things that really won't work, like leeks. In the photo above I have roasted potatoes, roasted parsnips, roasted squash and roasted carrot, with boiled sprouts.

Why not try roasting garlic, onions, sweet potato or mushrooms? Garlic cloves are small so put them in later, but otherwise as long as everything is the same size it will all take roughly the same amount of time.

Coat the vegetable chunks in oil - we use olive oil. They don't want to be too slimy but make sure they're well covered. The more oil you use, the cruchier they'll roast, but of course the more fatty they'll be.

To add flavour, we shake on seasoning salt and Swiss Bouillon but you might like to try mixed dried herbs, black pepper or any other seasoning.

Once everything is properly coated, put the tray into a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celcius (400 Fahrenheit) and roast for about 45 minutes. Check after 30 to make sure that nothing is going to burn.

If you don't want to bother roasting your veg, boiled vegetables go just as well.

To make your gravy, use a vegetarian gravy powder and, if you have it, vegetable stock (save the left-over water from boiling your vegetables, or buy Oxo stock cubes - the green ones are vegetable-based).

We follow our Sunday lunch with fruit crumble and custard, made from whichever fruit is in season or from frozen fruit harvested last year. At the moment we're using a lot of frozen plums, but if we get some decent rainfall we'll be able to harvest our rather limp-looking rhubarb.

Sunday lunch is part of what makes Sundays so special for me. I love the routine of it, and even the fact that we spend three hours cooking and an hour washing up afterwards doesn't dim the fact that it's a delicious meal. Then in the evenings we have a sort of high tea, with crumpets and toasted tea cakes and slices of freshly-baked cake, eaten in front of the fire. It's a tradition I'll definitely be passing on to my children.

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