How do you say "vegetarian" in French?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Salad and chicken
HA! TRICK QUESTION! You don't ever need to say vegetarian in French, because if you are a vegetarian in France you will waste away in a matter of days. Even the salads have meat in them. Which is why they're so delicious.

But alas, I am no longer in France. It's time to say au revoir to delicious meaty salads, and bonjour to being a végétarienne. Sort of.

Fin and I have decided to try and eat meat-free from Monday to Friday. We'll still eat fish, and we'll still eat meat at the weekend if we feel like it, or if we're eating out (which doesn't happen as often as we'd like, thanks to a certain small, hairy member of our household who really cramps our style when it comes to dining in restaurants). So, not really vegetarian at all. More part-time-pescatarian. But at least we're trying.

Vegetables and meat
There are lots of reasons for doing this: health for one, budget for another. And I must admit, ever since we've had Smidgen in our lives, we've felt increasingly uneasy about chowing down on her mammalian cousins. Which is weird, because she eats more meat than the two of us put together and never seems to wrestle with the ethical implications of it. She also doesn't have a problem with crapping in the middle of the road though, so we try not to model ourselves too closely on her.
HOWEVER. There is a major barrier standing in the way of this hippy-dippy, plant-eating, penny-saving utopia: Fin isn't really that into vegetables.
Fresh, crisp vegtables, maybe. Salads, yes, great, lovely. But piles of cooked vegetables? Not so much. Leeks are his personal idea of hell. If we are to avoid living off nothing but salad, prawns and different varieties of cheese, we're going to need some help.
Vegetables and burger
Are any of you vegetarians? Or do you happen to have a great non-meaty recipe? Any sites I should check out? I'd love some ideas beyond plain veg - I'm thinking nuts, pulses, beans, salads, soups and, yes, cheeses (halloumi is the food of the gods). Please, give me all your food secrets! And in return, I'll love you forever. And I'll tell you about that hilarious thing that happened while we were on holiday.
(Not really. Nothing happened. I mainly skied, slept and ate delicious meaty salads. But still, tell me about FOOD.)
Images styled by Chelsea Zimmer. Don't click that link if you're hungry. Lady could make sawdust look mouthwatering.

34 boats moored

  1. We stand more or less where you are. I think we are vegetarian 80-f90 % of the time. I don't know what to call myself. Conscious omnivore? Pseudovegetarian?
    We do not get any meat, chicken or fish with our groceries every week. But when we eat out if we feel like it, we will also eat meat or chicken, but that is maybe weekly or monthly. I am also strongly against wasting food, so if we are invited and someone cooked a non-vegetarian dish already, we'll eat it, happily. Other than that we do try and get the biological / organic products (if we get milk, butter or eggs, though I am working on replacing milk with nut milks), and for meat, the grass-fed variety. With eggs, check the code on them, if the first number is a 0, then they are biological in all of the EU. And I don't eat fish at all (I wrote the reasons for that here).
    What we do eat is: a lot of stir-fried mixed vegetables, with rice or pasta. Ratatouille is eaten almost weekly. Courgette is very versatile and I love it (you can eat it oven roasted, in omelettes, sautéed with a bit of coconut milk and soy sauce). Leek-potato cream is also delicious (and you barely taste the leek). And, pulses are your friend. Actually we just recently invested in a pressure cooker to be able to cook those fast. Lentils, Quinoa, Beans, Chickpeas can be the base for many dishes. For example you can use lentils for a fake "bolognese" , using them as you would minced meat. The taste is different, but also similar in ways. With chickpeas you can make soups, hummus.... And Quinoa is just delicious and very very versatile (you can cook it like rice, like porridge, add it to soups, or dried it and add it to salads, taboulé style).
    I recommend you Sarah Britton's blog: "My new roots". She has tons of recipes, yummy as well, and she explains the benefits of all the food she uses.
    101 cookbooks is also a great resource (and you can search recipes by ingredient)

    1. Thanks so much for all of this info! The overfishing is a really good point, and is actually something that Fin in particular cares a lot about.

      (Funny story - in the early hours of the morning on his stag do, my little brother saw Fin sitting in the corner of a nightclub talking to a friend, with tears in his eyes. Thinking he might be overcome with pre-wedding emotion, he went to check he was ok. "What are you crying about?" he asked, full of concern. "Overfishing." Um, ok.)

      So yes, the fish thing is really difficult too. We're going to try and take the same approach as we will with meat, i.e. look for quality, sustainability and ethical methods. Vote with our money, in effect. We're lucky in Scotland to have so much amazing seafood on our doorstep, but it's hard to know for sure. We can but try!

    2. Oh that's such a sweet story about Fin during his stag do. I did one major report at Uni (for deontology / legislation) about shark finning and how there are loopholes in the way the regulations are written that allow for these awful practices.
      If you can buy local / from the fishermen, and you can talk to them (like you would to a butcher / farmer) I guess you are ok. And there is fish with a little stamp from the "Marine Stewardship Council" that is supposed to be sustainable.

  2. Weird we've been doing a similar thing, although not quite as strict. I'm not vegetarian but we've decided to try to eat less, better meat and buy it from butchers. Otherwise, I feel like I'll go the way of bookshops/HMV effect where I moan about missing them when they're gone but don't often use them when they're around (hypocrite, moi?!).
    So far we've done meat-free Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. My favourite veggie recipes are falafel with pittas, cous cous and a greek salad (I buy Asda frozen falafel so it's super quick); bruschetta pizzas (as it sounds, a sort of bruschetta/French bread pizza hybrid); veggie chilli (if you use mixed pulses for a bit of variety instead of just all kidney beans - even Ross says you don't miss the mince in it) and veggie curries like spinach and chickpea or dhal.
    I was obsessed with this blog for a while too!
    Enjoy the veggies!

    1. And also, those pictures are making me so hungry!

  3. Hi there - there is a really good book called the Accidental Vegetarian by Simon Rimmer. He took over the kitchen of a vegetarian restaurant which became a huge success even though he is a confirmed meat eater. To me (veggie for 20 years and making my way back to meat from the wilderness for the last 2 years)it means his recipes are more creative and do their best to avoid the horrible staples of vegetarian meal times like goats cheese and red onion tart for example. There is one recipe for mushroom, vignotte cheese and hazelnut parcels that is totally dreamy.....

  4. I try and avoid meat every day, being a vegetarian's daughter... but hubs is a butcher's son through and through. Vegetarian meals are met with "Where's the meat?"

    Top recipe- Italian beans. Chop up 2 onions and as many garlic cloves as you fancy and sweat down. Add two tins of white beans (I like canellini and butter as a mix). Add mixed herbs, black pepper and sage. Pour over boiling water to just cover, add a stock cube and leave to simmer. Simple but so bloody delicious.

    I also go apesh*t for sushi, and you can do it cheaply with buying nori sheets, adding a mix of rice vinegar and sugar (1 tbsp to 1tsp) to rice and filling with smoked salmon or crabmeat or whatever you fancy. So easy to make and it feels really posh! You don't need a sushi mat- I just use clingfilm.

    Good luck Kirsty and Fin! I really hope you manged a whole heap of goodies in France :)

    1. Thank you! We actually have sushi mats after we went on a Yo Sushi class for Fin's birthday, so we should definitely try that (they've not exactly been used much. Or, at all. Must change!)

    2. So gooood...

  5. This is a big point of contention in our house. I'd happily be vegetarian/vegan 90% of the time and the boy would like to eat recipes from 1970s Delia cookbooks all the time - beef olives are a particular favourite, boke.

    Anyway, you should buy/borrow Hugh F-W's vegetarian cookbook, as it's specifically written for people who aren't vegetarian but want more meat-free recipes. There is no tofu or tempeh in sight, and there's a whole chapter on raw vegetable meals which aren't salads that Fin might like.

    Well done for cutting down on the meat. It's pretty much the biggest environmental change you can make on a day to day basis - woohoo!


  6. One man - Ottolenghi! It helps that I'm mad about aubergines of course as they really are a pretty good meat substitute in consistency. His Jerusalem cookbook isn't vegetarian but it has so many veggie recipes in there and the Plenty cookbook is veggie. I know there's a common complaint that he asks a lot from you but honestly I regularly cook his stuff midweek. Tonight is pearl barley risotto which is a tomatoey feta feast!
    I also made this the other night which was really good:
    Puy lentils are brillig, so full of flavour.

  7. I second the Hugh FW Veg cook book it is great-his philosophy seems to be not making meat the main element of the meal but making the veg the main element with meat sometimes as a garnish so you can eat alot of the recipes 2 ways-with and without meat.
    In our house we have sort of gone along slightly different lines but for the same reasons-we are trying to eat more locally/seasonally-alot of the veggie stuff seems to include lovely summery veg (peppers/courgette/tomatoes/aubergines etc) which I could happily live off but I'm not so happy importing them from hotter climates all winter so meat features more heavily in the winter along with winter veg because there is only so many ways to eat cabbage and swede!

  8. Ooh yay. I am vegetarian and although I never try to convert people (aside from my fiance which I succeeded with 7 years ago) I love when people try and reduce their meat consumption because it has such a significant impact on the environment. Anyway, getting off my high horse. There are so many great veggie food blogs. This is one of my recent favourite recipes: and the site is generally brilliant. She also makes vegan enchilladas which have a cashew cream which uses basil and is the best thing ever! The first blog I started following was 101 cookbooks and she still doesn't disappoint Soups and stews are also good - barley or farro and beans/lentils are a great option. I'm keen to try this one but beans generally are great for making yummy creamy soups.

    Good luck!

  9. I've been trying to introduce some veggie dishes for a while. The main problem is that they need to be hearty or 'meaty' enough to make you full. My favourite is Melanzene alla Parmigiana, which has lots of cheese and the aubergine gives you that full feeling! Here is my recipe (if you don't mind a blog pimp!)

  10. Craig is vegetarian, and so through convenience I've cut done my meat intake massively. I never eat fish, and only really eat meat these days if I'm eating out or buying cafe lunch.

    I think most meat-eaters tend to think going veggie is a MASSIVE change, but you'd be surprised by how many "normal" recipes can be converted to suit veggies - stir frys, spaghetti, stew, pie, lasgna, roasts, etc (I'm freezing today so can only think of hearty comfort food, ha!).

    Quorn mince is AMAZING, I'd never use normal mince anymore (you really can't taste the difference), and I'm coming round to tofu. I think the quorn chicken is awful, but Craig likes it, so it's worth trying.

    Good luck!

  11. Google recipes by Madhur Jaffray,not all her recipes are vegetarian but there are plenty to keep you going.When Michael was going through his Vegan phase he came home for Christmas and Christmas dinner was thanks to her recipes and very good it was too....not "veddy British" but tasty nonetheless!xx

  12. Halloumi may be the food of the gods but paneer cheese is also pretty tasty - makes a yummy curry.

  13. I'm not vegetarian but, like you, try not to eat much meat on a daily basis. I literally just saw this post on another blog, haven't had chance to look through it all yet but might be useful:

  14. I adopt a pretty similar approach, partly for ethical reasons and partly because I'm a super lazy cook and preparing meat is more of a hassle then chopping cucumber. Then I go to a restaurant and turn into a humongous burger-eating carnivore.

    I've found that two staples of quick veggie cooking at home are quinoa and eggs. I make a quinoa salad with feta, spinach, cucumber, spring onions and red wine vinegar that's perfect for a packed lunch or a light dinner. And I've recently started eating crazy amount of omelettes and frittatas, which are easy, quick, cheap and high in protein.

    Oh - and I second eversojuliet on quorn mince - it works so well in lasagna and bolognaise.

    1. Yeah, the particular unpleasantness of cutting up a raw chicken breast is not something I'm going to miss! Chopping veg is much more palatable.

  15. I had a dream I ate veggie bacon the other night.

    It was like those bacon dog treats. Athough I haven't eaten it in real life, just in my bad dream. But don't buy that. Ugh.

    I say go with the mainly vegetarianism. My favourite veggie foods are the ones where you don't miss the meat. Dahl is a weekly staple, and costs about 20p a portion using red split lentils, spices, stock. Sometimes I go wild and add a tin of chopped tomatoes into it. I know.

  16. I worry about quorn, although I do eat it sometimes. Linda McCartneys rosemary and red onion sausages are as good as any meat sausage. You should buy a box of those (find in the freezer section of the shops)

    But because it hasn't been around for a long time and it's a processed food quorn makes me a little uneasy. I reckon we're safer sticking to non processed food stuffs of all kinds, whether meaty or non meaty. Processing can't be good for us. And I don't think we can trust food processors at all.

  17. Eating less meat has plenty of benefits but living in the industrialized north negates most of the environmental ones. I totally agree with Lucy Stendahl though that the less processed food one eats the better - that's just inviting more junk that is included for profit / shelf stability reasons.

    Anyway, we eat less meat than we used to - I try and get several vegetarian lunches a week mostly for the same reason I don't - to appreciate the full array of food culture on offer locally. And at home we've shifted the proportions as well. One way to get more value out of meat while also eating less of it is to buy chicken thighs - typically cheaper, no cutting required, tastes better, and the remnants can be used to make stock that doesn't have half a pound of salt in it. Soups are a great way of getting various vegetables, grains, etc in a more palatable form and of course you can have a vegetarian stock. Also maybe consider making your own bread - sounds like a pain in the ass, but we rarely buy bread any more after taking a look at what was in the average store-bought loaf.

    I think if I were to become fully vegetarian my only chance would be to switch to a diet of south east Asian and Indian dishes, so I'm afraid this is as helpful as I can be.

  18. I like - I am not a vegetarian and definitely not a vegan, but J and I do a similar thing with limiting our meat during the week. This lady's recipes are DELISH. Yum yum yum.

  19. Yotam Ottolenghi is one of my favourite chef's. He used to do a vegetarian column in the guardian and then it became well not vegetarian any more. However he has millions of amazing vegetarian recipes. Some take a little bit of time but you can usually cut corners. This one is good
    But he also does lots of toasty warm dishes too for winter.

  20. Here are my go-to weeknight dinners:
    Roast squash with sage + chilli. Stir it into risotto at the end, or make a soup with brown lentils & maybe chestnut mushrooms.
    Veg shepherds pie - make the filling as you normally would (onions, garlic, carrots etc), but use cooked brown lentil in place of the mince.
    Thai green curry noodle soup using veg stock, add greens, mushrooms.
    Boston baked beans - butter beans in a rich tomato sauce, bake in the oven, Serve on toast.
    Roast mixed root veg + red onions, serve on brown rice, top with yoghurt, seeds, feta, chilli sauce.
    Veg pilaff - roast some root veg, sprinkle over bulghar wheat & add 250ml ish of veg stock, bake for 10 mins or so til the stock is absorbed. So comforting.

  21. Funny you should ask - my husband and I have been trying to cut down on meat, too! Leslie Durso is a fave vegetarian food blogger of mine, and her quinoa stuffed sweet potatoes recipe
    is fantastic. I altered it a bit here.

  22. How is this going?

    Yesterday I scrambled some egg in a pan, then added some leftover rice to it with a bit of vegetable stock, chopped pak choi and soy sauce. It was really nice!

    Don't know if you're a fan of mushrooms, but frying them with a bit of worcester sauce & some mixed herbs is lovely, or grill some large flat mushrooms with some parmesan cheese, also very nice.

    I love my meat though!

    1. Erm, it's going... well, let's say there have been highs and lows. The lows mainly come from not following the advice of all of you splendid people, so I'm going to write down all of these recipes and try some every week. I'll give us a few weeks to get into the swing of it and then come back with an update.

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