Before we begin, today is World Whisky Day! Probably one of my favourite holidays (if I actually had any whisky in). If you do, do yourself a favour and make a good cocktail tonight. You deserve to treat yourself. If in doubt, I have the recipe for an Old Fashioned, right here! (Shameless self-plug)

I thought the weekend would be the most difficult part of this meat-free challenge. I’m used to burgers and massive great big breakfasts for tea.

In fact, it’s been much easier than anticipated. With the extra time, I’ve been able to really think about what I want to eat and plan accordingly.

I still want burgers but, fortunately, my little sister sent me a recipe from Anna Jones a while ago. It’s called the Really Hungry Burger and you can find it here.  I have been trying to find the time and a reason to make these burgers (other than the behest of my sister) and this just feels right.

I always thought of those godawful lumps of frozen vegetables held together with beans and loads of breadcrumbs you can buy in supermarkets, so this fairly complex mixture of ingredients really intrigued me. I’ve got it all prepped and ready to get cooking before I start my movie marathon. I was going to watch Hannibal but I just thought it would be weird to watch a show about someone who eats people while sitting eating a veggie burger!

Having this recipe in the back of my mind led me to think about all the other dishes I haven’t had this week; which I am starting to miss. Mainly lasagna and chicken.

With lasagna in mind, I set to making a veggie bolognese. I already had the pesto sauce from last night’s pizza so I was halfway there (I’ll include the full recipe at the bottom).

Had I known how delicious this would have turned out, I probably would have eaten it for the entire week. It was amazing (if I do say so myself). It had the texture of mince and it was packed full of flavour. Actually, although I don’t intend to stay a veggie post-Sunday, this will definitely become a mainstay in my culinary repertoire.

It’s quick, easy and so moreish. I really wish I had made as much of this as I normally make of everything but, as it was an experiment, I didn’t want to waste too many ingredients.

Here’s the recipe for the bolognese, I’ll tell you how successful the burgers ended up being tomorrow.

Ingredients (for the sauce, which is really versatile):

Blanched Spinach (boiled for a couple of minutes, plunged into cold water and then well drained)

Roasted Pecan Nuts (you could use walnuts if you have them, I do not)

Roasted Pine nuts (just roast them with the other nuts)

Salad Tomato

Garlic

Shallots

Fresh Basil

Lemon Juice and Zest

Balsamic Vinegar

Pinch of Brown Sugar

Olive Oil

Rosemary

Salt and Pepper

Method:

  1. Put everything except the lemon juice and zest, basil and nuts into a baking dish, liberally apply olive oil and roast for about 30 mins on a medium heat (until the tomatoes have gone soft)
  2. Let it cool down
  3. Put everything except basil in a blender
  4. Blend to a saucey consistency
  5. Add basil and pulse
  6. There’s your sauce

See, I told you it’s easy.

If you want to turn it into a bolognese, just add in some tomato puree, a tin of kidney beans and a dessertspoon of corn flour and blend it up. Then just cook it and you’re good to go!

This sauce is so good and can be used for loads of different Italian dishes. So far, I’ve used it as a pizza sauce, sauce for meatballs, lasagna sauce. I’ve just made slight alterations here and there where necessary. This is just like a base sauce. You could add rocket, parmesan, roasted peppers… there really is no reasonable limit (I said reasonable so don’t start throwing in random crap).

Bon appetit and I’ll see you all tomorrow with the verdict on the burgers…

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