Life in the kitchen

Flexitarian? Now there's a good idea.

How about starting with a meat-free Monday?

Do you think today could be a meat-free Monday? Or do you ever walk past a steakhouse and catch the delicious, smoky aroma of a freshly grilled sirloin, and think: “I could never give up eating meat, so I can’t possibly be a vegetarian” ?

Well, here’s a serving suggestion: in order to be kinder to the planet, you can do the next best thing: eat less meat, and have regular meat-free days.

How about making this the beginning of your M-F-M tradition? You’ll be in good company.

And to encourage you on your path, here are some facts about the environmental benefits of reducing your meat consumption:

You’ll be helping to minimise water usage.

The water needs of livestock are much greater than those of vegetables and grains.

For example, it takes approximately 15 000 litres of water to produce a kg of beef, but about 300 litres of water to produce a kg of vegetables.

You’ll help to reduce greenhouse gases: Studies show that meat production produces far more greenhouse gases than vegetables, including Carbon Dioxide, Methane and Nitrous Oxide – the three main contributing sources of greenhouse gas.

Beef produces a total of 30 kg of greenhouse gas per kg of food, while carrots produce .42 kg.

You’ll help to reduce fuel dependence. About 25 kilocalories of fossil fuel energy is used to produce 1 kilocalorie of all meat-based protein. Compare that to 2.2 kilocalories of fossil fuel input per 1 kilocalorie of grain based protein produced.

The meat industry uses loads of energy to produce grain for livestock. If we used the grain to feed people instead, it would be enough to feed about 840 million of us.

Ok then. Without any further groaning and bemoaning, let’s all try this luxury veg dish:



2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 brown onion, diced

300 ml pure cream (45% fat)

500 g cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets

11⁄2 cups (240 g) green peas

50 g blanched almonds

vegetable oil, for deep-frying

large handful of pea tendrils (optional)

oregano salt

1⁄4 tsp dried oregano 1⁄4 tsp salt flakes

1⁄4 tsp caster sugar

Lemon dressing

1 tbsp lemon juice

21⁄2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the cream and half the cauliflower and simmer gently over low heat for 10–12 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently to avoid any colouration. Strain, reserving the cooking liquid. Transfer the cauliflower and onion to a blender and blend to a smooth puree, adding a little of the reserved cooking liquid as required.

Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil and cook the peas for 1 minute, then refresh in iced water. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan-forced).

To make the oregano salt, combine the dried oregano, salt and sugar in a small bowl.

Toast the almonds in the oven for 10 minutes or until golden, then roughly chop and season with a little oregano salt.

To make the lemon dressing, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Season to taste with oregano salt.

Heat the oil for deep-frying in a deep-fryer to 180°C (or in a heavy-based saucepan until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds). Add the remaining cauliflower florets and deep-fry until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Season with oregano salt.

In a mixing bowl, combine the peas, cauliflower florets, almonds and lemon dressing.

Spoon the cauliflower puree onto a serving plate, top with the mixed salad and garnish with young pea tendrils (if using). Serve cold.

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