Even though I watch a lot of cooking shows, there are very few "celebrity chefs" that I find truly inspiring and mostly watch their shows for its entertainment value. There is one exception to the rule for me though and that is High Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage. His enthusiasm for food absolutely bubbles over and always leaves me feeling like I should run into my kitchen to make something right this minute! Unfortunately he has been getting a lot of stick for his new show focusing on vegetables and has angered many a vegetarian by how he has tackled the subject. However, for me as a lover of meat, it has been a joy to watch and has made me really think about the amount of meat I eat every week.
I'll be first to admit that when I plan a meal, I almost always think of a meat ingredient first and view the vegetables as companion dishes. I very rarely put the veg in the starring role and this I have now come to realise is a real shame.Determined to put this right, I decided about a month ago that from now on I will prepare a minimum of two meals a week that are completely meat free. Not only is this good for our health and the planet, but it really pushes me to think so much more imaginatively when cooking. So far, I'm loving it.
From the usual suspects like Leak and Potato Soup to the more adventurous Chick-Pea and Tomato Curry, we have had some lovely veggie meals and last night was another meat free dinner. As the first real chills of winter were creeping into our flat last night, I was more than up for a steaming bowl of something loaded with carbs. What better than roasted butternut squash and sweet potato risotto! Sticky, creamy and chewy rice, turned bright orange with chunks of oven-roasted squash and sweet potato, elevated to dizzying heights with plenty of lemon zest and juice, this is a meal that would keep even the most hardened of carnivores happy.
Luckily, I made more than enough and have some left-overs for lunch today and while tucking into my bowlful, I am already contemplating our next vegetable starring dinner.