Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Vegetarian Cooking with Quorn

I've been a vegetarian, by choice, since the age of ten. Becoming vegetarian so young meant that I didn't learn how to cook with meat but started out by using meat replacement products like Sos-mix, TVP and Quorn. Choices were rather limited but I especially liked Quorn because it doesn't have a strong after taste and is great at absorbing flavours. Their mince and chicken pieces were a staple in my freezer. 

Over the years my style of cooking developed and the way I think about putting a meal together now differs from most of my meat-eating friends. I tend to make pulses and vegetables the stars rather than using meat substitute products. But there are a lot more choices these days and every now and then I will pay a visit to the vegetarian sections of the chiller and freezer aisles to see what's new. 

Supermarket own brand products are improving but Quorn are ahead of the game in my opinion. Not only are their products a good, lo-in-saturated-fat source of protein but their range is vast. I've tried many of their sandwich slices, burgers, sausages and fillets but I've also tried some of the more adventurous products such as "pork" pies, "pepperoni" (worked well on pizzas) and "scampi". All good. In fact the only product that I would never return to was their bacon. Most recently I've tried their chorizo sausages.

I can't recall ever eating real chorizo but often come across recipes that use it so was keen to try the vegetarian version. I rather struggled for ideas but hitting the cook books soon turned up a couple of recipes I fancied trying. First up a frittata inspired by a recipe from Jamie at Home. 
I fried half an onion, two sliced Quorn chorizo sausages, a handful of boiled and sliced potatoes and some fresh rosemary over a medium heat until the onion was soft and everything else a little crispy. To this I added four beaten eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked it for a couple of minutes to set the bottom then popped it under a preheated grill until the top was puffed up and golden.
I used blue heritage potatoes for colour and served it with some roasted vegetables, peas, beans and a Leffe Ruby. The chorizo had a lovely smoky flavour and made for a very hearty meal. The frittata was equally tasty served cold with some salad for lunch the next day.
I still had a couple of sausages left so decided to make butter beans with tomato & chorizoThis was proper comfort food and so quick and easy to make! Despite being a small portion the chorizo made it really filling and I thought that the flavour and texture shone through a lot more here. Of course I don't know how the taste and texture compares to the real deal but it was much as I expected it to be, having watched many many cookery programmes. 
This is one of the most interesting Quorn products I've tried lately and I'm considering getting another pack of these sausages so that I can try these spanish rice and all day breakfast recipes. Quorn also do chorizo in slices which might be an interesting addition to a tapas board.

Although I don't expect to suddenly start using a lot more meat replacement products in my cooking it's nice to be able to ring the changes and have some more options available to me, especially when entertaining meat-eaters. I fancy trying the pork steaks, garlic sausage, turkey burgers and Chef's selection meals.

You certainly don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy Quorn. My dad, a dedicated meat-eater in a family of vegetarians, enjoys their pork pies and cooks something he calls gumbo (nothing like the authentic version) with the mince. If you are stuck for inspiration when faced with cooking for a vegetarian why not check out their recipes. Get inspiration for Meat Free Mondays from twitter and get involved on Facebook.

Are you a fan of Quorn? Could you be persuaded? If you're a vegetarian are there any other meat replacement products you'd recommend or do you prefer not to use them at all?
Disclaimer: I was sent vouchers to try a selection of quorn products of my choosing for free in return for writing a review. All opinions are my own.

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