In the last year we have dramatically reduced the amount of meat we eat in the Bangers & Mash household. Don’t get me wrong, I could never give up meat entirely. I enjoy it far too much.
But there is no getting away from the fact that meat is expensive, both on the pocket and as a global resource. Good quality meat that has been responsibly reared and farmed is not cheap to produce. And I refuse to buy cheap meat because I dread to think what conditions the animals have been kept in.
So a major part of reducing the cost of our weekly meals has been to reduce the amount of meat we consume: less of it but good quality stuff when we do. I’m sure this must be much better for us from a health point of view too.
At first it was difficult, especially I think for my husband who has taken a little while to convince that you can have a fully satisfying meal without any meaty component. But for me it’s turning into quite an adventure, discovering a whole new world of vegetarian cuisine.
This pasta dish, pappardelle with courgette (zucchini) and basil, is one we eat quite often, particularly in the summer when courgettes are in abundance. I have actually been making it for years – it has been my staple dish whenever veggie friends came over for a meal. Now we eat it with or without the vegetarian guests.
It’s based on a Jamie Oliver recipe. He makes it with tagliatelle but I tend to use whatever pasta happens to be in the cupboard. Pappardelle is my favourite for this. Oh yes, and I use much more garlic than Jamie.
Pappardelle with courgette and basil
5 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 courgettes, sliced very thinly
juice of 1 lemon
handful of fresh basil, torn
400g pappardelle (or pasta of your choice)
salt and pepper
100g parmesan cheese, grated
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the packet instructions.
Gently fry the garlic in 4 tbsp of olive oil for a minute, then add the sliced courgette and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the lemon juice and basil and cook for a few more minutes until the courgette is tender.
When the pasta is ready, drain and combine with the courgette. Season to taste, add most of the parmesan and remaining olive oil and mix well. Serve with some more torn basil and a sprinkling of parmesan.