I was vegetarian for around 3 years and this has made me appreciate food more. Not only did I need to be more careful to maintain a balanced diet, but I started to discover new ways of enjoying food. I found that one of the most important things is actually texture. I often judge a restaurant by the way they cook their veg. If it’s overcooked and bland.. my opinion is obvious. If they manage to make broccoli, asparagus and cauliflower taste great without masking the taste then the restaurant is going to become a favourite.

One of the interesting options as regards texture for vegetarians is soya mince. I haven’t been very adventurous with tofu or soya chunks yet but the mince has always been in my freezer. It’s versatile and it has that ‘bite’ that is often lacking in a meat-free diet. This recipe is one of my quick favourites.

You’ll need:

  • soya mince
  • hoi sin sauce
  • soy sauce
  • tomatoes or tomato sauce
  • veg of your choice – I prefer mushrooms, courgettes and baby corn for this recipe

Fill half a cup with soya mince and top up with water until it is all covered. Add some soy sauce and hoi sin sauce to ‘marinade’ it. Chop up your vegetables and cook in the pan with more soy sauce. Remember to throw in the ones which take longest to cook first, allowing ample time so that everything is cooked well at the same time.

Throw in your soya mince mixture and keep cooking. Stir continuously to cook the mixture evenly. After about 5 minutes add your tomato sauce and let it simmer for a while so that your flavours fuse. Use as a vegetarian bolognese on pasta, rice or in lasagna. This is also suitable for freezing to use later on.

I love love love party food- who doesn’t? .. and when you’re pressed for time but want something that tastes good and looks even better this is a good one to start with.

You will need large fresh tomatoes and courgettes. Choose the tomatoes that are still quite stiff and that are flat at the top. With a very sharp knife cut slices into the tomato stopping at around 1cm from the bottom. The best is to cut quarters and then cut these in half again so that you’ll get symmetry. Slice the courgettes quite finely and place 1/2 slices of courgette in between the tomato slices. When this is done drizzle olive oil over it and any other herbs or spices of your choice. Parmesan is also an interesting option. I used oregano and black pepper over mine. Place the stuffed tomato in the oven until the slices start to separate and the tomato opens up a little bit. Warn your guests that it will be very hot at first.. Feel free to leave comments with your party food suggestions!