4 Culinary Tricks to Take Your Meat Free Dish to the Next Level
Plant-based diets and meat-free dishes are taking the culinary world by storm. No longer seen as just a fad, these lifestyles are equal parts sustainable and healthy. While many have seen both the personal and broader value of adopting this kind of diet, others are less convinced.
Some plant-based alternatives don’t appeal to everyone and for others, building a meal without meat is a challenge. However, by adopting a few simple tips and tricks in the kitchen, you can easily take these dishes to the next level, making dinner time an event to look forward to.
4 culinary tips and tricks to elevate plant rich, meat-free dishes
Meat-free meals have gained a reputation for utilising a lot of speciality ingredients and sometimes, involving a more complex cooking method. Yet, with some careful planning, it really doesn’t have to be this way.
By trying out our simple tricks in the kitchen and learning a few tips, you and your family can enjoy the benefits that eating well has on your health and the environment.
1. Pair meat-free proteins with well known dishes
When people look to go meat-free, they often think they need a whole new set of recipes. However, Quorn’s very own Chef Marc Wee, formerly working at Arbite, proved that smart tweaks to classic dishes is the best place to start.
After tasting Quorn’s nuggets, Marc decided to introduce weekly dishes featuring Quorn products to his restaurant’s menu. These dishes include everything from Rendang Mac and Cheese with Quorn’s swedish style meatballs to ‘Quorn Benedict’ featuring breaded Quorn fillets.
On a larger scale, this kind of initiative raises awareness about sustainable alternatives to meat. On a smaller scale, it is a great example of how food lovers can creatively pair meat-free options with the other ingredients from a crowd pleasing recipe without sacrificing the array of tasty flavours the dish offers .
2. Take inspiration from the flavours & textures of the original meat-based recipe
When you switched to a plant-based diet, you might have noticed a shift in flavours and textures. Where roast dinners would have offered succulent meat and rich carmelised gravy, meat-free alternatives might need more prep to impart a range of flavours.
As you’re planning to substitute, it can be helpful to think about what flavours or textures are at the core of the dish you’re trying to create. In other words, what makes you love that particular dish so much? Is the winning element a texture like a crisp batter crunch or a meaty-firmness topped by a silky smooth sauce?
Once you’ve landed on that recipe’s wow factor, you can shop for the ingredients that you’ll need for your meat-free wonder. For example, your favourite part of the roast may have been the spices and the maynard browning of the meat. The solution? Amp up the taste with an aromatic seasoning and pan-fry or grill your meat-free protein. A winning result is guaranteed whether you’re cooking meat-free fillets or meatballs - you’re using cooking techniques and pantry staples to replicate the best bits of the original recipe.
3. Don’t be afraid to use herbs, spices and seaweed
Small but mighty, almost every home cook will use a mix of herbs, spices and other flaked ingredients to add flavour and nutrients to take a dish to the next level. By not cooking with meat, it can be hard to always produce a balanced dish, both in terms of nutrition and flavour.
One simple trick is seasoning vegetables, meat alternatives or even a vegetable broth with a hearty spice mix. By creating a blend, you’re layering the individual flavour characteristics of each spice and with the right selection, could amping up the immune-boosting properties of your meal. These mixes can comprise any combination, as there are no steadfast rules. Sage, thyme and black pepper. Paprika, oregano and cumin. Chili powder, coriander and allspice.
Still want another chef’s secret? Choose kombu for a quick fix of iodine, iron, calcium and trace minerals. It has a very subtle flavour and can be strained or eaten, often making a good addition to soups and rice dishes.
4. Embrace the use of fat
If your plant-based food isn’t packed full of flavour you may be missing a vital component of F.A.S.S (fat, acid, sweet, salt). Meat provides protein and fat, so when it is substituted out from a dish, the dish you’re left with might need an extra richness from a fat source.
Fat is flavour and secondly, there are vitamins and minerals present in plant-based food that aren’t soluble without fat. You can add fat to a plant-based dish in healthy ways by using avocados and raw nuts. These are simple additions that will make the dish pop with flavour.
Taking the kitchen by storm with Quorn
Sometimes, when cooking meat-free meals, recipes and inspiration can be the fuel that gets you excited to meal prep. Instead of settling for something uninspired, add your own personality and up your plant-based game. When meal time rolls around or you want to host a dinner for your friends, you’ll be armed and ready to wow your guests with your savoury dishes.
By employing a few seasoning tricks and flavour combination tips, even your self professed meat lover friends will be asking for a second serving. Rather than settling for second best, choose Quorn products and be inspired to create elevated dishes thanks to the limitless possibilities of our healthy plates, healthy planet philosophy.