Tomorrow marks the start of National Vegetarian Week, and this year the theme is “sharing”.
If you normally eat meat, why not use the opportunity to try going a week without it? If you make the effort to look up and cook some decent vegetarian meals during the coming days you may be pleasantly surprised by the rich variety of flavours and textures which vegetarian cuisine can offer.
Ethical considerations aside, there are many health benefits of a vegetarian diet. Compared to meat eaters, vegetarians tend to have lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol, less incidence of heart disease, depression, dementia, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and renal disease.
So, why not do yourself some good by taking a week off from meat eating, promise yourself to make the effort to cook some appetising vegetarian dishes and see how good you feel by the end of it?
I’d originally planned a broad bean recipe for this week but my superaquadulce broad beans are not quite ready to be harvested. So I’m using butter beans instead, along with some of the herbs now bursting into life on my allotment plot, the Circus Garden.
Using canned organic butter beans means this delicious hummus is ready in less than five minutes. Frying the sunflower seeds rather than toasting them really enhances their nutty flavour.
butter bean hummus with herbs and sunflower seeds
2 x 400 g cans of organic butter beans, drained
2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
2 tbsp tahini
juice of a lemon
75 ml extra virgin olive oil, plus a teaspoonful for frying the sunflower seeds
15 g sunflower seeds
1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1. Place a frying pan over a medium heat. Add a teaspoonful of olive oil and swirl it around the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the sunflower seeds. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes or until they are golden and crispy. Drain the seeds on kitchen paper and set to one side.
2. Place the butter beans in a food processor, along with the garlic, tahini, lemon juice, sea salt and olive oil. Process until you have a smooth puree.
3. Transfer the hummus to a serving a bowl. Drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with the fried sunflower seeds and the chopped herbs. Serve with savoury biscuits or seasonal crudites.