We are not vegetarians, but most weeks we try to have at least one meal without meat, especially since over-indulging this Christmas. It’s healthy options we look for, so we try to eat more white meat and fish.

Many people worry when they stop eating meat and fish that they might be in danger of nutritional deficiency, but this is not the case. In fact research has shown that vegetarian meals are often healthier than meat ones. Why not try the easy mushroom and macaroni cheese dish or the brown rice risotto for a change this month? I guarantee you will do them again and again.

Buen Apetito

Brown Rice Risotto

200g brown rice
400ml water
1 medium onion
½ red pepper (optional)
200g sunflower seeds
Mixed herbs
Pinch salt
200g chopped mushrooms
100g sweet corn and/or frozen peas
Soya sauce to taste
1 rounded tsp Marmite

Cook the chopped onion in the oil until soft. Wash rice and drain, add to the onions and cook for a couple of minutes turning all the time. Boil the water and add Marmite, soya sauce and herbs to the water and stir. Pour into the rice mixture and bring to the boil and simmer gently. After 15 mins add the chopped mushrooms and sweet corn and peas and simmer for a further 20 minutes. Season to taste and mix in the red peppers. Serve with toasted sunflower seeds.

Fisherman’s Pie

575g potatoes
Salt and pepper
50g butter
225ml milk
225g haddock
225g white fish fillet
3 tsp lemon juice
1oz plain flour
75g cheddar cheese
Small pkt of frozen peas

Peel potatoes and cut into chunks. Salt and boil in water for 20 minutes or until tender. Drain and mash with 25g butter and 125ml milk. Rinse fish and pat dry. Cut into bite-size cubes and sprinkle with lemon juice. Melt remaining butter and add flour. Heat for a further minute and then add milk. Stir until thick sauce is created and then add fish and peas. Pour fish sauce into an oven proof dish and cover with the mash. Sprinkle the cheese on top and bake on 200º for 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Vegetarian Sausage Hotpot

1 onion
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tin baked beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
3 tsp mixed herbs
1 pkt vegetarian sausages

Fry the sausages until brown. Remove from heat and chop into small chunks. Fry the chopped onions in oil until brown. Add the beans, tomatoes and herbs and bring to the boil. Add the sausage chunks to the bean mixture and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with crusty bread.

Mushroom and Cheese Macaroni

400g whole wheat macaroni
60g butter or margarine
2tbsp chopped parsley
450g mushrooms
60g grated cheese

Cook macaroni according to the instructions on the packet. Slice mushrooms and fry in fat for 8 mins and then add the parsley. Drain the macaroni and toss in the mushrooms and juice. Serve with grated cheese sprinkled on top.

Catalonian Monkfish Ragout

275g tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 large red pepper
2 large onions
6 tbsp olive oil
400g potatoes
425ml fish stock
500g monkfish (available all year but best Oct-Jan)
1-2 tbsp flour
Salt and pepper
Dash of Tabasco sauce
1-2 tbsp lemon juice
Freshly chopped parsley

Put tomatoes in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 1 minute then drain and peel. Cut in half, de-seed and dice. Peel and chop garlic. Halve the pepper. De-seed and chop. Peel and chop onions. Heat half the oil in a large pan, fry onions, garlic and peppers for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Wash potatoes and dice. Add to the sauce, pour in stock and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes soft. Cut fish where necessary, put flour on a plate and season. Coat fish with flour and heat remaining oil and fry the fillets for 4 minutes each side or until fish is cooked. Stir parsley, lemon juice, salt and pepper and Tabasco into the sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes then add the monkfish to warm through but not over cook. Serve immediately.