Family ditches meat and tries living off Jamie Oliver's latest vegetarian recipes (2024)

JAMIE Oliver’s latest book, Veg, aims to encourage readers to discover the huge bounty of glorious veg, fruit, herbs, spices and pulses on offer.

It is about empowering everyone with the confidence to up their fruit and veg intake to the recommended five portions a day.


Plus, to widen their recipe repertoire, safe in the knowledge that it will taste utterly delicious. Jamie says: “The book is all about celebrating really good, tasty food that just happens to be meat-free.”

Natasha Harding asked the Rootes family, from Kings Hill, in Kent, to follow seven of the recipes from the book and give their verdicts.

Office worker Vicky, 39, has two children, Lewis, three, and 19-month-old Emily with husband Duncan, 46, who works in IT.

She says: “None of my family eat any vegetables at all, apart from the occasional carrot.



“I’ve tried all kinds of things to encourage them to eat a more varied diet but they all just refuse.

When the kids were born I used to make their meals from scratch, as I believed I would get their tastebuds used to good food.

This clearly didn’t work and it’s quite demoralising knowing that they eat in such a restricted way. I usually serve food such as chicken nuggets and chips or sausage pasta because I know it will be eaten.

“I feel as though I’m banging my head against a brick wall when it comes to encouraging healthy eating.”

Monday: Sweet leek carbonara

(Instead of fish fingers, chips and beans)

Preparation time: 50 minutes




  • 2 large leeks
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 knob of unsalted butter
  • olive oil, 300g dried spaghetti
  • 50g Parmesan or pecorino cheese or vegetarian hard cheese, plus extra to serve
  • 1 large free-range egg.


Trim, wash and finely slice the leeks. Peel and finely slice the garlic and pick the thyme leaves, then place in a large casserole pan on a medium heat with the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil.

Once sizzling, stir in the leeks and 400ml of water, then cover and simmer gently over a low heat for 40 minutes, or until sweet and soft, stirring occasionally.Season with sea salt and black pepper.

When the leeks are almost done, cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of starchy cooking water.

Toss the drained pasta into the leek pan, then remove from the heat and wait two minutes for the pan to cool slightly while you finely grate the cheese and beat it with the egg (if the pan’s too hot, it’ll scramble; get it right and it’ll be smooth, silky and deliciously elegant).

Loosen the egg mixture with a splash of reserved cooking water, then pour over the pasta, tossing vigorously (the egg will cook in the residual heat).

Season to absolute perfection, going a little OTT on the pepper. Adjust the consistency with extra cooking water, if needed, and finish with a little stroke of cheese.


We absolutely loved this and the kids were making “Hhhhmmmmm” sounds as they ate it. They were picking up the spaghetti with their fingers and dripping it into their mouths. My other half had his when he got home. He enjoyed it too, although he asked where the chicken was. He said that he would have it again. Phew, a start in the right direction.

Energy 418 kcal, fat 14.4g, sat fat 6g, protein 17g, carbs 58.9g, sugars 4.4g, salt 0.8g, fibre 2.3g

Tuesday: Bread-topped biryani

(Instead of cheesy beans on toast)

Preparation time:two hours (plus resting)




  • 450g basmati rice
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2.5cm piece of ginger
  • 2 onions
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • 100g sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander (30g)
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • olive oil
  • 200g green beans
  • ½ a head of cauliflower (400g)
  • 1 x 700g jar of chickpeas
  • 150g natural yoghurt
  • 350ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 good pinch of saffron
  • ½tsp cardamom pods
  • garam masala
  • 200g self-raising flour


Cook the rice in a large pan of boiling salted water for exactly seven minutes, then drain and spread out on a tray to cool. Meanwhile, peel and roughly chop the garlic, ginger and onions.

Whizz to a paste in a blender with the chilli, tomato paste, most of the coriander and a splash of water. Put the cloves and cinnamon into a large pan on a medium heat with 2tbsp of oil and fry for two minutes, then tip in the paste and cook for ten minutes, stirring regularly.

Trim and halve the beans and break the cauliflower into bite-sized florets, then add to the pan with the chickpeas (juices and all). Stir in the yoghurt, cover and simmer on a low heat for ten minutes, then season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas 4. Gently heat the milk over a low heat until warm, then turn off. Add the saffron, bash and add the cardamom pods, then leave it to infuse.

Lightly oil a 23cm springform cake tin and place on a tray. Spoon in a third of the rice and really press down to compact. Drizzle over 4tbsp of the saffron milk, dust with 1tsp of garam masala and spoon over half the curry.

Repeat the layers once more, pressing as you go and finishing with a top layer of rice and 4tbsp more of the saffron milk. Add the flour to the remaining saffron milk and bring together into a dough (add extra flour, if needed).

Knead until smooth, then roll out so it’s just bigger than the tin. Place on top, pressing the edges to seal, rub with oil, dust with garam masala, and bake at the bottom of the oven for 40 minutes, or until golden.

Rest for 15 minutes, then remove the bread lid and tear into portions, release from the tin, and pick, finely chop and scatter over the remaining coriander. Always good served with a squeeze of lemon, a green salad and a dollop of yoghurt.


It’s quite time-consuming to make, but it’s a recipe you can get lost in and create. We all really enjoyed it.

Energy 691 kcal, fat 17.5g, sat fat 3.6g, protein 22.7g, carbs 116.6g, sugars 13.2g, salt 0.9g, fibre 10.4g

Wednesday: Crispy cauliflower katsu

(Instead of chicken nuggets, potato wedges & carrots)

Preparation time:one hour 15 mins

Serves: six



  • 2 heads of cauliflower (800g each)
  • 3 fresh mixed-colour chillies
  • 3 limes
  • 150g plain flour
  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 200g fine breadcrumbs
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 5cm piece of ginger
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander (30g)
  • olive oil
  • 1tsp (heaped) garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 3 tsp mango chutney
  • 450g basmati rice


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Cut six chunky cauliflower slices, straight through the stalks, around 2.5cm thick.

Season the cauliflower slices all over with sea salt and leave aside (this will draw out the natural moisture). Meanwhile, finely slice the chillies and place them in a bowl with a pinch of salt.

Finely grate over the zest of two limes, then squeeze over the juice and leave to lightly pickle. Put 100g of the flour into one bowl, beat the eggs in another, and tip the breadcrumbs into a third.

Coat the cauliflower slices in the flour, dunk in the beaten egg, then dip, press and coat in the breadcrumbs. Place on an oiled baking tray and push down to compact. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, peel the onion, garlic, ginger and carrot, then finely chop with the coriander stalks, reserving the leaves. Fry in a large pan on a medium heat with 1tbsp of oil and the spices for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.

Stir in 50g of flour and the mango chutney, followed by one litre of boiling water. Whisk together, then simmer for 15 minutes, or to your preferred consistency, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt and black pepper.

Cook rice according to the packet instructions, then drain. Serve the rice and sauce with the crispy cauliflower, chilli pickle, lime wedges and reserved coriander leaves.


Although it wasn’t a hit with the kids or Duncan, I loved it and even had it the following day for lunch.

Energy 637 kcal, fat 9.2g, sat fat 2g, protein 23.6g, carbs 120g, sugars 16g, salt 1.5g, fibre 10.4g.

Thursday: Picnic pasta salad

(Instead of jacket potato, sausage and beans)

Preparation time: 15 minutes




  • 300g dried pasta shells
  • ¼ of a clove of garlic
  • 1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (30g)
  • 1 bunch of fresh basil (30g)
  • red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ a celery heart
  • 250g ripe mixed-colour cherry tomatoes
  • 12 black olives (stone in)
  • 125g ball of mozzarella cheese.


Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain.

Meanwhile, peel the garlic and put into a blender with the herbs, 2 tbsp each of vinegar and oil, and a good splash of water, then whizz until smooth.

Season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper. Very finely chop the celery heart and quarter the tomatoes, then add to a large salad bowl.

De-stone and tear in the olives, pour over the vivid green dressing and tip in the drained pasta, then toss together. Serve hot, warm or cold, tearing over the mozzarella just before serving.


Well, my tastebuds were dancing and judging by the looks on the children’s faces, they liked it too. They didn’t eat the tomatoes but devoured everything else.

I would definitely make this for my work lunches and picnics too. My other half liked this but said it wasn’t his favourite. He is a tougher cookie to crack with the veg.

Energy 436 kcal, fat 16.2g, sat fat 6g, protein 16.8g, carbs 59.2g, sugars 4.2g, salt 0.7g, fibre 3.7g

Friday: My cauliflower tikka masala

(Instead of mince and mash)

Preparation time: 45 minutes




  • 60g unsalted cashews
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • olive oil
  • 200g paneer cheese
  • ½ a head of cauliflower (400g)
  • 1 knob of unsalted butter
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 5cm piece of ginger
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • 4 sprigs of fresh coriander.


Put cashews, saffron and mango chutney into a jug, cover with 700ml of boiling water and leave to soak.Preheat the grill to high.

Finely grate the lemon zest into a large bowl, add the yoghurt, paprika, a pinch of sea salt and black pepper and 1 tbsp of oil, and mix well.

Chop the paneer into 2cm cubes and break the cauliflower into florets (roughly the same size), then toss in the marinade. Tip into a large roasting tray and grill on the middle shelf for 12 minutes, or until beautifully golden and gnarly at the edges.

Put the butter and 1tsp of oil into a large casserole pan on a low heat with the cinnamon and cloves, and bash the cardamom pods, adding just the inner seeds. Peel, finely slice and add the garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Peel the onion and ginger, roughly chop, then place in a blender with the tomato paste and a good splash of boiling water, and whizz to a paste. Pour into the pan and cook for ten minutes, stirring regularly.

Tip the cashew mixture into the blender and whizz until super-smooth – you may need to work in batches. Pour into the pan, bring to the boil, then leave to tick away for five minutes, stirring occasion-ally.

Stir in the paneer and cauliflower, season to perfection with salt and pepper, then place under the grill. Once golden and bubbling, stir back through and pick over the coriander leaves. Delicious served with fluffy rice and wedges of lemon for squeezing over.

VERDICT: This didn’t go down well, because they found the cauliflower a little hard. I will definitely have a go at making this again as I think I probably undercooked it slightly. The sauce was nice and tasty so I’m hoping it will be a grower.
Energy 426 kcal, fat 31.1g, sat fat 13g, protein 20.6g, carbs 17.5g, sugars 12.2g, salt 0.8g, fibre 4.7g

Saturday: Silky courgette bow-ties

(Instead of sausage pasta)

Preparation time: 15 minute




  • 300g dried farfalle
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • olive oil
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 mixed-colour courgettes
  • 100ml rosé wine
  • 80ml single cream
  • 40g Parmesan cheese
  • extra to serve


Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions, then drain, reserving a mugful of starchy cooking water.

Meanwhile, peel the garlic and finely chop with the chilli, then place in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil and the fennel seeds.

Coarsely grate the courgettes (discard the seedy core), then add to the pan and cook for five minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up to high, pour in the wine, leave to bubble and cook away, then switch off and add the cream.

Grate over the Parmesan, tip in the pasta and toss together, loosening with a splash of reserved cooking water, if needed. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper and finish with a fine grating of Parmesan.

If you want to up your summertime veg, a delicious side salad of lemony-dressed baby spinach and fresh raw peas makes a really good match.

VERDICT: This again set my tastebuds pounding! We all loved this so much that we had seconds. Even Duncan said it was a winner and would eat it again. Success.
Energy 404 kcal, fat 11.7g, sat fat 5.1g, protein 14.9g, carbs 59.7g, sugars 4.2g, salt 0.3g, fibre 0.9g

Sunday: Easy pea & spinach samosas

(Instead of chicken escalope, mashed potato and peas)

Prep time: one hour 15 minutes (plus cooling)

Serves:eight — makes 16



  • 1 carrot
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 5cm piece of ginger
  • 1 tbsp rogan josh curry paste
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 100g frozen peas
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint (30g)
  • 100g paneer cheese
  • 4 sheets of filo pastry
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ a ripe mango
  • 1 lime
  • 300g natural yoghurt
  • chilli oil


Peel the carrot and onion, chop into 1cm cubes, then place in a large non-stick frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil.

Peel, finely chop and add the garlic and ginger, then cook on low for 20 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the curry paste and fry for one minute.

Tip in the chickpeas (juices and all), peas and spinach, and cook for ten minutes, or until the juices have evaporated. Roughly mash and season to perfection with sea salt and black pepper.
Pick the mint leaves, then finely chop with the paneer and stir through. Leave to cool. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6.

Lay a clean damp tea towel out flat on a work surface, then place a sheet of filo on top and cut into four strips. Brush the edges of each strip lightly with water, then spoon 1 tbsp (heaped) of filling into the bottom corner of each.

Fold diagonally up to create triangle shapes, then roll and fold up the samosas, tucking in the sides and pressing lightly to seal as you go (it doesn’t matter if they’re a bit untidy – you’ll get better as you go), and repeat.

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sesame seeds, dividing them between oiled baking trays. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden and crisp.

Peel and de-stone the mango, then whizz in a blender with the lime juice. Ripple with the yoghurt and a little chilli oil, to taste. Nice served hot, or even cold as part of a packed lunch with a salad.


Oh my goodness – these were amazing and so easy to cook! I am definitely making these again and Duncan said that they tasted even better than the samosas we usually get from our local curry house.

Energy 245 kcal, fat 11.1g, sat fat 3.6g, protein 10.9g, carbs 26.6g, sugars 8.2g, salt 0.4g, fibre 4.1g

  •  Veg by Jamie Oliver, £26, is out on Thursday, published by Michael Joseph. Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House © Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2019 Veg).

Jamie Oliver launches new range of healthy wraps and sandwiches to be sold in Shell petrol garages

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Family ditches meat and tries living off Jamie Oliver's latest vegetarian recipes (2024)
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