Vegan buckwheat ragu for a solo vegetarian
This is how to make a vegetarian or vegan ragu at the same time as you do the meaty one for the rest of your guest or family.
It isn’t about cooking up a huge batch of something vegetarian – you’ve got Ottolenghi Plenty, Malouf’s New Feast and River Cottage Veg as inspiration. It’s not about feeding a mixed crowd of carnivores and vegetarians either; a huge dish of macaroni cheese, a roast chicken and some warm vegetable salads will take care of that. It’s about cooking, day in day out, for one vegetarian or when you have a single non-meat eating guest for supper.
There are two ways to approach this: either you make a vegetarian meal and everyone eats it or you make your veggie something else. My week is usually a combination of both, but when I’ve had a busy day it can be a stretch too far to make two meals when some are eating meat. This ragu is a compromise. By doubling up some of the stages it’s almost like cooking one dish – and by using similar ingredients you all eat the same sort of flavours. I’ve made many, many versions of this over the years usually with lentils as a base. The buckwheat is a new discovery and works really well – the protein element keeps me happy as a Mum to a vegetarian too. Putting Marmite in is something I thought of very recently as it gives the umami depth of savouriness that can be lacking; I’m wondering why on earth I’ve never done it before.
Vegan buckwheat ragu
- Olive oil
- Unsalted butter
- Onion, celery, carrot, garlic*
- Tomato puree*
- Red wine*
- 100g buckwheat (in Dubai I bought Tesco brand at Choitrams)
- 400 ml hot vegetable stock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- a couple of parsley stalks
- 1 whole dried chilli (optional)
- dash of vegan Worcestershire sauce**
- Half a teaspoon Marmite
- Approx. 2 tablespoons tomato passata
- Sea salt and black pepper
*The quantities are not given as you just increase the amount you are using for the main ragu.
** Traditional Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies but you can buy vegan alternatives or make your own.
1. Finely chop a generous amount of onion, celery, carrot and garlic for your main meaty ragu. For instance, if your non-vegetarian recipe calls for a medium onion you could use a large one instead. You just need to increase the quantities a little for the whole ‘soffritto‘. Heat the oil and butter together in the pot for the main ragu and sweat gently until the vegetables are soft but not coloured and the onions transparent. Add your tomato puree and cook for a few minutes, then add the red wine and leave to bubble down until reduced to almost nothing.
2. Take a generous tablespoon or two of the soffritto and put into a small saucepan (which has a lid) over a medium heat. Add the buckwheat and stock, bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Add the bay leaf, oregano, parsley, chilli, Worcestershire sauce and Marmite. Cover and cook for 15 minutes, checking halfway through that it is not drying out.
3. Stir in the tomato passata and cook gently for a further 5 minutes. Add more if the sauce needs loosening. Check that the buckwheat is cooked; it should be slightly firm to the bite. Add sea salt and pepper to taste, remove the parsley stalks and chilli and serve over pasta. You can use a variation of this for a vegetarian Shepherd’s pie too.
Intrigued by buckwheat? Try these vegetarian recipes: buckwheat and chia seed chocolate chip cookies (Franglais Kitchen), spiced buckwheat and oat porridge (Fuss Free Flavours), buckwheat blini pancakes (Elizabeth’s Kitchen) and roasted buckwheat (kasha) with onions and mushrooms (Coffee and Vanilla).
How do you cope with a vegetarian guest or a solo vegetarian? If the scenario was the other way round, would you as a vegetarian cook meat for a meat eater? Would love to know.