I recently had the pleasure of meeting Neven Maguire and watching his cooking demonstration at Bloom. My mom has been a big fan of his for years, always ensuring she’s plonked in front of the tv for his shows, so she was really excited to see him in action. He was extremely personable and encouraged engagement from the audience at every step. Afterwards he greeted everyone who came to speak to him with genuine warmth and interest. Of course my mom dragged me up, and proudly boasted to him that her darling has a food blog! Before I had the chance to die of mortification, Neven immediately congratulated me and generously offered me one of his cooking books, which he signed for me. He then presented my charmed mom with his apron.
So now that I’ve finished gushing over Neven, I want to talk about the book he gifted me, and share with you my adaptation of one of the recipes from the book. The Nation’s Favourite Healthy Food contains ‘100 good-for-you recipes’. Okay, arguably not every recipe is quite what I would describe as ‘good-for-you’, but the book is an excellent introduction to cooking healthier food without the intimidation and hard-to-find ingredients that generally accompanies healthy eating. The recipe variety is extensive with multiple vegetarian, wheat-free, meat and fish options. All of the recipes are suitable for novices, with several different cuisines on offer.
All-in-all it’s a great book to ease yourself into the concept of healthy eating, and is full of vibrant pictures (nothing irks me more in cookery books than a recipe without an image) and easy to follow instructions.
The first recipe I tried from the book was Spanish Meatball and Butter Bean Stew, which can be found here. Instead of using pork for the meatballs, I made vegetarian meatballs with soya mince. Soya mince can be picked up in most large supermarkets, relatively cheaply. When cooked it contains nearly 15 g of protein per 100 g, and has a meaty texture and taste.
Vegetarian Meatballs with Neven Maguire’s Butter Bean Stew
For the Vegetarian Meatballs:
- 2 cups (~145 g) soya mince
- 100 mL boiling water
- 2 tsp bullion powder (or 1 veg stock cube)
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- handful fresh parsley (chopped)
- 1 shallot (finely diced)
- 1 tbspn Worcestershire sauce (if you’re vegetarian get a veggie brand such as Biona)
- 1 tbspn tomato purée
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- salt and pepper to season
- olive oil (4 tablespoons)
Dissolve the bullion powder in the boiling water, and pour over the soya mince in a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs together, and mix in the garlic powder, chopped fresh parsley, shallot, Worcestershire sauce and tomato purée.
Add the egg mixture to the soya mince, along with the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper and combine everything together.
Roll roughly a tablespoon of the mixture between the palms of your hands, forming the veggie meatballs.
On a medium-high heat, fry the veggie meatballs in a pan with olive oil for around 5 minutes, until golden all over (they need to be turned as they fry).
For Neven Maguire’s Butter Bean Stew:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red peppers, cored and sliced
- 1 red onion
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 large garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 tbsp sweet smoked paprika
- 2 x 400 g cans of chopped tomatoes
- 1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
- 1 x 400 g can of butter beans, drained and rinsed
Sauté the peppers and red onion in olive oil over a medium-high heat for around 5 minutes, until they are just beginning to soften. Add a tablespoon of water to help them along.
Stir in the garlic and paprika and cook for 1 minute.
Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato purée, season with salt and pepper, cover with a lid, and simmer for 30 minutes.
Finally, add the drained and rinsed butter beans to the stew, and serve with the veggie meatballs on top.