Going completely vegetarian has always been a non-starter for me, as the second I contemplate cutting out meat I immediately begin fantasizing about chargrilled steak. However, at university I went through a semi-vegetarian phase. I started buying better quality meat, and consequently, as I was an impoverished student, eating much less of it.
I think vegetarian meals force you to be a bit more inventive and imaginative. It forces you to think outside the meat-and-two-veg box. Instead of relying on meat as the star of the meal, and everything else as secondary, meals become a collection of equally important elements.
This is one of the things I cooked a lot during my effort to eat less meat. I’ve always been a devoted fan of pasta, and peas for that matter, so I liked this dish before I’d even tried it.
Blending the peas with goats’ cheese and a hit of garlic into a creamy sauce works along the pesto lines of yumminess, whilst the rocket adds a peppery freshness. If you’re one of those individuals who absolutely can’t resist adding meat to everything, top with some pieces of streaky bacon, fried to a crisp.
300g penne pasta
250g frozen petit pois
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g goats’ cheese, grated
A large handful of rocket
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
Get a large pan of water boiling and cook the pasta. When the pasta is almost cooked, put the peas in a pan, just cover with water, and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain peas, reserving ½ a mugful of cooking water. Blend ¾ of the peas with the cooking water, garlic, butter, 200g of the goats’ cheese and a generous grinding of salt and pepper. Mix this into the drained pasta, scatter over the remaining whole peas. When ready to serve, top with the remaining cheese and the rocket.