It is easy and versatile to use and it comes with a tasty meat-like texture. It’s a quality source of plant protein (no cholesterol). It’s a nutritionally healthy protein source – low in saturated fat and high in protein and it uses 90% less greenhouse gases than lean beef mince. Any idea of what I’m talking about?
I’m talking about what it is now making my hunt for proteins 10,000 times easier: Quorn, an alternative to meat made with Mycoprotein. If the word myco-something is directing your mind straight to the image of a seaweed, I understand. At first, I thought of an unicellular phytoplankton myself. We are dealing with a fungi, instead. And if you’ll keep reading this post you’ll notice that I am enthusiast about the product: this is my genuine opinion – Quorn is not flowing money into my account.
Guidelines suggest that adults should eat between 45 g and 55 g of protein a day. That’s the equivalent of two pints of milk or seven to eight eggs. In my vegetarian life, there are days when these targets seem too far away and hard to reach (can I seriously consider eight eggs a day or a mountain of kale?!).
Quorn is a nutritious member of the fungi family that is grown by fermentation similar to the process used in the production of bread, yogurt and beer. When a few weeks ago I found myself staring at the Quorn boxes for the first time in my local store in London, the expression “meat analogue”, for healthy vegetarian source of protein, was cool enough to get my attention.
I had tried Quorn at the university canteen several times before that day but I did not know I could actually buy the product (in my mind I was tasting the signature recipe of Mr. Quorn, a chef). The presence of sausages, burgers and chicken pieces under the name of Quorn in the shiny refrigerator of Waitrose, banished all doubts. Mr. Quorn never existed.
A few weeks after my first attempt with Quorn – when my boyfriend tried the burger and asked one too many times “Are we sure you are not feeding me meat?” (meh, trust…) – I was invited to a cooking class to learn how to make fresh pasta and use two products I had not tried before. Quorn Mince and Quorn Meat Free Chicken Pieces. This vegetarian spaghetti Bolognese was born.
I did not even know how much I missed Bolognese Sauce. The chefs of the Underground Cookery School prepared me a dish that was able to bring back to life those taste buds, fallen into a long hibernation by now and once committed to tasting Italian flavours.
This recipe is adapted from the Underground Cookery School. I’ve only added to it the two key ingredients of the Italian “soffritto”: carrots and celery. And used whole wheat spaghetti instead of fresh pasta, as indicated in the recipe box below.
How does it taste like? If I told you it tastes exactly like the “real” Bolognese, I would be lying. It is lighter, with the greasy taste originating from the long cooking of beef fat totally eliminated. A positive factor, if you ask me. We all know that reducing the amount of saturated fat in the diet can help us maintain normal blood cholesterol levels as part of a healthy lifestyle. What we probably don’t know yet is that 75 g serving of this mince contains only 79 calories, 10.9 g protein and 1.5g of fat. Tasty enough not to make you miss meat.
My taste buds are back, full of life and thankful.
p.s. Do not miss the next post about “my cooking class”, where
I’ll tell you how I lost 10 Kg in a week show ehm.. I’ll show you all my clumsiness in stirring a curry sauce (still not as awkward as Pippa Middleton in the Waitrose Magazine, though). I will finally appear in this blog in a photo that is not the profile image and share an unmissable recipe given to me by the Underground Cookery school. Get ready for a Strawberry Meringue Roulade.
Vegetarian Spaghetti Bolognese
- 100 g ‘00’ Pasta Flour 1/2 diced onion
- 1 Medium Egg
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 80 gr. of Carrots finely cut
- 60 gr. 1,0 oz of Celery, cut
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Glass of Red Wine
- Black pepper
- 200 g Quorn Bolognese
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- First make the bolognese:
- In a pan with olive oil, fry off the onion, garlic carrots and celery for about 3 minutess. Add the red wine and reduce to a tablespoon in volume. Add the tinned tomatoes, blitz with a stick blender, add the Quorn mince and cook on a gentle heat for at least half an hour.
- Place the pasta flour into a small bowl. Make a well into the middle and place an egg into the middle of the well. Put a pinch of salt into the mixture. Using a fork stir the egg and gradually bring in the flour a little at a time until you get something like a messy dough. Use your hands now to press the dough together and need on a clean surface for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth and firm dough. Add a little water if too dry, or extra flour if too wet.
- Using a pasta machine make sure the thickness setting is on highest and should be No.10 on most machines. Roll your dough through this setting and then fold the dough in half. Pass it through again and then fold it in half again and follow this procedure 10 times until you have a very smooth dough. Now roll the dough through each setting twice until you get down to No 2 or 1.Your pasta should be very thin now.
- You can now cut your pasta into the shape of your choice. If you have a Tagliatelle cutter feed the thin sheet of pasta through it and lay the pasta on a tray lined with baking paper. Blanch in Salted water for 1-11/2 minutes or until cooked and slightly firm to the bite. Toss with tomato Sauce.