National Vegetarian Week 2021 - a chat with MasterChef winner, Tom Rhodes
National Vegetarian Week 2021 – chat with MasterChef winner, Tom Rhodes
We caught up with MasterChef winner, Tom Rhodes, on all things National Vegetarian Week. Find out who he’d nominate to go veggie for a week and join in at www.nationalvegetarianweek.org.
What’s your favourite vegetarian meal?
It’s simple, but I love beans on toast! It’s a healthy and satisfying meal. I’ll often cook my own beans, that way I can change up the flavours.
What do you think is the most versatile veggie ingredient?
I love to use miso when cooking veggie meals, it’s a simple way to add loads of depth and umami to veggie dishes. You can use it as a paste to coat vegetables or as a broth to cook them in.
How often do you cook veggie meals usually?
All the time – especially during the week when I’m looking for something quick, delicious and healthy.
So you’re up for the Veggie123 challenge this National Vegetarian Week. What are you most looking forward to trying?
Challenging yourself to cook solely vegetarian food is a great opportunity to be more adventurous and creative, so I’m looking forward to creating and trying some new veggie dishes.
Eating more veggie meals is a great way to do your bit for the planet and feel great. What do you think is the best thing about eating more veggie food?
I can’t deny I always feel better when eating a variety of veggies. I’m also all about making delicious food, and veggie ingredients are so incredibly versatile and are a great way of adding different colours, flavours and textures to a dish.
Which veggie “fakeaway” would you like to master?
I love katsu curry and I think there are loads of great ways you can make it veggie!
Have you ever tweaked a recipe to make it veggie?
I’m constantly making veggie alternatives of my favourite meals. Veggie Mapo Tofu is one of the best. It’s a Sichuan dish of tofu in a spicy and numbing meat sauce, but it’s just as tasty when you replace the meat with mushrooms and leeks.
What was the first veggie meal you cooked and how did it go?
I remember slow roasting some tomatoes and making a pasta sauce with them. It was delicious. It’s amazing how much you can intensify the flavour of veggies by cooking them the right way.
How often do you cook from scratch and do ever just fancy a microwave meal?
I love to cook, so I’m not really one for microwave meals. I mean, you can toss some veggies in a little oil, salt and spices, then roast them in a hot oven. Serve them with a quick sauce and some rice, and you’ve got yourself an easy and delicious meal. I’m not sure you can get that kind of flavour from a microwave, although I’m not averse to microwaveable rice to keep things quick.
Which of your veggie recipes would you say is sure to please even your meat-eating friends?
Wedges of cabbage that are charred and then braised are an absolute winner. I’ll finish them with a super-addictive chilli oil. It’s so addictive you don’t even miss the fact there’s no meat.
Who inspires you to discover more about vegetarian food?
Hetty McKinnon is a food writer that has just released a book filled with the most amazing veggie recipes. It’s a book full of all the flavours I love to cook with too.
For National Vegetarian Week this year we’re encouraging people to get involved with our Veggie 123 challenge – which two celebs would you nominate to go veggie for the week?
I’d love to see what John and Gregg [Hosts of MasterChef] could rustle up for the Veggie 123 challenge.
What’s the next milestone you’d like to achieve?
I’d love to write my own cookbook and veggie recipes would certainly form a big part of that.