For this week's vegetarian meal I decided to experiment with soya mince. Cottage pie is a family favourite, so I wanted to see if I could manage a meat-free version. I found the soya mince in the frozen aisle of the supermarket, along with Quorn mince. Unfortunately Quorn doesn't like DD, so that isn't an option for us.
I expect there are as many ways of producing cottage pie as there are people who cook it, but I chop and soften whatever veg is starting to look dodgy, brown off the mince, throw in the veg with a little flour, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a stock cube, a tin of kidney beans and enough water so it doesn't stick. I then leave it to simmer for at least half an hour before topping it with cheesy mash and cooking in the oven for twenty minutes or so.
Rather bizarrely, all you need to do to cook soya mince is to fry it from frozen for eight minutes in a little oil. Apart from using vegetable stock powder rather than my usual beef Oxo cube, I didn't do anything different to normal. All was going well until I decided that the "meat" was a little bland. Inspiration struck! Add Worcestershire sauce! (For those who are baffled, Worcestershire sauce is a strongly flavoured British sauce used to flavour meat, or scrambled eggs if you are me.) Unfortunately, it wasn't until the deed had been done that I checked the label and found anchovies listed. Who knew? Well, not me obviously.
The pie was well received by my family; DH thought it was meat until I enlightened him. However, I am not sure what I think about eating soya. I know there is some debate about the environmental impact of soya bean farming. I am not competent to judge whether it is worse than the impact of farming methane-producing beef cattle. The original point of eating more vegetarian food was to avoid processed meat, and there does appear to be a lot of processing going into soya mince. I am also trying to teach my children to appreciate vegetables and pulses and try different foods. So, on balance, I don't think I will be using soya mince again.