Meat Free Week kicked off in Australia yesterday. The initiative is driven by Voiceless, an animal welfare and protection organisation, and aims to raise awareness about where our meat comes from and just how much of it we consume.
It comes as no surprise to me that Australians are among the biggest carnivores in the world – in fact, we eat about 120kg of meat per person, per year (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare). While I only buy free-range meat products, when I took stock of my meat consumption late last year, I realised that often I was having meat twice a day!
Meat Free Week is all about considering where our meat comes from. We’ve all heard about the horrors of factory farming, and but it’s quite sobering to consider that most of the meat eaten here in Australia is actually factory farmed. I am by no means a vegetarian, but I’m committed to having at least one meat free day every week, and ensuring that the meat I do buy is ethically produced and sourced.
For more information about Meat Free Week, check out the website, even if only for the great range of meat-free recipes for you to try. One such recipe is from Bill Granger’s ‘Easy’ cookbook, which my darling Mum bought me for Christmas.
Baked Eggplant with Chickpeas and Pomegranate
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 eggplants, cut lengthways into 1cm thick slices
4T olive oil (I used cooking spray to reduce calories)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1T ginger, grated finely
1 green chili, finely diced
400g tin diced tomatoes
400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2T pomegranate molasses (I’m in love with this at the moment. Pick some up at Harris Farm. If you can’t find any, use 1T of each brown sugar and lemon juice)
1t ground cumin
1T chopped parsley
1T mint leaves
2T pomegranate seeds (to avoid getting pomegranate juice everywhere, simply cut the pomegranate in half and place in a bowl of water. Remove the seeds whilst the pomegranate is submerged, then strain in a colander. Easy!)
And here’s what to do
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celius. Sprinkle the eggplant slices with salt, pop them in a colander and leave to sit for 20 minutes. This will draw out some of the moisture from the eggplant. Rinse, and pat dry with a paper towel.
2. Use cooking spray or olive oil to brush both sides of the eggplant. Find your largest frying pan(s) and fry the eggplant for 5 minutes on each side, until well browned. Then place half of the eggplant in a medium casserole dish.
3. Return frying pan to heat with 1T olive oil or cooking spray. Add in onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, paprika and cumin. Stir occasionally, until onion is translucent. Pop in your tomatoes, chickpeas and pomegranate molasses. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Layer the tomato mixture and eggplant slices in the casserole dish, and transfer to the oven for 15 minutes.
5. Season with parsley, mint and pomegranate seeds.
I had mine as a complete meal, you may wish to add some rice or steamed veggies to yours.
Do you have any favourite vegetarian dishes? Or do you observe meat free days in your house?