This weekend is no ordinary one – firstly it’s a long one here in Sydney thanks to a public holiday on Monday. But just as significant is Sunday – the 40th anniversary of World Vegetarian Day.
World Vegetarian Day was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society. Annually on 1st October Vegetarian Awareness Month kicks-off with this day. As regular readers will know I transitioned to a predominantly vegetarian diet last year after being a life long carnivore. For me there’s no going back to meat – not just because a vegetarianism has proven health benefits but also because it’s compassionate towards animals and the planet.
To celebrate all things plant-based what follows is a recipe for a blue cheese or gorgonzola gratin – packed with leek and fennel. It’s a satisfying veggie gratin that I hope you’ll agree would stand up against a meaty dish any day.
The benefits of vegetarianism
If you’re moving towards a more plant-based diet give yourself a pat on the back. If you’re not then check out the following benefits of vegetarianism (direct from World Vegetarian Day) and consider whether you can bump up your meat free days:
- Reduces the risk of major killers such as heart disease, stroke and cancer
- Provides a viable answer to feeding the world’s hungry through more efficient use of crops
- Saves animals from suffering in factory-farm conditions and from the pain and terror of slaughter
- Conserves vital but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources
- Preserves irreplaceable ecosystems such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats
Whether you’re vegetarian or not – I’m hoping this recipe entices you. The ingredients here make one large gratin.
- 2 large leeks – finely sliced
- 1 large fennel bulb – finely sliced
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 1 tbsp coconut oil or butter
- 100g gorgonzola or other blue cheese
- 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
- Dried sourdough breadcrumbs
- Heat the butter or oil in a large saucepan and cook the leeks and fennel on a medium heat until soft.
- Mix through the garlic and thyme as the vegetables cook. Season with a little salt and pepper.
- In a separate pan heat the yoghurt slowly and crumble in the blue cheese. Heat until you have an even consistency – using a whisk if needed to remove any lumps of cheese.
- Transfer the leek and fennel mix into an ovenproof dish, sprinkle with a grating of nutmeg and pour over the cheese sauce. Mix the fresh breadcrumbs in a little olive oil and spread over the gratin.
- Cook in a pre-heated oven for around 30 minutes at 180C.
Of course this gratin can be easily adapted – you could replace the fennel with cauliflower florets or the blue cheese with cheddar. Either way it’s a satisfying and simple veggie dinner made with just a handful of ingredients.
And before you go check out World Vegetarian Day’s website and consider whether you can also spread the word!