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Friday 1 December 2023 Dublin: 1°C
Shutterstock/Elena Veselova

Shane Rigney shares a recipe and asks 'To veg, or not to veg?'

Shane Rigney of Riggers D8 hopes to consider the environment while also keeping customers and suppliers happy. It’s tricky, but he says balance is key.

APPARENTLY EVELYN CUSACK and the lads at Met Éireann don’t consider it winter until December, meteorologically speaking. I don’t know if my face would have agreed with them at 6 am while en route to make scones this morning… nippy.

And as we face into the unknown that is winter with Covid-19, the question of food sustainability and security is more pertinent given the year that was.

Considering the environmental and animal welfare clouds over the agricultural industry and the effects a pandemic can have on food supply, as a chef and restaurant owner, I have to ask myself if I’m doing enough to contribute positively to the environment.

We can probably all recognise now that change is needed and some changes indeed are happening in food worldwide. If you doubt this shift, just consider the juggernaut that is the plant-based industry. 

That’s not to say I’m going all out as a vegan here as that’s a more personal topic depending on your point of view but if I’m to help the environment as a chef then there are three factors for me – what suppliers to support, what my customers require and then matching those with cost and viability.

Every little helps

Individually, it may be easier than you think to make food choices that are kinder to the planet. Your wallet and body will thank you and help you feel like you’re reducing our footprint on the earth.

It should be noted that I say all this as a card-carrying, Irish Angus-loving carnivore who will be buried with a block of Kerrygold so I am in no way questioning or judging eating habits – merely ruminating on this most timely of topics.

So how, as modern chefs and restauranters, do we keep farmer, picky-eater, meat eater, veggie, vegan, salad dodger and omnivore happy? It’s quite the smorgasbord of palates to cater for.

There’s a simple answer – consider eating meat and fish a little less often and spend a little more on locally sourced, free-range produce from our amazing butchers and fishmongers. It’s a win-win, right?

That’s the ideal, but don’t forget that on these winter evenings, a hearty vegetarian dish is the tastiest and healthiest thing, and so easy. Plus, environmentally, you’re on the (vegan) pig’s back.

Try to eat locally and seasonally as much as possible, in the globalised world we all love our Avo Toast but it’s a schlep for those fellas to get here in January. 

It’s easy to just go through cupboards, freezers and presses to make delicious soups, rice and pasta-based dishes from plant-based tins of ingredients and protein that you already have.

And in case your idea of eating vegetables is opening a tin of mushy peas with your Donegal catch or soggy carrots on a Sunday, here is a cracking little recipe for a Cauliflower, Aubergine & Chickpea Curry that’s a pot of EVERYTHING. Enjoy. 

shutterstock_218939122 Shutterstock / Nataliya Arzamasova Shutterstock / Nataliya Arzamasova / Nataliya Arzamasova

Roast Cauliflower, Aubergine & Chickpea Curry


  • 1 lge head of cauliflower cut into medium florets. Cut the stalk into chunks too

  • 1 large aubergine cut into bite-size pieces

  • 1 lge white onion diced

  • 4 cloves of garlic minced

  • 1 thumb-size piece of fresh ginger peeled and minced

  • 1 red chilli finely chopped, seeds in or out depending on heat preference

  • 1 tsp. Cumin, coriander and turmeric powder

  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala 

  • 2 tins of drained and rinsed chickpeas

  • 1 tin of coconut milk

  • 1 tin of chopped tomato

  • 1 tsp of tomato puree

  • A generous dash of tamari or soy sauce

  • A dash of rice wine vinegar(optional)

  • 1 generous tbsp of honey or maple syrup

  • Juice of and zest of 1 lime

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Sesame oil or olive oil for cooking

  • A large bunch of fresh coriander chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C Fan. Toss the aubergine and cauliflower in a little and seasoning and lay out spaciously on a sheet pan and roast for 15 mins until veggies are just tender and lightly roasted

  2. In a heavy-based saucepan saute the onions in a drizzle of oil over medium heat until just soft. Add the garlic, tomato paste, spices and ginger and fry for a minute with the onions until spices are aromatic. Add a little water if the paste is cooking too quickly or burning

  3. Add the chickpeas, tomato and coconut and allow to bubble, thicken and reduce by a third for about 15 minutes while the veg is roasting

  4. Stir in the lime, honey, soy and vinegar and add the vegetables from the oven coating everything in the sauce and reduce heat to a simmer

  5. Allow the vegetables to soften a little more and cook in the sauce but make sure they still have bite and are holding their shape. stop

  6. Season to taste and add the coriander just before serving

  7. Serve with your favourite rice or flatbreads 

 Shane Rigney is a chef and owner of Riggers D8 in Inchicore. Find out more on Riggers online, Instagram and Facebook.

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