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Jun 21, 2000 07:19 PM

Southern vegetarian cooking

  • s

Most of you probably think this is an oxymoron. But, having grown up in the South, I often crave the dishes I ate then. And, having been a vegetarian for 18 years (okay, now I'm really scaring you) I find myself with a growing collection of traditional recipes I've modified to be meatless yet still satisify my craving for downhome Southern food.

So I'm wondering, why not put a book together? Would any of you chowhounds (few of you who are veg, I know) buy it?

Has anyone ever seen a book like this? Has anyone ever eaten at a restaurant that serves this kind of food?

I know it is impossible to find in New York...that's why I end up cooking it at home.

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  1. You can get a vague facsimile of some vegetarian southern stuff at Kate's Joint on Ave B in NYC, but it's true there's not a lot out there now. If a person didn't mind lots of butter, the long-departed Monck's Corner also had a great 'vegetarian plate' consisting of yams, green beans, collards, and potatoes. I usually asked for okra, too. What a loss for 9th Ave.

    I've worked on a few veggie southern-style recipes myself (example: collards w/ olive oil, garlic, molasses, vinegar, liquid smoke, tobasco), and there are some versions of southern dishes that are authentic and veggie, but I would absolutely LOVE to see a cookbook like that.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MU

      And don't forget the mac & cheese. Some of the best I've ever eaten. The thing about that vegetarian plate was that you could only pick five things, but who could eliminate two? Green beans, collards, potatoes, yams, mac & cheese, dirty rice, and okra?

    2. Sue, it's been awhile since I lived in NC, but Somethyme restaurant - in Raleigh (?) had a cookbook. I'd take a look for you, but I'm packing to move. I seem to think it was mostly vegetarian and with a southern theme. So many vegetable dishes in cookbooks anymore seem to be cold & raw, which is ok, but it's not squash casserole!

      One comfort-food recipe I'd have to include in your cookbook would be breaded tomatoes...and also Spinach balls. And thick slices of boiled sweet potatoes dipped in sugar and fried in just a little butter. Or whipped with orange juice, sugar & butter and baked in orange cups with one big marshmallow on top. And fried sweet corn. And fried green tomatoes, and green cherry tomato pickles.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Betty

        mmmm... Betty, sounds good.

        Sadly, I must note, that marshmallows are almost invariably NOT vegetarian, since they're made with gelatin. Gelatin=meat (even kosher gelatin). This bums me out since one of my favorite candies in the old (read: pre-vegetarian) days was Japanese muscat gummies.

        - VF

        1. re: VF

          VF- I'd never thought about that. hmm. then I'd switch to a little glob of chopped pecans held together with lyle's golden syrup. Or a crumbled up snickerdoodle.
          Life without the occasional marshmallow would be hard for me. Too many good campout memories.

          1. re: Betty

            All is not lost! There are vegetarian marshmallows out there. I've seen them, although I couldn't find them on the net. Check your local health food store, or even the labels at the supermarket.

            And, in case you're more ambitious, here's are the URLs for two recipes for homemade vegetarian marshmallows:


            and the other's below.

            I haven't made them myself, so caveat emptor. (Or should that be "baker beware"?



            1. re: Beth

              Kosher marshmallows usually use veg gelatin. Otherwise it would say on the package.

      2. I am so intrigued by this board...I am actually looking into starting to a culinary school...I've always had a passion for food, I grew up in south western virginia where my grandmother taught me to cook, just as her grandmother did her. She taught all the great old recipes like chili and cornbread and chicken and dumplings, oh and meatloaf...I however, have NEVER had a strong desire to eat meat, I don't know, it's the texture, the taste...all combine that I just find myself I've "adjusted" her old loved recipes into vegeterian friendly favorites...My significant other, a meat and potatoes kind of guy, and his steak loving buddies still love the vegeterian versions, and most of them never even realize they are not eating meat....

        Restaurants have always been a fun adventure for vegeterians, I like good food, and don't want to be stuck eating salad....but I'm also not one of those health nuts, an dmost vegetarian restaurants, really don't have very good food...I was actually thinking of opening a restaurant in a few (like 5) years, that specializes in Southern Vegetarian cooking...glad to know there will be an audience out there!

        As for cook books, if I get one more vegetarian cook book I may SCREAM!! My favorite source for recipes are just normal old cook books (like paula deen's-i love her!) and then adjust the recipe with either meat subsititue or leaving out the meat all together.

        3 Replies
        1. re: BookLovinGirl

          Maybe after finding this board, I can now find good vegan restaurants while traveling. Very few vegan options while traveling off the beaten path. Most of the metropolitan areas offer some options, but as you say, most restaurants don't have really good vegetarian/vegan food.

          I have found a few- Atlanta has Veggieland, and Eats which is a meat and three but all of their veggies are vegan, so when there, these are two of my most frequented spots. I have yet to try Soul Vegetarian, which is basically, southern vegetarian, on my next visit maybe. In Greensboro NC I happened upon Boba House which is all vegetarian and most dishes can be prepared vegan. VERY GOOD!
          I too will take a recipe and veganize it. Usually pretty easy to do with most recipes. I have found out with the proper seasonings you don't need all the pork fat and chicken grease to make a good southern veggie dish.

          I too have lots of vegetarian cookbooks, but usually find myself just adapting an old favorite. I do attempt to try out one new recipe a week, just for variety.

          I am always looking for new veggie spots, so if you open that restaurant, I will certainly look for it in my travels.

          1. re: teakeyla

            Do go to Soul Vegetarian, I sent my parents there and they were in 7th Heaven, totally Southern, totally vegan & delicious.

            I've seen vegan southern cookbooks, sold at Mediterranean Deli in Chapel Hill, and kindly stow the 'health nut' rubric. I eat fantastic food and am in excellent health.

            Veg News magazine did 2 southern recipes: Brunswick stew & collards. I eat & cook a ton of Southern Indian vegetarian food, to my mind the ultimate and we are very fortunate in the South to have these restaurants. Go to Udipi Cafe in Cary & have a dosa; bliss.

            1. re: Rory

              I did not mean to offend by my "health nut" comment. I was just trying to explain that most vegetarian restaurants have a tendency to pass up flavor in favor of health. And even though we are vegetarian we still enjoy some guilty indulgences.

          1. re: mfc423

            Arthur Gordon, of The Irregardless Cafe in Raleigh, wrote a cookbook in the early 80's called "The Irregardless Cook." Like his restaurant, the book is mostly vegetarian with a few offerings of fish and poultry. When I lived in Raleigh in the early 80's this was my favorite place for vegetarian meals. A full 25 years before I made the switch to vegetarian, and now vegan. The book leans more to International cooking and has been one of my favorite cookbooks over the years.

            There is a classic southern cookbook co-authored by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock (of Watershed in Atlanta fame) "The Gift of Southern Cooking." While not vegetarian, I find I use it often for inspiration.

            Looking over these books as I post this message I realize that these are the only signed cookbooks in my collection.

            We travel quite a bit in the mid-atlantic and souteastern region. I research ahead of time to know our options. My favorite vegetarian-friendly cities are Asheville, Raleigh-Triangle area, Atlanta, Charleston and Orlando. Small university towns tend to have decent vegetarian/vegan options.

            Sue, keep us posted with your book.

            Booklovin, let us know when you open your school/restaurant. I truely believe that the vegetarian/vegan movement will only grow in the next few years. Check out "Ethos Vegan" in Orlando for inspiration:

            Best wishes to you both.

          2. Crescent Dragonwagon ran a country inn in Arkansas for about a decade and wrote a couple of Southern-ish cookbooks there in the late 1980s and 1990s. "Dairy Hollow House Cookbook" was one, and "Soup and Bread" was the other. She had been a vegetarian (and wrote a veg cookbook called The Passionate Vegetarian) so both books are largely, though not completely, meatless or have meatless options. I get a lot of inspiration from both, and they're probably worth a look.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fluffernutter

              I'll 2nd fluffernutter's rec of "Soup & Bread", which I turn to frequently for inspiration...

              1. re: grundoon

                Well apparently I need to head down to North Carolina...I am in South Eastern Virginia, so it's not a far trip, but sounds like many good restaurants to discover there.

                Anyone looking for those two books (Diary Hollow House Cookbook and Soup & Bread) Amazon has them for around $5 each.