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Jun 6, 2005 09:11 AM

menu help--no meat, no fish, no dairy (eggs ok!)

  • s


I'm a fish-a-tarian, having over a couple for dinner in a week. One person in the couple doesn't really like fish. The other person is *very* lactose and soy intolerant. All of us have children and work full time (my way of saying that I don't have a lot of time for lots of prep). And, the temperature has recently become quite hot here in DC (meaning, I don't want to have the oven on for hours at a time). Oh, we all like spicey (with the possible exception of the children, but that's just a whole 'nother problem!)

So, I'm looking for suggestions for recipes, menu ideas that meet the following requirements:

1. No meat, fish, dairy, tofu. Eggs are ok.
2. Minimal prep (or, prep that can be done ahead of time, nothing a la minute).
3. Minimal use of oven.

For past shared dinners, I've made Indian food (dal, etc.), vegetarian chili and a vegetable tart (olive oil-based tart dough that I've never been pleased with the results of). I'm looking for something different, but will return to variations on these themes if need be.

Thanks for any help offered,


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  1. Something like spicy wild mushroom enchiladas accompanied by a cold corn and bean salad might work.

    You can make everything ahead of time and finish the enchilads in the microwave or oven if you can stand the heat.

    4 Replies
    1. re: AimeeP

      The wild mushroom enchilada idea has me kind of intrigued, but I'm wondering if you have a recipe? I've never made enchiladas before, so don't have a faorite recipe or experience to work from. So, I did some searching, but only came up with recipes that included cheese (and I think the recipes might be blah without the cheese).

      Do you have a good spicy wild mushroom enchilada recipe to suggest?


      1. re: smokey

        Here's one from epicurious that you could adapt:

        I usually just read a bunch of recipes and make it up as I go.

        The latest version went something like this:

        Usually what I like to include is sauteed spinach, epazote(fresh, if you are lucky), shallots, cumin and chopped mushrooms(shitake,hen of the woods etc), if you want something to glue it together because of no cheese some mashed black beans will work. You can top with red or green enchilada sauce and sprinkle with some pepitas. You can add some chipotles in adobo to spice things up a bit.

        I prefer corn tortillas over flour - roasted a little before filling

        The trick is to saute the mushrooms in a cast iron skillet with minimum amount of liquid until much of the liquid from the mushrooms have evaporated then remove and chop - this really imparts a good strong mushroom flavor.

        You mentioned the group liking spice - I adore this salsa, in a pinch you can use fire roasted canned tomatoes. I'd serve it as a side rather then on the enchiladas.


        1. re: AimeeP

          See, it's funny, I had looked at the epi version, and just couldn't quite put it together in my head. Without the cream sauce, butter and feta, it's going to be a bit dry and not well bound together. But putting a traditional enchilada sauce on it will ruin the delicate flavor of some expensive wild mushrooms (plus, I don't think it will go well together). At least that's what I think. Did it come together well when you made your version with an enchilada sauce?

          Often, I'm willing to try and put something together on my own, but I usually like to feel more comfortable/familiar with the dish before I do that. And, I just can't quite see how to make this recipe (or any other that was a mushroom based enchilada recipe without cheese or cream) come together.

          1. re: Smokey

            The version I made with the enchilada sauce was good -I actually rolled the filling with a little sauce inside and then served other salsas on the side, so the mushroom flavor wouldn't be lost - I guess they ended up looking more like taquitos than traditional enchiladas.

            That being said - the dairy eaters at the party flet the version with goat cheese was better

    2. b
      Bride of the Juggler

      Perhaps a nice pasta salad or kugel? Thank you.

      1. How about grilled portabella burgers with a nice tomato salad. Recipe for burgers is here:

        For the salad just mix tomato, cucumber (optional), red oinion and fresh basil and let marinade in a good italian dressing (S & P to taste). you can offer feta or mozerella on the side as a salad topping for those who aren't lactose sensitive.

        grilled Vegetable kabobs over rice (coconut, jasmine, saffron)

        1. Do a middle eastern-style mezze: bread, hummus, baba ghanoush, couscous, falafel, dolmades, tabouli. Fresh fruit or sorbet topped with honey for dessert.

          10 Replies
          1. re: Grace
            Hungry Celeste

            This is exactly what I was thinking. All of it can be made ahead (or you can get takeout stuff). Dolmades are great served cool, and the rice stuffing is easily digested. Hummus, tabbouli are easily prepared ahead of time. I'd add labna (lebneh, which is drained yogurt) with cucumber and grated onion to the menu, too. Tell the lactose intolerant that yogurt has no lactose (it's digested by the bacteria that make it yogurt, just like cheese).

            1. re: Hungry Celeste

              I might be able to get this to work. I've got a good persian market near me, but they don't have anything in the way of prepared foods. Wish I had a good source of dolmades (I think the canned ones are pretty uniformly wretched). Do you think room temp felafel would be ok to serve? I don't want to be frying felafel balls while they're there.

              As for your labna/lebneh suggestion, I appreciate it, but I have to admit, I simply used the term lactose intolerant to try to convey the general "no dairy" rule. I don't think that his issue with dairy is actually lactose intolerance, because he really can't have any dairy (e.g. no cheese, yogurt, milk, etc.). I think he has a severe allergy to a protein in dairy, not an inability to produce lactase (which leads to lactose intolerance).


              1. re: smokey
                Hungry Celeste

                Room temp felafel won't poison anyone, but I don't much like it cold. You might also want to try a chopped salad: tomatoes, cucumbers, a little sweet onion, all chopped, dressed with lemon/oil/garlic and garnished with sumac. Another good non-wheat option is a pilaf w/green peas and slivered almonds (make ahead and reheat).

                1. re: smokey

                  Many people with more than mild lactose intolerance cannot eat cheese or yogurt. Yogurt and the vast majority of cheese contain quite a bit of lactose, though some people can tolerate it in those forms better than straight milk. (It's not so much that the bacteria consume most of it, as that they produce enough lactase for those with milder intolerance to handle them. Kinda like built-in pills.)

                  Lactose intolerance is a broad, sometimes overused, term. A large glass of plain milk on an empty stomach can make me uncomfortable, but no other dairy product does, and it doesn't occur to me to even think of myself as lactose intolerant. Further along the spectrum, my mother and a nephew can't eat any sort of dairy without taking lactase pills beforehand, though in their case that's enough. And finally I've known a couple of people who simply could not consume any noticeable amount of lactose with or without pills. But given the symptoms if it somehow snuck in, it was clearly a digestive problem, not an allergy. (And that's enough said about that. LOL)

                  You could always make the yogurt sauce and also a tahini sauce, both to be served on the side, and let people eat which they can and/or prefer. The yogurt sauce tastes even better made a day ahead and the tahini sauce will be no worse for wear after a day or 2.

                  1. re: smokey

                    Just in case you decide to get ambitious and make your own stuffed grape leaves, these are delicious and easy and very authentic. The recipe calls for you to use cooked brown rice but I don't fully cook the rice before stuffing. Leave the rice a little chewy and underdone so that it will won't turn to mush when the grape leaves are cooked. This can be done way ahead of time and frozen or just refrigerated and then brought to room temperature for serving. The garlicky yogurt dip is a delicious accompaniment, but can be served simply with a squeeze of lemon.

                    16-oz. jar preserved grape leaves (or less, it depends on how big the leaves are)
                    2 large onions, finely chopped
                    1 cup raw brown rice, cooked
                    3 tbsp. dried currants
                    2 tbsp. pine nuts
                    1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
                    1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
                    1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
                    2 tbsp. lemon juice
                    2/3 cup olive oil
                    1 tsp. sugar
                    1 tsp. allspice
                    1 tbsp. cinnamon
                    1/4 cup tomato sauce (or puree, or something tomato-ish)
                    salt and pepper to taste
                    2 cups water

                    Mix together chopped onions, cooked rice, currants, nuts, seasonings, and tomato sauce.

                    Line the bottom of a large pot with grape stems and parsley stems.

                    Roll up grape leaves, enclosing about a tablespoon or so of filling inside each one, and tucking the sides in securely. Place, seam side down, on top of stems in pot, close together (side by side).

                    Pour water over, cover the dolmas with a sheet of waxed paper, and weigh down the whole business with a plate or something to keep them submerged while cooking. Place cover on pot.

                    Cook over high heat for about 3 minutes, then lower heat and simmer slowly for 50 to 60 minutes - until all the water is absorbed.

                    Cool and serve at room temperature with lemon wedges and yogurt mixed with garlic and a bit of salt.

                    1. re: Nyleve

                      Wow, thank you! I think I would have to be really ambitious to try this, but I've long wanted a good dolmades recipe. The canned ones are *so* bad and real ones are *so* good.



                      1. re: smokey

                        Seriously this isn't difficult at all - it's just the actual stuffing part that's time-consuming. But mixing up the stuffing is easy and quick, and cooking is no problem at all.

                        Stuffing tips:
                        - Cut off stem and lay the grape leaf on a flat surface, with the point of the leaf pointing toward you.
                        - Spoon about a tablespoon (or less) of filling in onto the leaf, about in the middle.
                        - Fold the two sides in over the filling, then roll the leaf from the top down toward the point to enclose. It will kind of stick shut.
                        - Arrange, seam-side-down in the prepared pan.

                        Depending on the actual shape of the leaf itself, this can be a bit fiddly. There will be unexpected notches and leaf-shaped bulges to deal with. Don't worry -just keep doing it and after about 10 dolmas, you'll get the hang of it. They are so so so much better than anything you can buy anywhere for any price. Totally worth making. Do it.

                        1. re: Nyleve

                          Alright, nyleve, you've pretty well got me talked into this. A delicious homemade domade is a thing of wonder, and I love to make wondrous things. Coupla quick questions:

                          1. How many people do you think the recipe you provided would serve (if part of a mezze platter-type thing)?

                          2. How many days in advance can I make them and store them in the fridge? Do you think they would be ok after two days in fridge? Any special storage techniques?

                          3. Do you recommend bringing to room temp before serving?

                          Thanks a lot for sharing your recipe!


                          1. re: Smokey

                            I'd say that you'll get about 40 to 50 dolmas from that recipe. I'm totally guessing here because I just made them a couple of weeks ago and I'm remembering which platters I used and approximating how many were on each platter. As a part of a selection of mezes you can probably feed 6 or 8 people. If they're vacuum cleaners, less.

                            Two days in the fridge would be perfectly fine. Here's what I'd do: after cooking, arrange them in a large rectangular baking dish (or disposable aluminum pan). Cover tightly with foil. To refresh - on the day you want to serve them, sprinkle lightly with water and place in a preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes - or just until heated through. Then remove from oven and let cool to room temp. This will rehydrate the rice so that you don't get that fridged-out rice syndrome. I will also do that if they've been frozen. It's not absolutely necessary, though, if you're pressed for time.

                            And yes, room temp definitely. In addition to a garlic-yogurt dip, you can serve a tahini dip for your dairy-averse friend.

                            Let me know how it goes - have fun!

                    2. re: smokey

                      I would think pre-made falafel would work okay, but be better heated in an oven if only temporarily (I would think a few minutes at 450 should do it).

                      If you are looking for some of the pre-prepared foods, check out the kosher or israeli store near you (look in the Jewish neighborhoods) they often have these types of things.

                2. How about a frittata? Some frittatas consist of eggs and vegetables only, not even parmesan is used, so no dairy(Marcella Hazan has a savoy cabbage one like that).

                  Can be made ahead of time and just kept/served at room temperature.

                  Add to it some salad/antipasti spread and you are done.