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Aug 31, 2006 01:53 PM

Meaty richness to vegetarian cooking

Hi, I'm brand new here! I'm learning to cook at age 48. I just tried to duplicate a great fast and easy red sauce for pasta that my aunt made, using canned whole tomatoes, a ton of garlic, fresh basil, olive oil, hot chili flakes, and red wine. Mine tasted too tomatoey, I found out she sneaked turkey sausage drippings into hers (I'm vegetarian). I don't especially want a fake meat - just that body that cooking with it gives. Is there a way to do this? Thanks so much.

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  1. Absolutely!

    Try Miso paste. If you get the dark brown kinds (I think barley miso) it is a beefy flavour. I use t for French onion soup etc.instead of beef stock and it is delish. Also, marmite or vegemite is great for that too.


    1. Try using roasted plum tomatoes, smoke-roasted if you can find or make them. They have wonderful intense flavor, particularly the smoked ones.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cheryl_h

        Ditto. The last Cooks Illustrated (I think) had some good pointers to getting the most out of the fresh tomatoes. Using a large pan helps so the tomatoes have alot of surface area to cook down and concentrate, and really give them alot of time. I was able to get a very nice thick sweet sauce (not thin or too tart) that's not like you'd get with canned tomato sauce or paste.

      2. welcome! chowhound is great, enjoy.

        i have cubes of porcini mushroom bullion that i'll throw in to pasta sauces. use just a quarter to a half--a little goes a long way.

        just to get you going, there are loads of threads here on cooking tips for novices. so you might have fun searching old posts. and always feel free to post your questions here as you go along. have fun!

        5 Replies
        1. re: rose water

          Rose water, Where did you get your porcini mushroom boullion cubes?

          new cook, I have used mushroom broth to much success when I am cooking for vegetarians. It seems to satisfy both the vegetarians and meatatarians, actually. :-)

          1. re: debit

            um, here's the point where i sheepishly reply that i have no idea, because i got them that long ago! but they've done well in the fridge and still smell intensely mushroomy

            the brand is "STAR" and all of the text on the package is in italian. i'm almost positive that i bought it in an italian grocery store, but i'll start looking out for it and will report back when i see some.

            1. re: rose water

              That sounds wonderful! I didn't know such a thing existed.


              1. re: TexasToast

                Star porcini cubes are one of my secret ingredients for tons of stuff, including (shut your eyes, vegetarians) chicken and turkey gravy. A friend brought some back from Italy for me, and I'm about to restock from Salumeria Italiana in Boston. It's Googleable.

          2. re: rose water

            I add the soaking liquid from dried Porcini's as well. It adds a great depth of flavor.

          3. Sauteed mushrooms and sauteed mushroom broth will give a great meaty flavor. Also soy sauce will do the same. As will any umami/glutamate rich foods that are caramelized or long, slow oven roasted.

            1. I use either tamari, mushrooms or balsamic vinegar to add "meatiness".