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Vegetarian entrees/"main" proteins for omnivores?

The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 06:35 AM

My apologies if this has been done before, but I just wasn't sure how to search on it.

So, for a number of reasons, including budgetary, political and a desire to get maximum benefit out of my CSA, I've recently decided that I'd like to try to cook a couple of dinners a week that are vegetarian. The problem is, we're avowed meat-eaters at our house and, somehow, it just doesn't seem like dinner to us unless there's a slab of protein on the plate, or, at least small bits of protein (like you might find in a stir-fry) etc. Otherwise, it just feels to me like I've just been served a side dish. Also, I am always concerned about getting enough protein due to some blood sugar issues.

I've tried using tofu, seitan, and tempeh and have gotten pretty good results from the first two, not so much from the tempeh. But, my default always seems to be tofu, which, I can imagine might get boring pretty quickly, even if I change up the way I prepare it. I have a number of vegetarian cookbooks, including the COTM for July Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and the May COTM Flexitarian Table by Peter Berley, as well as Berley's "Vegetarian Kitchen" so I've got access to a fair amount of vegetarian recipes, but I think I need a nudge or two to get out of the tofu section.

Any ideas for the kinds of vegetarian main dishes that I should be looking for in my cookbooks to satisfy a couple of meat-eaters? Also, I'm still following my weight loss program, so, while small amounts of high-fat foods are fine, I still need to avoid dishes with more than an ounce or so of cheese or nuts.

Thank you,

~TDQ

  1. f
    foiegras Jun 30, 2008 03:55 PM

    Here's what I made this weekend ... pinto beans cooked with lots of chopped onion, whole garlic cloves, chili, cumin, garlic powder, and other seasonings. Partially mashed, topped with cilantro leaves, shredded mozzarella, and sour cream. Served with a glass of wine. Very satisfying.

    1. Pia Jun 26, 2008 01:30 PM

      Some of our favorite veggie meals:

      Ratatouille over broiled polenta (super easy version: 1 can stewed tomatoes, 1 package sliced mushrooms, zucchini, yellow squash, sprinkle breadcrumbs and parmesan, stick in oven at 375 for 20 minutes or so).

      Frittata or egg casserole -- I do a good swiss chard casserole that's mostly veggies bound with a little egg, baked with bread crumb crust on top and bottom.

      Calzone using artichokes, roasted red peppers, other veggies, refrigerated whole-wheat pizza dough. (Doesn't require a ton of cheese -- sprinkle a little reduced-fat shredded cheese on the bottom. No need for ricotta or anything inside. Maybe not authentic, but healthy and tastes good.)

      Vietnamese-style summer rolls with tofu or shrimp.

      Chickpea and potato (and/or spinach) Indian dish (aloo chole with just chickpea and potato; can also do chickpea, spinach, and tomato stew, good over couscous)

      I find that if you do a few vegetable dishes, you don't feel like you're missing the slab of protein -- for instance, Chinese-style eggplant over rice with a side of roasted mushrooms and another side of steamed green beans with lemon juice.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pia
        l
        lgss Jun 26, 2008 03:54 PM

        Shrimp is not veggie.... I know some cultures claim that fish is a veggie, not true.

      2. k
        kalidaemon Jun 26, 2008 01:00 PM

        I cook mostly vegetarian and it seems like we've got similar nutritional concerns (getting enough protein while keeping down fat). Indian food seems to fit all these criteria the best; it's filling, tastes good, and is good for you. Madhur Jaffrey's Introduction to Indian Cooking and Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Sumana Ray are two of my favorite cook books. Other SE Asian food also works well, but I think this has been commented on in earlier posts. Vegetarian Tex/Mex food is another option for omnivores who want to eat less meat. Southwest Vegetarian by Steven Pyles (?) is a good resource for those sorts of recipes. I liked this cookbook for ideas, but found myself changing some of the seasonings and tweaking with recipes to reduce fat. Are nuts ok? If so, peanut sauce over stir-fried veggies and rice is another good meal.

        1. The Chowhound Team Jun 26, 2008 11:59 AM

          Pardon the interruption, but in order to keep the focus in this thread on cooking, menus, and recipes, a post about protein requirements has been split to the Not About Food board here. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/533045

          Thank you.

          1. alanbarnes Jun 26, 2008 11:01 AM

            My family are dedicated meat-eaters, but a lot of our favorite vegetarian meals are Indian. Somehow dal and rice with a bunch of chutneys and relishes seems more like a meal than plain ol' beans with rice and/or tortillas. Not that there's anything wrong with that, either. Especially if you add some cheese.

            1. hollyd Jun 26, 2008 09:50 AM

              We are omnivores who try to eat vegetarian 3X a week! Crazy I know but it really opens things up to be more creative. Things we do regularly: burritos with black beans and corn and whatever else, red beans and rice, veggie pastas, sometimes with cannelinis or sometimes not, homemade pizzas with special cheeses and veggies, veggie curry with sweet potatoes, peas, and whatever's in season.
              We're southerners, so vegetable plates, especially in the summers, show up often. Black eyed pea cakes, greens, cucumber salad, veggie casseroles, etc.
              My husband despises tofu, so I rarely use it, and I hate tempeh, so that's out too. We make do with beans and cheeses as our protein sources on those days.
              For us, this is more of a way to save money than anything else.

              2 Replies
              1. re: hollyd
                The Dairy Queen Jun 26, 2008 09:55 AM

                hollyd, thank you for this input. You are now (if I'm counting correctly), the third person in this thread to recommend Southern style dishes. Third time is a charm, as they say. I think I'm going to have to do a search on this board for recommendations for good Southern cookbooks...maybe even do an outside post.

                Thank you, everyone, these are really some very helpful and encouraging suggestions.

                ~TDQ

                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                  hollyd Jun 27, 2008 11:17 AM

                  I suggest the Gift of Southern Cooking by Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. My personal favorite, full of great recipes for veggies.

              2. Karl S Jun 26, 2008 02:44 AM

                Unless you are trying to go vegan, consider eggs. Eggs are the single most versatile ingredient in the larder. If you use one yolk with four egg whites (basically, buy egg whites), you can still enjoy them without it seeming like pure egg white, for much less fat.

                1. l
                  lgss Jun 25, 2008 04:30 PM

                  Sunshine burgers!
                  http://sunshineburger.com/products/
                  "Our" WFM carries them but the WFM in a neighboring town doesn't.

                  1. maplesugar Jun 24, 2008 07:12 PM

                    I'm not sure whether this fits in with your plan but I thought I'd suggest it anyway...Have you tried Yves Veggie Ground Round as a sub for ground beef? It won't taste the same as beef obviously but since it's a soy product it takes on the taste of whatever it's cooked with and the texture is similar to ground beef. 10g protein and 0.5g fat per 55g serving... its a regular in our chili, pasta sauces, baked ziti, shepherd's pie...

                    I had a look at the american site for Yves and it looks like they offer a much wider product line than I can get here in Canada (well, Calgary anyway).

                    http://www.yvesveggie.com/products/de...

                    HTH :)

                    1. m
                      Mellicita Jun 24, 2008 05:32 PM

                      I love to make a really rich hearty minestrone - thick and stewlike, chock full of veggies... and a great way to use up any produce in the frig or CSA box! A bowlful of soup and a nice pice of garlic toast to me is a full meal.
                      I usually put celery, carrots, onions, leeks, green beans, savoy cabbage, zucchini and yellow squash, garbanzo beans and cannelli beans, and sometimes yukon gold potatoes (depending how avoidant of carbs I'm being!) or butternut squash.
                      Mine is not really vegetarian, since I flavor it with a parm cheese rind, pancetta, and chicken stock for the base, but its mostly veggies and its certainly amenable to modification to make it completely vegetarian.

                      1. TorontoJo Jun 24, 2008 02:18 PM

                        How about a butternut squash or pumpkin ravioli as a main? Pick a sauce of your choice (white wine cream sauce, brown butter and sage sauce, etc.). Dress it up with some toasted pine nuts, a few shavings of parmesan cheese, and if you want a hit of meat protein, you can add a few pieces of proscuitto to the dish. Serve with a nice bitter green (rapini, kale, brussel sprouts, etc.) and I dare your carnivores to not be satisfied!

                        1. f
                          foiegras Jun 24, 2008 11:58 AM

                          I suspect if you're eating meat as regularly as you say, that you don't have any protein needs at all to worry about for a couple meals a week ...

                          I don't see myself giving up meat altogether, but I definitely don't mind meals without it. What I find satisfying is an ounce of good quality parmesan--over spaghetti, or pasta & asparagus with a bit of butter, or pasta & grape tomatoes ... with a glass of wine and a bit of dark chocolate for dessert. If you really want more protein, you could substitute a glass of milk for the wine. You're getting protein from the wheat pasta as well as the cheese & milk, of course ...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: foiegras
                            beetlebug Jun 24, 2008 12:36 PM

                            I know you're trying to get away from tofu (crazy talk, I say ;-) ) but...

                            when I've made tomato sauce, instead of using ground meat, I use a block of tofu and chunk it up in the sauce. I put it over pasta and I find it just as satisfying. Or, for the meat taste, a bit of ground beef along with the tofu.

                          2. c
                            cyberroo Jun 24, 2008 11:09 AM

                            We don't consciously eat vegetarian, but a good percentage of our meals are probably meatless in my house.

                            No one has suggested entree salads, but at this time of year when it's hot, I find them very satisfying, and I haven't gotten any complaints from my husband. You can add a lot to a salad to fill it out, and it's a great way to use your CSA goodies. If that seems like too little, soup and salad has a heartier feel, especially if you have bread with it, and vegetarian soups are easy.

                            I'm a huge fan of eggs and love them for their convenience, but they can also give you protein and the sense that you're not just eating sides. Since you mentioned a CSA box, you're probably overrun with greens like I am. These are good in a fritatta, as someone else suggested, or I make a little polenta, top it with the sauteed greens and a poached or fried egg and some parmesan.

                            1. g
                              gourmanda Jun 24, 2008 10:09 AM

                              I would add that you may not need as much protein as you think you do and/or you are probably all ready getting a lot from other foods you eat. For example 8 oz. skim milk has 8 grams of proten, 8 oz. yogurt 13 grams; you might not need to focus so much on protein. To satisfy your main dish needs, especially with summer and CSA available, how about sandwiches (grilled vegetables w/ balsamic vinegar, tomato and avocado and onion, egg salad with pistou, turkey with a spread of pureed white beans roasted red pepper olive oil and rosemary), pasta salad with whatever vegetables are fresh and a small amount of cheese (easy to add beans to this too), vegetable tacos, quiche as mentioned is a good option as well. Also, you may want to take a look at Indian cuisine. Good luck!

                              1. k
                                Karen_Schaffer Jun 24, 2008 08:50 AM

                                We're flexitarian eaters, so I know where you're coming from. But if you're already eating side dishes with protein, you've got a lot of the problem solved already. The trick is to realize that the 'main' doesn't have to necessarily be protein if you're getting the protein in your sides. So a grilled portobello mushroom with a protein side (beans, beans/lentil salad, quinoa, etc.) is a great veggie meal, with the mushroom providing the toothsomeness associated with meat. Ditto a whole-wheat pasta dish with a salad with protein side. Indian curries with a side of dal is another classic combo.

                                For an even more vegetable intensive pasta, you can make zucchini 'pasta' by slicing it thinly (use a vegetable peeler for a pappardalle sort of effect) and dry sauteeing it with a little salt to draw out its natural juices (no oil, no water/broth), then sauce it as you please. I suppose this was originally devised as a low-carb pasta substitute, but I love it for itself. I'm particularly fond of it with pesto. I've got a garlicky ricotta sauce I've been meaning to try.

                                Regarding using beans as main, sure, you'd need to make something different from your usual side dishes or you'll feel cheated. Soups and stews can be great, but now is not the season. Spicy veggie beans with corn tortillas can be totally satisfying. Do the whole taco thing with shredded lettuce, chopped veggies, salsa, sub yogurt for sour cream. I was just in Mpls, and that Mercado area near Lake & Chicago is great! If you can get truly fresh corn tortillas there, they're worlds apart from the usual grocery store offerings.

                                This is probably not the right season, but I find a heaping plate of roasted veggies to be very satisfying, and don't miss the meat. Maybe it's because of the variety.

                                Hope this helps!

                                1. hannaone Jun 24, 2008 08:11 AM

                                  You might want to look at some of the Korean mixed vegetable dishes like Bi Bim Bap or Bi Bim Guksu.
                                  There are both cold and hot varieties that can be done with no meat.

                                  I posted one version of the Bi Bim Guksu here:
                                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/53063...

                                  The image below is "Dol Sot Bi Bim Bap", a hot pot version.

                                   
                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: hannaone
                                    The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 08:19 AM

                                    You know, I've never tried cooking Korean at all, but that certainly looks like a recipe even I could do. Thank you!

                                    ~TDq

                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                      hannaone Jun 24, 2008 08:45 AM

                                      A lot of people look at the long ingredient lists and the long Method descriptions and think that Korean cooking is hard to do, but it really isn't.
                                      The key to Korean cooking is most individual ingredients are prepared one at a time, in advance, and either refrigerated or otherwise stored until "assembled" into a meal.
                                      Things like carrot shreds and egg strips can be done ahead of time in bulk, and frozen. Same with various broths.
                                      The only things that actually need to be done on the same day as the meal are the delicate/highly perishable ingredients like fresh leaves, sprouts, etc.

                                  2. farmersdaughter Jun 24, 2008 08:05 AM

                                    Frittatas with seasonal vegetables would be a solution (my current fave combos are (1) zucchini mint; and (2) peas, spring onions, tarragon--both with parmigiano reggiano), as long as the cholesterol is OK with your weight loss program.

                                    How about the Barilla Plus pasta? It's whole grain and has added protein, and I think is tastier than whole wheat pasta. I find it very satisfying. It's better with heartier ingredients, not light sauces, so I tend to use it with onions, tomatoes and arugula and the like.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: farmersdaughter
                                      The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 08:17 AM

                                      The whole grain pasta is a great idea. I also use 100% buckwheat soba when I'm doing an Asian-style noodle dish.

                                      ~TDQ

                                    2. z
                                      ziggylu Jun 24, 2008 08:02 AM

                                      We're not vegetarians but we do eat a lot of vegetarian meals. I don't care much for most tofus and stay away from the fake meat proteins....

                                      We make a lot of pastas, quiches, omelettes, frittatas. Also pizza...other than an occasional piece of prosciutto we never put meat on our pizzas. Homemade pizza and a big salad? You'll never miss the meat! We love roasted veggie enchiladas and tacos too. All kinds of lasagnas. Stuffed tomatoes, peppers or squash. Soups.

                                      I don't like things really cheesey either...I tend to use small amounts of strong cheese, even in things like enchiladas, over lots of more mild cheeses. An ounce of something like a really good feta can go a long way in a serving of something.

                                      Chili made from lentils is delicious. Actually lentils in any form are delicious. We love to braise them and have a poached egg on top, particularly in the winter.

                                      Sometimes I'll toss a grain salad with some mixed greens to make it seem more meal like. You might want to try that.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: ziggylu
                                        The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 08:16 AM

                                        All great ideas. I love stuffed vegetables.

                                        ~TDQ

                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                          z
                                          ziggylu Jun 24, 2008 08:32 AM

                                          I'll stuff them with anything, too. This is also a great way to use grains....instead of serving them as a side stuff them in a veggie and call it a main!

                                          Here's the chili recipe I make. My husband loves this:

                                          http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/mem...

                                      2. c
                                        charlesbois Jun 24, 2008 07:54 AM

                                        You may need to try new/more sides so that a vegetarian meal doesn't seem "meh" to you. If you are committed to eating a vegetarian meal, you should adjust your expectations that you're not going to be getting meat. I'm having a hard time thinking of dishes that you wouldn't brush aside as being too "side-y". But I'll give it a go.

                                        For tempeh, try brushing a tempeh burger and some red peppers with honey then grill. Serve on pesto pizza. Delish.

                                        This main doesn't have the protein you're looking for, but no one I've served it to thinks of it as a side. It's mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms encased in a puff pastry sheet and decorated with capers.

                                        How about ratatouille lasagne? Filling and not at all like a side dish.

                                        Grilled eggplant with a peanut-cilantro sauce. There's some protein in the peanuts.

                                        I think if you made a meal of cornmeal dusted fried zucchini, boiled carrots in dill butter, salad, brown rice and vegetable kabobs, you'd have a lot of different dishes, but the vegetable kabobs would take center stage as the main and may keep you satisfied.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: charlesbois
                                          The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 08:04 AM

                                          Hey, well done! Those are indeed vegetarian dishes that don't seem side-dishy to me. Maybe I need to think of a way to do that with beans and whole grains, too. Vegetarian tamales or burritos, for instance, I would think of as mains because, as tmso mentions above, you can always keep cooked beans on hand for convenience.

                                          By the way, I hope I don't come off as dismissing vegetarian dishes as side dishes, but if we are going to gradually change our habits in this area, I think it's important for us to have good experiences and feel "satisfied" with what we're getting at meal time. I imagine over time our palates and expectations will adjust, but, I think we're trying to take this in baby steps. I should also say that different people in the household have different levels of commitment to this "vegetarian two days a week" plan, so, I'm trying to make sure everyone has a good experience as it would make it a lot easier for everyone to embrace and stick with it.

                                          You guys are doing great with the suggestions.

                                          ~TDQ

                                          1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                            c
                                            charlesbois Jun 24, 2008 08:11 AM

                                            Hey, what about taking a leaf out of Top Chef this season and make tofu braised in beef fat. I know you want to get out of the tofu rut, but I think this dish is truly different. And will satisfy some of your less committed vegetarians... Plus beef fat is pretty cheap.

                                            1. re: charlesbois
                                              The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 08:15 AM

                                              Hmmm..interesting. I'll have to look that recipe up.

                                              ~TDQ

                                        2. Gio Jun 24, 2008 07:44 AM

                                          TDQ - you didn't mention any seafood. Wild caught salmon, sole, scallops... shrimp, mussels....grilled fresh sardines, etc. All can add the needed protein and are realtively low in calories & fat. Also, if you don't want to make a main seafood dish, many can "beef" up a risotto or a pasta sauce.

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: Gio
                                            MMRuth Jun 24, 2008 07:45 AM

                                            I think she wants the meals to be vegetarian ....

                                            1. re: MMRuth
                                              Gio Jun 24, 2008 07:46 AM

                                              OIC.... I thought she was looking to add a bit of other types of protein.....

                                              1. re: Gio
                                                The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 07:49 AM

                                                Whoops! I now see how unclear my title is...yes, MMRuth has it right, I'm looking for vegetarian mains that would satisfy a couple of meat-eaters and also meet our protein needs.

                                                One thing I've also thought I might do is use those tofu noodles (shirataki?) they sell at Whole Foods as my main protein in a "pasta" dish... But, again, there's that dang tofu again!

                                                ~TDQ

                                                1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                  Gio Jun 24, 2008 08:09 AM

                                                  Well, as Federico Fellini said, “Life is a combination of magic and pasta.”

                                                  And, don't forget Sophia The Great's famous quote, "Everything you see I owe to pasta."

                                          2. beetlebug Jun 24, 2008 07:36 AM

                                            How about eggs? Sometimes, I take a single egg and add it to my tofu stir fry.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: beetlebug
                                              The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 07:49 AM

                                              Eggs work!

                                              ~TDQ

                                              1. re: beetlebug
                                                Emme Jun 25, 2008 11:20 PM

                                                I LOVE a good egg white omelette - filled w/ mushrooms and caramelized onions... nothing finer IMO. served with a salad and some more roasted veggies or sliced tomatoes, and im a happy camper.

                                                Miso Egg White Drop Soup
                                                miso soup broth simmered with crushed garlic, sliced wild mushrooms (shiitakes, portabellos, cremini, oysters), greens (bok choy, kale, mustard greens), then later drizzle into a rolling simmer egg whites (or chopped tofu if you prefer it)

                                                Chili - make it with TVP for a heartier toothesomeness

                                                Breakfast for Dinner - blini or crepes filled with low or fat free sweetened cottage cheese or ricotta

                                                Homemade spring rolls made w/ the rice paper wrappers at the market

                                                Japanese theme - miso soup, salted edamame, chilled spinach salad, veggie rolls and some brown rice

                                                Whole wheat low fat grilled cheese and tomato gazpacho soup

                                              2. t
                                                tmso Jun 24, 2008 07:27 AM

                                                Beans, whole grains and pulses are your friends here. Keeping cooked beans around and having a rice cooker for the grains makes using them trivial. When you cook the beans, drain them and keep the beans and the broth separate. That way you can easily add a half-cup of cooked beans to something, and you have an easy-to-access liquid that stands in for stock. Lentils cook so fast, it's not worth precooking them. It is worth getting super-fancy lentils like de Puys, though. The great thing about dried pulses is that even when they're expensive, they're cheap.

                                                Go look at the non-meat sections of Italian cookbooks. There are a lot of dishes that are naturally vegetarian or can easily be made so. And don't forget the classics like pasta e ceci, pasta e fagioli and risotto con lenticchie ... yum!

                                                Also, one of my favorite Bavarian dishes, Semmelknödel mit Rahmschwammerln (Stale-bread dumplings with creamed mushrooms) is super good and if it leaves Bavarians satisfied without any meat.

                                                American food is full of things where meat plays a very secondary role. Red beans and rice with cornbread and greens. Hoppin John, fried green tomatoes, hominy and eggs, okra and tomatoes, veggie gumbo...

                                                8 Replies
                                                1. re: tmso
                                                  The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 07:37 AM

                                                  Thanks tmso. Since we already eat beans and whole grains as side dishes to our "meat" entrees, I feel a bit cheated when I get a whole plate of them as a "main" dish. Those dishes are the kind that just leave me feeling "meh" rather than satisfied. I tend to flip right past them when looking at my vegetarian cookbooks. Do you have any suggestions for making them seem more "main dish-y", perhaps?

                                                  On the other hand, your Italian suggestion appeals to me--I guess I'm used to seeing a pasta dish or a polenta dish as a main.

                                                  The Bavarian dish sounds interesting--reminds me to put mushrooms on my list of dishes to look for. While not a protein, it does offer a bit of a meat-y texture. And umami, right?

                                                  I'm not super familiar with most of those Southern dishes you describe (I have no idea what Hoppin John is!) and, frankly, have always eschewed them because I'm under the impression that they are typically laden with lard. I suppose there might be some healthy versions out there.

                                                  ~TDQ

                                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                    danna Jun 24, 2008 08:21 AM

                                                    i'll chime in on the "Southern" idea. personnally, i've never seen lard, and i'm not aware that my 71 year old mother has ever cooked w/ it either.

                                                    I think lots of Southern cooking stems from poverty, and like so many cuisines, meat was more of a seasoning/condiment than anything. You may go to a southern restaurant now and get a massive fried porkchop, but if you went to my Mom's house (in the summer, especially), you'd get a plate of green beans, cut corn, sliced tomatoes, sliced canteloupe, pan fired okra, crowder peas or butter beans w/ chow chow (pickled cabbage and pepper relish). You'd also get a scoop of chicken salad for protein. If you went to my grandmother's in years past...you'd get the same thing, except there would be biscuits or cornbread, and a very small piece of country ham. I realize you want to leave out the meat entirely, so to incorporate the southern "vegetable plate" into a veggie meal, I suppose you would need to add cheese somewhere, or whole wheat breads to complete the protein. I know there are some people who no longer believe that one must have all the essential amino acids together at one meal to form a complete protein, but I am unconvinced.

                                                    good luck, I tried to incorporate a vegetarian meal once a week last year, and it didn't go over very well w/ the weight lifter husband. Plus, it's just so ingrained to serve meat, and it's so much easier to make an egg white omlette if one wants to feel virtuous than to calculate useable protein from your veg.

                                                    1. re: danna
                                                      c
                                                      charlesbois Jun 24, 2008 08:27 AM

                                                      Your southern "vegetable plate" sounds amazing, although I'm not a big fan of chicken salad, so I'd opt for your grandmother's style with biscuits and country ham. If we could get the country eating this way, that would go a LONG way to the "meat problem" we seem to be facing...

                                                      1. re: danna
                                                        The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 08:29 AM

                                                        Thank you, danna, for that insight. Actually, the mentality of using meat more of as a seasoning is the exact direction I want to be moving in, so it really does sound like I perhaps ought to be exploring Southern cuisine more. Thanks to you and tmso for the nudges in that direction.

                                                        Sorry to hear your experiment with veggie cooking didn't go well last year. I'm lucky that my husband is exceedingly supportive and flexible when it comes to my various cooking experiments and projects. But, I don't want to press my luck, you know? If you have any thoughts about pitfalls to avoid, I sure would love to hear them.

                                                        Okay, I have to go concentrate on work for awhile and am going to close out of this thread for awhile, but, the comments and suggestions in this thread have really been helpful so far, so, please do keep them coming!

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                          beetlebug Jun 24, 2008 11:04 AM

                                                          "Actually, the mentality of using meat more of as a seasoning is the exact direction I want to be moving in, so it really does sound like I perhaps ought to be exploring Southern cuisine more."

                                                          I would also suggest you take another look at various Asian cuisines. Dunlop may not have been the best example of meat as a seasoning, but other regions of China rely more on this. The rationale is the same as Southern cuisine. Thai and other SE Asian cuisines also rely less on meat as a main course.

                                                          1. re: beetlebug
                                                            The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 11:19 AM

                                                            It's funny you should mention this. Pitu tried to say something similar when Dunlop was COTM and I bit her head off (and later apologized, of course) because I was feeling stupidly insecure that day, but yes, in many cultures, meat is not always expected to be the center of every meal. Even here in the U.S. meat started out as a once in awhile thing instead of a must have thing. We are lucky to live in time of such abundance.

                                                            Over in my "using my unused cookbook thread" I reported on a Hmong recipe I cooked, beef with pea shoots, that would traditionally be eaten as a special occasion meal (for Hmong New Year)--we had it on a Thursday night.

                                                            Anyway, yes, this makes sense.

                                                            ~TDQ

                                                            1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                              beetlebug Jun 24, 2008 12:39 PM

                                                              I'll have to find that specific post. Sounds delicious.

                                                              I grew up eating meat as a seasoning so it was an eye opener when I went to college - big chunks of meat everywhere. Personally, eating meat in small pieces, is still my preferred way of dining. As I tell people, I love meat, but mostly in small pieces. As I've aged, big chunks of meat (a la steaks) is unappetizing for me.

                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        t
                                                        tmso Jun 25, 2008 02:14 AM

                                                        It looks like you've gotten pretty good suggestions overall. But I thought I'd add one more thing, since we're heading into summer. From now until winter-vegetable season, the star secondo on my table will almost always be a vegetable. Stuffed mushrooms, stuffed peppers, restuffed zucchini, grilled eggplant, stuffed eggplant, stuffed artichokes, stuffed tomatoes. Summer veggies are great for this treatment.

                                                    2. MMRuth Jun 24, 2008 06:37 AM

                                                      I can't remember - have you made quinoa? I believe it is a reasonably good source of protein.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: MMRuth
                                                        The Dairy Queen Jun 24, 2008 06:58 AM

                                                        Oh, that's a great reminder! We have really enjoyed quinoa, though, usually as a side dish or with chicken in it. But, still, we do like it.

                                                        Also, I didn't mention before but maybe should have, we have both a rice cooker and a pressure cooker, so I've got a couple of rice cooker and pressure cooker cookbooks, too.

                                                        ~TDQ

                                                        1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                          l
                                                          lgss Jun 24, 2008 03:40 PM

                                                          Quinoa is good with black beans. The pressure cooker is great for beans (black, garbanzo, kidney, pinto, adzuki, etc.). Just soak the beans overnight or from morning for the evening meal and they cook a lot faster. Adzukis are good in with the rice for stir fry.

                                                          Various things like chili and posole work well without meat and seem more filling than some other things. If interested in ethnic cuisine there are many vegetarian recipes.

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