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Vegetarian meals you never think of as being "vegetarian?"

Okay, I get dibs on peanut butter and jelly. I think I was in my 60s before it dawned on me one day, "Hey! THIS is VEGETARIAN!" So what was your great epiphany?

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  1. A great big plate of eggplant parmesan....smothered with home made sauce.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Veggo

      Tugging at my heartstrings there... my fave comfort food. But, with a wonderful slice - or pull - of fresh crusty bread and a great Chianti Classico, a meal to savor whilst watching the sun go down.

    2. The first thing that came to mind was spanakopita & greek salad with pita and tzatziki...Oh, and a lunchtime fave when I was growing up was baked beans(the kind done without pork) and toast. :)

      1. It was either my first Portobello Burger or Roasted Eggplant Sandwich. So delicious and filling while completely vegetarian.

        1. Cheese raviolis (and manicotti, cannelloni)
          eggplant parm
          spaghetti w/ oil & garlic
          cheese cosmo (or a grilled cheese & tomato for that matter)

          Okay, now I want a cheese cosmo w/ everything. Damn! It really sucks because I'm in NC and the closest quality cosmo is in PA. Damn!

          7 Replies
          1. re: lynnlato

            If you want it go for it! It reminds me of the "How Far Have You Driven For A Meal" thread. In fact, I am driving to Berkeley this weekend solely for Indian food (around a 70 mile trip-one way)


            1. re: lynnlato

              Oh, lynnlato, you are so right. I'm not vegetarian at all, but cheese makes my world go 'round. A grilled cheese sandwich, a mushroom quesadilla, a cheese omlette, cheese ravioli, my grandmothers ricotta and dill pirogis, etc., etc. Entirely satisfying.

              1. re: lynnlato


                Cannelloni is meat filled. are you thinking tortelloni/tortellini?

                1. re: jfood

                  cannellonni can be stuffed with anything, the defining feature is it is a sheet of pasta wrapped around a filling, as opposed to manicotti which is a preshaped pasta tube that is stuffed.

                  1. re: thew


                    That's news to jfood and after looking into it you are absolutely correct. Jfood stands corrected.

                    In any event, these are two of jfood's favorite things. OMG he sounds like Julie Andrews.

                      1. re: thew

                        Or ravioli, where the ends are clamped shut! Reminds me of Raviolissimo, in Dallas, where they made all kinds of custom fillings for their home made ravioli.

                  2. I'm veg, so I think of everything as veg. :)
                    But for my family, it was hummus, pasta e fagioli, vegetable frittata and daal. Whenever we eat "ethnic" - which is most of the time - even the omnimores go vegetarian, usually by accident.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: piccola

                      Always a bit awkward for me when someone says "I'm veg" because that's my danish name, and I eat animals of all sorts...

                      1. re: Veggo

                        I think that might've influenced your development in the other extreme. ;)

                        1. re: cimui

                          cimui, I'm scared you might be right. I remember my nanny telling me that at an early age I once ate a box of animal crackers in a remarkably brief interval of time, and then I subsequently ate most of the empty box. I ascribe it to poor adult supervision. But I do like most living critters too much to eat them. Well, at least some. Allright, a few.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            There's a place for all God's creatures. Right next to the mashed potatoes.

                          1. re: piccola

                            piccola, you could assuage your guilt by enrolling me in the dead-animal-of-the-month club for a year or so. They arrive in such lovely, re-usable holiday wicker baskets, with beautiful dried dead flowers, too....:)

                        1. Pasta
                          Mac 'N Cheese
                          Breakfast dishes (e.g. pancakes, french toast, scrambled eggs)
                          Ice cream sundae :-)

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            Breakfast, how could I forget about that? I agree, waffles, pancakes, and french toast are awesome meals. My favorite egg dish right now is an omelette with ortega chilis and jack cheese.

                            1. re: gmk1322

                              Ohmagawd, how could I forget one of my most favorite things ever? Eggs! Frittatas, omelettes, quiche, souffle, etc.

                              So sorry little eggs, I will never forget you again. ;-)

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              >>Ice cream sundae :-)

                              Hah. I was a vegetarian from middle school to college and this was definitely one of my favorite meals.

                              1. re: cimui

                                HA! Too right. In college I had my first exposure to vegetarians, roommates whose favorite meal consisted of dipping a finger in peanut butter then rolling it in chocolate chips. Well, that and beer. Not that these were bad ideas....

                            3. toasted cheese and tomato sammies.
                              Baked beans

                              1. Pizza with out meat. Yum Yum also red beans and rice.

                                1. Cheese souffle with good bread and a green salad or roasted vegetables. One of the cheapest meals you can prepare, and one of the most elegant. Not nearly as difficult as people imagine.

                                  1. I have put out a couple of vegetarian Tex-Mex buffets.

                                    There are so many flavors and combinations of texture that no-one misses meat.


                                    1. Cold Chinese sesame noodles with shredded cucumber and carrot, sprouts, garlic, and chopped peanuts.

                                      Do4 fu3 pi2 or "tofu skin" rolls, lightly fried and then served in a savory brown sauce with sauteed napa cabbage, slivered ginger, scallion and shitakes.

                                      Vegetable stew with onions, celery, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, green beans, squash, and zucchini. Use vegetable stock as a base and thicken with a blond roux. Serve with crusty bread and Smart Balance.

                                      You don't miss the meat with any of these!

                                      1. ratatouille
                                        my favorite lazy 'meal' of cheese, fruit, nuts and wine
                                        most things south indian
                                        arepa barlovento

                                        11 Replies
                                        1. re: cimui

                                          "arepa barlovento" ... I had this as an empanada and it was ridiculously good.

                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                              From what I can determine an Arepa ":is a flat cornmeal patty which is grilled, baked, or fried. The characteristics of the arepa vary with local culture. The size and flatness may vary according to the region." This is a quote from Wikipedia.....http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary...

                                              And - Barlovento is a town in Equador..... Thus: Fill in the blanks.
                                              I can't believe you didn't know that, tho......

                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                If you've ever had a gordita, you've had an arepa. "Barlovento" means it's stuffed with black beans, plantains and cheese. Lots of different kinds of fillings... Don't know why those silly South Americans can't call a gordita a gordita! '-)

                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                  The ones I'm talking about aren't like gorditas at all -- maybe more akin to the Chinese steamed buns called mantou, but much flatter (and greasier). The ones sold as "arepa barlovento" in NYC are filled with black beans, fried sweet plantains and queso fresco. Really tasty if you've never had one!

                                                  Some nice pics from Peter Cherches' blog:


                                                  1. re: cimui

                                                    As far as I know, arepas can be cooked two ways, on a comal or grill, or fried in fairly deep oil. When they're fried, they're the same size as the average gordita, the dough is the same, and the procedure for slitting them at the edge, scooping out the doughy inside and just leaving the outer crispy shell, then filling that is the same procedure as making gorditas, but I've never had a gordita that wasn't fried. You specified fried arepas, or at least greasy Are you sure you're not thinking of something else other than a gordita? Did you happen to see the Bobby Flay "Throw Down" where he challenged a couple of sisters who are famous (I think in NY) for their arepas? The arepas they made sure looked like the same shells that are used for gorditas. In both cases -- arepas and gorditas -- the filling can vary greatly but the fried shells are the same.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      i think the difference is that gorditas are made with masa harina (lime-treated corn meal), but arepas are made with precooked corn flour. the result is that gorditas are harder, crisper and more like tortillas, while arepas turn out a little breadier.

                                                      didn't see the arepa throw down, sadly!

                                                      1. re: cimui

                                                        Arepas seem to vary from country to country. I just did a check for recipes on the web, and wow! What variation! But I did find a website that gave a recipe identical to one on another website and to the one I use for gorditas. But the fillings are different...

                                                        I had never heard of arepas until a couple of years ago. I had a housekeeper from El Salvador, and she asked if I like arepas. When I said I'd never had them, lo and behold, gorditas! Well, the shells are identical but the fillings are a bit different. All of the gorditas I've ever had are always finished with a chiffonade of lettuce and diced tomatoes.

                                                        Here's the URL for the place where I frequently had gorditas when I lived i n El Paso. http://www.gorditas.com
                                                        Their gorditas are at the right at the front of the table. And here's a URL with photo for an arepa recipe:
                                                        Look, ma, no lettuce! It's like the same song sang by Frank Sinatra or Elvis Presley.

                                                    2. re: cimui

                                                      Would love to try some in NYC with you--given that I can't find them or you here in Colombia

                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                        nothing would bring me greater pleasure than to take you and your family out for some next time you visit the city, esp. given how many times we spoken of them! (though it would be a huge irony for you to have them here for the first time given your relative proximity to venezuela. :)

                                                        do you have access to masarepa (aka masa precocina)? if you do, arepas are insanely easy to make.

                                                        heat two cups of milk until just boiling, remove from heat and stir in one or two pats of butter, salt to taste, and two teaspoons of sugar. slowly mix in 1.5 to 2 cups of masarepa. stir well, let stand for about eight minutes. knead dough and shape into 3/4 inch patties, about the size of an english muffin.

                                                        pan fry on both sides in butter until brown. transfer to a baking sheet and bake in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes or until the arepa sounds hollow when tapped. split it open part way. i don't scoop out the innards, but many people do. butter the inside if you want and stuff with whatever you like.

                                                        if you don't want to fill, you can mix cheese into the dough directly, and proceed in pretty much the same way.

                                                        (obviously you can leave out some of the butter / replace with olive oil if you're being healthy. i personally faint with pleasure at the smell of fresh butter and corn... )

                                                        1. re: cimui

                                                          cimui, more irony. There are different types of arepas all over Colombia; there is areparina to make arepas; and I make them now and then. But I don't really like most of them--especially the hard, small, round, tasteless ones that are most common. Moreover--there are no stuffed arepas here. They sound good; but in this land of arepas, the stuffed ones went elsewhere. I also spend my masa moments making tortillas: I have to bring in masa harina from Mexico, but love tortillas as much as I normally domn't like Colombian arepas... (am I ranting?).

                                              2. Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup... I'm ready for Fall!

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: Katie Nell

                                                  I just had that for dinner because I'm too lazy to cook tonight! Oroweat Oatnut bread with (shhh, don't tell anybody) THREE slices of Kraft Singles grilled in olive oil! And Campbell's "Soup at Hand" Classic Tomato, which is soooooooooooooo much better than regular canned Campbell's! I wonder if it raining all day had anything to do with it?

                                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                                    yes, one of the most beautiful food combinations ever invented, katie.

                                                  2. vegetarian chili.

                                                    I love it.

                                                    what else...lentil soup.
                                                    pumpkin soup
                                                    soup in general :)

                                                    1. A hearty cheese lasagne is the first one that comes to mind.

                                                      Also, a meat free meal from the Indian buffet.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: manraysky

                                                        Many Indian restaurants offer a vegetarian thali (meal in a tray).

                                                        They are often inexpensive and excellent.


                                                        1. re: Big Bunny

                                                          Malai Kofta done right has that filling and tasty nature too....

                                                      2. Just made chickpea cutlets from the Veganomicon with a tangy mustard sauce and it totally did not taste Vegan. It was delish! :) And I love rare steak :)

                                                        1. LOL! How often do you have to eat your hat, Sam?

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                            And more importantly, did Alice Waters help him cook it?

                                                            (For anyone who hasn't seen "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe":


                                                          2. grilled marinated portobellos w/ grilled onions stuffed into a quesadilla
                                                            pitted kalamata olives, feta, fresh chopped tomatoes and shredded lettuce with a Greek vinagrette and wrapped into a pita
                                                            black bean soup garnished with a big blop of sour cream and grated raw onion

                                                              1. Falafel Wraps with tahini and/or baba ghanoush and spicy sauce.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: pondrat

                                                                  I used to frequent the fFelafel King in San Francisco. No other fritter has ever tasted so good... veggie or not

                                                                  1. re: rozz01

                                                                    Sorry... Guess they call themselves Kiing Of Falafel now, Some issue w/an unnamed major chain... lol

                                                                2. pie. I would consider one pie a meal...

                                                                  falafel sandwich is a good one.
                                                                  south indian buffets
                                                                  gnocchi with tomato sauce
                                                                  margherita pizza
                                                                  spaghetti with marinara sauce.
                                                                  pasta with pesto sauce

                                                                  1. I can't believe no one mentioned these two:

                                                                    French Fries
                                                                    Onion Rings

                                                                    1. Mujadarrah. It's a Middle Eastern lentil and rice dish with caramelized onions. There are as many spellings of this as there are recipes, but any middle eastern cookbook with have a recipe.

                                                                        1. Onion soup
                                                                          Grilled cheese sandwiches
                                                                          plain pizza

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: synergy

                                                                            onion soup usually (not always) has beef stock

                                                                          2. Guacamole w/chips and salsa
                                                                            Cheese Enchiladas w/rice and beans

                                                                            1. Obviously, potato pancakes right out of the frying pan, sides of both sour cream and applesauce --- because no one should have to choose between them---

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                                A little horseradish too... you got me cravin carbs!

                                                                              2. Sushi? OK - it's pesce-vege.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: fmed

                                                                                  Not necessarily - you can have tonnes of vegetarian rolls.

                                                                                2. Most cocktails are vegetarian : )

                                                                                  I'm a big grilled cheese fan too. For a deeeeluxe grilled cheese, after grilling I add tomato, thinly sliced onion, iceberg lettuce (it has to be iceberg for the crunch), mayo and Dijon mustard. It sounds bonkers but by golly it's tasty and very messy.

                                                                                  I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast some days.

                                                                                  I'm having the same sorts of revelations on vegan food. Yesterday I had the PB & J for breakfast, a green salad with nuts and a side of three bean salad for lunch and a black bean and guacamole burrito for dinner. As I was falling asleep I thought to myself "When did I last have some dairy or an egg? Have I accidentally gone vegan?" Quiche for breakfast this morning answered that question.

                                                                                  1. Chilies rellenos stuffed with cheese and corn and served with rice and beans - num num.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                      Chile rellanos, yes! Pinot beans! Bean tostadas, tacos, burritos, Frito pie, veg chile & beans. Pupusas, Costa Rican black beans & rice (blanking on the name!).
                                                                                      Bubble & squeek, veggie borscht.

                                                                                    2. channa masala with basmati pulao? and just to add extra carbs........some dhal and naan on the side? i would have also nominated arepas, but someone beat me to it.

                                                                                      since the thread is vegetarian meals that you never think of as being vegetarian...this is real deal. i love meat, but never miss it when i eat a meal like that.