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What's your 'go-to' vegetarian main dish?

I've got company coming this weekend, a cousin who eats mostly vegetarian (he will eat meat just prefers not to). I'm looking for a good main dish that will be substantial and tasty. Any cuisine is good - especially Indian or Italian. I'd love to know what you always cook when you want a great vegetarian meal! No eggplant please. TIA.

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  1. I cook a lot of vegetarian dishes for dinner because meat is sometimes just too heavy (and expensive). Here's some that my husband likes the best.
    - veggie baked ziti
    -zucchini parm
    -linguni with veggies and lemon (shitakes, zucchini, carrots)
    -strir fry with tofu or seitan
    -'italian' baked tofu
    -polenta with sauteed broccoli and mushrooms
    -spaghetti with tomato/basil sauce (my husband can eat this every single night)
    -homemade veggie/bean burgers with tehina
    -spinach & cheese lasagna
    -spinach jibin (kind of like a crustless spinach quiche)
    - sauteed tofu over mushroom brown rice

    I hope this helps!

    6 Replies
    1. re: cheesecake17

      A red lentil dal, or Tadka Dal. So easy, so delicious, and so healthy. See Madhur Jaffrey's book on easy indian cooking recipes. Fabulous book.

      1. re: foodsmith

        I second you foodsmith. Madhur Jaffrey is the queen of Indian cookbook authorship. When I first started cooking indian food, her books are where I learned from. Her recipes make indian cooking much easier as they are geared more toward an american audience but still getting great results. My husband makes the biryani from her book and it is so splendid that I have deemed him the "Biryani King". Definitely worth buying.She has written several so look through them all and see what you like. Some of the same recipes are in more than one book.

      2. re: cheesecake17

        the italian baked tofu sounds fascinating, cheesecake17. how do you make it?

        1. re: cimui

          It's kind of a copout recipe, but it's really good. Press a block of firm or extra firm tofu and cut into about 6 or 8 slabs or 'cutlets.' I marinate before I go to work in olive oil, red wine vinegar, good seasons dressing mix, black pepper (i know- not the best thing but with real herbs it's not the same) and a little bit of lemon juice. When you're ready to bake, arrange cutlets in a baking dish lined with foil and greased and pour some of the marinade on top. Bake at 450 until tops are firm (20 min?) then flip cutlets and bake at 400 until marinade is mostly absorbed and tofu is chewy-ish about 20 more min.

          You can also marinate it in pretty much anything and bake the same way. I like miso, lime juice, and soy sauce.

          1. re: cheesecake17

            nice. sounds very similar to what i do with a mix of soy sauce, brown sugar, onion powder and five spice -- also a copout recipe. but sometimes those are the best. :) thanks, cheesecake!

            1. re: cimui

              Sure, enjoy it! It tastes good cold, cut into cubes on a salad the next day.

      3. I cook alot of indian food as my husband is from calcutta. many weeks we go meatless because the veg food is so flavorful. you can google good indian vegetarian dishes for recipes such as aloo gobi(potatoes and cauliflower), dal(lentils and these are great because they are loaded with protein) okra, cabbage , potatoes with green peas, etc.... Also when we feel like eating light and are tired of meat, I make a spicey black bean filling for tacos. I like to spice them with ground cumin, corriander, some thyme and chili powder depending how hot one likes it. if you top it off with fresh cilantro, it isvery good.You can also use the fat free, spicey, or traditional canned refried beans as a taco filling. Pesto pasta with vegetables(mushrooms, peppers,onions) is good as well. You can also do a stir fry asian vegetarian noodle dish(you could also cook chicken seperately and meat eaters could add this if they want). I make an Indian-chinese dish called 'Hakka Noodles". You buy the noodles at indian grocery stores. That is quite a tasty dish. Good luck.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Bengaliwife

          i like these ideas, bengaliwife.

          lupaglupa, one of my favorite ways to eat a balanced vegetarian meal is by eating thali style with an array of small dishes (analogous to tapas, i guess). these might make a good combination:

          1. aloo gobi, like bengali wife suggested (which i incidentally learned how to make from madhur jaffrey; her version includes tomatoes, which is ultra tasty)

          2. dal with spinach -- this recipe looks similar to one of my handwritten favorites: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/spin...

          3. mutther paneer -- tomatoes, onions, peas with paneer cheese

          4. cacumber -- cucumber, tomato, red onion, cilantro chopped salad with partially ground freshly toasted cumin... at least how i make it

          5. plain yogurt with cucumber grated in

          serve small (half cup) servings of each with basmati rice and naan

          you have plenty of complete proteins, lots of calcium, starch, a variety of veggies. the best part is that you can prep some of these dishes in advance of the dinner, since they only get better with time. (i.e. dal. aloo gobi and mutther paneer can also be made ahead.)

        2. Lasagne with a roasted pepper sauce or zucchini & mushroom layers
          Spaghetti squash topped with habanero, garlic, shallot
          Saag paneer
          Vegetable chili

          2 Replies
          1. re: Caralien

            Broccoli and pasta. Steam broccoli and cook pasta separately, saving a little of the pasta water to add back later. Saute garlic in oil, but don't let it brown. Then pour broccoli into the garlic/oil and toss. Add a dash of salt and the pasta water, sprinkle with your favorite grated cheese (we like Romano). Oh, and a hunk of butter. "Butter makes it better!" as my mom always says--this is her recipe. Easy, tasty and sometimes even better the next day once all the flavors meld together.

            Also love to make coconut soup with tofu rather than chicken--serve over rice and load up the soup with your favorite veggies--bamboo shoots, mushrooms, green beans, squash...now I wish we could have this tonight! Goes without saying that hot chili sauce (Sriracha) makes it nice and spicy!

            1. re: Caralien

              i tend to eat alot of vegetarian foods myself and a couple of my favorites are:
              mushroom ravioli (cream sauce or sage butter)
              cheese enchiladas
              rotini (or any pasta, i just prefer rotini as the flavors get stuck in the shape) in pesto with sundried tomatoes and roasted red peppers
              veggie and cheese stuffed peppers
              eggplant parm
              mostly all indian food is perfect, some personal faves that aren't as common are tandoori paneer, pav bhaji, veg biryani.
              bengaliwife - great call on the indo-chinese!

            2. I make a spinach and mushroom lasagna that is a killer; one of my family's favorites. Use no boil noodles. Make a bechamel for the sauce. Saute or boil the spinach. Saute the mushrooms (Creminis work very well in this). For the cheese, use 8 oz whole milk cottage cheese, 8 oz Fontina, 2 oz parmesan and one egg. Season to taste.

              1. If cheese is allowed, I love a recipe for a polenta gratin from the original Green's cookbook. You make the polenta in advance, chill in a loaf pan, then slice into triangles. Make a simple tomato sauce, put some in bottom of gratin dish, layer the polenta triangles with sliced fontina cheese. Band with the rest of the tomato sauce, sprinkle gorgonzola on top, bake until bubbly. Yum, serve with a simple salad, very decadent and tasty.