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meat addict goes veg... help!

hi all... i have decided to take the plunge and cut meat out of my diet for a while, and i am already getting sick of what i have been making. i have been making lots of quinoa, beans and veggies.. but i feel like i need some variety. i like to bring lunch to work and make a big pot of something at the beginning of the week.. any recipe recos? or dinner staple recipes? i am willing to experiment, i really like everything and i have a lot of fun in the kitchen.

thanks in advance :)

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  1. I feel your pain. I had to totally change my diet and eliminate meat for health reasons a few years back, and I was frustrated at first. But in the challenge made me a much better cook (and it eventually made me a food blogger!)

    I've got a ton of ideas for you, but I'll start with this one. It's a staple in my house - vegan bolognese sauce for pasta.

    Vegan Bolognese Sauce

    3 T. extra virgin olive oil
    3 large cloves garlic, minced
    1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
    1/2 small green bell pepper, finely chopped
    1 small carrot, finely chopped
    1 stalk celery, finely chopped
    1 8-oz. package tempeh, crumbled
    8 oz. cremini or white mushrooms, chopped
    1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
    1 6-oz. can tomato paste
    1 bay leaf
    1 t. dried oregano
    1 t. dried basil
    1/2 c. dried red lentils
    1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
    1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, undrained, chopped
    1 c. dry red wine
    1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
    1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
    1/2 t. fennel seed
    1/2 t. salt, or up to 1 t., to taste

    Heat the oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven. Add the garlic, onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery and crushed red pepper, and saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up a bit, add the mushrooms and tempeh and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Lower the heat back to medium, stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the herbs, tomatoes, parsley and wine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Add the lentils and cook until they just tender. This usually takes 20 minutes, but I’ve had some lentils take an hour – possibly because my tomatoes were salted, which can toughen the lentils. So keep tasting it along the way to determine when it’s done. If the sauce gets too dry, add a bit of water. Add salt at the end of the cooking time. Serve on whole wheat spaghetti or use in lasagna.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cathyeats

      This looks incredible. I have been experimenting with a bolognese sauce of my own... using the morningstar soy crumbles. this recipe is fantastic though, will definitely be trying it!!

      1. re: foodiewoo

        I've had chili with morningstar crumbles, it makes a great chili.

    2. I haven't read it yet but this cookbook is about helping with the transition away from meat - supposed to be pretty good and might be worth checking out. It may be a little hardcore because it is vegan and includes some "raw" recipes, but I find that these types of cookbooks are a great resource because they are incredibly creative!


      1. another thought in terms of specific recipes - here are some things that my meat loving husband likes:
        * Chili with beans, and you can add mushrooms for more meaty texture. put sour cream, cheese, crunched up tortilla chips, and avocado on top.
        * Rosemary Potato Pizza http://cookingpretty.wordpress.com/20...
        * Pasta with sauteed kale, mushrooms, parmesan, and drizzled in truffle oil
        * Indian spiced lentils (dahl) eaten with flatbread. There are a zillion recipes out there, pick one with lots of spices.

        1. 101cookbooks.com is an invaluable resource for tasty, creative vegetarian food.

          Egg dishes like frittatas and tortillas and omelettes are easy and quick.

          1. Try cooking other types of grains- brown rice, wheatberries, spelt, farro. You can cook a large batch and season or dress single portions differently. Kashi makes a 7-grain blend that I like to cook with a base of peppers, onions, and garlic.

            Cheese (if you're eating it) is a great way to add something extra to a dish. I like to bring goat cheese medallions on a salad for lunch. Yesterday for lunch I had a salad with blue cheese, jicama, celery, beets, and pomegranate vinaigrette. Cottage cheese is nice for making tarts or quiche-like dishes without using a ton of grated cheese. My husband likes brie and green apples on a toasted baguette. Vegetable quesedillas with a little bit of jack cheese as "glue" is a quick and easy dinner to prepare. I prefer to eat a small piece of sharp or pungent cheese as it's more satisfying to me than a bland cheese.

            Tempeh, seitan, and tofu are great vegetarian proteins to experiment with. I prefer to buy all plain and unseasoned and season or marinate them myself. A favorite dinner dish is stir fried (fresh) chinese noodles with tofu and lots of vegetables- snap peas, broccoli, japanese eggplant, onions. Leftovers are great the next day cold for lunch.

            Another important thing to consider is how you're cooking your vegetables. Try to avoid falling into the rut of preparing vegetables the same way every night. Broccoli can be steamed, blanched, roasted, stir fried, sauteed, or eaten raw. Roasting is a great technique for most vegetables- I roast artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, butternut squash, carrots, parsnips, turnips, japanese eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes..... pretty much anything in the fridge. You can eat them as is or turn them into something else- roasted butternut or cauliflower soup, roasted broccoli tart. Roasted cherry tomatoes are great tossed over pasta with olive oil or added to a homemade pasta saue.

            1 Reply
            1. You'll need beans to fill you up. To make it taste better.

              Buy some salsa and also some Frank's Hot Sauce. Adding these two items makes beans taste better.

              1. Roasted veggies - YUM. Beets and butternut squash in particular:) And then you can puree them for soup too.

                Make baked potatoes - you can do all kinds of toping on them or scoop them out, blend them with some chopped veggies and cheese and do a twice-baked.

                1. When I get the urge to stay away from meat, I always refer to Didi Emmons cookbook Vegetarian Planet. Well worth the cost IMHO.

                  1. I made this vegetarian lasagna for the Super Bowl. It is incredible. The bolognese sauce in it, which you could make for pasta as well, is so meaty you will think you are eating a meat sauce:


                    Also, Mark Bittman's FOOD MATTERS COOKBOOK is filled with terrific recipes that are vegetarian. Here are a couple of examples:


                    1. Big pots like ratatouille are so versatile to your diet; you can use it as a base for soup to which you add some cooked pasta and parmesan; you can eat as-is on a bed of hot pasta, wrapped in a tortilla, on bruschetta, with scrambled eggs, sooo many ways. A bowl of hummus is a a beautiful thing to have around; with crudite and some hardboiled eggs and pita and olives, etc. you have a meze that could be a light meal. Vegetarian lasagna with roasted vegies and goat cheese (and if you look on the WFD thread you'll find a marvelous recipe courtesy of gembellina) is a super option; portion it and wrap it and with a re-heat, there's lunch or dinner almost immediamente. Cabbage leaves rolled around a filling of rice, currants, pine nuts and mint is a wonderful dish; simmered in a sweet/sour tomato sauce and cooled, they'll certainly keep at least 4 days. Think about switching up with grains like amaranth, bulgur, etc: combined with pasta and some veg, a full meal. And if you'd like, I'm glad to share Harters' recipe for root vegetable casserole with cheesy cobblers - it's fabulous and would work as well with a melange of summer vegetables.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mamachef

                        thans mama!! i would love the root veg casserole recipe :)

                      2. Same here. I often include some tofu (soy bean curd) in my dinner for its richness in protein.

                        If you feel like experiment, vegan baking (bread without egg ) is a real challenge.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: goute

                          Most breads do not have egg in them.

                        2. I was veggie for many years, and I learned to cook as a vegetarian. Try The Original Moosewood Cookbook and any of Mollie Katzen's books (Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Still Life with Menu). Lots of her books will be available at the library. Many creative and tasty ideas.

                          Here are some of my favorites: (let me know if you want any recipes)

                          Spaghetti squash casserole
                          Mushroom strudel in phyllo dough -- mmm
                          Crispy baked eggplant with blue cheese sauce
                          Chickpea curry with spinach and yogurt
                          Eggplant and tomato curry with spinach
                          Roasted butternut squash risotto
                          Stuffed eggplant (with ricotta, tomato, parmesan, basil)
                          Harvest casserole with squash, kale, sour cream...
                          Pinto bean casserole with tomato topping
                          Chili with butternut squash
                          Any creamy veggie soup -- mushroom, carrot dill, squash, broccoli, even a fantastic roasted garlic soup
                          A creamy quinoa casserole with mushrooms and dill ( I know, more quinoa, but maybe a different twist than what you've been doing)

                          Good luck!

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: twilight goddess

                            Here is the chickpea curry with yogurt. I add a lot of fresh spinach in the last minute or two of cooking. Indian dishes are excellent for showcasing vegetables in exciting ways. Totally worth the investment in the spices.

                            Be careful with the yogurt, here -- do let the dish cool some before folding the yogurt in to prevent curdling. The creaminess of whole Greek yogurt is delightful here.


                            1. re: twilight goddess

                              YUM! i could love the quinoa casserole, the spag squash casserole and the pinto bean casserole if you have a chance! i heart casseroles as you can see.

                              1. re: foodiewoo

                                Quinoa is so cute♥! I think it's my favorite grain just based on cuteness, plus the ancient history. I've read that the Incas called quinoa chisaya mama -- "mother grain" -- and considered it sacred. I actually discovered quinoa b/c of its history; I was teaching 7th grader girls in Oakland about ancient cultures, and we featured quinoa in our feast of the Americas. :-) It's also a great source of protein! Here's my own creamy quinoa casserole with mushrooms and spinach.

                                1 large onion, chopped finely
                                several cloves garlic, minced
                                10 ounces mushrooms, chopped finely
                                5 ounces fresh baby spinach, trimmed
                                3 cups cooked quinoa (cook in broth and fluff when done)
                                1 cup cottage cheese
                                3/4 to 1 cup sour cream
                                1/3 cup Parmesan plus more to grate on top
                                2 TBSP fresh dill
                                1 lemon
                                salt, freshly ground black pepper,
                                Aleppo chile for kick (optional)

                                Preheat oven to 350.

                                Sautee one large onion (chopped) and 3 to 4 minced cloves of garlic in olive oil until onion is soft, then add 3/4 pound chopped mushrooms and cook a few more mins, and finally thrown in about 5ounces spinach in the last two minutes. Remove from heat.

                                Combine mushroom mixture with 3 cups cooked quinoa (cook in broth for more flavor). Add 3/4 cup to 1 full cup sour cream, 1 cup cottage cheese, 2 Tbsp fresh dill, 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, lots of black pepper, a little salt, a little Aleppo chile if you like some heat, and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Mix well and put in 2 quart glass baking dish. Dust top with paprika and grate on more Parmesan cheese.

                                Bake at 350, covered snugly with foil for 25 minutes, then uncovered until top is browning and casserole bubbles (another 15 to 20 mins).

                                1. re: foodiewoo

                                  Frijoles con queso -- *pinto bean casserole* -- this is adapted from one of Mollie Katzen's books, Enchanted Broccoli Forest.

                                  2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
                                  1/2 cup cream cheese (4 ounces)
                                  1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
                                  1/2 cup grated Jack cheese (or mild white cheddar)
                                  1 Tbs. olive oil
                                  1 1/2 cups chopped onion
                                  3 cloves garlic, minced
                                  Sea salt, to taste (about 1/2 tsp.)
                                  1/2 tsp. ground cumin
                                  1/2 tsp. dried basil
                                  1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, or more to taste
                                  Black pepper, to taste
                                  1 medium zucchini, cut in chunks
                                  2 medium tomatoes, chopped
                                  salt, pepper, oregano, and basil (dash or each to taste)

                                  Preheat oven to 375.

                                  Warm the pinto beans in a saucepan until just heated
                                  through; remove from heat. Stir in the cream cheese
                                  so it melts, then stir in the yogurt/sour cream and cheese.
                                  Saute the onions, garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, basil
                                  and cayenne in the oil until onions are soft. Add this
                                  to the bean mixture, stirring to combine.
                                  Pour this mixture into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish (the square one, 8 x 8).

                                  In the same skillet, saute the zucchini with the seasonings.
                                  You shouldn't need more oil, but add some water if it gets
                                  too dry. Cook about 3 minutes and then add the tomatoes.
                                  Cook for another 5 minutes. Spread this mixture on top of
                                  the bean layer.

                                  Bake 40 minutes at 375 and serve bubbling merrily. :-)

                                  1. re: twilight goddess

                                    TG--tried this one tonight--what a hit! Thanks AGAIN :-) I'm completely into casseroles now!

                                    1. re: noya

                                      noya, which one was a hit? the pinto bean? YES -- so tasty! Casseroles are so cool, aren't they?

                                2. re: twilight goddess

                                  Harvest Squash Casserole -- mmmm, brimming with yumminess and veggies!

                                  1 large butternut squash, 2pounds or more
                                  1 large onion, chopped
                                  1 large red bell pepper
                                  1 medium zucchini
                                  4 garlic cloves, minced
                                  1 medium jalapeño, minced
                                  1 tsp dried oregano
                                  1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
                                  3 tomatoes -- 2 chopped, 1 sliced
                                  1 cup chopped kale
                                  1 cup sour cream
                                  1 tsp salt
                                  1 tsp cumin -- toast the seeds and grind yourself for more flavor
                                  1 tsp chili powder
                                  1/2 tsp ground coriander
                                  pinch of ground cloves
                                  pinch cayenne
                                  1 1/2 cups grated jalapeño pepper Jack -- 6 ounces

                                  Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Roast on a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes or until soft.

                                  Remove squash and set aside to cool; reduce oven to 375.

                                  Heat a little olive oil and sautée onion, bell pepper, zucchini, garlic, jalapeño and oregano about five minutes. Scoop out the cooled squash and smush it a little until smooth. Stir in your sautéed veggies. Add the basil, tomatoes, kale, sour cream, salt, cumin, chili powder, coriander, cloves, cayenne, and 1/2 cup grated cheese.

                                  Transfer to a casserole. Top with sliced tomatoes, the remaining cup of grated cheese, and a few good dashes paprika. Bake for 30 minutes at 375 until bubbling and golden. Serve immediately.


                                  1. re: twilight goddess

                                    TG--after having so much success with your quinoa mushroom casserole, may I have the recipe for your spaghetti squash casserole, harvest casserole, and pinto bean casserole? TIA!!!

                                    1. re: twilight goddess

                                      eek! just realized that you already posted the recipes--sorry! and thanks again :-)

                                      1. re: noya

                                        noya, I will get you the spaghetti squash casserole too ;-)

                                    2. I just made a farro salad from A New Way to Cook, and it was wonderful, my first time trying farro. It was really easy, and is very filling and tasty. I think the key was adding toasted whole coriander and fennel, the coriander adds a lemony fragrance that's nice.
                                      Completely randomly, the recipe is posted here:
                                      I added a bulb of shaved raw fennel for a little freshness.

                                      1. I eat meat but I cook vegetarian all the time. Right now I'm cooking spaghetti with pesto--one of my very favorite things to eat.

                                        My recommendation is to buy classic cookbooks in the cuisines you like, and just cook the vegetarian recipes in them. Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, for example, probably has 20 vegetarian main dishes (mostly pastas), almost all of which are dinner staples for me. Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries has hundreds of vegetarian main dishes.

                                        1. I recently came up with something fun. Cut tofu into long sticks. Season with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, then place in a mixture of honey and mustard. Then place in a mix of cornmeal and bread crumbs. Bake until crispy and browned. It's kinda like having chicken fingers dipped in honey mustard sauce!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: katecm

                                            sounds delicious.. and I have some tofu in the fridge. I usually dip tofu sticks or triangles into eggwhites with a bit of mustard and breadcrumbs. Once baked & crispy, dip into tomato sauce.

                                          2. I was ovo-lacto vegetarian for 20 years. If you like Indian food, go to the library and get Madhur Jaffrey's Invitation to Indian Cooking, an oldie but a goodie. Great food, flavorful, and lots of tips. I also second the recommendation for the old Moosewood book for a beginner. Good luck!

                                            1. Though I'm not a vegetarian, I'm a huge fan of vegetarian salads and make them all the time (and yes, I like to make large batches of them and eat the leftovers all week). This is my husband's favorite one:

                                              BULGUR WITH ARTICHOKES & ASPARAGUS

                                              1½-2½ cups chicken broth
                                              1½ cups bulgur wheat
                                              1 bunch thin or medium asparagus, tough ends removed
                                              1 large or 2 small lemons, zested and juiced
                                              ¼ cup olive oil
                                              4 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
                                              ½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
                                              3 oz. goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
                                              Kosher salt
                                              Ground black pepper
                                              ½ cup marcona almonds, coarsely chopped (optional)

                                              • In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil.
                                              • Add the bulgur wheat, return to a boil, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
                                              • Grill or steam the asparagus as desired.
                                              • Let the asparagus cool, then chop into ½” pieces.
                                              • In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil.
                                              • Add the bulgur, asparagus, artichoke hearts, parsley, and goat cheese (if using).
                                              • Toss gently.
                                              • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
                                              • Garnish with the almonds (if using).

                                              Makes 4 to 6 servings.

                                              Note: 2 medium zucchinis, sliced lengthwise, can be used in lieu of the asparagus.

                                              This is one of my favorites:

                                              CHOPPED SALAD WITH BEETS, BEANS, HAZELNUTS, AND GOAT CHEESE

                                              1 large or 2 medium beets (6 oz.), peeled and quartered
                                              ¼ cup hazelnuts, skinned
                                              ¼ lb. green beans
                                              2 T. plain yogurt
                                              1 or 2 lemons, zested and juiced
                                              1 t. honey
                                              2 T. olive oil
                                              1 carrot, finely diced
                                              1 celery rib, finely diced
                                              1 plum tomato or 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
                                              1 T. mint leaves, chopped
                                              2.5 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
                                              ½ lb. mixed salad greens (optional)

                                              • Preheat the oven to 375°.
                                              • Place the beet quarters in a small baking dish with ¼ cup of water.
                                              • Cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes, until tender when tested with a fork.
                                              • Let beets cool slightly, then dice.
                                              • Meanwhile, spread the hazelnuts in a pie pan and toast for about 10 minutes, until golden.
                                              • Let hazelnuts cool, then coarsely chop.
                                              • In a small saucepan of boiling water, blanch the green beans until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.
                                              • Drain beans and cool under running water. Pat beans dry and cut into ¼” pieces.
                                              • In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and olive oil.
                                              • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
                                              • Add the beet(s), hazelnuts, green beans, carrot, celery, tomato(es), mint, and goat cheese.
                                              • Toss gently.
                                              • Serve on a bed of salad greens (if using).

                                              Makes 4 to 6 servings.

                                              Also, I just this winter discovered the wonder that is mudjadara (lentil and rice pilaf with onions). Of course, I put bacon in mine, but it would still be pretty great without. Here's the recipe I used:


                                              1. It's not a big pot of food, but quesadillas are really easy to prepare and reheat. The combination of veggie/fruit, cheese and salsa are endless. Cheese, salsa. and left over roasted veggies tends to be my go to clean the fridge lunch. Goat cheese, spinach and corn salsa is another. America's Test kitchen had a quesadilla recipe with black beans, corn, pepper jack and jalepenos that was very good.

                                                1. I just made mushroom bourguignon for a vegetarian potluck the other night, and even people who don't like mushrooms very much loved it. I used half sliced portobellos and half quartered creminis. I braised the pearl onions in veggie stock (a la Julia Child) before adding. I was sad that I hadn't made more. http://tinyurl.com/922j7y

                                                  I'm also an enormous fan of frittatas with whatever veg is in season, and quiches (crustless or you can vary the crusts with things like nuts or potato). You could also make veggie pot pie or shepherds pie. I personally never tire of soup and there are a million different veggie combinations.

                                                  I second the recommendations for Moosewood, Mollie Katzen and 101cookbooks.com.

                                                  13 Replies
                                                  1. re: LisaPA

                                                    I was just coming here to suggest the Smitten Kitchen Mushroom Bourguignon. It's one of my favorites, and I'm not even vegetarian.

                                                    1. re: whitneybee

                                                      That was the first recipe that popped into my head as well. After trying a few of the fake meats, I find myself using mushrooms more and more (though soyrizo is a pretty good product, and used quite easily in many dishes).

                                                      And, as LisaPA also pointed out, egg dishes are so easy to make into a satisfying main dish (I love refried black beans with rice, fried eggs, and hot sauce). Tonight, I making a wilted spinach salad with shallots, potatoes and roasted tomatoes, topped with an egg.


                                                      Another dish I like that I could keep in my diet (pescetarian for four months now) is spanokopita. Which makes me think of moussaka, which can *easily* be made with the mushrooms standing in for the meat in the sauce. Falafel is delicious, and very filling. I obviously have Mediterranean food on the brain today.

                                                      1. re: onceadaylily

                                                        greek moussaka made very naughtily vegetarian: replace meat layer with thinly-sliced potatoes (preferably pan fried til almost cooked through) and zucchini or squash. i used to go to a greek restaurant with my greek family that also included carrots and peppers in there. it was to die for.

                                                        and +1 on the spanikopita. they are so addictive. i can eat a whole plate of them when placed in front of me... sigh...

                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                          I love the idea of potatoes in that, and would likely opt for zucchini rather than squash (I have a squash hater on my hands--he says most types of squash make him "uncomfortable"). I should throw one of these together before the weather makes of my oven a foe.

                                                          1. re: onceadaylily

                                                            "uncomfortable"--that's priceless!

                                                            i'd go with zucchini anyway, as it's the more traditionally used ingredient. left unpeeled, they make a beautiful colorful presentation as well. potatoes make a great vegetarian substitute in lots of dishes and hold up well during baking. i think they lend a more substantial bite to something like moussaka, and they also add a creaminess when eaten with pasta. i'm drooling, seriously. i think i'll be making one too before it gets too hot.

                                                            have you had greek skordalia? potatoes+bread+olive oil+loads of garlic, whirled in a food processor with optional addition of nuts. spread on toasty bread, it's one of the greatest inventions of mankind. serve it as an appetizer with grilled havarti with a squeeze of lemon. holy cow... a meal in itself.

                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                              Ha! He doesn't have many food phobias, and is incredibly adventurous, but it took him nine years (and a dinner consisting of a halved acorn squash, piled high with veggies, soyrizo, a bit of cheese, and breadcrumbs), to confess that squash freaked him out a little. He ate everything out of the 'squash bowl' and then had to confess.

                                                              I haven't had skordalia, but I was planning on soon making a meal with toasted bread and baked ricotta (along with a bowl of the typical bruschetta toppings of tomato, garlic, basil, and parmesan), and that would fit right in. Thanks for the suggestion!

                                                              I know the internet is rife with recipes for it, but if there is a particular one that you like, I would be happy if you would share it.

                                                              1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                so funny about the squash bowl! poor guy!

                                                                skordalia is great with anything in my opinion. would be a great "side" with the dish you mentioned.

                                                                as for recipes--it's kind of like hummus in that everyone likes theirs a little different. with or without nuts (usually soaked and ground almonds or walnuts), with or without lemon, roasted or raw garlic, more or less potato, more bread than potato or no bread at all, smooth or lightly mashed. it's also a matter of how garlicky you'd like it. traditionally, the garlic should come through to the point that you stink for a couple days. otherwise, it's just like eating garlic mashed potatoes. i'd start with a basic recipe of at least 3 (or up to 5) cloves of garlic per potato used. red wine vinegar or lemon can be used interchangeably as the acid. i tend to prefer the lighter version made with some cubed soaked french bread without any nuts.
                                                                so something like this (sorry--this is an estimation! just tweak to your tastes as you're making it):
                                                                3/4-1 cup cubed bread soaked in water and squeezed dry
                                                                2 russet potatoes, boiled til just tender, skinned, and seasoned well with salt
                                                                8-10 cloves garlic, peeled
                                                                -whiz the garlic and bread in a food processor til smooth. drizzle in 1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil and the juice of a small lemon until it resembles a paste. meanwhile, mash potatoes with a potato masher/ricer/fork. transfer garlic mix to potato bowl and fold together until combined (sticking potatoes in the food processor works too, but texture can get gummy. i personally don't mind this, but hey). season to taste with s+p (or white pepper). garnish with olives, capers, crushed nuts, or nothing.

                                                                i could eat this stuff all day. it's unfortunate. takes a bit of tinkering to get the right flavor/consistency. if the raw garlic is too much, you can roast half (or all) of it, but it strays from the traditional way skordalia's made. sub maybe half of the bread for nuts if you want the added protein. the skordalia bulks up some then, but is still light if you get the liquids right.

                                                                let me know if you try it out! you may just be better trying a "real" recipe. sorry i'm of no help here. the joke goes in greek families: "what's a recipe?"

                                                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                  "the joke goes in greek families: "what's a recipe?""

                                                                  I'm French-American on my mother's side, and the joke there is "What everyone else does" with a casual shrug.

                                                                  This was very helpful. I just ran out of walnuts, and have nothing else on hand, but everything else is. And I love garlic. And a splash of red wine vinegar (would still use lemon juice) would be a nice touch, I think. I have one or two Mediterranean cookbooks, and will glance through and see what I come up with, but you've been very helpful. This will be a very nice contrast to the baked ricotta. My Friday night couch picnic with the boyfriend is looking better and better. Fantastic. Thanks!

                                                                  1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                    glad i was of some help--so hard to try and translate recipes to people! i've spent many nights on the phone with my mom or her mom or my aunts going "well how much is 'some tomatoes'?!" it's a wonder any of us have been able to carry on family recipes at all...

                                                                    your meal sounds delicious. hope your man enjoys it too. please report back with the results!!!

                                                                    oh, and incidentally--i just polished off a slab of french bread drizzled with olive oil and balsamic and smeared with roasted garlic, topped with slow-roasted tomatoes, torn basil, mozzarella, parm, and spinach. wasn't planning on making that for dinner, but i do believe your menu above was the subconscious culprit. this happens to me constantly when browsing chow forums...

                                                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                      I finally got around to making that meal last night, and it was wonderful. I couldn't quite get the consistency right (mine was more like mashed potatoes), but looking back, I can spot where I veered off course: I didn't add enough olive oil and vinegar to the bread and garlic paste. I realized this after I was folding it into the potatoes, and drizzled more oil into the bowl, which helped. I keep thinking I should invest in a ricer.

                                                                      The flavor was absolutely fantastic (I kept sneaking bites of it as I prepared the rest of dinner). I'll definitely make this again. The boyfriend loved it; it was perfect on the crusty bread (olive oil and parmesan on that), and went fantastically with the baked ricotta. Thanks!

                                                                      1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                        onceadaylily: thanks for commenting on the skordalia on another site. I got into this one to see what the recipe was. I found two recipes online for this a few days ago and have been staring at them thinking I should try it. Now I will. I"ve printed "nothingswrong's" recipe and I intend to give this try today.

                                                                        1. re: The Drama Queen

                                                                          You're welcome. It's terribly easy . . . and so hard to stop eating. Good luck!

                                                                          1. re: onceadaylily

                                                                            Yay! I'm so glad you liked it! It really is delicous--glad your meal went well!

                                                  2. I just made the Mushroom Bourguinon from Smitten Kitchen for the first time. Absolutely delicious!!! You won't miss the meat. I've given up meats and seafood for Lent and have been trying to make a different vegetarian lasagna every week or so to replace the "hearty" meals I'm used to. Great for freezing and portioning out for work. Grain meals only go so far. I do miss my prociutto though.......

                                                    1. I.m suprised no one has suggested Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Bought it a couple years ago when I joined my first CSA and had no idea what to do with all the dfferent veggies I was getting. It is my staple cookbook - and I'm not veg. (But don't eat a lot of meat - and only local sourced meat.)

                                                      Well worth the investment.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: golfbug

                                                        Go to a large Chinese grocery shop and buy lots of cans of mock duck. There's also a mock pork and mock abalone--I don't like them as much, but hey, check them out. The mock duck is yummy in stir fries, fried rice, fake peking duck with hoisin and scallions, Asian noodle soups, cubed in salad with mayo and celery.

                                                        Peanut gluten is an umami-filled Chinese condiment--small chunks of fried gluten in a sweet salty marinade with cooked peanuts--great with rice or noodles.

                                                        You can get seitan in whole foods stores--makes a nice pseudo scallopini.

                                                        Tempeh, as well as good in its own Indonesian context, makes a nice pseudo chopped liver, sauteed with lots of onions and then chopped with hardboiled eggs.

                                                        I like Smart Foods Lean Links, pseudo breakfast sausages that remind me of the "brown and serve" ones of my youth.

                                                        See if you can find The Book of Tofu, The Book of Tempeh and The Book of Miso--seventies cookbooks filled with lots of amazing ideas.

                                                      2. These stuffed peppers are great (although kind of a misuse of arborio rice; don't break the bank buying it, as I'm sure you could sub in a different rice here, but it does make for a nice sticky end product). I usually add a can of white beans for some protein and use red or yellow peppers.


                                                        1. It's been awhile since you posted, but if your're still around, an easy thing to do if you plan ahead is to make frijoles de la olla (basically pot of pinto beans). If you have a crock pot it's so easy and worry-free. Put enough beans in to fill about 1/4 of your pot (pinto or black is great for this) after you sort them. Fill pot with water most of the way. Add spices- I like garlic, pepper, salt. Other possible options are mexican oregano, espazote, bay leaf, etc Let cook through, approximately 5 hrs depending on your weather. It's humid here in south florida and 5 hrs on high heat is about what it takes. Do with them what you want. One of my favorite things to do is to turn them into my version of bean dip. To do this take a skillet (preferably iron) and saute olive oil, lots of pressed (use fork if no press) garlic, hot peppers and red or white onion. Add your beans and mash (potato masher works great). Add more salt if necessary. To take this to the next level add munster cheese (few slices to taste). If you have a bag of tortilla chips you will want eat the whole thing right out of the pan over your stove when you taste it- that's a promise! And- as a fellow pescetarian- yes you can eat this with a side of fish tacos as I did last night ;)

                                                          1. Had to change my diet because of health issues as well. Most of my meals are meat free.






                                                            On this recipe, I sauté the mushrooms and toast the barley before I add to the crockpot:


                                                            I add sweetpotatoes and regular potatoes and serve this over chickpeas:

                                                            I roast big batches of veggies and squash.  Often make soups, sandwiches, salads, and pizzas from the left overs:




                                                            Not a pot, but it's a good do ahead:


                                                            These are nice with home made apple sauce or on the side of a stew to sop up sauce:


                                                            I also love to make lasagna, instead of adding a meat layer, I do a layer of breaded fried eggplant. I add extra onion and carrot to the tomato sauce as well. Having that for dinner tonight.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Matahari22

                                                              Great list, Matahari. I will try the spinach enchiladas when it cools a bit. I have made asparagus enchiladas, and more recently I filled enchiladas with roasted butternut squash and a little charred red bell pepper, plus some Monterey Jack cheese. Served with a toasty homemade chili sauce, slightly creamy. Here's a guide for the enchiladas (quesadillas here, but you get the idea)


                                                              For the sauce, gently char a couple of Ancho or Pasilla chiles in a dry pan (briefly -- do not let them blacken). Then gingerly remove the seeds (do NOT touch your eyes or even a little paper cut as you do this) and tear or cut the chile into big pieces. Then place the pieces in a bowl with hot water until they soften. Toss the softened chiles, 1/2 cup or so of the water, plus a little cumin, a little brown sugar, a tsp tomato paste or an actual tomato if you want even, and a couple of minced garlic cloves in the blender or mini-processor if you have one. I stir in some half and half or sour cream if you prefer to add a bit more depth to the sauce. EXCELLENT with the squash quesadillas.

                                                              1. re: twilight goddess

                                                                TG, the asparagus and the roasted butternut squash and charred red bell pepper enchiladas sound like an excellent idea. The last couple days, I have been researching enchilada sauces, both green and red, to see if I can come up with something that I can eat. My mouth cannot tolerate high acid or hot foods, like tomatoes, chilies, tomatillos... Etc. My mom used to make great enchiladas when I was very little, she is from New Mexico. I was thinking of trying to make a sauce with roasted red peppers and roasted garlic. I definitely need some kind of sauce to help me swallow the tortillas. I also thought of making a sauce with roasted peblanos, but it's been so many years since I have had them, that I cannot remember if they have any heat to them? At this point, my mouth cannot even tolerate black pepper. So, I'm thinking some kind of roasted pepper sauce will need to serve as an enchilada sauce. Sometimes I can do a little bit of tomato, if I counter it with heavy cream, sour cream, butter or marscarpone. I don't do it often though, because if it gives me mouth or tongue sores, it's extremely painful. That will be one of my August projects, a pseudo enchilada sauce. Lol

                                                                1. re: Matahari22

                                                                  Matahari, I think the roasted red pepper and roasted garlic sauce would be a perfect idea (also an excellent accompaniment for both enchiladas that I suggested)! Can you do tomato paste? You could add a little tomato paste to the sauce, and then smooth it out with a little sour cream or heavy cream as I do. Cilantro for a finishing touch.

                                                                  I look forward to hearing how that turns out. Let me know if you try the squash and/or asparagus enchiladas. I am going to post how I did the asparagus ones later too. Are you familiar with the Beyond the Moon vegetarian cookbook?

                                                                  1. re: twilight goddess

                                                                    The last time I tried tomato paste, it didn't go well, but that was a few months ago. I just bought some to try again a couple weeks ago, but haven't tried it yet. Adding the cilantro will give it the punch it needs. Good idea.

                                                                    Have not heard of Beyond the Moon. I will google it and take a look, thanks. I just got three new vegetarian cookbooks Monday. 365 vegetarian Meals (looks a little bit like it relies on some processed foods, but with all the changes I always have to make, I can work around that), Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook, and Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I also want to check out what the other CHers said will be the cook book of the month, Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. I think I will have enough to keep me inspired for a while. ;-)

                                                            2. try making rajma masala. its super hearty and nutritious. also, if you dont feel like making it yourself, it is sold in ready to eat foil pouches. normally i make everything homemade, but sometimes i'm too busy and need something quick to take to work.
                                                              if i were you, i would just google rajma masala and find a recipe that appeals to you the most (as there are always variations)
                                                              also, you can never go wrong with falafel! it's easy to make (and way less fattening if you bake it instead of fry it). it's also very versatile (you can eat it by itself, dip it in tahini, put it in a pita with lettuce, tomato, and roasted red peppers, or make larger falafel patties and create a healthy "burger".

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: calabrese827

                                                                what's your no-fry falafel technique? thx!

                                                                1. re: noya

                                                                  i bake them at about 350 degrees F until golden brown (just watch them, each batch ive made has had a slight time variation, depending on the ingredients used). grease a foil lined cookie pan (i use crisco olive oil spray). once one side looks slightly golden, flip them and bake until the other side is also slightly golden. just a warning, they do tend to have a more delicate consistency than the fried falafel, but they still taste delicious, and are so much healthier.

                                                              2. apologies if this has been already posted - long thread

                                                                Tomato Basil Rigatoni with green pepper & mozzarella

                                                                Simple to make - satisfies a meat eater - mozzarella is brought to life (believe me) by garlic and salt - green peppers couldn't possibly taste better - the only cooked ingredient is the rigatoni.

                                                                This is from memory and non measured - by feel

                                                                mince 3 to 4 garlic clove
                                                                chop a bunch of basil (not as good but acceptable - dried basil - a couple of tablespoons?)
                                                                3 to 4 tablespoon of olive oil - enough to cover all ingredients without being pasty
                                                                4 medium Roma tomatoes (cubed ½ inch pieces)
                                                                2 green peppers cut in ¼ inch pieces
                                                                a few grinds of black pepper
                                                                some salt (teaspoon?)
                                                                mix well
                                                                let it rest while you cook the rigatoni - 1 lb

                                                                Grate a half a pound of mozzarella (coarse) and drop over the vegetable mixture

                                                                Pour drained hot rigatoni over the mozzarella and vegetable mixture and combine until the mozzarella is very stringy.
                                                                Serve immediately

                                                                qualities of finished product:
                                                                the mozzarella should have a strong salt & garlic infused flavor
                                                                the green pepper is crunchy and the flavor is incredible - this is a home for green pepper - never tastes better

                                                                FYI - I've tried this with rotini and the mouth feel isn't quite right.

                                                                1. One of my favorite meatless dishes is a mushroom shepards pie. This is a forgiving recipe...depending on the size you want to make. I often make it with left overs from a big family meal. You want about an inch of sauted mushrooms and an inch of veg and an inch of mashed potatoes.

                                                                  I eat this once a week in some form or another. you can cheat and use mushroom gravy from a can or package too. And you can change the flavour profile to your liking...rosemary, garlic and oregano, chilis...

                                                                  Warm and comforting.

                                                                  take a variety of mushrooms, crimini, portobello, oyster.

                                                                  saute them with pepper, salt and worshcheshshire and red wine. Add enough corn starch or flour to slightly thicken the juices. Top with corn and peas and mashed potatoes. sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika..and may be some form of cheese...bake until toasty.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. I am amazed at the number of great vegetable-based recipes I've run across in mainstream stories over the last year, including here on chowhound (shephard's pie and winter greens lasagna come to mind off the top of my head). I think you'll find that if you do away with searching for "vegetarian" recipes, you'll come across a lot of recipes that work simply because the stories that include them sound good to you (that's what works for me). I find that not only on Chowhound, but in pretty much all the food media I peruse these days (and believe me, I peruse a lot). I never use any of the meat substitutes, either -- just don't like 'em.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: bebevonbernstein

                                                                      Bebevonbernstein, I never use meat substitutes either, I don't like them. I am not even a fan of soy, really. I occasionally eat some edamame, but that's about it. I do eat eggs, milk and cheese though, and very little meat.

                                                                      1. re: Matahari22

                                                                        I think big agra has sold us this bill of goods that we won't get enough protein unless we eat meat, but the reality is, I eat enough other healthy protein sources -- yogurt/milk, nuts, cheeses, eggs -- to get my daily fix. I *always* add cheese and nuts to a salad, for instance, because I like the textures and flavors, *not* because they necessarily add protein. I do the same with soups (might add a couple of shrimp to the gazpacho), or mix in some cotijo.

                                                                        I don't necessarily go for those flavors that fall under the heading of "vegetarian," either -- by which I mean more the Moosewood type of thing. But damned if I can't find enough other things to eat -- it's never really a problem. I think cooking without meat has evolved so much over the last decade or so that most food magazines really do seem to be creating more non-meat options just as a matter of course.

                                                                        One last note for the original poster: I don't know if you're giving up meat entirely, or for health reasons, but if you're jonesing for some (I am a particular fan of the pig), I do find that I can be happy with say, pancetta sprinkled on top of something (like mac and cheese) or on top of a salad. I haven't given it up altogether (last night I had the Black Label burger at Minetta Tavern, because, hey, I was at Minetta Tavern and it seems a shame not to) but unless I really know where it's coming from and how it was raised, I choose not to partake, and I also just find that I don't really miss it any more (on average, I'd say 95% of my meals are non-meat these days).