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Mar 12, 2012 09:29 AM

Searching for (ethnic) vegetable-based recipes

I'm trying to expand my horizons in the kitchen, but don't like the standard "american" cookbook recipes that seem to be based on meat and cheese. I just moved into my first apt and have limited supplies, so please let me know if a recipe will require extra utensils.

I love ethnic food and from all over but don't know how find recipies.
I love stir-fry but am bored with what I know how to do. I (almost) never shy away from new foods. Also my cooking skills are limited, but am open to a challenge. I also love spices (current love is curry).

Please suggest cookbooks, sites, recipes!


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  1. Since you're feeling the spices lately, how about some aloo gobi?

    I used this recipe for the most part:

    But I cut the cauliflower into smaller florets. :)

    1. Are you looking for purely vegan recipes or do you make allowances for chicken broth or smoked meat to flavor your vegetables? If you love spices, I think you'll find Indian recipes to be a treasure trove due to the extent of vegetarianism in the region. Arabic Christians also have a tremendous supply of vegetarian recipes that range from the simply spiced to the impressively intricate.

      1 Reply
      1. re: JungMann

        Thanks for all the suggestions! I'm far from a vegetarian, I simply don't like meat to be the base of the meal.

      2. Madhur Jaffrey’s “World Vegetarian” was cookbook of the month last summer. You should get some good ideas from these discussions

        Since St. Patrick's Day is on Friday I'll say colcannon, my favorite Irish vegetable dish. It is basically potatoes mashed together with kale (or cabbage), green onions, butter and cream. I don't follow a particular recipe when I make it, but this Simply Recipes version looks good

        As for websites to search, well this Home Cooking board is a great one for a start. You can also search by ingredients by googling the ingredients you want to cook with and then narrowing your search by clicking "recipes" on the left side bar.
        When I want to try a new recipe I will usually look at a few different recipes online and the reviews for each recipe. These are my current favorite sites:

        1. I love jap chae (Korean glass noodles with stir fried veggies---meat optional). Maybe you will too:

          It's really good with the wood ear mushrooms Javen suggests in link #2. I've used cellophane noodles (mung bean, I think?) in place of the harder-to-find sweet potato noodles, and it turned out fine. The authenticity police have handcuffs ready, I'm sure.

          ETA: another veggie-based "ethnic" meal idea is baked tofu lettuce wraps. I don't have a recipe per se, but here's the gist:

          Thai Lettuce Wraps

          Pressed tofu cut into batons, marinated in hoisin, ponzu, sesame oil, chili-garlic sauce, fermented black bean sauce, and brown sugar, and baked until toothsome.

          Julienned carrot and cucumber marinated in fish sauce, sugar, and lime juice. Mango strips. All wrapped up in butter lettuce leaves and dipped in spicy peanut sauce.

          1. my Sicilian MIL's eggplant.

            Eggplant a la Josephine

            I had never even tasted eggplant in my life until I had MILs. Later, when I tasted other eggplant dishes, breaded, fried, baked, paremesan, etc. I didn’t like any of them as well as MILs recipe, and I still don’t. I even love this stuff cold. This is as much a method as it is a recipe. And I have never substituted or changed a single thing about the recipe. The pecorino is essential, I have never substituted parmesan. There are so few ingredients I don’t recommend changing anything.


            3 purple eggplants (I pick eggplants that are narrower and longer)
            Coarse Kosher salt
            1 sweet onion, chopped
            1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
            Olive oil
            Grated Pecorino Romano cheese

            Paper towels

            Line a baking sheet with a layer of paper towels
            Slice eggplant thinly
            Spread one single layer on paper towels
            Sprinkle very lightly with kosher salt
            Place another layer of paper towels over eggplant slices and repeat layering until all eggplant slices are salted.
            Turn entire “production” over i.e. the slices that were on the bottom are now on the top.
            The paper towels will be wet.

            Heat scant amount of olive oil in sauté pan.
            Place a layer of eggplant and sauté a few moments on each side.
            Place eggplant on clean paper towels and begin process again until all slices are sautéed, discarding all the wet paper towels as you remove the eggplant and putting sautéed slices in single layers between paper toweling as before.

            Saute onions in olive oil in same pan until translucent.
            Add tomato sauce and cook until combined and heated.
            Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

            Spoon a very very thin layer of sauce in bottom of baking dish.
            Add single layer of eggplant.
            Lightly spoon thin layer of sauce over eggplant and sprinkle with pecorino romano cheese.
            Repeat layering, ending with sauce and cheese.
            Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.
            Remove foil and bake 15 minutes.

            Can be eaten as vegetable serving. Can be used to sauce pasta. Can add olives, roasted peppers to make caponata (MIL would also add raisins and toasted pine nuts). Can be eaten cold.


            1 Reply
            1. re: laliz

              That sounds fantastic. I like the caponata variation.