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Vegetarian Comfort Foods

My dear partner is a committed vegetarian. As the primary cook in the household, I get to make meals for him (which I love doing - this is not a complaint) but I need some ideas about meal options. His favorite foods are what I describe as being "comfort food" and that he describes as being "goulashy." Basically, he craves things like ratatouille, casseroles, pot pies, etc. - anything that comes down to being a one or two pot meal, with the ingredients combined. (I, on the other hand, prefer less cooked dishes. Go figure.)

Any ideas on vegetarian one-pot meals would be much appreciated, as would recipes if you care to share. Oh, and we live in the Los Angeles area, so we have access to lots of fresh fruits and veggies as well as more exotic ingredients.

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  1. My family loves this enchilada casserole. You can easily make it vegetarian as I have with poblano (lots), mushrooms, zucchini, etc. BTW, I use spicy pepper jack instead of the cheeses listed. I've used fresh salsa verde from latino market as well as doctored canned ones and dish is equally good.


    I also cook a lot of Indian food & there are many varieties of rice dishes one could try. One of the best known Indian comfort foods is Pongal/Kichidi. Here's one recipe if you want to try...of course, the more ghee (clarified butter) you use, the tastier :



    Last but not least, Madhur Jaffrey's vegetarian cook books are great to have around.

      1. I make black bean enchiladas and I add some raw garlic and serrano chiles for flavor and heat.
        Top with guac/sliced avocados and served with a Spanish rice.

        I love making my garden burger Patty Melt which is so good and my DH, who enjoys eating meat says he prefers the veggie burger...cook the patty first with the onions, and then put together like a grilled cheese on rye...I make my own thousand island dressing.

        Portabello lasagna is another fave.

        Corn bread black bean casserole is good too with corn..almost like a tamale pie.

        The 'crumbles' that are made by MorningStar are so good and its crumbled up veggie burger and I make tacos, enchi's, stuffed peppers..can't tell you how much I love this product.

        Roast a lot of veggies with EVO and garlic over risitto or mac n'cheese.

        1. I love vegetarian comfort food. I make tuna-less casserole, starting with a mushroom béchamel sauce. Noodles, mushroom béchamel, onions, celery, carrots peas and lots of cheese, including cottage cheese baked together.

          Other comfort foods I really like:

          Red lentil sloppy Joes. http://vegandad.blogspot.com/2010/04/...

          Seitan O’ Greatness http://www.theppk.com/2007/04/seitan-... This works really well “shredded” and baked with barbeque sauce.

          7th Day Adventist meatloaf: http://www.bigoven.com/recipe/127517/...

          Roasted Ratatouille with Eggs & Cheese http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/roa...

          Yay comfort food!

          1. My two favorite comfort foods are very easily made vegetarian: nachos and lasagna. Just be sure to add lots of beans to the nachos, and I like to add a bit of cooked spinach to my lasagna. Agree with the idea of enchilada casserole. Another good one is a polenta pie (basically lasagna with polenta instead of the noodles). Lentil soup with a baguette always strikes me as a wonderfully homey and comforting meal too.

            1. mac and cheese, the ultimate comfort food.

              1. Shepards pie made with lentils is excellent. Can use regular potatoes or sweet potatoes for the topping

                1. My husband and I both love this and it is so easy to make!

                  Oven Roasted Ratatouille

                  This is great warm or cold. I make this in a turkey roaster (think big) and double the recipe. The quantities shown below barely made about 3-4 dinner servings. It’s ok if they overflow the pan a little when you put it in the oven because they will shrink as they cook, making it easier to stir. It makes an awesome leftover, hot or cold.

                  2 Zucchini, cut into 1 inch chunks
                  1 Red Pepper, cut into 1 inch squares
                  1 Eggplant (1 large or 2 medium), diced into 1 ½ inch pieces (I cut these larger because they shrink the most
                  4 cups (2 lb.) Cherry or Grape Tomatoes, halved
                  1 large Onion, cut into eighths (cut the top off and lay the onion on the flat surface you just cut, then slicing down toward the cutting board, cut into eighths)
                  2 tbsp olive oil
                  2 tsp herbs Herbes de Provence (or Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, your choice)
                  1/2 tsp salt
                  1 tbsp red wine vinegar
                  a chunk of Parmesan Cheese rind if available (I save these in a ziplock in the freezer)
                  1-2 heads garlic

                  Preheat the oven to 350 F.
                  In a large roasting pan combine all of the ingredients except the garlic, if using. Make sure the oil is coating all of the vegetables well. Layer in the following order: ¾ of the Tomatoes and the Parmesan rind on the bottom of the pan, Onions and Zucchini next, remainder of the tomatoes then the eggplant. Place in the oven and cook for about 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally after about 30 minutes. Remove when all vegetables are tender to your liking, the eggplant will take the longest.

                  If including garlic, peel as much paper from the head(s) as possible and coat with some more olive oil. Put on a tray in the oven for the final 30 minutes of the ratatouille’s cooking time. To make life more simple, clip/cut the top of the garlic bulb to allow the cloves to be easily squeezed out when done. (I roast large quantities of garlic in ample olive oil and keep it in a container for multitudes of uses. If using this, just squeeze out a few bulbs into this dish and stir well before serving.)

                  Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese and chopped basil or other herbs if you’d like.

                  1. I bet he would like this black bean chili recipe - it's really hearty and flavorful. It's originally from The New Basics Cookbook.
                    1 eggplant, cubed
                    ½ cup olive oil
                    2 zucchini, diced
                    2 onions, diced
                    2 peppers, diced
                    4 cloves garlic, crushed
                    8 plum tomatoes, cubed
                    1 cup broth
                    1 cup parsley
                    ½ cup basil
                    3 tbsp chili powder
                    1 ½ tbsp cumin
                    1 tbsp oregano
                    1 tsp black pepper
                    ½ tsp red pepper flakes
                    2 cans black beans
                    1 ½ cup corn kernels
                    ¼ cup lemon juice
                    Possible garnishs: scallions, cheese, sour cream

                    1.Place the egglant in a colander. Toss with salt and let sit for one hour to remove the moisture. Pat dry with paper towels.

                    2.Heat half the oil in a dutch oven (large pot). Add onions, zucchini, bell peppers and garlic. Saute over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes.

                    3.Place the remaining oil in a skilled and cook the eggplant over medium-high heat until just tender, about 10 minutes. Transfer the eggplant to the dutch oven.

                    4.Add tomatoes, broth, 1/2 cup of parsley, basil and spices to the pot. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

                    5.Add the black beans, corn, dill and lemon juice. Cook another 15 minutes. Adjust the seasonings and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup parsley.

                    6.Serve hot, garnished with a dollop of sour cream, grated cheese and scallions.

                    1. Eggplant parm via Marcella Hazan


                      Emeril's veggie chili has gotten me rave reviews. Use LOTS of portobellos:


                      1. My FAVORITE: Root vegetable pot pie!

                        Vegetable Pot Pie
                        Serves 6
                        Hands-On Time: 35m Total Time: 1hr 10m
                        • 1 tablespoon olive oil
                        • 2 onions, chopped
                        • 4 carrots, diced
                        • 1 pound root vegetables (turnip, parsnip, rutabaga)
                        • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
                        • 1/2 cup dry white wine
                        • 2 cups 1 percent milk
                        • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas
                        • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
                        • kosher salt and black pepper
                        • frozen pastry dough/pie crust

                        1. Heat oven to 400° F.

                        2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and vegetables and cook, stir-ring, until they begin to soften, 6 to 8 minutes (do not let them darken). Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

                        3. Add the wine and cook until evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and simmer until the sauce thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chicken, peas, thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Transfer to a shallow 1 1/2- to 2-quart baking dish.

                        4. Lay the crust on top, pressing to seal. Cut several vents in the crust. Place the pot pie on a baking sheet and bake until bubbling and the crust is golden, 30 to 35 minutes.

                        It's also good without the crust. YUM.

                        1. Moussaka is an awesome comfort food, and you can make it vegetarian by adding some well-seasoned bulgur or quinoa for the ground beef.

                          Also, shaksouka is fantastic and comfy cozy for both of you when served with crunch bread for dipping.

                          1. You all have no idea how excited I am about being able to make so many wonderful meals - thank you for sharing your ideas and please keep the recommendations coming!

                            1. These two threads about vegetarian food to eat when you're sick or hung over has some good comfort food suggestions:

                              We've been eating a lot of Korean stews (like kimchi jigae, doenjang jigae, soon dobu, etc.). Tomato and egg (classic Chinese home-cooking dish) is comforting and quick to make.

                              We've also been making a lot of warm lentil salads -- maybe a good compromise between "cooked" and "less cooked"?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: will47

                                I love kimchi, but just keep in mind that most do have some sort of preserved salted fish or shrimp in it.

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  Yes, obviously if you're vegetarian (I am), you need to either make your own or purchase kimchi made without anchovy, fish sauce, dried shrimp, etc. Many Korean markets have at least one type which doesn't have this.

                                  We use homemade sometimes, but there are commercial brands which are vegetarian and also free of commercial flavor enhancers. I think Whole Foods in some areas should carry Granny Choe's and / or Mother In Law's brand. Granny Choe's cabbage kimchi is vegan, and MILK has a "vegan" version (though their regular kimchi is not vegetarian). With any kimchi, but especially those that are targeted to non-Koreans, I think it's helpful to open it, re-seal it, and leave it at room temperature for a day or two, before moving it to the fridge. Letting it sit for a while will also improve the taste.

                                  Some Korean sauces also have fish derived ingredients. Gochujang is typically Ok, but doenjang is more variable.

                              2. This butternut squash, brown butter and gorgonzola recipe is to die for. Classic comfort food with really powerful flavors and minimal ingredients. It's pretty quick and easy for a weeknight, but luxurious enough for a homemade date night. I usually grab fresh pasta from my neighborhood Italian deli to amp it up.



                                batch homemade tagliatelle, or about 1 pound of any dried or fresh pasta
                                (click here for pasta recipe, instead of cutting into rectangular sheets, cut into 1 1/2-inch wide strips
                                )1 small-medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
                                3-4 medium-large shallots, peeled and quartered
                                2 tablespoons olive oil
                                1/4 cup heavy cream
                                1 tablespoon minced sage
                                3 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                salt and pepper to taste
                                crumbled Gorgonzola and chopped parsley to garnish

                                1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss the cubed squash and shallots with the olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper, and spread evenly on a lined baking sheet. Roast on the middle rack for 45 minutes to 1 hour, flipping the squash a few times, until browned and starting to caramelize.

                                2. Transfer 1/2 of the squash and shallot mixture to a bowl along with the heay cream and mash with a fork until you have a relatively smooth paste. If needed, add additional hot water while mashing. Set aside.

                                3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook the fresh pasta for 4-5 minutes, or until just al dente.

                                4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and cook for a few minutes until just starting to brown. Add the sage and fry for about a minute, stirring, until butter has turned a amber brown, and sage is fragrant. Reduce heat to medium-low and whisk in the squash puree to combine with the browned butter.

                                5. When the pasta is cooked, transfer directly from water to the skillet with the squash sauce and toss to combine. If sauce seems very thick or clumpy, add pasta water by the 1/4 cupfuls until sauce has evenly coated the pasta. Toss in the reserved cubed butternut squash, transfer to individual serving bowls and top with a generous amount of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese and fresh parsley.

                                Let me know what you think!

                                1. Frijoles Negros is one of my faithful goto comfort foods (and happens to be vegan). I've tried a few recipes & the one below is my favorite.


                                    1. We call this Indian-spiced cauliflower dish comfort food in our house, although it's kinda spicy.

                                      4 Tbsp light vegetable oil (not olive if possible)
                                      1/4 tsp Asafetida - not required
                                      1 tsp cumin seeds - less if you don't like that much cumin
                                      At least a two thumb-sized hunk of ginger, minced (julienne first, then cut crosswise)
                                      1/4 - 1/2 tsp cayenne (1/4 goes a long way for us)
                                      1 tsp of turmeric (or more if you like)
                                      4 or more tsps of ground coriander
                                      1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
                                      1/4 tsp salt
                                      1 tsp Amchoor powder
                                      1/2 tsp Garam masala

                                      Use a wok or steep-sided pot or pan. Heat the oil until it is good and hot to shimmering.
                                      Add one cumin seed - if it jumps and sizzles, you are ready -
                                      Add the asafetida and cook for about 5 seconds, then add the cumin -
                                      When it is toasty and sizzling/popping, add the ginger -
                                      Give it a good stir for about 15 seconds and then add the other spices - you will have a sizzling, brownish gravy - continue to cook it at medium-high for a few more seconds, then add the cauliflower.
                                      Mix it up so you get good coverage on the cauli and cook for a minute or so.
                                      Then add a little water - a few tbsps worth (or veg broth if you have it on hand) and cover tightly.

                                      If you want to add some frozen peas, cooked potatoes, chopped seeded tomato, paneer, or tofu, now is the time. Adjust the water to make sure things do not burn.

                                      Lower the heat to medium and let it basically steam in its own juices until tender.
                                      Once the cauli is tender to your liking (5-10 minutes), remove from heat.
                                      If there is too much liquid, cook it off.

                                      Off the heat, stir in the amchoor and garam masala. (You could try subbing in sumac for amchoor - want that sour element - lemon juice will also work) (If you don't have garam, could try a pinch of nutmeg or even a little ground clove - want that heady woodspice element too)

                                      Put it over rice or by itself. Yum!

                                      1. MEGA comfort food. I'm not vegetarian either, but this one hits the spot for me.

                                        2 T. olive oil
                                        2 cloves garlic
                                        a big pinch dried rosemary
                                        a smaller pinch crushed red pepper flakes
                                        salt and pepper to taste

                                        1/2 bunch kale, torn or chopped (you can use chard/silverbeet or any other cooking green; adjust cooking time accordingly)
                                        1 can cannelini beans, drained
                                        a squeeze of lemon juice and/or a splash of vermouth or white wine
                                        veggie stock or water

                                        1 or 2 eggs per person, poached or fried (optional)
                                        grated cheese (optional)
                                        crusty bread, sliced and toasted

                                        Heat olive oil and saute garlic until fragrant. Add rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Add kale and stir until slightly wilted. Add beans, lemon juice and/or wine, and enough veggie stock or water to make a soupy consistency (1/2 - 1 c.). Cook until the kale is tender, 5-10 minutes.

                                        Put toasted bread in the bottom of shallow bowls and pour the kale and cannelinis over it. Top with cheese and a (soft!!) poached or fried egg, if desired.