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Author Topic: I'm not a vegetarian...
Christine
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...but lately I find myself getting closer and closer. For the last couple of months my meal plans have included meatless dinners 3-4 nights a week and I find that I like cooking this way. I'm taking the meal focus off of the meat and in so doing I realize that my diet is becoming more varied. It's easy to fall into the meat, starch, veggie pattern at dinnertime.

I'm starting to get a little bored, though, so I thought I'd go fishing for meal ideas. I'm a pretty eclectic eater but I don't do soy, tofu, or those meat substitutes. If a recipe calls for meat, I'll use meat. Beans and lentils are great. (In fact, I'm short on lentil ideas at the moment.)

Any ideas?

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Dogbreath
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I find spaghetti sauce tastes excellent with chopped up asparagus instead of meat. I like asparagus in almost anything, though. And I eat an enormous amount of spaghetti.

Any kind of squash works too.

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Christine
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Mmmm...asparagus. [Smile]
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Dogbreath
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I reached a point last summer where I ate asparagus spaghetti with buttered boiled asparagus on the side, while drinking the delicious asparagus juice you get from refrigerating the water you boil asparagus in.

My indulgence is somewhat justified, though. Our CSA co-op kept sending us ungodly amounts of asparagus, and I had to do something with it.

Another trick I like for pasta (generally works best with rotini) is to cut spinach into long thin strips, then mix it in with the pasta right after you drain it. The steam makes the spinach shrink and wrap itself around the pasta. It's a great, cheap way to up the tastiness.

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dabbler
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A friend used to make lentils and sausage. I think she used the polish sausage, lentils, cumin, onions, and tomatoes.
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Valentine014
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Baked Gnocchi

1 package (about 17 ounces) gnocchi (vacuum-packed)
1/3 c. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 can (about 14 ounces) diced tomatoes (plain, or with added garlic and spices)
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease large casserole or gratin dish.

2. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, cook and stir 30 seconds. Stir in spinach. Cook, covered, 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Add tomatoes and Italian seasoning. Season with salt and pepper; cook and stir about 5 minutes. Add gnocchi to spinach mixture in skillet; stir gently.

4. Transfer gnocchi mixture to prepared casserole. Sprinkle with cheeses. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is melted.

Makes a very pretty Christmas dish because it is red and green. Enjoy!

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The Rabbit
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I enjoy both falafel and pakora.

pakora recipe
falafel recipe

They are both technically chickpea (garbonzo bean) dishes, although most people wouldn't recognize them as such.

I make lentil stew with brown rice, onions, vegetable broth, oilve oil or butter and lentils. I let it cook all day in a crockpot. Its amazingly delicious for something so simple.

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rivka
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Any proportions in particular for the stew, Rabbit?
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martha
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I also eat less and less meat. I don't like cooking it; I'll still order it at restaurants sometimes but it's not the default. Here's a good vegetarian recipe that my parents learned from a Middle Eastern restaurant when they lived in Pittsburgh:

(the name of this recipe is) SLEEK.

1 can of black-eyed peas
1 large onion, diced
1 cup (uncooked) bulgar wheat
1 bunch kale, chopped
(optional) 1 package mushrooms, sliced

Cook the bulgar separately first (in water, veggie broth, or chicken broth). In a large frying pan that has a lid, sautee the onion, and the mushrooms if you're using them. Add the kale, as much as you can fit, and cover. Cook slowly until the kale becomes bright green, and add any kale that didn't fit the first time. Once all the kale is bright green, add the black-eyed peas and the bulgar and stir until everything is more-or-less evenly combined. Salt & pepper to taste.

Sleek can be served at any temperature and makes great leftovers.

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martha
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Also, I haven't tried this one but it looks delicious!
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/lentil-almond-stirfry-recipe.html

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Strider
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quote:
I'm not a vegetarian...
but you play one on tv! wait, what is this thread about? [Smile]

I really enjoy making soups, so I make a lot of bean or lentil soups.

I also have been making some good vegan chili recently.

I have a couple other fun recipes I've gotten from the vegetarian club i'm a member of, but I don't want to clog up this page posting all of them! If you want, email me and i'll send some along.

To be honest though, i mostly find recipes online or from a few vegetarian cookbooks i have. and then i sort of mix and match some elements based on which foods i like more. I either search for certain foods i have and see what can be made with them(butternut squash for example). Or I do searches for specific dishes.

I used to really dislike tofu, I'm not a big fan of the soft squishy texture, but now that i've been exposed to it in different varieties i've realized it all depends on how it's made. i've had it now in recipes where it's been done up in ways that i've really enjoyed. there's a vegan restaurant around here that makes some absolutely fantastic curry-yaki baked tofu. serve with some basmati rice and spicy lentils and you're in heaven.

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Uprooted
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Love Heidi's stuff (101cookbooks.com). She actually got me to try brussels sprouts after years of hating them w/ one of her recipes, Caramelized Tofu. She basically shreds them into tiny strips and stir fries them. Yummy!

Anyway, here's something really easy I made the other day. I bought a jar of Masala Simmer Sauce at Trader Joe's (a fairly sweet curry sauce). I peeled and diced small a couple of small potatoes and put them in the microwave with some of the sauce for a couple of minutes to start them cooking. In the meantime, sauteed half an onion in olive oil till translucent. Added the partially cooked potatoes, more sauce, and a can of drained chickpeas and simmered until the potatoes were all the way cooked. Served with whole wheat couscous. It was really delicious and makes fantastic leftovers.

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Uprooted
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quote:
Originally posted by Strider:

but you play one on tv!

I almost simul-posted that, but got caught up in the actual topic and forgot.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Uprooted:
She actually got me to try brussels sprouts after years of hating them w/ one of her recipes, Caramelized Tofu. She basically shreds them into tiny strips and stir fries them. Yummy!

I actually tried that one. Liked the tofu, didn't care for the sprouts. [Wink]
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ketchupqueen
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Our family's all-time favorite meatless meal is falafel. I only make it a few times a year because it's quite labor intensive. But it's worth it when I do (I make a double or triple batch, and it's usually, between the 5 of us, gone the next day.)
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Mike
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I find myself in nearly the same position: I rarely cook meat at home, though I'll eat it in restaurants. Sometimes I cook fish. It's probably because my last two girlfriends were vegetarian. [Smile] Or maybe it's that I live in California and am a bleeding-heart commie liberal.

Lately I've been making pureed vegetable soups pretty frequently. It's extremely easy, fairly quick, keeps pretty well, and is comforting and satisfying, especially with some crusty bread to go with. Potato leek is always a good option, but my favorites are asparagus cilantro (garnish with sauteed asparagus, yum) and squash fennel. I use the basic recipe from the Cook's Illustrated Best Recipe cookbook and vary it as necessary.

Roasted root vegetables are also good and easy.

Another favorite that takes a bit longer is vegetarian black bean soup. I'm proud of this one, and I made it up myself (not really, just adapted it from simplyrecipes.com), so I'll post the recipe. It's great with fresh salsa or diced tomatoes, guac or just diced avos, a twist of lime juice, and homemade corn tortillas. Or just white rice.

1 1/2 c black beans
2 bay leaves
4 c water
1/8 tsp baking soda
vegetable oil
2 c onions, diced
1 c green bell pepper, diced
1/2 c celery, diced
1/2 c carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano chiles, seeded, veined, and minced
2 tsp cumin, freshly ground if possible
1 Tbsp molasses
1 1/2 c vegetable (or chicken) stock
4 roma tomatoes, cubed
lime juice
salt & pepper
cilantro
avocado, cubed

1. Soak beans overnight, or at least 6 hours. Cook beans with bay leaves and baking soda for 75 to 90 minutes, or until tender.

2. Sweat the onions, green bell pepper, and celery in the oil until soft and slightly browned. Add the garlic and cook another 1 - 2 minutes. Add the chiles, cumin, molasses, stock, tomatoes, and beans with their cooking liquid, and simmer until all ingredients are tender, 20 - 30 minutes.

3. Season with salt & pepper and lime juice. Garnish with cilantro and avocado.

If you can find it, soak half a dried smoked pepper like chipotle in some of the hot water or stock until it softens; dice and add to the other ingredients instead of the serranos.

OK, now I know what I'm making this week.

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BlueWizard
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The mistake most people make when they become vegetarians is that they think it means just eating salad all the time. That is a recipe for trouble.

The most critical aspect of eating a non-meat or meat-limited diet is lack of protein. And this is especially critical in a true vegetarian diet. And it is not just protein, because that can come from a variety of sources, but COMPLETE protein, a full compliment of amino acids.

However, you seem to have a good handle on it. You seem to have incorporated beans into your diet, and I too like lentils. I usually mix lentils and rice. Because lentils are so small they cook pretty quickly, and the combination of lentils and rice or red beans and rice give you about as complete a protein as you can get.

Though I also think most people, especially Americans, have a distorted view of how much protein we really need. Most think we need 10 ounce of meat protein with every meal. When in reality, we need maybe 4 to 6 ounces per week.

So, I think if you intend to make a success of this, you need to find as many ways as possible to give yourself a weekly dose of COMPLETE protein.

Just a few thoughts.

Steve/bluewizard

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Any proportions in particular for the stew, Rabbit?

You mean there are people who use a recipe for stew????


Something like 1/1 lentils to brown rice, 3-4 cups broth for each cup of dry ingredients. Oil and onions to taste.

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Uprooted
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
[I actually tried that one. Liked the tofu, didn't care for the sprouts. [Wink]

Die hard hater! [Wink]
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Uprooted
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quote:
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
Our family's all-time favorite meatless meal is falafel. I only make it a few times a year because it's quite labor intensive. But it's worth it when I do (I make a double or triple batch, and it's usually, between the 5 of us, gone the next day.)

[Kiss] ketchupqueen! I miss you!

Others I miss: Tante Shvester, Icarus, and I'm sure many more but that's a start.

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Christine
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Thanks, everyone!

It is soup season...I'm definitely going to try some of these soup recipes. I particularly like black beans. I've been using them in Mexican cooking once a week (either burritos or chimichangas).

The only trouble with soup is that I can't convince my kids to eat it. Oh well, I'll make up some home made bread and they can eat that. [Smile]

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
You mean there are people who use a recipe for stew????

At least the first time. [Wink] Your "recipe" was plenty.
quote:
Originally posted by Uprooted:
quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
[I actually tried that one. Liked the tofu, didn't care for the sprouts. [Wink]

Die hard hater! [Wink]
Sadly so. And sprouts are one of the very few things that I really hate, food-wise.
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Christine
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I have a deep-seeded psychological aversion to brussell sprouts, actually....comes from being forced to eat them as a kid. Not sure why my parents did that, since I was never a particularly picky eater, not even when it came to veggies. But I'd spend hours at the table trying to choke those disgusting things down because I couldn't leave until I was done. (One of the few times I might have liked having a dog. [Smile] )
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romanylass
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I had the same experience with Brussel sprouts. To this day I will not even try them.
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Uprooted
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That's why I loved this recipe so much -- I always felt the same way about brussels spouts. Nasty slimy little mini cabbages. Somehow, having them shredded up and stir fried banished the nastiness altogether for me. YMMV, as rivka's experience shows!

I have to admit, it's only in recent years that I've begun to like asparagus. I don't think I'll ever love it, though.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by Uprooted:
I have to admit, it's only in recent years that I've begun to like asparagus.

More for me! [Big Grin]

You can have my Brussels sprouts. Deal?

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Christine
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Uprooted: Question about your asparagus consumption....are you doing canned, frozen, or fresh? Just wondering, because there is a HUGE difference. I actually love fresh asparagus and absolutely detest canned or frozen -- won't touch it that way. Comes out all mushy and almost slimy. Fresh is crisp and flavorful.

Most things taste better fresh, but asparagus is the most extreme case I've run across.

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Dogbreath
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I also want to add it makes a huge difference how you cook the asparagus. A lot of people I know dislike it because they/their mom boil it for too long (should never boil for more than 3 minutes) and it comes out rubbery and slimy instead of crisp and firm.
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Uprooted
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Oh, only fresh asparagus. Canned is abominable and I don't think I've ever had frozen.

It just sorta tastes like dirt to me. Nice dirt, but dirt nonetheless. When I was a kid I hated the flavor but now I can appreciate it. I also ran up against some hard old tough asparagus at someone's house as a child where I had to eat it to be polite.

I don't really mind if it's a little soft. I like the tiny baby asparagus the best, and that I do like only very lightly cooked.

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ketchupqueen
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Eeeew. My MIL heated canned asparagus in the microwave and put it on the table in front of me when I was dating my husband. It was all I could do to not retch as I passed it the other way. Canned asparagus is a crime against nature.

I like the little asparagus best, too, and grilled or roasted is my favorite way to eat it, but steamed is what I usually do. [Smile]

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rivka
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Fresh asparagus is best, but frozen is acceptable for certain uses (like quiche or stir-fry). But only certain brands of frozen. TJ's is good.

Canned asparagus is a horrible, horrible abomination.

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Fractal Fraggle
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I actually like canned asparagus. But I can't stand Brussels sprouts. blech!

I make a lentil soup/stew that starts out with about 3 or 4 cups of water or broth, adding in o.5 - 1 cups lentils. Usually I add in rice or barley unless I'll be serving it with fresh bread. After cooking the lentils for a half hour or so, I add in chopped veggies (usually carrots, potatoes, spinach, onions, garlic) and cook for another half hour until veggies are tender. This makes a pretty basic lentil stew, and I usually add either cumin or curry to spice it up so it's not so boring.

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Strider
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Christine, we tried a vegetarian shepherds pie recipe last night, with a lentil base, and it came out really tasty.

Link

The only thing was that 30 minutes seemed a bit short for the lentils in the first step, so we left them simmering longer so they could soften more. We also added garlic and milk to the mashed potatoes to spruce them up a bit. I was really impressed with it.

We served it along with this dish:

roasted winter squash with maple syrup glaze and marcona almonds

I replaced the parsnips with carrots since I don't like parsnips too much. I've done this one a few times, it's a really tasty dish as well.

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Christine
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Strider -- that looks great! I'll have to add it to next week's menu since I've already made up the one for this week (my menus start on Wednesday...we found out that the grocery gets its produce in on Tuesday so now we do our shopping Tuesday night to get the freshest stuff).

Last night I tried something a little different...sweet potato been burritos. Figure I'll share since everyone else is:

1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves
15 ozs canned kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup water
1 tbs chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsps mustard
4 tsps soy sauce
2 sweet potatoes
6 flour tortillas
4 ozs shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions

* Cut sweet potatoes into quarters, and boil until a knife goes through easily, about 20 minutes.
* Peel skin from potatoes and mash.
* Preheat oven to 350.
* Saute onion and garlic in oil until soft and fragrant.
* Add kidney beans and mash slightly.
* Stir in water and bring to a boil.
* Remove from heat and add chili powder, cumin, mustard, and soy sauce and stir well.
***actually, I put all the spices in with the water and let the liquid cook down.
* Place a line of sweet potatoes on a tortilla, top with some kidney bean mixture, and sprinkle on some cheese, then roll up.
* Place in a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and bake, covered 15 minutes.

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