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Fast, Non-Salad Vegetarian Options


Chris Amirault
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When I cook for vegetarian friends, I usually lean on dishes that take time to develop the sorts of full, savory flavors that I miss when sacrificing meat and seafood, long-simmered curries and tomato sauces in particular. However, I'm often in the bind I'm in today: I've got a pal coming over at 7p for dinner tomorrow but will have only an hour or so to prep.

Right now I'm thinking about grilled vegetables over couscous. You got anything better?

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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That sounds good- maybe even round it out with some yogurt, cheese, olives and salad type dishes (Carrots with Harissa is nice) on the side.

Similarly- pasta is your friend in situations like this. Depending on what you have available (rapini, broccoli, green beans, etc.) all it takes is some garlic and olive oil, maybe even olives and/or pine nuts, to make something good.

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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Similarly- pasta is your friend in situations like this. Depending on what you have available (rapini, broccoli, green beans, etc.) all it takes is some garlic and olive oil, maybe even olives and/or pine nuts, to make something good.

Doesn't that require pancetta, guanciale, or plain ol' bacon?

(You see my problem.)

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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black bean burritos. make it fun (and colorful) with the addition of fresh corn, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, etc. In fact, you could grill the peppers and corn before putting them in, rather than just sauteeing them with the beans. You could also do veggie fajitas with lots of fixins (I LOVE fixins!)

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Similarly- pasta is your friend in situations like this. Depending on what you have available (rapini, broccoli, green beans, etc.) all it takes is some garlic and olive oil, maybe even olives and/or pine nuts, to make something good.

Doesn't that require pancetta, guanciale, or plain ol' bacon?

(You see my problem.)

Nice, sure, but not required. A knob of butter added at the end will give you some of that additional character if that is what you're looking for. In addition, if you are also adding the olives, or even some mushrooms, you probably won't even notice the lack of porky goodness.

aka Michael

Chi mangia bene, vive bene!

"...And bring us the finest food you've got, stuffed with the second finest."

"Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos."

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When I cook for vegetarian friends, I usually lean on dishes that take time to develop the sorts of full, savory flavors that I miss when sacrificing meat and seafood, long-simmered curries and tomato sauces in particular. However, I'm often in the bind I'm in today: I've got a pal coming over at 7p for dinner tomorrow but will have only an hour or so to prep.

Right now I'm thinking about grilled vegetables over couscous. You got anything better?

If you have time tonight, you could prepare a veggie loaf (similar to this recipe for carrot-mushroom loaf from Mollie Katzen) and then just reheat it tomorrow night. Actually, making it a day ahead enhances the flavor. Add some garlic-smashed potatoes and quick-sauteed greens (kale, swiss chard, or similar). A festive presentation for these veggie-loaf recipes is to bake and serve in a hollowed-out squash or even eggplant. They also take very well to sauces - mushroom gravy, quick tomato, bechamel, etc.

Not that there is anything wrong with grilled veggies, but you did ask for alternatives. :wink:

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Similarly- pasta is your friend in situations like this. Depending on what you have available (rapini, broccoli, green beans, etc.) all it takes is some garlic and olive oil, maybe even olives and/or pine nuts, to make something good.

Doesn't that require pancetta, guanciale, or plain ol' bacon?

(You see my problem.)

Nice, sure, but not required. A knob of butter added at the end will give you some of that additional character if that is what you're looking for. In addition, if you are also adding the olives, or even some mushrooms, you probably won't even notice the lack of porky goodness.

As someone who doesn't partake in porky goodness, greens, garlic, olive oil and chilie flakes are great at dressing up plain pasta. You could put an additional twist on this by tossing in plumped raisins and toasted pinenuts.

If your friend is ovo-inclined, an over-easy egg on top of all of this is SO good. A sprinkle of toasted breadcrumbs on top might not hurt, either....

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Carrots with harissa above sounds very yummy!

If you've got some nice tomatoes a Greek salad with some cukes, feta and olives would be perfect, along with a fresh baguette, of course.

As long as you are firing up the grill you could make some babganouj; home-made w/grilled eggplant is far superior to any deli-prepared. Medium size eggplants will only take about 20 minutes (while you are prepping other stuff) and then you can grill the other veggies. Cook eggplants, turning to evenly char, til blackened on the outside and very soft inside. Scrape out and mash the pulp, including a little of the smokey skin. Mix in about 1/4 c tahini for two or three eggplants, or to taste. Add a drizzle of olive oil, some lemon juice, salt and cumin. Serve with a sprinkling of paprika and/or chopped parsley and another drizzle. If you don't have pita bread, I find it's just as good or better on a baguette or scooped up with those pricey but delicious Panzanella crackers.

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PS - for tonight, a simple tomato tart?

Buy the best ready-made puff pastry you can. Roll it out, cut into squares, about 4 inches, for individual tarts.

Scribe a line about a quarter inch inside the edge, and prick over the centre section.

'Butter' the centre with some sort of sauce - pesto works well.

Scatter sliced tomato over the sauce. The better the tomatoes, the better. Add some herbs if your available sauce isn't full of them.

Top with some grated cheese (but not too much).

Bake. (The outside edge should rise, restraining the filling...)

Serve with salads... and some wine... and relax.

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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For a casual, friendly dinner, how about soft tacos with grilled vegetables? I like to lay out all the ingredients on the table and let people make their own, and people seem to like that.

Some ideas for tacos with the fixin's: tortillas (of course); tomatoes, hot and sweet peppers, summer squash, onions for grilling; sour cream, tomato salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce, cheddar cheese, pickled jalapenos, & sliced olives for the toppings. You can purchase the salsa and guacamole at the supermarket if you don't have time to make your own.

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Vegetarian Parmesan Tofu Sandwiches...

take very firm tofu, cut in appropriate size for whatever bread you are using, coat in flour, then egg, then well seasoned panko crumbs that have parmesan added. Fry in olive oil til brown and crispy. Serve on great buns with whatever condiments..fries, cole slaw,

pick up a great desert, coffee or wine..presto done

it was my old standby when I was vegetarian...

"I eat fat back, because bacon is too lean"

-overheard from a 105 year old man

"The only time to eat diet food is while waiting for the steak to cook" - Julia Child

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Bean stews can be made very quickly. Lentils, for example, cook very quickly. You can easily make stand-out dishes by mixing in unexpected ingredients: apples in a lentil stew, bananas in a spicy Brazilian black bean stew. What I really recommend is a chickpea stew made with, um, chickpeas, vegetable broth, onions, garlic, mushrooms, smoked paprika, and whatever else you feel like. The smoked paprika makes it feel a little meaty so the non-vegetarians won't be dismayed. Either keep it thick enough to serve over couscous or accompany it with a nice crusty bread.

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So what did you make, Chris?

For future such occasions, you may find Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick and Easy Indian Cooking helpful. I particularly recommend her stir-fried green cabbage with fennel seeds; spinach with ginger and green chiles; cauliflower with ginger, garlic, and green chiles; green beans with mushrooms; or new potatoes with cumin. I hope to report on the mushroom curry this week.

Stir-fried okra from My Bombay Kitchen or Classic Indian Cooking is also quite satisfying. Quick-cooking masoor dal for protein, and rice pilaf, chutney, and/or raita to round out the meal and you are in business. Mango lassi for dessert if you like.

Jumping on djyee100’s taco idea, Rick Bayless has a delicious mushroom taco filling. Mushrooms add a meaty punch to a vegetarian meal.

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Jumping on djyee100’s taco idea, Rick Bayless has a delicious mushroom taco filling. Mushrooms add a meaty punch to a vegetarian meal.

Could you point me in the direction of that recipe? I've not run into it in the past and it sounds right up my alley.

pat

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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Jumping on djyee100’s taco idea, Rick Bayless has a delicious mushroom taco filling. Mushrooms add a meaty punch to a vegetarian meal.

Could you point me in the direction of that recipe? I've not run into it in the past and it sounds right up my alley.

pat

Pat, my memory let me down again – Diana Kennedy should get the credit for a modified version of her hongos al vapor. Based on Fat Guy's recommendation (clicky), we roasted the mushrooms in a very hot pan to concentrate the flavor, and then added chopped onion, garlic, and chiles, salting at the end to keep the mushrooms from getting slimy. We loaded up the tacos with the mushrooms, roasted Poblano chiles, roasted red bell peppers, and tomatillo salsa.

I still want to know what Chris served his guests.

gallery_42956_2536_34438.jpg

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Pat, my memory let me down again – Diana Kennedy should get the credit for a modified version of her hongos al vapor. Based on Fat Guy's recommendation (clicky), we roasted the mushrooms in a very hot pan to concentrate the flavor, and then added chopped onion, garlic, and chiles, salting at the end to keep the mushrooms from getting slimy. We loaded up the tacos with the mushrooms, roasted Poblano chiles, roasted red bell peppers, and tomatillo salsa.

Thank you! That photo should be on the cover of a book. The tacos look exceedingly tasty. Between the photo and your description, I can work it out. I hadn't seen Fat Guy's mushroom technique before, thanks for including the link.

I've also been wondering what Chris ended up doing.

pat

I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance

Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.

-- Ogden Nash

http://bluestembooks.com/

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I've also been wondering what Chris ended up doing. 

I ended up grilling vegetables and doing a few other things, so the table had some Greek feta, kalamata olives, a grilled zucchini and mint salad, an eggplant salad that was a cross between caponata and babha ganoush (grilled eggplant, grilled onions, olive oil, garlic paste, baharat, pomegranate molasses) two grilled pepper salads, and some Israeli couscous with tomatoes, parsley, and lemon.

(ETA: Afterward, my wife and I agreed that we missed the lamb kebabs.... sniff.)

Edited by chrisamirault (log)

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I've also been wondering what Chris ended up doing. 

I ended up grilling vegetables and doing a few other things, so the table had some Greek feta, kalamata olives, a grilled zucchini and mint salad, an eggplant salad that was a cross between caponata and babha ganoush (grilled eggplant, grilled onions, olive oil, garlic paste, baharat, pomegranate molasses) two grilled pepper salads, and some Israeli couscous with tomatoes, parsley, and lemon.

(ETA: Afterward, my wife and I agreed that we missed the lamb kebabs.... sniff.)

What I find interesting is the composition of this dinner. If I'm counting correctly, you had 4 salads, israeli couscous, olives and feta on the table - 7 different components.

While I sometimes love this type of dinner, it can also feel less focused, and consequently less satisfying. I'm mentioning this because you say you missed the lamb kebabs, seems like you missed a focal point, all the other dishes seem more like side dishes.

I sometimes feel that way after eating tapas: no doubt I'm full, but I can still feel I haven't really 'eaten'.

For my vegetarian dinners (and I have a couple of them a week) I prefer just 2 or 3 dishes: a pasta, risotto, gratin, stew, frittata, or in summer a big salad that also has cheese or beans or potatoes or whatever, and then 1 or 2 side dishes.

One of my current favorites is a green salad topped with potato croutons (tiny cubes of potato fried in oil until crisp) then topped wth a soft boiled or poached egg, served while the potatoes are still hot. The whole egg gives you that feeling of focus that a chopped up egg could not give you.

With a good vegetable soup (any kind, vegetables and onions sweated in butter then pureed with stock, maybe add some cream for richness, some fresh herbs) and some good bread, you have a perfect dinner.

eta: and fast too, as requested in your OP!

eta another thing: I see your OP said NO SALAD :shock: , uhm just put the poached egg on some grilled vegetables, just as good :laugh:

Edited by Chufi (log)
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That's a really good point, Klary. I went the overkill route either because (my explanation) I wasn't sure what my guest did and didn't eat, and I wanted to feature the oft-loathed eggplant, or (my wife's explanation) I always make too much. Either way, I think that the lack of focus makes a ton of sense. Not sure if it had an effect on our desire for lamb, though, which is pretty strong (we both agree!).

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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