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Pontormo

Vegetarian Meals

103 posts in this topic

Vegetarianism crops up as a topic periodically in a number of forums, such as Going Vegetarian where posts range from practical advice to the philosophical. In threads devoted to pantry food or keeping costs down, we advocate dried beans or alternative sources of protein.

There are threads devoted to cookbooks, vegetarian or otherwise, where the names Anna Thomas, Madhur Jaffrey and Deborah Madison frequently appear as sources of inspiration for those of us who like vegetables, fruit and noodles but also eat anchovies, bacon and duck.

Especially during recent controversies surrounding Johan Mackey and lobsters or Charlie Trotter and foie gras, there have been impatient comments made about vegans and the Raw Food movement, but in this week's food blog, Erik (eje) takes us to a favorite lunch spot where he says the raw, vegan fare is really, really good.

For those who sometimes ask for help when a vegetarian is coming to dinner, there is a special eGCI Course by Malawry.

What I thought might be of value is a supplement to the Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner threads that document vegetarian meals that we enjoyed or regretted. The reason I said "supplement" is because quite a few of the meals in these threads are vegetarian and I would like to emphasize that this is not an Anti-Dinner Thread.

It might also be useful to have a place to turn to for inspiration whenever we feel like a change, or if our brother marries a vegetarian and moves back to town.

While there's less in the market place for many of us now that winter draws close here in the north, there are still winter squash, root vegetables and sturdy greens. Here's a place to show us what you got and what you did to feature produce in a meatless meal. If the thread proves of continuing value, it would be good to return to old posts to find ideas for seasonal, vegetarian dishes.

Whether traditional or newly invented, vegetarian food is always wonderful when it is simply inspired by ingredients rather than a pale reflection of the meal you would have served if only meat were an option. However, sometimes the substitution of a vegetable-based broth for hearty chicken stock works and sometimes it doesn't. There might be an adaption of a favorite dish for a vegetarian diet that you'd like to share. For example, I love Shepherd's Pie made with thawed, frozen tofu while I would never bother to replace meat with tempeh.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Pontormo, great idea. A lot of my meals are vegetarian, sometimes this happens without my even noticing it. For me, eating vegetarian dinners is a way to enjoy the vegetables of the season more, to be creative with vegetables, and to keep the costs of my dinners down. Also, when I do eat meat I like the meat to be free-range/organic, and sometimes I don't have access to that kind of meat, and my dinners turn vegetarian. I hope this thread will be an inspiration for those days.

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I was vegetarian (ovo lacto) for many many years. In all that time, I found the 'limitation' of vegetarian eating led me to explore and learn much about other culture's foods, and so I became a very exploratory cook, first by necessity? and then for the joy of it.

In the San Francisco Bay Area, we are blessed with great Farmers' Markets, produce stores, and restaurants that excel at utilizing the bounty. One of my favorite cookbooks is from the vegan restaurant, Millennium, in San Francisco. The cookbook (their second one in particular) is even better than the restaurant, IMHO (though I do enjoy the restaurant, too). There's a great recipe in that book for an 'appetizer' that I serve as an entree; it involves beets shredded and blended with spices and made into cakes that I then oven bake with some drizzled oil, and served with eggplant sauteed in pomegranate molasses and an Indian spiced mung dal. Kind of Middle Eastern inspired. Colorful, flavorful, inventive.. the kind of cooking I enjoy. That's just the first dish that sprung to my mind this morning when I read this post.

-Cacao

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I made a white bean with kale, potato and smoked garlic soup yesterday.

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Great idea, Pontormo...while I completely agree about enjoying vegetarian dishes for their own goodness, it's true that I do often find myself trying to cook vegetarian versions of the meat-centric cuisines I enjoy cooking most (Mexican and Spanish), so hopefully there are others in this same boat... :smile:

Wish I had pictures of this: I engineered a completely vegetarian DIY tamale/mole night for 6 this past weekend which I'll write up the recipes for eventually, until then feel free to ask questions about substitutions/approaches (or PM me). The full menu was:

+++

chips/homemade salsas/guac

Sopa de platanos (green plantain soup)

Three tamales: fresh corn/smoked cheese/poblano; black bean/chipotle/calabaza/goat cheese; wild mushroom + herbs.

Two moles: mole poblano + mancha manteles

Maple syrup + pecan ice cream

+++

The idea was that people would build their own tamales using whatever filling they wanted to and add some mole as well (or not). Tamales were served with salsas, optional extra mole, and a simple young leaf (I've forgoten what this is called in English) green salad.

Anyway, pretty great stuff...the mole is still getting better every day (yes that's 5 days straight of eating mole)...

ETA: brief word on the substitutions: butter for lard in the masa; a mix of walnut oil and light (not Asian) sesame oil in the mole itself to replace the lard; chipotles and a dash of pimenton for smoke/pork emulation; roasted vegetable broth to replace chicken broth.


Edited by markemorse (log)

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I'm so pleased there are responses so soon.

Mark, I had forgotten you were a vegetarian. Your dinner party sounds like a feast. Slightly off-topic, but I am a bit curious about European enthusiasm for Mexican food. Care to share, along with some more information about the green plantains?

Soup, of course, is perfect for the weather at this time of year.

So, for my semi-vegetarian, easily adaptable dinner tonight I had:

--Buttercup squash soup with red lentils

--Crepes aux Poireaux

--Roasted golden beet salad with toasted walnuts

--The remains of an orange (it matched)

The soup was prepared earlier in the week with a purée of ancho chilies to add depth to the sweetness of carrots, onion, parsnips and squash. (It does have chicken stock, but it could easily have been water.) Sprinkle of scallion rings and dab of drained yogurt on top. (I am new to making my own yogurt and am still rather gleeful about the process.)

Some time ago, I bookmarked this recipe for Breton leek crepes from Saveur when there was a crepe cook-off and I was starting my campaign to eat more things in the cupboard like the buckwheat flour. The only adjustment I made was to combine Neufchatel cheese (lower fat cream cheese, NOT the real thing) with a little of the thickened yogurt in the final stages of cooking since I had no creme fraiche. Quite good, though it took a while to get the batter to spread out as thinly as I wanted it to get.

I prefer spending a lot of time shopping during the weekend to the daily routine that many eGullet members follow, and any meat I don't turn into a meal by Monday gets wrapped and frozen. If I'm not in the mood to thaw it or soak dried beans, I often turn to quick vegetarian options. Just happened to have enough leeks in the fridge to make half of the recipe.

ETA: to change to past tense.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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...However, sometimes the substitution of a vegetable-based broth for hearty chicken stock works and sometimes it doesn't...

Inspired words. Very cool -- this is a creative, and constructive idea for a thread. I think this would be a great supplement to the Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner threads. You don't have to be a vegetarian, in order to like vegetables. I know I'm not as knowledgeable as I could be, or you know -- diverse in my use of vegetables. Onions, carrots and taters. I'm a fucking hobbit. Lets see some great vegetarian meals, here! Those leek crêpes sound really good.

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Mark, I had forgotten you were a vegetarian.  Your dinner party sounds like a feast.  Slightly off-topic, but I am a bit curious about European enthusiasm for Mexican food.  Care to share, along with some more information about the green plantains?

Ha...I can see how my forgetting English names for things might lead one to believe that I am European, but no, I'm American. I just haven't seen American groceries in awhile... :raz:

And...I'm not really a strict vegetarian either, I just cook that way most of the time....primarily because many of our friends/dinner guests are vegetarians, and I got tired of feeling like I was cooking the "pale reflections" you mentioned above. Thus I decided to "get good" at cooking vegetarian.

To answer your EuroMexican question (even though my enthusiasm for Mexican food is completetly non-European): "Real" Mexican food is making progress over here; I just saw my first fresh-frozen corn tortillas (frozen) in an "international grocery" last week. The downside of this building momentum is that the food marketing people have latched onto it as well...resulting in "Mexican" pizza; some McRib kind of thing called "The Mexican" at the local Turkish snackbar, etc. But this is also a subject I can (and do elsewhere on eG) talk about for days, so in the interest of remaining remotely on-topic I'll end there and maybe let an actual European answer your question... :smile:

And the green plantain soup is actually a Cuban/Puerto Rican recipe...my result was closest to the recipe at the bottom of this page, which is a nice article about plantains (including tips on how to peel the green ones). I doubled or tripled the cumin and used a roasted garlic broth instead of the chicken broth.


Edited by markemorse (log)

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Our vegetarian dinner: A really thick, silky smooth leek & potatosoup. Garnished with a big heap of panfried chestnut mushrooms.

Quesadillas with refried beans, chillies, cilantro, cheddar, sour cream.

I love the combination of leeks and mushrooms. Mushrooms, dry-fried so they give up their moisture, end up with that savoury chewy bite that I need even more when there's no meat on the plate. It's all about textures and contrasts.

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our vegetarian dinner last night:

sarson ka saag, punjab-style mustard greens (which i actually made with turnip greens, because that's what i had).

served of course with makki di roti, which are kind of like tortillas but made with corn flour instead of masa--i use goya masarepa for it. i have no idea if it's right, but it works for me.

and dal and rice of course. the dal i make, from what little i know, is more south indian style than the punjab stuff above (like the recipe here), but i like it.

oh and some cucumber raita.

this is a good meal. it has everything i like in it. greens. plenty of starchy things in the cornmeal and rice. hot, aromatic, spicy things. yogurt. and it's not hard to make at all (except for the makki di roti, which are pretty tough to deal with because they're cornmeal and have no gluten to hold them together). i really recommend it.

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I made a terrific Ma Po Tofu the other night, sans pork, and my Chris, who has the carnivorous propensities of a T Rex, merely said, "Put a LOT of tofu on MY rice---I like LOTS of tofu."

I don't do no-meat meals very often, but we like a pot of good old Southern Pinto or Northern beans, cooked low and soupy with garlic and some onion fried gently brown in some peanut oil, and added, oil and all. Cornbread, a fresh cold slice of sweet onion, with rice in the bowl if it's Pintos. Or the whole bean burrito-quesadilla-taco thing with all the cheese, lettuce, cilantro, salsa, sour cream piled atop.

And we both could get through several weeks of the Summer at Snowangel's house: corn and tomatoes for supper every night. We'd alternate buttery golden ears with grilled-almost-caramel in the shuck, with his own concoction: cut corn with the milk stripped into the cooking pot, lots of butter, just a thought of sugar, salt, cooked bubbly, thick and rich, and served in a nice big bowl alongside a couple of sliced tomatoes. Or stewed tomatoes and okra in a second bowl.

Okay, so I'm not very good at getting all the proteins complete. I'm accustomed to starting meal planning with some form of meat, THEN adding in all the accompaniments. But I myself could go for WEEKS without it, enjoying a plate of cooked vegetables, raw ones, combinations in salads, gratins, stews, oven-packets, roast-in-the-pan ones. And maybe there could be just ONE burger out there maybe every couple of months, on a toasty bun with a thick slice of Vidalia. I'm not converting; I'm just enjoying.

I'm looking forward to all the good combinations and recipes.

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Originally posted at the beginning of September in another thread:

My vegan daughter came into Atlanta from California for the weekend to celebrate my mother's 95th birthday. I was worried about making a vegan meal but, surprisingly, found it not too terribly complicated after all!

Appetizer salads:

pickled jicama-carrot combination

Thai peanut cold noodle salad

Potage course:

Potato-Vidalia cream soup (using "Silk" soymilk)

Main courses:

Butternut squash ravioli and roasted pepper ravioli and vegetarian potstickers all with the 365 Whole Foods Roasted Vegetable Tomato Sauce (for her)

Poached chicken breasts with the same sauce for my husband and me

Fresh cranberries poached in port

Dessert course:

homemade Peach-plum tarte

Wines, but no challah, because vegans don't eat eggs ... so we had some leftover schmura matzo for Hamotzi ...

The result pleased my daughter enormously and I found the meal not uninteresting at all ...

The next night, for the birthday party, I ordered a deep dark chocolate vegan cake from a local bakery which only cost $35! ... it was truly splendid!


Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Pontormo: Excellent idea! In the spirit of this thread, and to purge excess protein after last night’s chili cook-off, I made chayotes al vapor for lunch. This is the sort of Mexican mostly-vegetable fare that I lived on for many years. For me, adding beans, cheese, eggs, a little meat for flavor, and/or lots of spices avoids the feeling that “something is missing” after a mostly-vegetable meal. I would cook this way more often, but the rest of the family is relentlessly carnivorous.

The chayote was quickly seared with chilies and onions, covered and steamed in its own juices for a few minutes, and then uncovered and cooked until al dente. I topped with cilantro, feta cheese, and a squeeze of lime. Cooked this way, chayote has a nice texture and comports well with a wide variety of flavors.

gallery_42956_2536_24675.jpg

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Tonight we had the green plantain soup that markemorse linked to upthread.. sort of. When I looked at the recipe I thought that it was just a pureed vegetable soup, which I make all the time, but with green plantain as one of the more unusual ingredients. So I just simmered the plantain with some leeks and carrots in broth, added some bay and cumin, and pureed. It was very good, rich and creamy.

I also made pizza with red onions, rosemary and gorgonzola.

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I made a terrific Ma Po Tofu the other night, sans pork, and my Chris, who has the carnivorous propensities of a T Rex, merely said, "Put a LOT of tofu on MY rice---I like LOTS of tofu."

this is just the cutest thing I've ever heard.

*ducks*

I made a tofu ballentine today...

....um, homemade tofu turkey...

I'm a sucker for accomidation...if anybody cares for the details...i'll fess

it's actually not gross. and it took all day..so for me, perhaps the beauty of cooking without pork is the...

process

It will be deep fried on t-day though.


does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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I made dinner for visiting friends a couple of weeks back. He is vegetarian, she's vegan. Together, we worked out a Chinese meal that both of them were thrilled about. It came out pretty well, especially considering the "ice cream", which was a last minute invention. We had scallion pancakes to start, siu mai with tofu and ginger, curry puffs (the filling for these was amazing!), stir fried bok choy from my garden, marinated broccoli stems (with sugar, salt, vinegar and sesame oil), and steamed rice. Dessert was coconut ice cream with ginger and lime. No pictures, but it was an incredible meal.


Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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I made dinner for visiting friends a couple of weeks back. He is vegetarian, she's vegan. Together, we worked out a Chinese meal that both of them were thrilled about. It came out pretty well, especially considering the "ice cream", which was a last minute invention.  We had scallion pancakes to start, siu mai with tofu and ginger, curry puffs (the filling for these was amazing!), stir fried bok choy from my garden, marinated broccoli stems (with sugar, salt, vinegar and sesame oil), and steamed rice. Dessert was coconut ice cream with ginger and lime. No pictures, but it was an incredible meal.

Can you give more details about the curry puffs?

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The puffs had a pastry shell that was layers of fat and flour. The filling consisted of stir fried potato, cabbage, onion, and celery (all diced fine) liberally flavored wtih garma masala and a bit of turmeric. The pastry I could have taken or left - it didn't have much going for it beyond the flaky texture - but the filling was delicious.


Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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My vegetarian lunch: falafel gyro, babaganoush, tabouli, dolmas, and spanikopita. Yes, it was all shared among three people! No, I DID NOT eat all that on my own. :P But I'm still full! It was great!

I've decided that due to the environmental factors tied to the meat industry and the fact that I highly disagree with mainstream commercial meat processing, I will be incorporating more vegetarian meals into my diet. I could never be a vegan long-term, and seriously doubt that I will be a vegetarian ALL the time, but I think that if I am going to live according to my basic belief sturcture and philosophy of protecting the planet and respecting all creatures, I should seriously limit my meat intake. So I'm going to.

I sincerely hope this thread continues and thrives as I'm sure I'll get just as much inspiration here as I do from the "Dinner" thread.


-Sounds awfully rich!

-It is! That's why I serve it with ice cream to cut the sweetness!

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Cool idea, Pontormo! Not by design, but we tend to eat one vegetarian meal a day.... protein twice a day can be sooo heavy.

Today's lunch, pecorino risotto and sauteed spinach. Oh, can somebody tell me, is it safe to eat spinach in the States again?? I sure hope so.......

I posted the photo on the dinner thread...but here you go!

gallery_14010_3559_142023.jpg

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Today's lunch, pecorino risotto and sauteed spinach. Oh, can somebody tell me, is it safe to eat spinach in the States again?? I sure hope so.......

Yeah, at this point spinach is officially back to whatever level of safety it had before the E. coli scare. :rolleyes:

As I've previously mentioned elsewhere on eGullet, I'm not a full-fledged vegetarian, but limit my animal protein intake, eat a lot of meatless meals, and am always on the lookout for more meatless dish ideas.

The other night I made a lovely Japanese-style stew of cubed tofu, onions, carrots, and shiitake mushrooms, simmered in a dashi broth spiked with soy sauce and slices of ginger root. The flavor was mild and mellow but definitely yummy. Great warming dish to help my bod fight off a cold.

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Tonight's meal: Channa dal with herbs and garlic tadka, basmati rice, cauliflower with mustard seeds, and an onion relish. This is one of my favorite comfort meals - dal of some sort, rice, and a vegetable.


Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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Tejon, are you sure you're not me? :blink:

You described almost identical to what

we ate for dinner today - mixed dal (mostly chana with a

little moong and masoor) with onions, tomatoes,

red chilli and panch pora.

Rice; and asparagus with the black mustard seeds!

Yogurt...

This is one of our comfort staples too.....

Simple every day food.... :smile:

Your description of what you fed your veg*an friends

(the chinese-ish meal) was heavenly too....

Hathor - question - is fennel same as anise? I saw

anise in the grocery today, and wanted to make your

braised fennel for TG....

By the way - vegetarian food means getting your protein

from mostly plant sources, it does not mean "no protein"...

And you had pecorino in your pasta, so a hunk of animal protein

right there :wink:

MissAmy - the reasons you gave for going mostly vegetarian

is the same as why my family is vegetarian. I have the

"easy out" of my Indian food background so it's no hardship

for us to be fully lacto-ovo vegetarian, (though

we rarely eat eggs but don't

rule them out, though we do consume a fair amount of dairy.)

And GiftedG - you didn't go wrong at all! Your daughter is lucky

that her mom is open to her very thoughtful dietary choices

and there's really no deprivation there - on the contrary -

a universe of exquisite food....

Our TG obviously is vegetarian, and having no Thanksgiving

traditions we have to replicate, our "thing" is to find a new and interesting

set of recipes every year and splurge.

So far on this year's menu much inspired by eg:

Lunch:

Hathor's braised fennel

(maybe) the stuffed baby artichokes from the Medieval food blog

roasted baby potatoes and brussels sprouts

EITHER

Chufi's Dutch cheese-filled crepes

OR

Spiced up spanakopita (more likely this as I have

an oversupply of fillo that needs to be used up)

dessert yet to be determined......am open to

suggestions.......

Dinner:

Evening a TG pot luck with friends,

our contribution:

Daniel's fillo-wrapped camembert cheese triangles

which I will take up a notch by slicing and spreading

with a spicy spread before wrapping.....

and whatever the others make......

Milagai

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