Friday, September 5, 2008

Vegetarian Substitutions

So I was chatting with a certain vegetarian sister of mine and I thought it might be nice for her and any other veggies who happen to stop by if I tossed out some ideas for non-meat ways to make some of my recipes. Now first, a disclaimer or two. I am not a vegetarian. Obviously. But I read a lot of cooking magazines and websites so I a have bit of an idea of what kind of substitutions get made. But I will not be trying any of them since a lot involve mushrooms and tofu, neither of which I care for. Regardless, I still have an idea of how these things work. Apparently there are lots of meat substitute soy thingies in grocery stores in the dairy/fresh pasta sections. So that's something to consider. But, here are some other ideas.

NOTE: I am doing some ongoing research on this and I have begged for assistance from the knowledgeable folks over at Bakespace so I will be updating this post as I get more info.

Easiest first: calzones. You can fill them with whatever you want, it doesn't have to be meat. Cooked, browned chunks of potato are good. I'm sure chunks of tofu would be good, if you are into that. Cauliflower, sweet potato, beans, ricotta cheese, peppers, spinach, mushrooms, all these things can be wrapped in dough and baked. You don't have to do white sauce either, red sauce, bbq sauce, hoisin sauce, it's all good. Calzones are a concept, fill them with whatever your little heart desires.

Seared Flank Steak. This one I don't think you can swap out with tofu, although I have heard of "tofu steaks". But frankly the thought sends chills down my spine, so if that interests you I'm afraid you're on your own. But the thing is, you really need a strong, rich flavor if you are going to make a sauce with it. So mushrooms are probably your best bet. Brown them good to get some fond and then make a sauce with that. You could use portobellos and treat them just like a steak (although I don't know how long you cook one for so I don't know if you can get a good fond) or you could use chopped mushrooms and leave them in the sauce. Either way you can use the sauce to make the broccoli like in the original recipe.

Gina's spaghetti could be done vegetarian. I have heard there are faux-bacon things you could use or you could use a little liquid smoke and something like butter to add some richness.

All my asian-esque dishes can very easily be turned vegetarian. Tempeh, tofu and mushrooms are all classics in asian cooking and lend themselves well to marinating, I'm told. So they are easy enough to swap out for the meats. You can also leave out the meat altogether and just use vegetables.

I have heard that there is a vegetarian Italian sausage, although I don't know the name of it off the top of my head. But if there is one you like you can make the penne in a tomato cream sauce with it.

If you want to make vegetarian jambalaya it's kind of like calzones. You don't have to have anything specific in it at all. You could use those little mushrooms (button?) instead of sausage, chunks of tofu/tempeh or something like cauliflower or potato instead of chicken and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. But you can put whatever you like in it, so be creative! Jambalaya is a method more than anything else.

You could swap tofu or tempeh for the pork in the orange pork. You would want it to be firm so as to stand up to cooking in the sauce for a while.

Plus I have several recipes that are vegetarian to begin with, plus all the baked goods don't have meat in them. Heh. I'm going to keep researching this stuff and will update as I learn more.


Anonymous said...

You're the best, Justin. The veggie sausages are by Yves and are pretty good. I eat fake veggie sausages on the weekend for breakfast, fake meat for lunch, fake pepperoni on pizza, seitan "chicken", and fake ground beef in sauces. I like them for the spices and protein.

Your vegetarian sister

Bob said...

Heh, thanks Beckers. I just didn't want you to think you couldn't make any of this stuff just because you don't eat meat! There are tons of ways around it... if you are into that. If you ever like a recipe and want an omnivores advice on how to make it veggie, you know where to find me. :)


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