G.H. asks from Boise, ID on November 19, 2009
Hearty Cooking Without Meat?
our family has stopped eating meat this summer. We didn't miss it much, with all the yummy veggies fresh from our garden, but are not as happy eith our "winter cooking" experiences so far... I used to cook things like stews and hearty soups (split pea, lentil, etc.) and chilis during the colder time of year, healty, cheap and good. I wouldn't use a whole lot of meat, just some hot dog, ham, prosciutto or ground beef, but that seems to have "made" a lot of the soups... Meatless chilis are okay, but the soups just don't taste the same without meat! Any ideas on that? I've tried to substitute "fake" meat, but that just doesn't do the trick... Do I really have to give up on hearty comfort food, or is there a way to get the meat taste without the meat?
1 mom found this helpful
J.W. answers from Provo on November 22, 2009
For bean-based soups (peas, lentils, etc.), I like to put in "liquid smoke," which you can get at most any grocery. A little goes a long way, and it gives a similar flavor to what you would get using bacon or ham. It is also good to add a little bit of olive oil to make up for the lost fat by skipping the fatty meats, but it is healthier fat and does a lot for the taste.
J.D. answers from Denver on November 20, 2009
I use lentils often, as well as beans (usually black or cannelini) and greens to make dishes heartier. I don't like using a lot of meat substitutes either. It's going to be a crock pot winter & that's perfect for veggie soups, stews and other hearty dishes, Have you looked at the cookbooks enchanted broccoli forest & moosewood? they are great veggie cookbooks: http://www.amazon.com/Enchanted-Broccoli-Katzens-Classic-... and http://www.amazon.com/Moosewood-Cookbook-Katzens-Classic-... (if you look in the suggestions area, you'll see all the moosewood cookbooks). Good luck!
K.S. answers from Denver on November 20, 2009
You got some great responses already, and I'm so happy to see so many meat free homes!! Thought I was the only one...
Not sure if someone mentioned the slow cooker cookbooks. I think they are fix it and forget it for vegetarians, or fresh from the vegetarian slow cooker. Lots of great and varied ideas in there.
I think once you adjust more, you won't miss the meat flavor. I use vegetable stock and love it. They do make 'fake' beef or chicken stock. I think they have some sodium, but so does the real stuff!
I was surprised to learn that my picky family loved squash, just not cubed. They will eat squash soup (so many recipes out there, I use one that adds some pureed carrots, too). Even my 250 pound football playing hubby loves it. I just serve it with a hearty multi-grain bread to fill us up. Also squash ravioli. Really good flavor.
A.S. answers from Denver on November 20, 2009
Here's one I made just a couple days ago....get a package of ten bean soup from the Womens Bean Project (any King Soopers or Safeway). Soak the beans. Make the pot of soup per directions, I add carrots, celery, onion to give it a little variety. Then add a cup of quinoa. It made all the difference in turning the bean soup into a hearty bean stew. Plus it's added protein!
A.P. answers from Pocatello on November 20, 2009
Using a hearty broth will probably help. Of course, you could make a really good vegetable broth (I'd look at Food Network for recipes), but perhaps you're willing to use chicken or beef broth to gain that flavor back. Just a thought!
D.W. answers from Colorado Springs on November 20, 2009
You've probably already tried this, but just thought I'd mention "Not Chicken" and "Not Beef" boullion. They're not exactly a perfect sub for hearty stocks (and they have a ton of sodium), but they are so quick and easy. I use them to add extra flavor to, say, a big pot of beans or rice, instead of cooking in just water. Also, you don't mention if you've gone meatless to save money or just not to eat meat. If it's more about saving money, would you still accept using meat stocks in your dishes?
J.P. answers from Salt Lake City on November 20, 2009
I tried a great recipe a couple of weeks ago.I am trying to have all my family go meatless not just myself. My 15 year old picky eater loved it.
Cooked pasta of your choice, a can of cream of mushroom soup, a couple of morning star mealtless sausage patties broken up blend all together and add a little lemon pepper.
I tried a couple of hamburger helpers recently and used vegi burgers in place of hamburger. They weren't too bad eiher. I also make fruit and vegi smoothies every day so we can get our servings of fuits and vegetables. I have a great blender that turns whole foods into smoothies with a little bit of soy milk. I use 1/3 frozen banana,5 frozen strawberries, 5 frozen blackberries, handfull of grapes, and a handfull of spinach. You can't taste the spinach at all, but they have to drink it fast because if it sits very long it starts to turn green from the chlorefil. You can be very creative with these and use whatever you have.
M.H. answers from Denver on November 20, 2009
I was a vegetarian for over 15 years & started eating birds a few years ago. There are things you go through as a part of the change that you will miss but eventually it goes away, trust me.
As a vegetarian, your comfort foods are things like dairy products, mushrooms, and eggs. You may want to familiarize yourself with the concept of umami to learn about where your taste buds get satisfaction & how...
Hearty winter vegetarian meals:
Vegetarian lasagne, especially with eggplant in it. Eggplant very much takes on the characteristics of meat to non-meat eaters. (Eggplant parmesian as well)
Any pasta dish is hearty and veggie - like walnut butternut squash stuffed ravioli.
Any enchilada or burrito type of dish is hearty when vegetarian.
Mashed potato and macaroni and cheese are both vegetarian and classic comfort foods. Stuffing too.
You can use potatoes as a thickner in soups. I puree half the potato to make it thicker, then leave the other half chunky for texture. They say you can do this with cauliflower too, but I never found that as satisfying.
You may want to try Tempeh - I love tempeh, and I also love Boca burger. Boca burger on pizza is fantastic. You can't think of it as MEAT... you just think of it as a protein ingredient. It tastes great on it's own - but it's not going to taste like meat to a meat eater.
Nuts - roast some nuts and put them in anything to make it more hearty. Some roasted walnuts with barley and mushrooms make a fantastic soup (with other ingredients too).
Good Luck, I hope this helps.
M.G. answers from Denver on November 21, 2009
Portabella mushrooms are a great replacement for meat. They are hearty and have a very fleshy texture.
A.C. answers from Salt Lake City on November 20, 2009
I use some vegetarian soup bases that are only available online. They are imported form Switzerland and used only in 5 star restaurants that care about top quality. The beef and veal flavored bases are meat free. The vegetable is wonderful. It makes lentil soup so delicious. They also have a ham base (contains ham though) that is great in any bean soup and a chicken base that is superb. They taste like you've cooked all day to get a stock that took you minutes. They are about $23 a can which yield 23 gallons of stock. It's a store in AZ that sells it, email me if you want ordering info.