Recipes for vegetarian and lactose intolerant significant other
February 13, 2009 9:05 PM   Subscribe

What are some good recipes that me (vegetarian) and s.o. (lactose-intolerant) can enjoy?

I'm a cheese loving, bread and butter vegetarian (re: most of my cooking experience is limited to frozen meals and grilled cheese sandwiches). The S.O. is lactose intolerant (doesn't even like the taste of fake cheese, but can drink milk in small quantities). We're not in a big town, but I have access to basic vegetarian staples.

I'd like to make him a nice meal that both of us can eat and enjoy, but I'm not sure where to start (I'm worried vegan dishes will be too complicated/not as tasty, plus I don't want to be limited by no eggs/butter/honey, when both of us like those ingredients). Any suggestions? Bonus points for simple-to-fix, fancy-looking, or all-around tasty meals that fit the bill.

Thanks in advance for the help!
posted by karyotypical to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Are you fans of coconut? A nice thai curry utilizing some thick, rich coconut cream is easy and delicious.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:16 PM on February 13, 2009

Check out She Spills the Beans.
posted by el_lupino at 9:19 PM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

This soup is hearty, delicious, and vegetarian (if you sub veggie broth for the chicken broth). The fresh herbs make it especially good, and you can use practically any combination--I usually just buy the "Italian mix" box. It's unintentionally vegan (except for the cheese, which you can skip), but super easy. You just need a big pot and a couple hours. It'll make enough for several days' worth of meals.
posted by Meg_Murry at 9:19 PM on February 13, 2009

Seconding use of coconut milk. A Thai peanut sauce over grilled tempeh and vegetables over brown rice is finger licking good.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:26 PM on February 13, 2009

Vegan Yum Yum's Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok Steamed Collards and Quinoa recipe is bloody brilliant. I'd never manage to cook texturally good tofu at home until it taught me to dry-fry. I'm not sure about tastelessness in regular vegan dishes (I'm actually vegetarian, not vegan), but this one's got none o' that. My omnivorous mother loves it; it's definitely a good omnivore-friendly veg*an dish.
posted by springbound at 9:31 PM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Tofu burgers with peanut sauce.
posted by fearthehat at 9:32 PM on February 13, 2009

Put two bananas, two avocados, and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder in a food processor for nice vegan chocolate pudding.

Mince 2 stalks of celery, chop a half cup's worth of red pepper and a quarter cup of yellow onion. Throw them in a large mixing bowl with a half cup of ground flax seed (sprouted is healthier), and a cup of ground sunflower seeds (put them in a food processor to grind 'em to near dust). Mix well and add half a teaspoon of salt, two teaspoons of chopped oregano. Mix again, and add as little water (no more than a half cup) until you end up with a pliable paste. Mold them into burger patties and eat (no, don't cook 'em) like you would regular burgers.

Want some great ketchup with your burgers? Dice a tomato and drop it in a blender with two pitted dates, a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 tsp of salt, and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar. Blend until smooth then drop in a half cup of sun dried tomatoes and blend until well mixed but stil thick.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:40 PM on February 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

They're not specifically buttery/cheesy, but both I and my meat-and-potatoes vegetarian guy really enjoy these Boca sloppy joes-- quick, easy, delicious, same general taste family as grilled cheese and other American favorites.

Also, I believe many lactose-intolerant people can tolerate yogurt just fine (bacteria break down the lactose), so cream sauces thickened with yogurt might be an option.
posted by Bardolph at 9:43 PM on February 13, 2009

Oh, and I assume when you say "fake cheese" you mean that soy shit. I couldn't agree more. Try some of these:

cashew cheese ricotta

3 cups raw (not roasted!) cashews, soaked in water for 2 hours or more
1/4 cup lemon juice
tbs grated lemon zest
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
the bulb and 2 inches of the green of 2 green onions, minced
3 tbs minced tarragon
2 tbs minced parsley

drain and rinse the nuts. throw everything except the bottom three ingredients in a food processor and process until smoothish (you want it to have the consistency of ricotta). transfer to a mixing bowl and fold in the remaining ingredients. taste to see if it needs more salt or lemon juice.

pine nut ricotta

2 cups raw pine nuts, soaked an hour or more
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs nutritional yeast
1 tsp salt
6 tbs filtered water

put everything except the water in the food process and pulse repeatedly till well combined. gradually add the water and process until you get a fluffy ricotta like texture.

Both of these fake cheeses are good in lasagnas or as fillings. the first one goes real nice when sandwiched between *extremely* thin slices of red beets. slice the beets paper thin and then marinate in 2 to 3 tbs of macadamia oil (or extra virgin olive oil if you can't find/afford it) and 2 tbs lemon juice and a big ass pinch of salt. toss to coat but drip off the marinate before you make the "raviolis". if you're feeling decadent, top them with chopped sicilian pistachios that have also been tossed in olive oil with a pinch of salt. drop a few slivers of fresh tarragon on each one.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:01 PM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I find myself suggesting this all the time on AskMe, but I am a huge fan of Fantastic Foods Veg Chilli.
posted by radioamy at 10:17 PM on February 13, 2009

Black bean stew is delicious.
posted by salvia at 10:37 PM on February 13, 2009

This sounds like a job for stir fry Chinese vegetables flavored with hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and Chinese cooking wine. Also ginger, garlic, scallions, peppers -- lots of flavors available to mix and match.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:43 PM on February 13, 2009

Don't count vegan recipes out--I had to go dairy-free for a while and vegan cookbooks were a great resource for me. I loved Voluptuous Vegan and La Dolce Vegan.
posted by padraigin at 11:09 PM on February 13, 2009

Giant field mushrooms: drizzle olive oil on them, chopped garlic, chilli and fresh parsley. Bake in the oven on a tray for about 15-20 minutes. Serve with steamed squash and green beans (more olive oil and chilli might be nice on those too, or just a bit of butter).

Boil 2 eggs. Slice 3 potatoes into thick slices, steam them or cook until *just* soft in the microwave (maybe 3 minutes). Slice green beans into inch-long segments. Fry up a little onion too, if you like. Toss beans and potatoes in a bowl with a mustard dressing, then quarter the eggs and place them on top.
posted by harriet vane at 1:42 AM on February 14, 2009

I'm with Chocolate Pickle on this one. I'm lactose intolerant and my wok gets a ridiculous amount of mileage. Not sure where you fall in with fish/seafood, but there are plenty of veggie options for sushi as well. The same applies to Thai food, so I strongly recommend coconut milk based curries.

Also, I don't know about the States (where I assume you are from) but in recent years, I've started seeing more lactose-free milk around Europe. Originally from Scandinavia, it's not soya milk but rather real milk that they've removed all the lactose from with a chemical process (and thanks to that, they're not allowed to call it milk, but a 'milk drink'). Tastes like the real thing and can be used for all the same things as regular milk with no noticeable difference. Keep an eye out because if your S.O. is anything like me, drinking pints of milk and eating ridiculous amounts of cereal for the first time in over a decade feels damn good.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:57 AM on February 14, 2009

Lots of recipes at Vegetarian Times website, and you can tailor searches for dairy-free etc.
posted by elendil71 at 5:08 AM on February 14, 2009

Getting the obvious out of the way -- Has your SO tried just taking Lactaid supplements? I've heard of great success for others that way.

But Asian cuisine can be very good for this, because most don't use dairy all that much. Pad Thai may work -- it's actually pretty easy; it's just a stir-fry, basically, it's just a matter of getting the "proper" ingredients (rice noodles, cooked egg, scallions, the sauce -- which you can get pre-packaged in jars now -- and some kind of protein or tofu) to make it "officially" the Pad Thai you're used to.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:41 AM on February 14, 2009

Lactaid supplements, lactose-free milk, and Trader Joe's lactose-free cheese have all been saving graces of my very, very lactose-intolerant family.

If you have a Trader Joe's near you, look for the "lactose-free yogurt cheese" hanging up with the sliced cheeses. I used to live three hours away from the nearest TJ's, but when we could get the cheese, it was a lovely treat.
posted by corey flood at 7:38 AM on February 14, 2009

Another coconut milk idea: you could also make mashed sweet potatoes with coconut milk (instead of cream). It's delicious!
posted by belau at 8:23 AM on February 14, 2009

Wow! Thanks for all the awesome answers! I love coconut and hadn't even thought of trying to cook with it... If I can find tempeh, I'll definitely use it, otherwise I'm going to make peanut noodles and veggie burgers tonight. Also, I don't know how you knew You Should See the Other Guy, but I love ketchup, so I'm already making a grocery list for dates and sun dried tomatoes :) And thanks for the better 'cheese' recipes as well. If anyone has any other suggestions, I'd love to hear them as well!
posted by karyotypical at 9:15 AM on February 14, 2009

I'm worried vegan dishes will be too complicated/not as tasty, plus I don't want to be limited by no eggs/butter/honey, when both of us like those ingredients

So don't buy a vegan cookbook; buy a vegetarian cookbook that's vegan-friendly. I use Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone -- neither is at all focused on "vegan recipes," but they'll often give a recipe with dairy and then point out how you can easily change it to omit the dairy. E.g. if something calls for butter, use an appropriate oil instead (e.g. olive oil for anything savory).

Cheese often works well if you top it on a dish at the end. So ... put it on yours, not hers.

Also: A lot of soups can be made creamy by adding sour cream at the end. Find any recipe for a pureed soup, which will have you blend it in a blender or food processor near the end, then reheat it a bit in the original pot, adding sour cream. Instead, you could separate it into 2 pots and stir sour cream into yours.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:34 PM on February 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

You don't really have to compromise your dairy-loving menus for your SO. I'm horribly, horribly lactose intolerant and I'll be damned if I let that get in my way.

Cheese-wise, every single product made by Finlandia is 100% lactose-free. Here in the US, you mainly see only their cheeses, but if you live somewhere with a large Scandinavian population, you might be able to get some of their other stuff (butter, sour cream, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc.) from an import shop.

As for butter, any kind made by a European dairy manufacturer will probably not affect anyone lactose intolerant, as the fermenting process they use is some kind of goddamn milk magic. I've had good luck with both Lurpak and Beurre d'Echire.
posted by elizardbits at 7:23 PM on February 14, 2009

Well if you like cooking with (fresh) coconut, try this coconut chutney:

coconut meat from 2 to 3 thai baby coconuts (about a cup)
juice of half a lemon
1 clove of garlic
1 small red thai chilli pepper
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt

blend 1/4 cup of the coconut with the lemon juice in a blender. pour the mixture into a mixing bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:23 PM on February 14, 2009

I recommend Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian cookbook. It's one of my favorite cookbooks, and the vast majority of the recipes are dairy-free.

Cheeses that have been aged for a long time (usually the harder cheeses) have very little lactose in them - the longer a cheese is aged, the more lactose is turned into lactic acid. Depending on your SO's willingness to experiment, he may find that there are cheeses he can eat (parmagiano reggiano, e.g.) and by extension, that you can cook with.
posted by gingerbeer at 9:48 PM on February 14, 2009

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