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March 10, 2009 5:35 PM   Subscribe

What should we cook for dinner tomorrow? We're vegetarians, bored of curry, chilli and pasta with sauce.

Help us feed our friend with something that is either unlikely to go wrong, or easy to make in advance and not too horrifyingly expensive if we do it wrong. Because you never know. We're looking for something new to try.

Anything with lots of garlic and chilli in is always a hit with us :) We are completely out of ideas.
posted by teraspawn to Food & Drink (34 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Roast some garlic and spread it on fresh bread for an easy and tasty appetizer.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:43 PM on March 10, 2009

Try anything from here: 101 Cookbooks

I made Giant Chipotle White Beans the other day, and they were spicy and fantastic.
posted by Adam_S at 5:45 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Breakfast? Not sure if your vegetarian diet excludes eggs, but a rich French toast like this or this and eggs Benedict, with fresh squeezed juices and smoothies, would make a fabulous, sumptuous, fun, and casually low-stress dinner.
posted by mdonley at 5:48 PM on March 10, 2009

Tofu Adobo over rice with grilled pineapple (dip pineapple slices in melted butter, dip in cinnamon sugar, grill) for dessert.
posted by plinth at 5:49 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Assemble-your-own tacos with refried beans and/or TVP as the protein. You can chop/shred all the toppings ahead of time. Easy, cheap, and interactive!
posted by pluckemin at 5:49 PM on March 10, 2009

Veggie pot-pie - use cream of mushroom soup for the base, add standard aromatics (celery, onion, carrot, garlic), put in some broccoli, mushrooms, peas & carrots, some diced potatoes, and any other veg you like that'll hold up to being mushed around and baked for around an hour.

Just make sure to check the pie crusts you buy for what kind of fat they used, as some modern crusts still use lard.
posted by batmonkey at 5:51 PM on March 10, 2009

sorry for carrot redundancy - I guess I like 'em.
posted by batmonkey at 5:52 PM on March 10, 2009


Saute at least 3 or 4 cloves of minced garlic along with a small diced onion in olive oil. Once they soften, toss in an eggplant* that's been cubed. Stir occasionally, till the eggplant starts to soften. Add in a can of diced tomatoes, a diced sweet bell pepper, and a sliced zucchini.** Season with salt and pepper to taste, then let simmer till it's all nice and soft and bubbly. Add in some fresh basil towards the end.

You can either serve it over brown rice, or make it into a goat cheese tart (if you're not vegan). For the tart, prebake a pie crust (I just get the premade ones at the market, but you can make your own if you like) while you're making the ratatouille. Remove from the oven when it's just lightly golden, spread with about 6 oz. of softened goat cheese, then spoon in the ratatouille. Sprinkle a little grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil on the top, then bake for about 20, till crust is dark gold and crispy.

*based on your spelling of chilli with 2 l's, you may be living where it's actually called an aubergine...?
**i.e., courgette

posted by scody at 5:56 PM on March 10, 2009 [8 favorites]

posted by Sassyfras at 6:00 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Press and marinate some firm tofu and grill it? Or buy some tempeh and serve it with fried rice? Or, if you have time, make your own seitan (link is for baked, but I know I made an awesome seitan bourgogne one time). Seitan is really fun if you have any baking experience--it's like kneading underwater, and the finished product really soaks up any flavor you throw at it.
posted by Mngo at 6:04 PM on March 10, 2009

From the Moosewood quick cookbook - try the Skillet beans with cheesy grits or the broiled polenta with mushrooms and a side salad. The salad with soba noodles and snow peas with miso dressing is also quite good as a side, I served it alongside salmon but I think you could adapt it to be a main course.
From the Harrowsmith cookbook - try tofu in peanut sauce and the Mexican tortilla casserole.
From the Joy of Cooking - try stuffed bell peppers (method 2) with a side salad.
From Bittman's How to cook everything - try the pureed potato and leek soup with a side salad and crusty bread.
posted by crazycanuck at 6:06 PM on March 10, 2009

Around the Med: couscous with roasted vegetables and a harissa sauce. Kushari. Falafel in pita with hummus, tsatziki and/or baba ghanoush. Some kind of variant on Persian rice (rice, lentils, caramelised onions). Tabbouleh with loads of mint, parsley and lemon.
posted by holgate at 6:16 PM on March 10, 2009

This marinated tofu recipe is pretty easy and really delicious - nice, chewy texture and great flavor. I'm not normally a huge tofu fan but my partner made this the other day and it was hands down the best tofu I've ever tasted. We went through it in no time and just bought another huge block of tofu to make more. (If you try it be sure to use extra-firm tofu.)
posted by spiny at 6:21 PM on March 10, 2009

Stuffed peppers! I stick wide-ish sweet peppers in the oven, cook up some quinoa, add cooked-till-translucent onions and wilted spinach and some soy sauce to the quinoa, put it in the peppers, and bake more. Great with sauteed mushrooms.

Another big hit around here is lettuce wraps -- dice some tofu, mushrooms, onions (and fresh chiles if you have them); throw 'em in a pan on lowish heat with garlic and a sauce made of soy, chiles, and something sweet -- honey is pretty awesome. Cook 'till the tofu/'shrooms are done and the sauce is thick and coats the ingredients well, then serve with biggish lettuce leaves.
Serve with rice and a stir-fry of whatever's in the fridge -- peapods, sweet peppers, greens, carrots, whatever.

How do you feel about grilled cheese? Because honestly, that's what I'm craving right now -- specifically, grilled cheese and tomato soup.

Maybe I shouldn't answer food questions when I'm hungry
posted by mismatched at 6:25 PM on March 10, 2009

Best answer: Though not a vegetarian myself, I've recently been collecting meatless recipes, as I'm trying to eat less meat and fat (and money).

Lemon Glazed Tofu and Brocolli A one pan meal.

Roasted Chickpea Tacos. Most ingredients could be store bought or prepped ahead of time.

Black Bean Burgers. I've been making a recipie of my own invention much like this one for a while. Lots of cumin, some frozen corn, big can of black beans, maybe some breadcrumbs and chili powder. Mash it all together, pan fry in a touch of oil. Serve on toasted buns, favorite topings, and baked sweet potato homefries. Bonus points with chipoltle mayo and fresh cilantro. Any leftover bean mix can make a quick and tasty lunch, so I usually make a large batch.

Lentil soup, and home made pitas. Nice wintertime dish, sure to impress with the pitas too. Actually, ok the pitas are so amazing, it doesn't matter what you make to go with them.
posted by fontophilic at 6:29 PM on March 10, 2009 [3 favorites]

Make this ten-minute crust and then put this tofu quiche in it.

A killer act, takes less than an hour to put together. It's pleased many a guest.
posted by Bobby Bittman at 6:32 PM on March 10, 2009

Vegetarian thin crust pizza, make a few different ones (thin crust, not some pie thing) and do different crazy/normal toppings. Mix it up, make extra dough.
And when i say pizza I mean on the pan/stone in the oven kind of pizza, not that other thing.

Or add coconut to any of the above.
posted by blink_left at 6:46 PM on March 10, 2009

Chiles en Nogada
Google it. Some recipies will call for chicken broth in the sherry cream sauce or include meat stuffing, but you can manage. My family always used just rice and the other things to stuff, no meat.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:51 PM on March 10, 2009

Hot and sour soup with fresh spring rolls..

This is a favorite of mine.. lots of flavor even if you want to bring the heat down on the recipes but that's up to you...
posted by Weaslegirl at 7:59 PM on March 10, 2009

posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:13 PM on March 10, 2009

Doesn't get much easier than a nice frittata -- cheap, filling, nutritious if you use the right vegetables, and kinda festive!
posted by escabeche at 8:22 PM on March 10, 2009

My coop (hi, cygnet, Salvor Hardin) has started putting our recipes up on a blog. You'd have to scale the recipes down, but they're all crowd pleasers.
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:24 PM on March 10, 2009

Tempeh mushroom fricassee with forty cloves of garlic. You pretty much can't go wrong with (a) a Peter Berley recipe or (b) forty cloves of garlic.
posted by clavicle at 8:41 PM on March 10, 2009

(oh, just a few things I forgot with the ratatouille recipe: toss in a couple of bay leaves with the onions and garlic. And I will also sometimes substitute dried tarragon instead of basil toward the end of the cooking for a slightly different flavor.)
posted by scody at 8:42 PM on March 10, 2009

I made these tacos the other day and man, were they ever incredibly amazing. I used that crumbly white mexican cheese (can't think of the name at the moment) instead of the feta they suggest.
posted by you're a kitty! at 9:12 PM on March 10, 2009

Your profile doesn't state where you live, but if you have access to Asian groceries, Buddha's Feast is a fine vegetarian dish.

Fresh ingredients are force multipliers. I'm a huge fan of fresh (whole) bamboo shoots (that you'll have to process*). Same goes for shitake mushrooms. Lotus root is hearty and filling and lends a natural thickener to the stew, from it's long-chain/sticky carbohydrates/proteins. Large un-roasted peanuts can add body to dishes that are a little too light. There are also processed kelp/seaweed proteins that are formed into texturally pleasant 'stuff.' Chao Hao is a good generic soy-based 'spice'/seasoning for Buddha's Feast-like 'stews.'

I've (been, too) surprised Western pallets with 'wood ears' (wood fungus/black ear fungus) wrt their texture and taste in such stews.
posted by porpoise at 10:56 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Roast! My husband is vegetarian and we eat this once a week, at least. Gather any and all vegetables that are in season. Here in the southwest, it's asparagas, root vegetables, onions, garlic and cauliflower. Dice them in whatever size you want and liberally cover with olive oil, sea salt and (optional) fresh pepper. Then roast in a 450 oven until the root vegetables are tender and everything else has caramelized. Serve with fresh bread (Same oven, if you have room). Don't over think it, just throw it all in the oven. Roasted, sliced cauliflower is especially nice. It's not necessarily a complete protien, but it's a wonderful treat. Great with company. Serve with a nice cava.
posted by lizjohn at 11:41 PM on March 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

Seconding the falafel. Easy to make if you have a food processor, prepare time about an hour, but helpful to chill the cooked garbonzos overnight before grinding and mixing with the other ingredients. Make some lemon tahini dressing (blender), also easy, along with some pitas, tomatoes, lettuce. I had it tonight, yum!
posted by telstar at 1:05 AM on March 11, 2009

Jilder's Veggie Burgers

You will need:
Can o chickpeas
One egg, two if you're up for the ethnic Aussie version,
One small onion
Tomato paste
Lettuce or other salad leaves
Dijonaise (because I am a heretic)
Regular Mayo (because I am one day to become a fat, content heretic)
Tomato sauce
Cheese (Swiss slices are nice)
Beetroot (again, for the Aussie version)
Olive oil

Put the chickpeas, a wee bit of oil, basil, about a teaspoon of tomato paste, a tablespoon of flour, the onion and a teaspoon of garlic and the egg into a food processor and blend until masticated. If you don't have a food processor you can probably mash everything together with a fork. But it's mroe fun to put int into the processor and DESTROY!!

Ladel mixture into oiled frypan on a mid heat. Fry. Turn it over after about three or four minutes, but keep rotating if it's still squishy. Fry an egg now too if you're having one.

This gives you my multipurpose chickpea patty. Sometimes we eat those on their own, like a rissole. Build the rest of the burger beetween rotations. Mayo, Dijon, lettuce, tomato, beetroot if you're having it, then cheese. Tomato sauce on the lid of the bun. When the patty is done, whack it on top of the cheese, add the egg if you're having it, another slice of cheese if you like, lid the bastard and enjoy.
posted by Jilder at 1:08 AM on March 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

Refried bean extravaganza

Do you like cheese? If so, then haloumi is great. I like it sliced and fried and put into wraps with salad, harissa paste, tomato etc. Nom nom nom...
posted by jonesor at 7:18 AM on March 11, 2009

Tunisian Vegetable Stew. Serve with warm toasted almonds and cold feta: delicious! Also works great as a leftover, and is very easy to prepare. (I think the recipe is originally from the Moosewood Cookbook.) You can also serve it over quinoa (or experiment with other grains) instead of couscous. Make the couscous by pouring water into a covered bowl of salted couscous; not too much water, so it soaks in the steam.
posted by Schmucko at 1:18 PM on March 11, 2009

Best answer: Experiment. Tonight we had some tomatoes that were on their last legs and a ripe plantain that needed eating. So I made basmatic rice with plantains and tomatoes. Just prepare rice as you would usually, but add the plantains and tomatoes at the same time as the rice. It was a stroke of luck that the slices of plantain (cut around 1/4-1/2 inch thick) cooked just so.

If you don't have one of those cheap bamboo steamers it's a worthwhile investment. So many things are delicious steamed. I like slicing potatoes thinly and sprinkling with chopped garlic, and placing them in the lower basket. Then in the top basket goes greens, mushrooms, and cubed tofu. You can put even more aromatic veggies and herbs in the lower tray to flavor the food above. If you put long-cook items in the lower basket then everything ends up being cooked sort of at the same time.

If you eat cheese, throw a rind (or a piece of cheese that's hardened too much to eat) into your next soup for amazing flavor.

If you eat eggs, try making some Shakshouka, a vegetarian version of Avgolemono, Stracciatella and finally the standard Chinese Take-Out Egg Drop Soup. Basicaly, an international culinary exploration of the scrambled egg soup.

If you drink milk, make your own paneer. It's easy and really satisfying to make yourself, cook it up with spinach or just eat it raw (if you do make it on your own, try spicing it up by adding whole cumin seeds to the milk before curdling it).

Vital gluten flour, if you can get it, makes creating our own seitan dishes remarkably simple. Since my very own post on seitan I finally bought some (available at Whole Foods in the bulk aisle) and have been making all kinds of wonderful creations. The other day I made my first ever homemade veggie burgers based around this excellent recipe which uses TVP, another great meat alternative.

Buy a tub of miso paste and make your own miso soup. Buy seaweed at your local Asian supermarket if you have one, and throw tiny pieces in the soup...by the time it's cooked they'll have rehydrated and will be super tasty. Throw some cubes of silken tofu in there.

If you eat butter, get really nice butter and put it into some freshly baked sweet potatoes.

Disclosure: I am no longer a vegetarian, although I guess you could say I identify strongly with the culture and spent a good chunk of my life as one. I still love eating vegetarian food and love love cooking it.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:17 AM on March 12, 2009

I just realized that none of the dishes I mentioned was explicitly spicy. But with the possible exception of the miso soup, all of the dishes I mentioned would not be hurt (and would be greatly jazzed up) with a healthy addition of garlic and chili.

Just to clarify: you say you're bored of curry, but have you tried all of the many, many variants of curry pastes and masalas that are out there? I'm pretty sure there are at least 5 distinct varieties you can get pre-made that don't have animal products in them, but as far as actual spice combinations there are thousands.

Oooh! How could I forget this!

Okay, so no idea what it's called, but if you have a Korean supermarket this is perfect. You get the red chili paste...a quick search shows it's probably Gochujang sauce, and you get Korean rice cakes (nothing like the crunchy cakes I normally think of...these are small cylinders that are hard and then soften when boiled). The rice cakes will actually probably come with a recipe on the back, otherwise just cook according to directions (basically, around 1/2 lb boiled in 4 cups of water until tender) then get rid of most of the water and add a little bit of sugar and the sauce to taste. This is really excellent with well-cooked cabbage (white tastes better than purple for some reason in this dish). This chili sauce is also a great addition to stir fries and soups.

Dumplings, can't forget dumplings. Wonton wrappers make this so easy; just about anything can but put in a wrapper and then you just fold it over and boil or steam until the wrapper is translucent. As I said, I'm an omnivore so I love making dumplings using scallions and ground up fish but you can substitute tofu for just as much tastiness. Wonton wrappers can also be used for the poor man's ravioli. Just mix some canned pumpkin with herbs and spices of your choosing (lots of garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary is always a good bet), wrap them in the wonton wrappers and boil until the pasta is cooked, maybe 2-3 minutes tops. Now you have fancy restaurant-style ravioli.

I've noticed some people mentioning tacos...I've never done them myself, but one day soon I am definitely going to make some of these Jackfruit carnitas tacos.
posted by Deathalicious at 1:45 AM on March 12, 2009

I have found this strudel to be excellent!

posted by pawlyk at 4:56 PM on March 14, 2009

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