Vegetarian date food
March 5, 2010 1:52 PM   Subscribe

What's a really good, simple, warming, hearty vegetarian dish I can cook for my new boy?

Looking for favourite midweek food that is thoughtful and delicious but not fussy or pretentious. Think peasant chic ... more chickpea and cauliflower curry than Stilton and pickled walnut tart. Oh yeah, my cooking skills are a little iffy, so something that will work first time and isn't risotto would be awesome.
posted by dontjumplarry to Food & Drink (36 answers total) 102 users marked this as a favorite
I always enjoy a good spinach quiche. Not hard to make if you buy the store crust and my picky boyfriend loves it.
posted by quodlibet at 1:54 PM on March 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Moroccan Stew

2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 diced onion
1 chopped carrot
1 chopped celery
1 tsp chopped garlic
1/2 diced tomatoes
1 can of chick peas
cut green beans
chopped potato
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp salt, coriander powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and garam masala.

Brown onions and then add other items one by one. You can probably vary the spices as well.
posted by yawper at 1:55 PM on March 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

I just can't stop recommending lentil soup for simple, good, hearty fare. I like the expensive (oh no, $2 a pound!) tiny french lentils, but any will do.

Chop some carrots and celery and an onion. Maybe some garlic if you feel like it. Cook in oil for a bit, then dump in a cup of lentils, a few chopped canned tomatoes and 3-4 cups of water. Salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and forget about it for 30 minutes to an hour. Check for doneness and serve.

I like adding a bit of Tapatio or other hot sauce, and eating with a good crusty bread. Oh and it's even better the next day.
posted by aspo at 2:01 PM on March 5, 2010 [6 favorites]

Some sort of squash curry (with or without tofu) would be awesome. Be mindful, though, of the typical use of fish sauce, which is clearly not vegetarian -- can you find some other substitute?
posted by Madamina at 2:03 PM on March 5, 2010

Spicy roast potatoes with tomato sauce.

Make potatoes into 1cm square cubes. Add cayenne to taste. Roast until golden. This does take time but you can be doing something else.

Fry up an onion and chuck in a tin of tomatoes with some chilli powder and (if you have it) some worcester sauce or soy sauce or fish sauce and some lemon juice.
posted by emilyw at 2:06 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I like Molly Katzen's original Moosewood cookbook for these simple, yummy, unpretentious and veggie recipes.

I second quiche and a nice lentil soup as simple, yummy options. Additional ideas: lasagna, baked mac and cheese with side salad, tortilla, a simple veggie chili with TVP or bulgher for a "meaty" texture, white bean and kale soup (with optional veggie sausage), or baked potatoes with fixins.

posted by serazin at 2:12 PM on March 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Seconding lentil soup! I'm eating some right now (leftovers from two nights ago made with nearly the same recipe as aspo!.) I add kale (or spinach or another green) to my soup for the full rainbow of vegetable nutrition.
posted by vespabelle at 2:18 PM on March 5, 2010

These lentil-walnut burgers are casual and absolutely delicious. You can boil and mash the lentils the night before and just keep them in the fridge -- that lets you skip the "let it cool" step.

By the way, I recommend skipping the spinach and broiling rather than frying for maximum burger-stays-togetherness.
posted by cider at 2:19 PM on March 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

Recommendation: Spinach tart. 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained. 1 small package goat cheese. Caramelized onions. chopped garlic. Chopped in half grape tomatoes. Cumin and salt and pepper to taste. Mix together and put in whatever easy bready thing you have. It makes a good calzone or pie or...

Recommendation 2: Mujadara. Lentils, rice, spices, caramelized onions. Yum.

Recommendation 3: Chickpea kofta. Mashed sweet potatoes mixed with peas, chickpeas, cumin, salt, pepper, tumeric. Can add an egg or two. Mix together and fry like latkes.

Warning: Most store pie crusts are NOT vegetarian. They contain lard. However, you can put most of what you'd put on a pie crust on pizza dough and it's less fussy. Also, leftover rice can be used as a quiche crust in a pinch.
posted by eleanna at 2:27 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Don't have the book with me, so I can't type the recipe, but here's a very close copy of one that I really like: Vegetarian Garbure, from the Classic Vegetarian Cuisine cookbook. It's basically a quick white bean stew. Really good served on (or with) toasted whole wheat bread.
posted by mudpuppie at 2:35 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I recently made the quinoa dish discussed here and it was quite good as well as seeming pretty foolproof.
posted by TedW at 2:37 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

ratatouille and chana masala were always my goto dishes
posted by bottlebrushtree at 2:37 PM on March 5, 2010

Seconding the FIRST Moosewood Cookbook. Try Cheesy Beans (here is an adaption if you can't get the book). And do not leave out the apples! Also from the book, Moroccan Soup, here is another adaption. You can add pumpkin, green beans, squash, basically any vegetable you like to this soup. I love it wit pumpkin (canned or fresh [fresh is better]). They are hearty, go well with rustic bread and brown rice.
posted by fifilaru at 2:41 PM on March 5, 2010

N-thing Moosewood. Their Jerk Tofu (recipe here) is amazing; it's equally delicious if you substitute 2 cans of black beans for the tofu.

This red lentil curry is awesome and easy to make.

For more options, 101 Cookbooks is full of vegetarian recipes of varying degrees of difficulty. Have fun!
posted by rebekah at 3:01 PM on March 5, 2010 [3 favorites]

Lentil soup is great. Or how about veggie chili? Fry lots of onions and garlic, add a wack of spices (chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, whatever). Deglaze with apple cider. Add canned (I use the stuff that comes in glass jars) tomatoes, some water, a dash of vinegar, some salt and pepper, dried black turtle beans (and whatever other dried beans you're partial to). Cook for about an hour. Stir in some veggie ground round and cook for another 20 minutes or so. Serve topped with sour cream and grated cheese. Yum!
posted by Go Banana at 3:02 PM on March 5, 2010

Whoops-forgot to mention the finely chopped celery, carrots and green peppers you add with the dried beans :)
posted by Go Banana at 3:03 PM on March 5, 2010

Carrot mushroom loaf.
posted by cestmoi15 at 3:15 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Minestrone! I have some on the stove right now. I boil up some small pasta and add it in, and leave out spinach, but otherwise it's pretty similar to this recipe. SUPER easy!
posted by misha at 3:36 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

I think this recipe for Garlic Soba Noodles with Tofu came from metafilter originally. I love it and now we have it every few weeks
posted by InkaLomax at 3:53 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

1. cut a couple sweet potatoes into fourths, rub lightly with olive oil, roast at 450 for about an hour.
2. chop one onion, heat a couple tbs of oil in a SAUCEPAN, and cook the onion to translucent.
3. add one can of black beans. Open a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, dice and seed a couple of peppers, add to the beans with a dollop of adobo sauce. Add the seeds if you want more heat.
4. Mash the potatoes with a couple tsps of cumin and coriander. Chili powder, too, if you really want heat. Salt the potatoes.
5. Heat some tortillas.
6. Spread some potatoes on the tortilla, add some sour cream, spoon in some black beans. Fold the tortilla into a nice pouch around the filling.
7. Eat OR heat a couple tsps of butter in a pan and fry the burrito before eating.

The potatoes can be roasted or roasted and mashed a day or two ahead of time, which is how you make this a quick meal. Otherwise, it's a quick late meal, cause you have to roast the potatoes.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:25 PM on March 5, 2010

I've been experimenting with roasted vegetables.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Get some vegetables -- for 2 people, I like a sweet potato, a medium onion, a fennel bulb, and 8 oz mushrooms. Carrots or parsnips would work well, too. If you don't like some of these, pick something you or the guy do like.

Clean 'em and chop 'em up -- cut the potato and/or carrots into 1.5-2" pieces, the onion into 8ths, the fennel into roughly the same size pieces, and halve the mushroom or leave 'em whole depending on size. Toss the non-mushrooms in about 2 Tbs vegetable oil and a bit of kosher salt -- maybe a tsp. Transfer to a roasting pan or pyrex dish or some other oven save item and pop in the oven. Add the mushrooms to the bowl and toss in the oil remaining on the sides and bottom.

Roast for 10 minutes and add the mushrooms, roast for another 20 minutes.

Take out and serve on rice. Or noodles. Or torn up bits of bread.

You could pour something on top -- I have a Thai sauce from Trader Joe's that is pretty good. Indian spice pastes might be nice. The Tassajara cookbook has a curry sauce for a dish like this -- 2 Tbs oil, 1 Tbs soy sauce, 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar (I also have used Chinese black vinegar -- you want something pretty thick and clingy), 2 Tbs curry powder, and a bit more salt (maybe 1/2 tsp). Stir it all up. At any rate, you want to pour this over the vegetables as they come out of the oven and toss. I am thinking of doing this step 5 minutes before the end of the cooking, so the sauce gets warm and maybe a little caramelized.

Versatile, easy, fairly quick, and fun (and two people make short work of the washing, chopping, and mixing, and the last 20 minutes can be occupied with a nice wine or beer and some flirtatious banter. It would probably go well with a salad.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:11 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

That Minestrone that Misha linked to is a real winner. Make it with vegetable broth instead of chicken and you are totally vegetarian. I also leave off the spinach. It is super easy, really tasty, and is even better the next day. It also makes a good base to add lots of other tasty veggies, whatever is in season. Just chop it up and toss it in too.
posted by TooFewShoes at 5:57 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is a foolproof, hearty, vegetarian (but not vegan) entree, and most men (and children) like it:

Tortellini Casserole

1 pkg frozen creamed spinach, slightly cooked
1 pkg cheese or spinach tortellini (fresh, frozen, boxed), cooked according to directions
1 lg. jar marinara sauce
6-8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Spray medium sized glass casserole dish with Pam and layer ingredients above in order listed. Bake 350F, covered (with foil), about 20 mins. Uncover and bake another 10 minutes or until cheese melted. Voila!
posted by mmw at 6:05 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I second the quinoa casserole from this discussion. I'm not a huge fan of quinoa usually, but the cheese+eggs+baking transform it into yummy hearty dinner instead of boring health food.

And my 2nd suggestion (as a stand-alone or to go with the quinoa dish):
Roasted cauliflower soup! This is a perennial favorite in our household—roasting everything gives you a really rich, deep flavor, and most of the cooking time is unattended.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (or buy pre-cut)
1 small onion, quartered
2-3 small red potatoes, cut into ~1" cubes
1 head garlic, top 1/3 cut off, skin on (note: Mr. Thinking and I both adore garlic but if you or your new boy are not as keen, cut back to just a few cloves, but do keep in mind that the roasting will mellow out the flavor - it's a completely different taste from raw/sauteed garlic)
olive oil
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes (optional)
veggie stock (optional)
cayenne (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Toss cauliflower, onion, and potato with a couple tbsp olive oil, a pinch or two of salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes if using (I like a bit of heat in this recipe to cut/accent the rich caramel-y roasted flavor but if you don't want it to be spicy, just leave out the red pepper flakes and cayenne.) Put everything on a tray (or two).

2. Make a little pouch out of aluminum for the garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Put this in the oven with the trays of vegetables for about 30-40 min. When the veggies are done they will be golden brown, soft, and smell delicious.

3. Toss everything in a soup pot (note: be careful when you peel the garlic, don't burn your fingers!) Cover with water (or stock if using). Bring to a boil, then simmer for ~10 min.

4. Puree. You can use a stick blender, a regular blender, cuisine art, whatever. Be careful, don't burn yourself.

5. Put it back the soup back the pot if you took it out for the pureeing step. Add water/stock if it's too thick or cook it down for a little while if it's too thin. Taste for seasoning, and add cayenne/salt/pepper to taste.

posted by (Over) Thinking at 6:35 PM on March 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Pilaki from the "Extending the Table" cookbook ... but it takes some time. To eat around 7 p.m.:

Night before:
Soak 1 lb. dry great northern beans (or navy beans or white beans) in 7 cups water in BIG soup pot

4 p.m.
Add 1 1/2 tsp. salt, bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 1 - 1.5 hours.

5:15 p.m.
Dice 1.5 cups potatoes, 1 cup carrots
Chop 1/2 cup fresh parsley, 1 medium onion
chop 2-3 cups tomatoes (or buy 1 large can of chopped tomatoes, or 2 standard cans)
Mince 2 cloves garlic (or buy minced and add about 1 tsp, or more to taste)

Between 5:15 and 5:45 p.m., Add all above ingredients as you're done cutting them up, plus 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 tsp. pepper

Return to a boil (takes a while!); cover and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Assuming it gets to a boil around 6 p.m., you'll be ready to serve it around 6:45 p.m. It can sit warm on the stove for as long as you need, or be transferred to a crock pot and served on a buffet or something.

Serve with fresh warm bread.

You will have plenty of leftovers -- serve them cold on lettuce with lemon or lemony dressing. This also reheats REALLY well (from refrigerated), although it doesn't freeze well. I'll make it on Sunday and eat it for lunch all week.

It's very easy and it's DELICIOUS -- my carnivore friends who hate vegetarian food absolutely devour it -- but it does mean you have to be home for about 3 hours to do the periodic heating-to-boiling. It doesn't take a lot of your actual TIME, but it does require 2 minutes of effort every now and then over 3 hours.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:36 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Lots of good recipes here, great thread.

Black Bean and Corn Casserole

16 oz can black beans rinsed
bag of frozen corn
grated cheese, 8 to 20 oz depending upon your taste for cheese
chopped jalapenos to taste, I would use about five for me, two for a mild dish
some onion and garlic
tomatoes are optional and dramatically change the flavor
a bechamel sauce of a cup of milk, tablespoon each of butter and flour and a hint of nutmeg will give the dish more body, and if the corn and beans are not well drained up the flour by another teaspoon or so.

mix and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or so until bubbly

I wish I could be more specific but I just cook by throwing handfuls of stuff in until it is right on dishes like this that get made often. Other ingredients to toss in include tomatillas, cilantro (a controversial spice and not one to spring on a new beau), cumin and some torn up corn tortilla bits, each depending upon your own taste. The basic recipe of just corn, bean, chilis and cheese is pretty darn good though. Salt to taste.
posted by caddis at 7:17 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I forgot one other optional ingredient, and like tomatoes, but don't add it with them, it changes things - sliced banana. It works best when the spice level is pretty darn high, as in perhaps not all the chilies are mere jalaeno and perhaps some habeneros have made their way in. Some people also add sour cream but I am a fat chaser.
posted by caddis at 7:22 PM on March 5, 2010

Spicy carrot-ginger soup is one I've recommended before. If he doesn't mind dairy, toss a half-cup of milk or cream into the blended soup at the end and heat it through on low for a few minutes. Simple, hearty, filling vegetarian peasant fare.
posted by mediareport at 9:11 PM on March 5, 2010

Tofu scamble worked for me.
posted by Skwirl at 9:28 PM on March 5, 2010

Way too many best answers, thanks all! Think I'm going to go for that Moroccan/Tunisian soup with cinnamon, will report back.
posted by dontjumplarry at 10:50 PM on March 5, 2010

This Supper Tart of Red Onions, Greens, and Grapes seems disqualified because it's called "tart" but it uses store-bought puff pastry and is no more complicated than buying a Boboli shell and topping it for "pizza." You put the pastry on a cookie sheet, roll the edges to form a crust, and dump all the yummy produce on top and cook in a hot oven for around 20 minutes. No biggie and really wow while still being fun finger food.

If y'all are adventurous and don't shy away from the idea of fruit in your dinner, The Splendid Table's Frittata of Green Apple, Cheese, and Greens is really good too, and pretty fast. Frittata is much, much more forgiving than omelets; I recommend them if you've been discouraged by cooking eggs in the past. And the green apple acts like a punchier version of onion sauteed down to dripping sweetness, only tarter, which is grrrreat.

Pasta is always a friendly dinner option for vegetarians who don't want too much fuss or wait time. A lot of pasta entrees sans meat involve yummy cheese and some kind of toasty nut flavor to impart richness--Pasta in Almond Garlic Sauce, Fusilli with Walnut Sauce (google and you'll find a plethora), etc. And there's always pasta with broccoli or eggplant sauce, pasta e fagioli (with beans; I prefer white cannellini beans myself), Cacio e pepe (uses nothing but good romano and black pepper to coat the strands, oddly delicious), Cheese-Gilded Linguine with Smoky Tomatoes, Italian-Swiss Alps Pizzoccheri (wholewheat noodles with leafy greens, potatoes, and cheese), Greek or Moroccan-Spiced Spaghetti (cinnamon or turmeric, warm flavors like that, plus chickpeas and almonds or tomatoes), Baked Angel Hair with Cabbage and Rosemary, and maybe the most obvious and comforting of all, pumped-up, possibly crusty-baked Mac 'n Cheese (updated versions are a dime a dozen...Nigella Lawson, Martha Stewart, The Splendid Table, The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Jamie Oliver, g' many favorite updates include adding halved grape tomatoes, broccoli, peas, and/or mustard seed).

Vegetarian soup doesn't take very long to make at all--under 45 minutes start to finish. Use beans and greens and cheese of your choice (again, I like cannellinis esp. with escarole, and really great canned tomato with chickpeas and rosemary; fennel and orange works too). Sweet potato stew is easy and great too, and filling. A mefite (special-k IIRC) posted his version a while back and I highly recommend it. African peanut stews are a good option too.

Tuscan Panzanella (leftover cubed crusty bread "salad" mixed with tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic, olives, vinegar and oil...unfortunately this is so not the time of year for it, alas, but maybe for future dates? :), simply cooked asparagus topped with a poached egg and lemon vinaigrette (sounds more complicated than it is, really), Chana Masala (chickpea curry), braised cabbage topped with cheese, Potato and Cranberry Casserole, Shaker-style Sage Pancakes, Tabbouleh (you can make it with lentils too, not just bulgur, though this isn't the ideal time of year for this dish at all), anything fast involving mushrooms as the main filling (portobello mushroom caps marinated for 15 minutes in wine or vinegar, grilled or broiled for under 8 minutes total, and slapped on toasty buns or other good bread smeared with your favorite condiment; minced mushrooms and breadcrumbs or whatever else used to fill store-bought Asian pancake or wonton wrappers, chopped and mixed with cheddar cheese, mustard, and maybe beer to make a "rarebit" sauce to top toasty baguette chunks, etc.).
posted by ifjuly at 10:32 AM on March 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

I just made this delicious cabbage dish, substituting fake ground meat for the beef, and veggie bouillon stock instead of chicken broth.

Just had two healthy helpings a few minutes ago. Definitely counts as warm and hearty.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:55 PM on March 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

If quiche is ok, then omelets should be. You can stuff any yummy combination into an omelet and make a great dinner, serve with good toasted bread and a green salad, and it turns fancy. Bonus is that they are generally quick and easy, especially with the right skillet.
posted by lilywing13 at 2:37 AM on March 9, 2010

FWIW, my research has also unearthed this chickpea, potato and kale curry which makes me wanted to eat my LCD screen.
posted by dontjumplarry at 2:58 AM on March 9, 2010

This weekend I made a good cauliflower pasta salad out of Vegetarian cooking for everyone that involved a head of cauilflower, 8 oz of pasta, mustard vinagrette some sundried tomatoes, parsley, and scallions. It was served warm (cooked pasta and briefly cooked cauliflower) and it turned out very good.
posted by garlic at 3:04 PM on March 9, 2010

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