What are some non-spicy vegetarian recipes?
July 6, 2010 10:27 AM   Subscribe

I am cutting down on pork, carbs and red meat. I would like my new diet to lean towards vegetarian meals. I can't handle spicy food and it seems like most of the recipes I keep finding are spicy and/or have curry. I also do not eat fish/seafood.

Anyone have any ideas on lunches/dinners I could make (prefer recipes that are easy since I'm a disaster in the kitchen) that aren't spicy and are not going to load me up on carbs (pasta) ?
posted by KogeLiz to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I can't tell from your question whether spices in general bother you, or specifically hot/spicy foods. If it's the latter, know that you can definitely make/find curries that are spiced and fragrant, but without the heat. How confident at cooking do you feel right now? I find that most recipes like vegetarian chili that are designed to be spicy can be made very mild and retain a lot of flavor. Good ingredients (especially vegetables) go a long way toward flavorful meals that don't depend heavily on spiciness.

Also, it might help to look into the different ways that various cuisines moderate spiciness - often with dairy ingredients, such as raita (yogurt sauce) with Indian food.

For a more concrete suggestion, an easy 'recipe' I often fall back on is grain- or couscous-based salads. I typically add either beans or nuts, plus various vegetables (for instance: garbanzos, zucchini, carrot, lemon juice, little bit of balsamic) - just whatever I have around the house. You can make these with whole grains that will be more healthful than refined-flour pasta.
posted by heyforfour at 10:40 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I mostly use three foundations: lentils, brown basmati rice, buckwheat. The difference between them is that buckwheat should be added to boiling water, and needs less water than rice, and lentils need more water than rice. Add a bit of salt at first, once they're about 1/2 to 3/4 done, add oil and ground cardamom and more salt. If you have a high quality salt, it's even better to add it a few minutes before it's done.

In a separate pan, sautee whatever vegetables are in season; kale, green squash, chard, broccoli, etc. Before you add them to the pan, heat the oil up with a bit more of ground cardamom and black pepper and optionally any other spices you might want (but not too much, since you don't like them - I also don't like spicy food and only use tiny bit of them).

Last step: eat.
posted by rainy at 10:42 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My family loves Summer Vegetable Gratin. There are lots of variations with different vegetables and cheese. It's technically a side dish, so you might want to add some tofu to make it more complete.
posted by CathyG at 10:47 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Beans, first of all. Apparently red (colored, not the specific variety) are the best for you. Especially kidney and adzuki. You can make a huge pot that'll last you at least a week. I only put in salt, pepper, kombu (kinda like the bacon of seaweed. give it the umami that pork shoulder or bacon would), and like a tablespoon of olive oil.

Why don't you eat seafood? Do you not like it? That's going to make it tough if you won't even eat tuna.

If you're not too worried about fat, look up Alton Brown's tofu recipes. Or any tofu recipes. Tempeh is very good in things like chili or marinara sauce.

I also like to bake or stew a bunch of chicken breasts until they can be pulled apart witha fork. Then, I can either just eat the breast with steamed kale and coucous or pull it apart and make a barbecue sandwich, or put it in marinara or some kind of hash. Oh man, I jsut got an idea. i wonder if I can do kind of a "corned chicken hash."
posted by cmoj at 10:48 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Brown or wild rice, steamed Kale, and Tofu.

posted by brand-gnu at 10:52 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are loads of legume and grain dishes out there which are toothsome and savory without having too much spice. They do take a bit of time to grind through, so the consequence is that I tend to use the 50:50 mix as a "base layer" for other dishes throughout the week. I thought Saltzman's books: Romancing the Bean, and Amazing Grains were worthwhile reads in this regard.

BTW: if you are really going to get into this, you might want to invest in a rice cooker (possibly a crockpot). Depending on how fancy you go, you'll have a wealth of functions that will take some of the pain in the ass factor out.
posted by cheez-it at 11:00 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thansk for these ideas.

By spicy, I mean anything "hot" spicy and/or stuff like cumin, turmeric and even black pepper (a little black pepper I can handle but not a lot).

I love garlic and like fresh herbs (cilantro, basil).
posted by KogeLiz at 11:04 AM on July 6, 2010

We made a quinoa salad a few days ago. Cooked the quinoa (red and black) in water, then added canned black beans, green onions, diced raw carrots for crunch, and dressed it with olive oil and vinegar (salt and pepper to taste). We were going to add corn, but forgot. Cubed feta cheese is good in it, too. It stays perfectly edible if refrigeration is an issue. Add whatever herbs you like.

(For the quinoa, I used a 1 c quinoa to 1 c water ratio, and I rinsed it first, since I bought it in the bulk section. Quinoa can have a bitter taste if it's not rinsed, though this is not usually a problem if you buy the boxed kind).
posted by rtha at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend getting Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (or you can get the everything everything version if you want meat recipes as well).
posted by grapesaresour at 11:06 AM on July 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: also, to answer the above question:

I don't eat seafood/fish for personal preference. I don't like it and don't like looking at it.

I plan to occasionally eat chicken, though.
posted by KogeLiz at 11:09 AM on July 6, 2010

Tofredo! 1 package soft tofu meets a fistful of parmesan and nutritional yeast, respectively. blend and warm in a saucepan. Toss in some broccoli and spinach as well, lightly stir-fried. You've got your protein your carbs and your greens, in one handy dish.
posted by Vhanudux at 11:29 AM on July 6, 2010

Best answer: Roasted vegetables of all kinds (root veg, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, ...), with or without some goats cheese or feta. Couldn't be easier.

Mushroom omelette.

Asparagus and poached egg. Grate some parmesan over the top. You can get little floating silicone dishes that can be used to make foolproof poached eggs.

Vegetable stew. Add some lentils or barley or beans of any kind. In the UK you can buy "soup mix" which is a mix of barley and beany lentily things.

Brown rice, nuts and caramelised onions with a sprinkling of cheese on top.
posted by emilyw at 11:32 AM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

I seem to recommend bean salad in just about every food-related AskMe ever, but it's because bean salad is great. Beans have protein and fiber, you can play around with herbs, you can make a ton and keep it in the fridge, and if you use canned beans you don't even have to cook - just dump 'em in a bowl, chop herbs/veggies, and mix.
posted by Metroid Baby at 11:37 AM on July 6, 2010

There are also some pretty tasty 'healthy' pastas out there. I'm a fan of the Barrilla Pasta Plus. It's multi-grain, and has a fair amount of protein.

(Also, you're basically going to be eating what I eat since I don't like beef or pork (although I like fish) , so if you want some specific recipes, you can MeMail me.)
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 11:55 AM on July 6, 2010

Best answer: 101 Cookbooks is a vegetarian recipe blog with gorgeous photos and a ton of ideas I haven't seen anywhere else. You might take a look at the low carb sectionthese miso vegetables and tofu (you can skip the red pepper flakes), this lentil soup and this "skinny omelette" are all delicious.
posted by rebekah at 12:17 PM on July 6, 2010

Best answer: If you're looking for vegetarian and low in carbs: eggs, nuts, yogurt, and soy are your new best friends. Non-soy beans do have some protein, but they are rich in carbs. In terms of grains: Quinoa and amaranth are both relatively high-protein grains. Quinoa cooks up like couscous in its texture and is good in both sweet and savory dishes. Amaranth cooks up with more of a porridge-like texture -- I tend to treat it like I would treat polenta. Also, when planning out your meals, I would use something like FitDay to figure out how many grams of carbohydrate are in your various menu options so you can have the occasional serving of black beans or chickpeas while still keeping on target. That said:

- Cauliflower and egg curry. Use a mild curry powder if you don't like spice. I mince a medium onion very fine, chop a small head of cauliflower as fine as I can, and sautee it in oil with a healthy dose of curry powder, whole cumin seeds, and salt added. When the cauliflower is just about done, turn off the heat and stir in 2-3 eggs as quickly as possible. The heat from the cooked cauliflower and hot pan should cook the eggs without overdoing them.

- Chickpea and toasted coconut salad. Mix chickpeas, olive oil, toasted coconut, lime juice, fresh chopped basil or mint, and however much red pepper you want (this can be none).

- Tempeh and BBQ sauce on a bed of whatever dark greens are in season. (I like this as a sandwich with some grilled onion and cheese on top -- omit the bread if you don't want to eat carbs).

- Grilled corn salad: Grill corn or cook it under the broiler (shuck the corn, lube the ears up with some cooking oil, and put it near a flame. Turn the corn every couple minutes. Take it out of the oven when some, but not all the kernels are brown and grilled-looking). Use a sharp knife to shave the kernels into a bowl. Mix with crumbled queso fresco, lime juice, cilantro, and hot pepper to taste. (I like to add in some diced red bell peppers).

- Quinoa salad: Cooked quinoa, sliced oranges, orange zest, chopped red onion, lemon juice, olive oil, nuts, and dried cranberries. Tasty summertime salad, but I'm also contemplating bringing this to Thanksgiving next fall because it's so... festive-tasting.

- Textured vegetable protein (TVP) is pretty easy to use in general, and you can substitute it in for ground meats when you want to make chili, tacos, etc.

- I sometimes just make a big platter of mixed cut veggies, fruits, cheese, hummus, nuts/nut butter, olives, etc. for dinner. No cooking involved, and as long as you think about what you are putting on the platter, it's actually not hard to make a reasonably balanced meal with the antipasto approach.
posted by kataclysm at 12:31 PM on July 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

oil, garlic, chickpeas, kale
posted by low affect at 12:41 PM on July 6, 2010

I love making fajitas sans the meat. When cooking for just me I use 1/2 a bell pepper, 1/2 an onion and a handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half.

- Cut the bell pepper into strips, slice the onion and halve the tomatoes.
- Toss a few tablespoons of oil in a pan on a bit above medium and add a teaspoon or two of minced garlic.
- Toss all the cut up veggies into the oil and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook until tender (about 5-7 mins.) and then remove from heat.

I usually toss this mix into some tortillas and top them with shredded lettuce, sour cream, salsa and sometimes some guacamole. Add some mexican rice and black beans as sides and you've got a tasty treat!
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 12:43 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Japanese cooking is rarely spicy and can be veggie-centric. When things call for dashi (broth made from fish/kelp), you can substitute a broth made from dried shitake mushrooms and kelp. I found Just Bento very useful and full of quick recipes and tips for freezing things.
posted by asphericalcow at 1:11 PM on July 6, 2010

Lentil tacos! Saute one onion, medium dice. Add whatever spices you please: I like oregano, cumin, and cayenne, but you might want to stick to just oregano, or add a chili powder that isn't too spicy for you. Then add 1 cup lentils (rinse first), and about 2.25 c broth or water (I use chicken or beef stock, but veggie stock is fine). Simmer until soft, then stir in some jarred salsa, you can buy the mild kind. Serve in warmed corn tortillas with lettuce, cheese, cilantro, salsa, whatever you like in your tacos.
posted by teragram at 1:17 PM on July 6, 2010

I cannot recommend The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen by Donna Klein highly enough. Many of the recipes are easily convertible into something that has chicken or cheese, they are all hearty, and most of them are light on the spices but heavy on garlic and herbs. Most of the recipes are also pretty easy, simple, and straightforward, so an inexperienced cook shouldn't have any problems.
posted by shamash at 1:53 PM on July 6, 2010

Best answer: Perhaps the vegrecipes reddit would be useful to you.
posted by Vulpyne at 1:54 PM on July 6, 2010

Beans and rice is super easy and doesn't have to be spicy at all. And you can accessorize it all kinds of different ways. Canned is the easiest, while starting from dry gives you the best texture but takes longer. I say start with canned and upgrade if you want. Black beans is what I always think of but you can use any kind and there are lots.

Warm them up with any flavorings you want. You're in luck with the cilantro and garlic because both go great with this dish. Tomatoes, mild peppers (such as bell), onions, sour cream, corn, yuca, jack cheese, mild salsa, chicken, and even things like spinach, greens, or broccoli.

Rice is a carb, but if you get brown or black or wild, it has a lower glycemic index than white, if that's the issue. Lundberg makes wonderful darker rices and rice mixes - brown, red, black, etc. And you could always go easy on the rice. When I had to cut out all carbs temporarily, I'd leave the rice out altogether and use sauteed bell pepper and onion strips as my base.

I'm also enjoying arugula salads with lemon vinaigrette recently, sometimes with avocado, cucumber, tomato, etc.

Check out chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) to add another versatile and filling element to your pantry.

Tempeh can add plank-o-filling-stuff to a meal when you want something less squishy than tofu.

Eggplant can be a great base for veg dishes. You can bake it whole in the oven, roast it in rounds in the oven, cook it in chunks in a ratatouille, fry it, etc.
posted by Askr at 3:29 PM on July 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Stir-fry is a great easy meal because you can use whatever you have on hand. Cook your vegetables in a pan over high heat (it won't take long), then add some garlic and fresh herbs at the end. Since you love garlic so much, learn how to roast it too (here are some instructions from Simply Recipes). Roasted garlic adds unbelievable flavor to just about anything.

And I personally love salads for lunch, as long as they're interesting. If there's a farmer's market near you, go and pick out whatever looks appealing to you and build salads from it throughout the week. Get some nice flavorful cheese to jazz it up and add some protein. You could also add some chicken, since you're open to eating a little bit of it (and you really don't need a lot to top a great salad).
posted by spinto at 8:26 AM on July 7, 2010

A very simple meal I make often involves putting some spinach and black beans in the microwave for two minutes, grating some cheese on top, and adding salsa salsa for flavor--you could find a non-spicy salsa.

If you're up for just a little more cooking, pureed vegetable (squash, carrot, spinach) soups are easy, interesting and healthy. Sautee some onions and garlic along with the vegetable in question; add salt, pepper and any simple spices that you think sound good; pour in some vegetable broth, maybe a little lemon juice, and boil until everything is soft; puree (using a stick blender or a regular blender).

If that doesn't appeal, allrecipes.com is a pretty useful resource--you can limit your search by dietary preference and find all sorts of good ideas, many of them quite simple. I second the recommendation to explore chick peas/garbanzo beans as a good and tasty protein source.
posted by adty at 7:49 PM on July 7, 2010

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