What veggie meals do meat eaters like to eat?
February 24, 2012 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Question for vegetarians: what are your favorite recipes/meals to cook for meat eaters?

I often feel like the meals I cook for myself don't feel substantial enough to meat eaters. (That said, I am definitely also interested in lighter things too.)
posted by cairdeas to Food & Drink (42 answers total) 86 users marked this as a favorite
When I was veggie my 3 bean lasagne went down very well with my carnivore bf.
posted by missmagenta at 11:44 AM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

For a snack that's filling and yummy, roast some chickpeas in the oven in oil and salt and pepper flakes. Crunchy and SO GOOD!

Also, a good falafel in a pita pocket with all the fixin's is almost as fun as tacos.

(Former vegan here.)
posted by xingcat at 11:46 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm not a vegetarian--but as a meat eater, three perennial favorites are black beans and rice (which is also exceptionally easy to make--any recipe is good); a good vegetarian chili (try the New Basics cookbook version, it's great); and pasta with a puttanesca sauce (olives and capers in a tomato sauce--my SO makes it all the time, and it's so wonderful and flavorful; we omit the anchovies some recipes call for).

So good.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:48 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I pretty much always cook vegetarian though I do sometimes eat meat. Any dish involving mushrooms, especially fairly meaty ones like portobello or oyster, is generally a hit.
posted by mlle valentine at 11:49 AM on February 24, 2012

My husband was surprised to like spaghetti squash as much as he did.
posted by rhapsodie at 11:53 AM on February 24, 2012

My dad is very much not a vegetarian. He very much likes the spanakopita I've cooked for him.

But chilis and hearty vegetarian stews definitely hit the spot.
posted by holgate at 11:56 AM on February 24, 2012

I'm a hardcore meateater, but in the past when I've needed to serve a veggie-friendly dish, homemade Mac and cheese (with a good mix of cheeses) with lots of portabella mushrooms baked in has been a hit with omnis and herbis alike.
posted by phunniemee at 11:57 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by griphus at 11:57 AM on February 24, 2012

Macaroni and cheese.
posted by Melismata at 11:57 AM on February 24, 2012

My absolute favorite veggie meal (aside from what my veggie wife cooks) are the Morningstar Mushroom Lover's Burgers. Not just as burgers, either - they're great in all kinds of stuff if you dice them up.

Now I'm hungry.
posted by bfu at 11:58 AM on February 24, 2012

Pizza is always good. Pizza and an interesting salad. Cheese enchiladas and black bean soup and rice.

Recipes for things with less cheese:

Pasta stuffed with squash and sage

Measurements are approximate, but don’t worry, you need not be exact.

- 1/2 pound large pasta shells (you could also use cannelloni)
- 1/2 of a small butternut squash, about a pound
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
- 1/2 cup ricotta
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
- 1 1/2 cups white sauce
- small handful fresh sage leaves
- fresh black pepper and salt to taste
- red pepper chili flakes to taste
- tiny pinch of cinnamon and some nutmeg, if you like
- optional: 4 slices of bacon, fried and diced

To cook:
- Cut the squash into 1″ slices and put on an oiled baking tray. Brush with olive oil, season, and bake at 325° until tender and a little brown on the edges. Cool, strip off any rind if it’s tough, and break into chunks.
- Mix together the squash, mozzarella, minced sage, and ricotta. (Save out a handful of the mozzarella to put on top later). Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. You can add a little cinnamon and the nutmeg if you like, but I found that the roasted squash was sweet and warm-tasting enough without it. (Add bacon if using.)
- Cook the pasta until al dente, drain, and rinse with cool water. (Don’t let them sit around too long before filling them or they’ll all stick together.) Fill each shell with the squash mixture and put in a shallow baking dish.
- Pour on the white sauce and cover with the Parmesan, mozzarella, and more fresh black pepper.
- Bake uncovered at 325° until cheese is well melted.

Beet, Lentil, Red Onion & Feta Salad

This salad of sorts is greater than the sum of its parts; the flavours meld into savoury explosions of taste. It’s wonderful freshly-made, and really quite good leftover and cold. The trick is to mix it up when the ingredients are still warm. A quote from a similar (very English) recipe: “If the beetroot has just been cooked and the lentils are still slightly warm, the resulting salad will be superior.”

- 500g beets (about 4 good-sized ones)
- 3/4 cup freshly cooked Puy lentils (or small green ones)
- 50g feta cheese (about 1/2 cup of crumbles)
- 1 tablespoon of finely chopped fresh mint and oregano or thyme
- 2 tablespoons very thinly sliced red onion
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- salt and pepper to taste

To cook:
- Boil whole or, better yet, roast your beets. Always leave unpeeled either way! (To roast: scrub, wrap in tinfoil, roast in the oven for an hour or until soft to the core at about 375°. Be careful of sugary boiling-hot beet juice and put them on a baking tray. When they’re cool you can scrub off the skins with the tinfoil. Or not. They’re delicious either way.)
- Mix your onions, sugar, and vinegar in a small bowl and let sit for an hour. (The vinegar will cook them onions a bit and make ‘em nice and mellow.)
- Cut your warm beets into bite-sized pieces and mix with all other ingredients.

Omit feta and substitute a glug of olive oil for veganosity.

Cauliflower & Pea Curry

- glug olive oil
- 1 yellow onion
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon curry powder (I used a home-made concoction of cumin, turmeric, coriander, etc.)
- 1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger (you could use a little bit of fresh, if you’ve got it around)
- cayenne to taste
- pinch of sugar
- (chicken bullion cube or) salt to taste
- 1 can tomatoes and their liquid
- 1/2-2/3 cup yogurt

To cook:
- Dice the onion, put a glug of oil in a large frying pan (best not to use cast iron for this recipe), and, over medium heat cook the onion until clear.
- Add the spices, sugar, and garlic and sauté for a minute more.
- Chop the tomatoes and add them and their liquid to the pan.
- Cut the cauliflower into smallish florets and add it and the peas to the pan. Cover and let simmer until the cauliflower is tender, but still has a bite.
- Remove from the heat and add the yogurt.

Serve over brown rice. Serves four. Excellent leftover.

South American Squash Stew & Cornmeal Dumplings

- 1 1/2 large yellow onions
- 4-5 tablespoons olive oil
- 5-6 cloves of garlic
- 3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground cumin
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3/4 cup green chillies (adjust amount according to the spiciness of your particular peppers)
- 1 1/2 quarts cooked tomatoes and their liquid
- 1 1/4 lbs or so of yellow winter squash (butternut, acorn, something like that)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (or chicken stock, if you like)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/4 pounds zucchini
- 3-4 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 recipe Cornmeal Dumplings
- 1-2 lbs chicken breast (optional)

To cook:
- Peel and cut the squash into 1/2″ cubes.
- Chop onion and put in a BIG pot with the olive oil over medium heat.
- Sauté until clear, then add garlic, cumin, cinnamon, and chilies. Cook for another two or three mintues.
- Add the tomatoes and their liquid, the squash, salt, and water. (Since I like to use whole tomatoes, and chopping them gets messy quickly, I simply put them in the pot, then squeeze each one in my fist until it’s all pulpy. Satisfying, but watch for squirts.)
- Turn up the heat until it boils, then turn down to a nice simmer. Cook for an hour, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, make dumpling batter. (Keep the dry and wet ingredients separate until just before you add to the pot, lest your baking powder employ its oomph too soon.)
- Add sliced zucchini, cilantro, and chicken, stir, and bring back up to a simmer.
- Mix your dumplings together, then spoon in by the heaping tablespoon. (I usually end up with about eight or ten.) Cover and simmer VERY GENTLY for twenty minutes.

Serves 6-8. Good leftover. Just had some heated up for lunch.

Cornmeal Dumplings

- 1 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 cup white flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup light cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted

To cook:
- Mix dry ingredients.
- Beat egg and cream together and gently stir in.
- Add melted butter and stir. Be careful not to over-mix.
posted by Specklet at 12:00 PM on February 24, 2012 [23 favorites]

Veggie chili, as long as it's spicy.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:02 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Tempeh tacos

Sloppy "Toe"s

Tasty stir fries, like this one

I've found a few winners in The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes cookbook as well.
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:03 PM on February 24, 2012

I was a vegetarian for 7 years before I switched back to meat-eating. I still eat the following with gusto: hummus and/or tabouli, falafel, mapo dofu or soondubu jjigae, soyrizo with eggs, any curry with chickpeas/cauliflower/potatoes/paneer, and pasta tossed with parmesan, toasted garlic, and olive oil (I actually can't eat the pasta anymore, but otherwise I totally would).

Agreed that veggie chili, casseroles, and dips can be a huge hit, too. I still bring meat-free spinach-and-artichoke dip and Mexican-style seven layer dip to parties.
posted by vorfeed at 12:06 PM on February 24, 2012

lentil shepherd's pie, ideally with cheese on top and heavily spiced.

stirfry with (optional) tofu cubes and rice/rice noodles.

quinoa with mushrooms and veggies.

Pretty much anything tasty, really...unless you're referring to the subset of meat-eaters who think meat is absolutely required for all meals. I never found a solution to that - I think it was more of a psychological thing than a taste thing.
posted by randomnity at 12:06 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas have been a huuuge hit in my meat-eating family.
posted by muddgirl at 12:09 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was going to recommend Vegetarian Times' enchiladas, too, but the butternut squash recipe. I add black beans. I served this to my omnivorous sister just a couple months ago and she loved them.

Things that are naturally vegetarian are the way to go - bean-centered mexican food, indian curries, mac & cheese, spinach lasagna, etc. I've been cooking and eating the veg trifecta of tofu, tempeh, and seitan a long time but I would only serve that stuff to a meat eater if I knew they were adventurous and open minded. Otherwise, stick with beans as the protein.
posted by something something at 12:14 PM on February 24, 2012

Chick pea pot pie from Vegetarian Times. Hearty and savory!
posted by summit at 12:23 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

quesadillas con guacamole y nopalitos con papas!
posted by anya32 at 12:40 PM on February 24, 2012

Things we eat a lot in our house (I'm vegetarian, my boyfriend isn't):

- spinach and feta filo pie from this Jamie Oliver meal (also my default go-to when cooking for meateaters in general)
- bean-and-smoked-tofu enchiladas
- pasta puttanesca variations (minus the anchovies and olives, plus capers and caper berries)
- macaroni cheese
- curry made with butternut squash and/or sweet potatoes, chickpeas, onions, cauliflower, tomatoes, and a couple of dollops of curry paste
- pasta with beetroot, feta, rocket and pine nuts.
posted by Catseye at 12:45 PM on February 24, 2012

The biggest vegetarian hit that I ever made for my non-veg dad and brother: baked beans from The Moosewood Cookbook; I adjusted seasonings (as is often necessary with Moosewood) and added shredded cheese (jalapeno jack?) on top, served with bread. They loved it.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:53 PM on February 24, 2012

I am a meat eater. I may not be your meat eater. However, there is almost nothing in South Asian cookery that I won't eat. Pasta is lovely. Any of 500 light or heavy soups. Baked fruits casserole. Baked stuffed squash. Stewed tomatoes. Whatever you call slow-cooked root vegetables in olive oil and spices.

Maybe you're over thinking this. Or maybe you're cooking for meat eaters who need to broaden their horizons.

You might want to find out ahead of time if the flesh eaters have an aversion to mushrooms (which would nix quorn), tofu, or tofu and other soy products.

Also, nothing beats a giant fresh salad made from quality greens.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 1:10 PM on February 24, 2012

Hearty Vegan Meals for Monster Appetites is a book based on pretty much this exact premise, and I love it! The subtitle is Lip-Smacking, Belly-Filling, Home-Style Recipes Guaranteed to Keep Everyone - Even the Meat Eaters - Fantastically Full. It does have a lot of fake meat, which is (a) not my thing and (b) not something that meat eaters are usually interested in, in my experience, since they can get the real thing. But! The non-meat-substitute ones are really fantastic, and since you are not vegan, you can use real cheese, which I suspect would also make the recipes more attractive to meat eaters.
posted by fireflies at 1:23 PM on February 24, 2012

Many of the omnivores I entertain (esp. older family members) are not just people who eat meat, but people who are actively suspicious and derisive of vegetarianism. Meat analogues never appeal to this crowd, so I don't bother with with them at all. Eggplant parmesan, pizza, cheese ravioli, cheese enchiladas, macaroni and cheese, quesadillas, lasagne, pad thai, and eggrolls all go over well. Cultures with a history of Roman Catholicism (Italy, France, Spain/Mexico) often have some good meatless recipes for Fridays/Lent.
posted by apparently at 1:44 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

I only cook vegetarian at home, and the things that have been big hits with friends and family:

1. Pizza, with a bullet. Soooo popular. No one misses the meat. My toppings include - garlic and tomato sauce and quality mozarella or bocconcini with everything of course, and all vegetables shaved with a potato peeler - pumpkin and blue cheese; potato and rosemary; rocket, artichoke heart and raw eggs cracked on top; roast capiscum, olive, oregano, flaked chilli and grilled eggplant, and three heavenly dessert pizzas: goats' cheese, thyme and thinly sliced granny smith apple; strawberries on nuttella; and almond meal mixed with icing sugar and and egg or two, then studded with red grapes.

2. Vegetarian lasagne. A lot of people I know prefer it to meat lasagne. I use sweet potato, eggplant, swede, and zucchini/courgette usually.

3. Vegetarian chilli or burritos. Anything bean-based is super-filling and substantial, likewise:

4. Dal, either toor or massoor, and palak paneer. Dal Makhni is also really filling.
posted by smoke at 1:47 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

The challenge here is making a meat-eater feel like they've eaten a whole meal. The same things that make awesome vegetarian meals are often served as "sides", and restaurant versions add gratuitous meat (Mac and cheese on a menu will be either on the kids menu, as a side dish, or including some kind of meat add-in as a main dish.) Someone who's not used to vegetarian menus often has the sense that like something's missing, and can lose touch with the physical cues to be full/satisfied. Hummus and pita/veg is an appetizer or a party snack, something you eat and pretend doesn't count towards your daily calories. Using hummus as a main protein source means convincing the meat-eater that nothing's missing.

A few ideas:
- Stay away from things that are often served as side dishes. I'm sure the Moosewood baked bean recipe is delicious, but baked beans are what Mr. Manly eats alongside his barbeque. That's going to take a lot of convincing.
- Serve two things. Vegetarians are big on one-dish meals because it's tasty and practical, but try doubling-up. Soup? instead of just bread alongside, do hummus or toasted cheese sandwiches. Beans and rice? add a quesadilla or cooked greens or a fruit salad.
- Chunks! Beans and rice is a side dish; black bean stew for dinner (meat version) has chunks of sausage in it... so add chunks, even if it's just sauteed 1" cubes of zucchini. You can see this trend in people's suggestions above: not just mac and cheese, but add mushrooms or cauliflower pieces. Not just pasta and marinara, but putanesca with olives and capers.
posted by aimedwander at 2:32 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]

Moosewood's recipe for Moroccan Roasted Vegetables converted my meat-and-potatoes boyfriend into my happy-to-eat-vegetarian husband. Definitely follow the suggestions at the bottom to serve over couscous, with raisins, feta, almonds, and chopped hard boiled eggs to sprinkle on top.

Butternut squash lasagna is also pretty amazing. I've made this one from epicurious, and it's great, although personally I prefer versions where the squash (and possibly even some carrots and/or sweet potatoes too) are mashed instead of cubed and roasted. Garlicy alfredo sauce with some rosemary goes amazingly well with these flavors, and the whole thing is hearty and comforting and satisfying. Nobody will miss having meat.
posted by vytae at 2:40 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eggplant (aubergine) involtini is hands-down the best meal in the universe. It contains three types of cheese (mozzarella, feta and parmesan), pine nuts, lemon zest and parsley wrapped inside melt-in-your-mouth twice-cooked aubergine parcels, covered in a tomato sauce and topped with even more cheese.

The combination of flavours and textures is unbelievable. Please cook it. You won't regret it.
posted by teraspawn at 2:44 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cuban black beans with dark brown sugar and chipotle in adobo sauce, topped with slices of avocado. My mother's amazing, basic, super easy lasagna recipe. My boyfriend has become a convert also for maple/tamari-glazed tempeh, barbecued lentils, and sesame noodles with loads of garlic and ginger. Definitely agree with the comments on flavor, extra sides or more hearty carbs, and lots of texture.
posted by jetlagaddict at 4:08 PM on February 24, 2012

Eggplant parmesan
Lasagna (good fillers include spinach, butternut squash, mushrooms)
Grilled cheese
Pad Thai
Portobello mushroom burgers with bleu cheese and dijon mustard
Cheese enchiladas
Chiles rellenos
Stuffed shells (cheese)
Stuffed peppers (with rice instead of ground beef)
Black bean burritos (black beans and sweet potatoes are also fantastic)
Paninis offer endless variations of cheese and filling
Chana masala
Cheese or bean tamales
Omelettes (if you eat eggs)

Saute some greens--spinach, kale, chard--with some chopped onions and garlic and a splash of red wine or balsamic vinegar. In a separate pan, with plenty of oil, fry canned canellini or butter beans in a single layer, turning only once. Serve the beans over the greens. You can mix tomatoes in with your greens if you like.

I will often make a Moroccan-ish stew of onions, chickpeas, bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, dried apricots/dates/figs/prunes (any or all) and seasoned with turmeric, cinnamon, red pepper, a bit of honey, salt and pepper. Serve over couscous. If you eat cheese, feta or goat cheese are nice on top. Also good is a runny fried egg.
posted by elizeh at 4:20 PM on February 24, 2012

I make this so-easy Curry Nut Roast a lot when meat eaters come here for dinner. You can serve it hot with roast vegetables or pilaf in winter, or cold with green salad in summer:

8oz/ 225g Brazil nuts or walnuts, finely chopped.

2 medium onions, finely chopped.

1 medium green peeper, de-seeded and finely chopped.

Cooking oil.

3oz/ 75g wholewheat breadcrumbs.

1 crushed clove garlic.

1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh mixed herbs.

1 tablespoon mild curry powder or 1 heaped teaspoon hot madras curry powder.

8oz/ 225g tomatoes peeled and chopped.

1 beaten egg.

Salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 425f, 220c.

Line and grease a 7 inch square cake tin.

Gently fry onions and chopped pepper in a little oil until softened- about 10 mins.

Mix the nuts and breadcrumbs in a large bowl, adding the garlic, herbs and curry powder. Then stir in the onions, pepper and tomatoes, mix thoroughly and season. Now add the beaten egg to bind mixture.

Pack the mixture into prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden.


[I am cretinacious enough to have it with ketchup too]
posted by honey-barbara at 6:16 PM on February 24, 2012 [2 favorites]

Also, anything from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. This ratatouille recipe is my current favourite - make sure you chop everything first, then start, the timings are essential.
posted by honey-barbara at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

This greens "carbonara" has gone over very well with several greens-fearing, bacon-loving meat-eaters.

The Cook's Illustrated baked ziti has also been well received.

I haven't served this, but I'm pretty liptauer cheese on bread with cheese spaetzle and a salad would make any non-paleo people happy.

Seconding Plenty.
posted by (Over) Thinking at 7:49 PM on February 24, 2012

I almost got a devoted carnivore to come play for Team Veggie with Tofu Marsala. That is some good stuff.
posted by deliciae at 1:12 AM on February 25, 2012

It's only a side dish and not a main course, but creamed spinach goes over real well with carnivores. It helps that basically the only places that serve it anymore are old-fashioned steakhouses, so it's got that nice manly All-American cultural association going for it. But also, real homemade creamed spinach is fucking delicious, and nobody really thinks to cook it at home. Sweat some diced onion and garlic in butter; add a whole lot of fresh spinach, way more than you think is necessary because it wilts down all tiny when it cooks, and a serious glug of heavy cream; throw on a ton of black pepper and a dash of nutmeg. Aww yeah.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:50 AM on February 25, 2012

I agree with the others who have said that often the issue is that meat eaters feel something is missing, especially with one pot meals. Whenever possible, add rice as a base and 1 or 2 other vegetable side dishes, as well as some kind of bread. It's definitely way more effort than I make if I'm just cooking for myself, but it really does make a big impact to have variety when cooking for someone used to eating meat.
posted by cessair at 10:23 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

The best hits are ones that 1) use fake meat convincingly 2) are spicy spicy spicy, like curries or chili or 3) are pasta with either hearty mushroom or hearty nut-based moments.
posted by vegartanipla at 9:07 PM on February 25, 2012

Avoid fake meat trying to passed as real meat. It's just not as good to someone accustomed to actual meats. The one exception might be Chick-n-Nuggets, as the vegetarian ones are gristle free, and an equally good conduit for sauce.

Things that involve cheese are always good, albeit not at all vegan. Please, please, please don't try to feed a non-vegan fake cheese; it's horribly chemical and the texture is often all wrong. :-/

Several appetizers combined into a meal often worked for me. Cold hummus and warmed pita is absolutely awesome for everyone.
posted by talldean at 4:51 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a recipe for vegetarian chili (spicy with lots of different kinds of beans) that I make during the cooler months that people request now. Mmmmm.....chili!
posted by tkerugger at 6:58 PM on February 26, 2012

Texture is key in getting a meat eater interested in a one-dish vegetarian meal.

Either of these are great with rice (particularly brown rice, cooked with a pat of butter)
red cooked tofu
chickpeas & tofu with cinnamon
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 4:48 PM on February 27, 2012

Best thread ever... thank you so much everyone!!!
posted by cairdeas at 1:01 PM on February 29, 2012

I happened upon this recipe posted 4 years ago by Dee Xtrovert, and thought it would be perfect for this thread, so I am including it for anyone who stumbles upon this thread in the future:

I don't know why you wouldn't try a vegan pörkölt. A pörkölt is a kind of delicious Hungarian stew. Done right (and you can do it right), it'll knock your socks off. And it's so full of flavor that even with the two substitutions necessary (it's generally made with lard and pork shoulder), it'll still be great. I've never made a vegan version, but there is a kind of regional version (from the Székelyföld, a Hungarian-speaking part of Romania) which uses cabbage instead of meat, but I think this one below would work tremendously well. The important part of this recipe is to keep the heat high before and after you add vegetables.

Put a bunch of cooking fat (lard normally; I'd substitute Crisco for vegans) in a very large skillet - more than you'd think was healthy. Let it get REALLY hot. When it's REALLY hot, add two large diced onions, and don't turn down the heat. Add a reasonably large amount of salt and pepper. While that's cooking, chop up two large green bell peppers. The heat is to keep the onions from getting mushy. You want them caramelized and brown. Add the chopped peppers when you're finished. It's not bad for them to get a little brown. You want both the peppers and onions to lose most of their water. Add a couple of handfuls of carrots or parsnips chopped pretty finely. Those bagged carrots that are "grated" work pretty well as they are, too. Keep it cooking. Add a very finely chopped, peeled and cored Granny Smith apple. Sounds crazy, but trust me! Add about a tablespoon of caraway seeds. Cook it until the water is out of the peppers and onions.

Now *normally* you would let the fat drain out of the vegetables and remove them for the pot so you can brown the meat (which, if you make it with pork shoulder, requires about two pounds of meat before you cut off the extra fat and remove the bone that's sometimes there.) I would use that kind of firm tofu that one sometimes sees, but probably any tofu would work. Sp add maybe 1.25 pounds of tofu, more or less. Again, you're going to want to brown the tofu a bit and if it's really soft tofu, you'll want to get some of the water out, too. Once the tofu is browned and "meat-like," remove it from the pan. Deglaze it from the pan with some water or some wine/cooking sherry. I prefer the cooking sherry. What you're doing here is just "ungluing" the crusty stuff at the bottom of the pan. I add a cup or two of sherry and let it bubble down to about half a cup of sherry and gooky stuff. Then I add back the meat, begetable stuff and a *huge* amount of paprika - about half a cup of paprika - the sweet (édes) kind, if you can get it at a specialty food shop. It's important not to "burn" the paprika, so mix it in with everything before the temperature gets too hot. Add some "hot" (csípős) paprika - about a half teaspoon - if you have it.

I add a can of diced tomatoes (drain the water) - it doesn't matter if they're the kind that comes with some onions in it or not. Tomato paste can work too. Let it simmer at a low temperature with a lid on for a couple of hours. It should be very thick and rich, so check on it now and then, and if it's still to watery, leave the lid off for a while to reduce it somewhat. When it's done, it should just be tofu, thick sauce and vegetables. No hint of a watery part.

It's excellent served with sour cream . . . but skip this for the vegans. Serve with spätzle or noodles or something like that. I like to mop it up with a good peasanty bread - a lot of French or Italian breads will work fine.

I think this would be a great meal for vegans because it's a bit heavier than a lot of vegan cooking usually allows, plus it's wintertime and it's not something they would expect. This is spicy and hearty. You will *never* know there's an apple or caraway seeds in there (probably not carrots either.) It's got a mysterious, tasty flavor. Great reheated for leftovers. I spent a lot of time figuring out how to do this correctly, and was greatly assisted by a recipe I discovered in the back of the Ladislas Farago's "Strictly From Hungary."

posted by cairdeas at 9:28 PM on April 4, 2012 [4 favorites]

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