Vegetarian recepies?
September 26, 2005 9:09 AM   Subscribe

I haven't seen my girlfriend in five months, and I'm going to visit her for three weeks very soon. I want to cook her the most amazing, mouth-watering, plate-licking, so-good-you-punched-your-mother-in-the-face vegetarian meals ever.

I'd consider myself a fairly competent cook and I can improvise well enough. It's just that 99% of my culinary has always revolved around some sort of meat or seafood, which won't work here.

Basically, I have only two stipulations - it has to be totally vegetarian (nothing dead, so no beef, pork, fish, seafood or what have you, and this includes broth and sauces and all that. Eggs, dairy, etc are ok though), and it has to be made with ingredients I can find in Berlin (given that it's a major Western city, I can't see that being too big of a problem). It'd be nice if it didn't require any large or special tools as her kitchen is pretty limited, and I'd also prefer not to have any kind of "fake meat" dishes (but that's just because I tend to hate them).

So... suggestions for recepies? A Middle Eastern theme might be neat because it'd be easy to get the ingredients in Germany, but I'm open to anything here. Thanks!
posted by borkingchikapa to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Veggie lasagna is very good. Eggplant manicotti is prolly my favorite vegetarian dish.
posted by wsg at 9:14 AM on September 26, 2005

You need Deborah Madison's book, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It's a bit enormous to take on a trip, but worth it. It won the Julia Child prize, it is so good. Packed with excellent cakes, entrees, sides, sandwiches. Really good.
posted by Sara Anne at 9:16 AM on September 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

I won a competition with this recipe, so I'm biased, but it's very easy and much tastier than the simple ingredients suggest. You can use green lentils but whole brown or puy lentils work slightly better. Don't use split lentils.
posted by methylsalicylate at 9:30 AM on September 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

Mmm.. go Indian. But you can find hundreds of amazing recipes and ideas at VegWeb.
posted by dhammala at 9:43 AM on September 26, 2005

MeFites seemed to like the sound of this.
posted by sciurus at 10:00 AM on September 26, 2005

I second Sara Anne, however her meals are more home-cooking and not made to impress. Her other books, The Greens Cookbook which is taken from a restaurant, and Local Flavors, are a little fancier. From the latter, her green garlic risotto is to die for. If you can't find green garlic, I just use a couple cloves (8 actually) of regular garlic. They come out soft and silky, without any of their spicy sharpness.

Also, Nigella's new cookbook which is also massive, Feast, has entire meals for every occassion. She has a great middle eastern feast, and the dishes I have made form that are very easy. And of course her baking is always premium, my favorite, so pick any of her chocolate cakes and your girl will die. Also, her sugo crudo tomato pasta recipe in her Forever Summer has blown away everyone I have made it for. Surprising, since it is so simple, everyone mentions it to me days after the fact.

And I will also mention Saveur. If there's an ingredient, or a dish you are interested in having (like authentic middle eastern), look it up on their website for just the most authentic, tasty, pure goodness recipes. Saveur's recipes are a little more work but usually worth it.
posted by scazza at 10:10 AM on September 26, 2005

is she a fan of mushrooms? You can do oh so much with them, especially portabellas.
posted by hopeless romantique at 10:12 AM on September 26, 2005

Tempeh is your friend. Marinate it first in something you like, then sauté. Holds together much better than tofu.

Use in stir fry, thin-sliced in sandwiches, cubed in spaghetti...anywhere you would use meat in traditional recipes.
posted by omnidrew at 10:22 AM on September 26, 2005

Here's my small collection (self-link), and only the bottom one is non-veg. On that page, I highly recommend the dhal soup, as it is eye-rollingly good and pretty easy. The turnovers are also very good, and a nice meal for fall weather.
posted by frykitty at 10:39 AM on September 26, 2005

Another amazing vegetarian cookbook: Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. Everything I have made from it has been at least very very good, and often better.
posted by 88robots at 10:41 AM on September 26, 2005

Not Middle Eastern, but this Eggplant Gratin is incredibly delicious:

1 1/2 pounds eggplant (preferably, small, elongated variety), sliced lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices (or, if large, sliced crosswise)

Olive oil for frying

Stewed tomatoes:

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt, small pinch cayenne

Cheese Custard:

4 ounces ricotta or other fresh white cheese
1 egg
Salt, pepper
About 1/2-cup freshly grated Parmesan
About 1/2-cup heavy cream

Handful fresh basil leaves and flowers
About 1/2-cup freshly grated Parmesan

Cook the eggplant slices in hot olive oil until golden brown on both sides and tender at all point. Drain on paper toweling (for this quantity, the slices will probably have to be fried in three batches, additional oil being added to the pan for each).

Cook the onion in olive oil for some 15 minutes until soft and yellowed, but not colored. Add the garlic and the tomatoes, season, turn the flame high, tossing several times, until well heated, then simmer gently - for 16 minutes or so - until the tomatoes' liquid is almost completely reduced. Taste for salt.

Mash the white-cheese with a fork, mixing in the egg - first stirring, then beating. Season and stir in enough Parmesan to bring the mixture to the consistency of a thick paste, then stir in cream until a heavy but easily poured creamy consistency is achieved. Taste for salt.

Line the bottom of a gratin dish or shallow baking dish with half of the eggplant slices, grind over a bit of pepper, tear the basil leaves into tiny pieces, sprinkling the surface evenly with leaves and flowers, sprinkle lightly with cheese, and spoon the tomato mixture evenly over the surface. Gently press the remaining eggplant slices into place and spoon the cheese-custard mixture regularly over the entire surface. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan and put into a fairly hot oven (425 to 450 degrees), turning it down after some 10 minutes to about 375 degrees, counting approximately 25 minutes or until the surface has swelled, no depression remaining in the center, and it is uniformly colored a rich golden brown.

(via Richard Olney)

Definitely all you need with this is good bread and a crisp green salad. Everyone I've made it for has swooned.

(PS: I never bother to peel and seed the tomatoes, and the only time I happen to find basil with flowers is when I'm growing it myself.)
posted by taz at 10:46 AM on September 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

There's always Imam Bayildi, an eggplant dish (many other recipes for it available by Googling). I don't like eggplant, but when my ex-wife used to make the dish everyone who ate it who liked eggplant loved it (though not to the point of fainting).
posted by cerebus19 at 10:51 AM on September 26, 2005

I'm a vegetarian, have been all my life. I'm big on improv in the kitchen (I'm not one of those folks who measures things). And, if I do say so myself, I'm a damn fine cook.

Now, you could make some lasagna or mancotti, but those are kinda expected, y'know?
The first thing that I'd look at would be gnudi, which is a pasta-less ravioli. Make it with spinach, basil and mint.
1 large bunch of raw spinach
1 cup fresh ricotta
1 egg yolk
1/8 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 - 1 cup flour
1/4 cup basil
1/8th cup mint
There are other recipes for this that use more cheese, but I like the taste of spinach more. Ideally, you should boil them until they float first, then brown them the tiniest bit in butter before serving.
(If you want, you can email me for more stuff. Also great are eggplant parmesean, bahngan barta, green thai curry... I'm going off to lunch now. Maybe this'll be easier when I'm not hungry...)
posted by klangklangston at 10:58 AM on September 26, 2005

Try this cookbook. The food at the restaurant, Rebar in Victoria, BC, is great. This is their cookbook. Very creative and delicious.
posted by caddis at 11:22 AM on September 26, 2005

Third the Deborah Madison book. Some of those dishes are truly impressive, home cooking and all. My mom just brought me my copy that I'd left with her, and I'm in heaven just reading it. Seriously - very excellent and versatile cookbook.
posted by angeline at 11:44 AM on September 26, 2005

Methysalicylate. .have have been LOOKING for the majadarra recipe. . .thank you. . .I used to have it at a falaffel place long ago but have not been able to find a decent recipe.
posted by Danf at 11:49 AM on September 26, 2005

You want to impress, go Indian Fusion. Seriously, it wows, it's purely vegetarian, it's not too hard, and you can present it beautifully. I've lived in Germany, this can be done.

Here's one really basic creation: Stuffed Tomato Masala.
So the point here is to stuff a few tomatoes with the stuffing from a Masala Dosa. It's simple to make. You want to make it more complicated, stuff a Poblano chili.

1 Just look up any recipe for Masala Dosa, I'm not going to write my own out here. This is pretty simple and you have time to practice to suit your tastes.
2 Hollow out two tomatoes per person
3. Stuff
4. Put a chunk of mozzarella on top to cover the hole
5. Bake for 25 minutes

Combine this with any rice dish you want, and a salad. For presentation points, get your favorite light chutney to drizzle on the plate and throw in some edible flowers.
posted by allen.spaulding at 12:24 PM on September 26, 2005

Pasta from scratch is always impressive, and delicious. Gnocchi isn't too hard to make. I made it for my girlfriend on her birthday, with an adapted version of this spicy tomato cream sauce. (Basically, I added sauteed onions and mushrooms and used TVP instead of sausage. Yes, it's fake meat, but you won't even notice it in this recipe, it's just for texture. Or you could just leave it out.)

She wasn't expecting me to make anything so she was very pleasantly surprised. It's still one of our favorite meals. It's also a good excuse to drink red wine.
posted by speicus at 12:52 PM on September 26, 2005

Seriously, go Indian. There's a few good reicpes... recipes that have gotten me laid... in the various Moosewood Cookbooks.

Oh, and... AskMe: so-good-you-punched-your-mother-in-the-face
posted by SpecialK at 1:37 PM on September 26, 2005

borkingchikapa, you've been MeTa'ed.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:50 PM on September 26, 2005

Peanut thai.
posted by itchie at 2:07 PM on September 26, 2005

What itchie said. Anything with tahini, too.

E2 has a small repository of Vegetarian meals that aren't just brown gack.
posted by abcde at 2:15 PM on September 26, 2005

Here is a recipe for pitas, hummus, and baba ganouj that I put together recently. Skip the part about curry chicken. Perhaps make falafel instead, or just have a lot of fresh veggies to go with.
posted by Nothing at 2:17 PM on September 26, 2005

Ethiopian dishes... yemiser w'et is my favorite. There's a lot of to-die-for vegetarian goodness in Ethiopian cuisine.
posted by gurple at 3:11 PM on September 26, 2005

I posted this recipe in response to a similar question for vegetarian recipes--this time please use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock 0 I goofed)--Risotto--
In large sauce pan sautee scallions and garlic in olive oil--then add aborio rice and sautee until the grains are transclucent--then begin adding hot vegetable stock 1//2 to 1 cup at a time--stir until rice takes up liquid and then add another portion of stock--repeat until stock is used--stir frequently--near the end add a generous portion of fresh parmesan and use 1/2 to 1 cup of white wine in place of the final portion of liquid--when finished add vegetables of choice for color and taste--peas (no need to precook) , asparagus which has been steamed/grilled/sauteed, artichoke hearts, grilled/sauteed red peppers, what ever--serve with fresh bread and a salad--risotto has a wonderful texture, is romantic/sexy, has a great presentation and tastes wonderful--proper portions of liquid to rice will be on the rice bag/box--you must use arborio rice.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:42 PM on September 26, 2005

Try Jamie Oliver's Hamilton Squash. Isn't hard to do. Looks impressive. Tastes great. What more can you ask for? Pukka.
Small handful porcini mushrooms
Butternut squash, halved and seeds removed
Olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, pounded
Pinch dried chilli
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
5 sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper
100g basmati rice
1/2 handful toasted pine nuts

Pre-heat oven to 230c
Soak porcini for 5 mins in 1/4 pint boiling water
Scoop out flesh from squash (I use a combination of a small paring knife and scraping with a soup spoon to do this). Stop about 1.5cm from the skin
Chop flesh, fry with oil, onion, garlic, coriander seeds, chilli, rosemary and tomatoes
Fry for 4 mins, add porcini and half the soaking water, cook for 2 mins then season
Stir in rice and pine nuts, pack mixture tightly into squash and press the two halves together
Rub skin of squash with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and bake for 1 1/4 hours
posted by tellurian at 6:35 PM on September 26, 2005

There are some awesome recipes here, which I am printing out and putting into my cook's notebook. Thank you all. borkingchikapa, rather than punch your mother in the face, after five months absence from your girl friend I do think, however, that there would be more pressing desires.
posted by caddis at 6:48 PM on September 26, 2005

Can I just ask, what the fsck kind of saying is "so good you punched your mother in the face"? I don't mean to be all po-faced and boring, but how is that funny, or descriptive, or anything appropriate?

Oh, great recipes folks!
posted by wilful at 6:57 PM on September 26, 2005

"So good it'll make you smack your mama" is a southern phrase, usually applied to food (just so you don't have to go over to the incredibly unnecessary discussion on MetaTalk).

I had this awhile back at Millenium (whose cookbooks are really worth looking at for your situation -- they're paperback, so they'll travel well, and the restaurant really focuses on presentation, which will work well for the mama-slapping effect), and it was fantastic. It's only an appetizer, but served in the martini glasses, it just looks great:



8 ounces maitake mushrooms, cut into bite-size pieces
8 ounces oyster mushrooms
4 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, halved
Juice of 3 limes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus additional as needed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 or 2 serrano or aji chilies, seeded and minced
Juice of 1 orange
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons fresh oregano
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper
8 lime wedges, for garnish
Tortilla strips or chips

To make the ceviche, combine the maitake, oyster and cremini mushrooms, two-thirds of the lime juice, the olive oil and the salt in a mixing bowl. Toss well and cover. Marinate for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, combine the onion, cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, garlic, chilies, orange juice, orange zest, oregano, cilantro and remaining lime juice in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the marinated mushrooms to the onion-cucumber salsa mixture and toss to combine.

To serve, divide the ceviche among 8 martini glasses. Garnish with a wedge of lime and tortilla chips.
posted by mabelstreet at 7:52 PM on September 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

Danf: glad I could help!
posted by methylsalicylate at 8:17 AM on September 27, 2005

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