Your tried-and-true vegetarian Southern food recipes?
August 31, 2013 2:43 PM   Subscribe

I have been tasked with cooking or baking something for the regular themed potluck at my husband's workplace tomorrow. The theme this time is (American) Southern cooking, but I don't cook or eat meat so this is a cuisine to which I have paid zero attention previously. What should I make that would come out nicely if done vegetarian?

Sides, desserts, mains, doesn't matter. Assume access to a reasonably well-stocked supermarket in Alaska (so: no access to acceptable fresh stone fruit).
posted by charmedimsure to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
Green bean casserole?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:48 PM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

dude. macaroni and cheese. find the most balls-out recipe out there with like 8 pounds of cheese in it. Paula Deen's is a good place to start, or The Pioneer Woman's.

or coleslaw. or biscuits. or yams. or sautéed collards greens, hold the bacon.

dessert wise? peach or pecan pie. coconut cake.
posted by kerning at 2:48 PM on August 31, 2013 [11 favorites]

Breaded okra. Cornbread. Collard greens sans ham hock. Sweet potato pie.
posted by holgate at 2:51 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nothing is more inherently Southern than pimiento cheese sandwiches.
posted by trip and a half at 2:51 PM on August 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Red Beans and Rice, which you can cook without the sausage and just increase the seasonings a smidge and nobody will know the difference unless they are actually from Louisiana. It's honestly better on the second day, and reheats fine in the microwave, which are good for potluck dishes.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:54 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I make an awesome red beans and rice without any meat or meat broth. Use a food processor to nearly purée the onions to add some texture, and a few drops of liquid smoke to add some of the smoky flavor usually added by the sausage.

Other options: cornbread, spoonbread, corn pudding, creamed corn.
posted by devinemissk at 2:54 PM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Three-bean salad, cole slaw, potato salad.
posted by Banish Misfortune at 2:56 PM on August 31, 2013

Southern people eat lots of veggies. Sure we usually flavor them with bacon, but there are other options too. Some ideas:

I suggest you use to look up recipes. I'm not going to link though because my browser is acting funny and linking has been complicated recently.

Southern corn bread
Macaroni and Cheese (look up the Thomas Jefferson recipe, I think it's the most southern)
Cheesy Grits
Candied Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato pie
Peach Cobbler - use canned if you can't get it fresh in Alaska.
Fried apples
Apple pie
Apple turn overs
Fried Okra
Southern style deviled eggs
Black eyed peas ( most of these recipes will include pork but a good vegetable stock will be fine)
Fried black eye pea fritters
Fried corn fritters
hush puppies
Banana or zucchini bread
Bread pudding
Cheesy broccoli rice casserole

I could probably go on for days but other people will have great ideas too.
posted by dchrssyr at 3:01 PM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Pecan pie
boiled peanuts (I have never had boiled peanuts, but it is certainly southern)
posted by HuronBob at 3:02 PM on August 31, 2013

Green bean casserole 'comes out nicely' without soup -- use the Cook's Illustrated recipe and you will not be disappointed. (Ignore the call for chicken broth)

Also tasty: collard greens swimming in butter with very finely chopped onions, corn "fritters"

Pommes anna done with sweet potatoes is about the only way I enjoy sweet potatoes; I have no insight as to whether a dish simply being sweet potato oriented is sufficiently Southern, though. (Recipe)

Canada has a hard time 'getting' that cuisine but we have a restaurant in town that tries and they have a dish that is "mac ‘n’ cheese, sweet corn, caramelized onion, coffee mushroom & cornbread crust," which may (?) be of questionable authenticity, but the combination is very good.
posted by kmennie at 3:02 PM on August 31, 2013

Best answer: Banana pudding. The easy boxed pudding way or the real homemade pudding way. Someone somewhere will argue that the boxed pudding is the more authentic version. Just make sure you use real Nilla wafera.
posted by crush-onastick at 3:04 PM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Ambrosia is a concoction of marshmallows, fruit, and coconut(I think) that might serve you well depending how ridiculous you want to be.
posted by bq at 3:06 PM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hoppin John!I like Bryant Terry's Creole variation. And the citrus collards recipe on that page is also very good, if you can get your hands on collards.
posted by radiomayonnaise at 3:12 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

This macaroni and cheese recipe is easy and tasty. Use unsalted butter, a good sharp cheddar (it is too bland with mild cheddar), and don't bake more than 30 minutes (it will be way too dry if you bake it longer). This is not a gooey mac and cheese like the box kind, but still tasty.

Here is a Buttermilk Coleslaw recipe that is pretty easy:

Buttermilk Coleslaw
1/4 cup + 1 Tbl. sour cream
1/4 cup buttermilk*
1 Tbl cider vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/4 tsp sugar
2 to 4 dashes hot sauce to taste
1 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 small head cabbage
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup parsley chopped

Whisk together first 9 ingredients. Shred cabbage (you can now often find packages of pre-shredded cabbage for coleslaw at the grocery). Toss cabbage with red onion, parsley and dressing.

*The buttermilk makes it great (and southern), but if you can't get it or don't want leftovers of it around, here is a recipe for a substitute.
posted by gudrun at 3:12 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't have a specific recipe to recommend, but I'll point you towards the blog The Chubby Vegetarian. Their book (which I haven't read yet) is called The Southern Vegetarian, and looks awesome. Dig around in the archives for a lot of vegetarian southern comfort food.

They also just posted a recipe for Pulled Eggplant BBQ that I cannot wait to try.
posted by soleiluna at 3:17 PM on August 31, 2013

Has anyone mentioned sweet potato pie yet?
posted by mermayd at 3:40 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yellow squash casserole. Slice lots of yellow squash into rounds (maybe 15 medium ones), along with 2-3 yellow onions. Boil squash and onions with lots of salt and pepper until tender. Drain and add lots of butter and more salt and pepper. Let cool. Mix with an egg or two, beaten. Layer in casserole dish with cracker crumbs (club or ritz) and cover with more crumbs. Bake in 350 oven until warm through, about 40 minutes.
posted by Cocodrillo at 3:48 PM on August 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Fried green tomatoes?
posted by domnit at 4:01 PM on August 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Heck yeah! Fried green tomatoes. I can't believe I didn't think of that. It can be a difficult dish to prepare though. Get enough tomatoes for some practice runs.
posted by dchrssyr at 4:07 PM on August 31, 2013

Apple cobbler or crisp? There are absolutely AMAZING Fuji apples at Costco right now. Best apples I've had in Alaska.
posted by charmcityblues at 4:34 PM on August 31, 2013

Banoffee pie
posted by bunderful at 4:41 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Hope this isn't too late to be helpful:

Lots of the southern vegetable recipes that you will find ask for bacon or lard as a component. I grew up on that stuff (and it was/is delicious) but you can swap out olive oil and salt and pepper most of the time and get a really great vegan result. (Butter if it doesn't need to be vegan.) I ate a lot of succotash this summer (plain old corn and lima beans are fine, but if you google it you will get a lot of interesting variations, with peppers and so forth). A little bit of lemon juice at the end can also help with the flavoring, if that's your preference.

I'm making this up as I write (I learned to cook mostly by watching), but here goes:

If you get your hands on dried lima beans, soak them for a few hours. If they are frozen, thaw them out, probably in water. If they are fresh, you can use them as they are, just rinsing them out.

Same with the corn kernels.

After they are prepared (as above), give them a very quick stir-fry in olive oil, along with pepper or other spices that you like (I really like thyme), and then simmer them in water until they reach a texture that seems good to you. (I don't know the technical terms, but by "simmer" I mean that bubbles are rising to the top. It's not a furious boil.) Add salt and lemon near the end, to taste.
posted by sophieblue at 4:47 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

If you're willing to wander a little farther west, there's "Texas caviar" — black-eyed peas, chopped onions, chopped peppers and maybe some other veggies, marinated in a citrus or vinegar dressing. Awesome potluck food, totally vegan, very summery.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 5:15 PM on August 31, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I have brought Paula Deen's Banana Pudding recipe to countless potlucks and every single time it is a huge hit. If you have trouble finding the exact ingredients you can sorta mix and match the milk products - I usually use lighter fat milk, light cool whip, etc. Chessmen cookies are really amazing but if you can't find them in Alaska any type of buttery shortbread should do the trick.
posted by radioamy at 5:48 PM on August 31, 2013 [4 favorites]

It looks like there are some decent vegetarian jambalaya recipes out there. You could probably do without the okra if you can't find it up there. Never been a huge fan of it myself.

And yes on the banana pudding suggestions. People nearly weep when we bring it and it's so darn easy to make. For the cookie crust, we've used Nilla Wafers. If you're feeling especially daring, you can use Nutter Butters instead, but don't hold me responsible if a cult is established to worship you in effigy.
posted by jquinby at 5:50 PM on August 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Okay. This is not health food, mind you; it's just meat-free.
So, you know that evil agribusiness garbage food Morningstar Farms sausage? Yeah, buy some of that and make biscuits and gravy. Unless you find a better tasting veggie sausage; I've tried about 10 or so brands and they all just taste bad or strange. But if you find something better, go for it and share it with the world! But those nerds at the lab have engineered quite the sausage clone. Anyway— 6 patties is enough for a large amount of gravy, really.
The biscuits are your choice; if you know how to make some real cat heads, then lucky you gets to make and eat them. Otherwise, buy whatever biscuit brand you like.
Put a good bit of oil in an iron skillet (or whatever skillet you have that's pretty big) and crumble up the sausage and fry it a bit on med-low, just get it kind of oil-soaked, and kind of swimming in a real shallow layer of oil. Then you sprinkle flour over that and mix it in, keep adding flour until you absorb most of the oil. Then add some milk, or soy milk (not vanilla or chocolate, please) and stir it in. Keep stirring on low heat and it thickens up, you'll need to keep adding milk and stirring and checking. Add a fair bit of rubbed sage and a lot of black pepper and some salt, you'll have to add to taste but the sage is critical. And the black pepper. And the salt. Then it's all about thickness and the pepper and sage and you're done and you put it on a biscuit and it's just like Grandma used to make.
posted by Red Loop at 8:44 PM on August 31, 2013

I don't know how authentic it is, but this is my favorite corn bread recipe. I halve the sugar when I make it for myself, but with the full amount it goes well at potlucks.

Baked beans with molasses are also good. And if you don't mind meat-flavor substitutes, Goya Ham Flavored Concentrate is made without meat products and a pinch goes a long way.

Biscuits! When I was a kid, I always wondered why there was no bacon in Mom's bakin' powder biscuits.

I've never made a pecan pie, but people always seem to fuss over them. Luckily, they seem to be available in bakeries everywhere.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:00 PM on August 31, 2013

I have very strong feelings about biscuits. I grew up eating whomp biscuits, but now make them from scratch. Here's the recipe that i use - quantity depends on how large a circle you cut.


4 cups flour. I spoon flour into a cup and scrape it flat with a knife. Then I pour into a strainer and sift the flour into the mixing bowl.
8 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons lard (you can sub veggie shortening for this)
2 cups buttermilk - I often sub one cup yoghurt and 1 cup water)

Preheat oven to 450.

Mix the dry ingredients. Take a cup of dry ingredients, add the butter and shortening, working it in with your fingers. Keep adding from the dry ingredients till it's kind of a "sandy" consistency. little lumps of butter are okay, but on the whole you want it to be a grainy texture.

Add your wet ingredients and stir.

Turn the dough out on a well-floured surface. It's going to be really sticky. You don't want to work it too hard, just flour it enough to keep your hands from adhering. Roll the mass out till it's about an inch thick. I fold it over several times, roll it out to about 1/2" thick, and cut out circles.

Scrape up the leftover bits, roll out, fold and roll again.. but don't roll it out quite as thin as I've found the ones from the second cutting never lift as much as the first go-round. I'll aim for about 3/4"

Pop them in your oven till the tops are golden brown. I usually peek at 10 mins and pull them out around 12-15 minutes.
posted by dubold at 3:02 AM on September 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Chess Pie is a quintessential Southern desert. Southern Living has a basic recipe with variations. I sometimes make Christina Tsoi's Crack Pie from Momofuko Milk Bar, which is also a kind of Chess Pie, and people go next level bonkers over it.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:13 AM on September 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Went with the Paula Deen banana pudding (husband was in charge of meaty black-eyed peas), which is full of things I can't stand but was VERY well-received. We did learn the valuable lesson that, while it is possible to get Chessmen cookies in Anchorage, it is NOT necessarily possible to get Chessmen cookies Anchorage which have not been pulverized into largeish crumbs of their former majestic selves.

Thanks, everyone- a ton of great ideas and we'll have to try some more in the future.
posted by charmedimsure at 4:43 PM on September 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

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