Veggies, but not Vegetarian
August 2, 2015 4:17 PM   Subscribe

I need more ideas for cooked vegetable dishes. Ideally it would include a lot of vegetables and a little bit of meat.

I need to eat more vegetables, but I don't like salads. It just doesn't do it for me as a meal.

My ideal dish is somewhere around 80% veggies and 20% meat. I love to cook, but it's difficult to search for vegetable-heavy dishes without it being vegetarian/super healthy(bland)/raw. No dietary restrictions. Love anything foreign(I'm in the U.S.).

posted by monologish to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 59 users marked this as a favorite
my sister makes an awesome pasta sauce that's basically veggies and oil in a pan in the oven. you can add a varying amount of chorizo to taste (before cooking). this seems like a similar recipe.
posted by andrewcooke at 4:22 PM on August 2, 2015

Brussels sprouts with bacon and figs, if you're getting fancy!
posted by blue suede stockings at 4:29 PM on August 2, 2015

What about some sort of burrito bowl? It can include meat, but also: beans, bell peppers, hot peppers, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, avocado, lettuce, black olives, corn, maybe even zucchini/summer squash and broccoli, if you're into that. The peppers and onions can be grilled if you want. The broccoli, squash or zucchini would surely be best cooked.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:29 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

One of our regular weeknight dinners is a stir fry with a bunch of vegetables (usually peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, and a whole bunch of spinach added right at the end), with some chicken and (optional) pasta. We keep the chicken and pasta apart from the vegetables so each person can build the proportions they want. Pretty flexible and easy.
posted by primethyme at 4:31 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thai curry. Curry, coconut milk, jalapeños, and basically whatever vegetables and protein you want.

I also think there are probably a lot of stews that would work.
posted by J. Wilson at 4:33 PM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Stir fry.

When you say salad doesn't do it for you as a meal - do you mean side salads? Or do you mean even an entree salad along these lines:

* greens topped with cooked salmon and blanched asparagus, tossed with a mustard dressing
* greens topped with sliced pears, generous dabs of goat cheese, and walnuts
* sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, chick peas, dressed with red wine and vinegar (perhaps with a bit of chicken)
* chicken and a variety of steamed or blanched veggies (zucchini, green beans) tossed with pesto.

I think by ruling out salad you might be ruling out some very easy meals. There's no reason a salad can't have all the components that make a meal filing, it's just more likely to have greens and/or raw veg and some kind of dressing and may possibly be chilled (though I've definitely put hot food on top of greens and called it salad, and I've made salads w/o lettuce).

Also, if you see a vegetarian recipe that looks good, go ahead and make it. Get some rotisserie chicken (or cook a meatloaf) and have a bit of both for your meal.
posted by bunderful at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lyn's Rule: you can add meat to pretty much anything. Whether you need to cook it ahead kind of depends on the meat: anything that gives off a lot of grease or water needs to at least be par-cooked before being added. Anything large should probably be broken down into smaller pieces, though there are lots of dishes that are a main layer of vegetable with chicken put on the top and cooked that way.

Some examples:

Vegetable-heavy lasagna (or a thing that is philosophically lasagna but has no pasta in it, usually made with some combo of zucchini/eggplant/mushrooms/spinach plus meat sauce, which I informally call 'basagna' for reasons I can't remember anymore - and you can use ricotta or cottage cheese or bechamel or mozarella or just don't if you don't want cheese).

Chicken spinach cauliflower casserole.

Curry. This recipe has meat suggestions but seriously find a vegetable curry recipe you like and add some chopped up chicken thighs same time as the longest-cooking vegetables.

Also, you can make vegetables and make meat and eat them at the same time. I have cooked or grill-prepped 30lbs of meat today to be ready to thaw for meals, since it's going to be really hot in the evenings for the next few weeks. I also have some vegetable casseroles set aside, but some nights I'll just roast a bunch of broccoli and cauliflower or nuke a sweet potato or grill some zucchini. Not every meal needs 20 ingredients.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:36 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

(maybe it's obvious, but you buy thai curry paste in little plastic pots in asian supermarkets - it's really easy to use and awesome).
posted by andrewcooke at 4:38 PM on August 2, 2015

Oh, and another one would be soup. Like any sort of a soup where you can use mirepoix (medley of chopped celery, carrots and onion), you could add peas, spinach, peppers, mushrooms, etc. Whatever you want.
posted by AppleTurnover at 4:38 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Here is the Meat Lite series at Serious Eats.
posted by ftm at 4:47 PM on August 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

This is an infinitely adaptable "recipe" that we use for lots of things. My partner loves tacos, so this most often becomes taco filling (with corn tortillas + cheese + shrimp/chicken/steak/pork).

Cut whatever vegetables you like. We use zucchini, corn, peas, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, leeks...whatever we have to hand and is fresh. Then sauté the vegetables in olive oil until they are just cooked. We add them in order of which take longest to cook (onion/leeks, mushroom, zucchini, peas, corn, tomatoes) and season. In 10 minutes, you have lots of delicious sautéed vegetables. Add thyme and basil (fresh, ideally). Then pour this over the warmed tortillas with cheese (always cheese first!), avocado, and meat.

You can also do that with a nice piece of cooked meat (pork chops are our favourite), or mix it with pasta (with a little more olive oil and some grated parmesan), or even serve it with toasted bread.
posted by guster4lovers at 4:51 PM on August 2, 2015

I often make a batch of romesco sauce, which lasts for days in the fridge, and can be frozen. I've upped the tomato portion to a 28 oz. jar of Pastene crushed tomatoes, and roasted it with no problem. So simple, but so tasty, I can't explain it. I've used red wine, or red wine vinegar, toasted commercial bread crumbs or toasted bread, ground almonds or baking almonds, it all comes out fantastic in the end. The key is pouring the entire mix onto a rimmed baking sheet and letting it bake for 15 minutes, then letting it cool. Then you can scoop it into a bowl.

I've served it with sauteed shrimp over polenta, as a topping for pasta, socca flatbread with goat cheese and basil oil, etc.

Whenever I am feeling "too much meat," I look at Spanish cuisine, or Italian or Mediterranean.

I also like looking at Indian cuisine, and have made paneer in the past, to get a good spinach paneer dish going on (aka saag paneer). What is fantastic about Indian cuisine is that you can just start any dish with a wet masala of onion, then add fresh ginger, and then garlic and spices (as you don't want to overcook the garlic and make it bitter), and then add your tomatoes to deglaze, and anything else, like spinach or beans, etc.

Whenever you are cooking with meat, you should sear it first and then add it last to your dish. That way, you will keep the flavor and the juices of the meat, but not dry it out. Unless you are braising some poor cut of meat for a long time, in which case, it should be seared and then go in with your veg to cook for a while.

In general, the more rich your meat is, the longer it will take to cook, so you should add it in sooner with the veg. If it is chicken breast, you should poach it very gently and then shred it and add it in later, in small bits (you can freeze it after you shred it).

If you are cooking with something like sausage or bacon, you should cook that ahead of time, and chop it to garnish your veg dish. I think if you follow a trifecta of onion, ginger, garlic or the southern trifecta of onion, celery, carrot, and then braise those vegs after sautéing them, anything else you add with have flavor. You can then experiment with spices like cumin, Herbs de Provence, thyme, a bit of red pepper flakes, and don't forget vinegar. Vinegar adds a lot of flavor, when used very gently, at the end. A tiny sprinkle of salt and a good cracking of black pepper will make any dish go a long way.

What you are going for is flavor: so pay attention to your aromatics, and treat them correctly. No matter if you add meat or not, this is the way to go.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:12 PM on August 2, 2015 [3 favorites]

When I make quiche, I sub out some of the spinach for sausage and mushrooms. works pretty well for me.
posted by Tamanna at 5:26 PM on August 2, 2015

I like to do a twist on a dish I've seen at Thai restaurants which is a hot peanut curry coconut sauce on top of lightly cooked veg, or even raw spinach. You can make a big batch of the sauce and then top a variety of things: veg, meat, carbs. Here's the basic recipe and some options:
Peanut sauce:
Warm a can of coconut milk and half cup (or more) peanut butter in a small saucepan. Add few spoonfuls of curry paste (red, yellow, or panang), fish sauce (or soy sauce), brown sugar and keep stirring on the heat just until it comes together and is nice and creamy. Add a little boiling water if it's too thick. Turn off heat and finish with lime juice and chopped green onion and cilantro. You could add a little bit of garlic if you want.

Pour this on whatever suits your fancy:
Steamed veg: cabbage, carrot, onion, bok choy, red pepper (you could also cut or shred these really thin and pour the hot sauce of raw veg)
Raw baby spinach, bean sprouts
Pieces of chicken, pork, shrimp, tofu...
Rice or noodles
posted by dahliachewswell at 5:27 PM on August 2, 2015 [8 favorites]

How about breakfast for dinner? Make a veggie-heavy shakshuka variant, but brown some loose sausage first in the pan. Same deal with frittatas or omelettes.
posted by thirdletter at 5:31 PM on August 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Here's how we eat spaghetti:

1. Boil a small amount of spaghetti.
2. Brown a little bit of ground beef in a pan; set aside.
3. In the same pan, sauté a whole bunch of veggies, chopped into bite-size pieces (usually broccoli, onions, carrots, mushrooms, sometimes zucchini or red bell peppers, spinach, whatevs).
4. When the veggies seem done, add 1/3 to 1/2 jar of spaghetti sauce and add the meat back in. Add fresh garlic and/or basil if you have it. Let it heat up a little and then serve.

Super easy and you don't need a recipe. The meat is optional. So is the spaghetti, for that matter.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:53 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I've been making a traditional tomato sauce for pasta but with lots of zucchini in it. Depending on how you cut and cook the zucchini, you can make it more or less present (smaller cubes and/or cooking it longer - disintegrates more; larger pieces/half moons and/or shorter cooking time - more obvious zuke). I usually saute the garlic and/or onion in olive oil, then add the zucchini, cook for as long as I want (see above), then add canned tomatoes and continue with a basic tomato sauce recipe.

You can also invert the traditional Italian pasta:sauce ratios and serve a lot of sauce with a smaller amount of pasta. This is good with a pound or two of zucchini, a 28 oz can of tomatoes, and maybe 12 ounces of pasta for 4 people.
posted by rossination at 6:33 PM on August 2, 2015

This does not include meat, though I am making it as I type! Cauliflower puree. Liked mashed potatoes but healthier and oh so yummy. Chop cauliflower. Boil/steam in boiling water until fork-tender. Add coconut milk and/or butter to taste. Immersion blend or, better, put in powerful blender and blend til it's like a fancy restaurant puree. Oh, add salt too. This is so delicious and comforting, and goes very well with meat.
posted by bookworm4125 at 7:09 PM on August 2, 2015

This recipe is very good even if you add a couple hundred grams of cooked chicken breast.

On reflection, many of Linda's Low Carb Recipes would be suitable with or without modification.
posted by sockpup at 7:31 PM on August 2, 2015

it's difficult to search for vegetable-heavy dishes without it being...super healthy(bland)/raw

You need older cookbooks! Skip the ones from the gelatin/cream-of-X-soup levels. We just had, for example, a thing from a decades-old book that was onions, cooked until golden, heavy cream added, cooked until the cream reduced to a nice thickness, topped with roasted tomatoes, with fried bread arranged around the side. Terrific!

Unhealthy vegetarian cooking is a thing and a terrific thing. Just pick up elderly-looking cookbooks from a thrift store, turn to the tiny section titled "vegetables," skip the stuff that is too weird/gross for 2015, and have at it with the rest of it.

I have never eaten meat, but quite enjoy a hearty dish, and pride myself on making meals for non-vegetarians that don't register as "vegetarian." I'm sure it's easy to chuck quantities of whatever meat into them if you need, but I find meat-and-potatoes sorts really relish the older veg dishes. Cream, butter, cheese, and eggs are your friends for veg-heavy dishes that aren't "Hello, I am a pile of plain, lightly sautéed kale" vegetable-y.

I had an amusing interlude with my partner at one point: "I notice you really like creamed vegetables, so I..." And he said, what? Creamed vegetables are terrible; I'm not sure what you mean? For many people, the idea exists, in 2015, only in terrible tinned form. But high-fat dairy plus cooked veg is delicious. Parsnip custard, for example -- I like it with a tomato stew heavy with butterbeans and artichoke hearts.

And it isn't really "unhealthy" if you're not scarfing down massive bowls of it. My dairy fat fun works well because it is in some ways a meat replacement, I suppose -- a flavourful dish with of vegetables with dairy fat scratches, if I have not been lied to, some of the same itches as meat-heavy dishes. You can, as with, I think, many meats, only eat so much in one sitting.

Definitely don't overlook stuff from outside of North America -- veg dishes with halloumi or paneer as the star ingredient are... I had lunch once where I was served a delicious paneer dish in a rich, creamy gravy made partially with ground cashews. A dining companion, unfamiliar with paneer, said the chicken was melt-in-your-mouth delicious, etc. I am not a fan of fake meat, but there are a lot things that are not fake meat but which will register on some levels as meat, and which go well with veg-heavy surroundings. Do you like saag paneer...?

Roasted brussels sprouts are all the rage now, and they're healthy, and vegetable-y... I still like them cooked like cauliflower cheese, with a crumb topping, maybe a bit of hot sauce if I'm feeling it. And surely that could get a good bacon topping?
posted by kmennie at 7:32 PM on August 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Rapini with sausage and/or anchovy.

Blanch the rapini in heavily salted boiling water. About 30 seconds. Immediately drain and plunge into an ice bath (or, in a pinch, leave in the strainer and run cold water over until cool). In a large sautee pan over medium heat, pour in say 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add two cloves of garlic, sliced. Add as much sausage or anchovy (or both!) as you want to eat, and (if using raw sausage) cook through. Then add some diced tomato--fresh is better, it'll hold its shape better than canned, no judgement if canned is easier for you. Sautee for a minute or two, then add your rapini and continue sauteeing until the rapini reaches your preferred level of tenderness. Taste, check your seasoning (anchovy and sausage tend to be high in salt so you want to wait until the end for this), and consume. Delicious hot or cold.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:33 PM on August 2, 2015

Green beans with bacon and onion.
posted by neushoorn at 10:25 PM on August 2, 2015

I eat Morrocan stew made with chickpeas, raisins and veggies(tomatoes etc.) very often.In your case, you can add a bit of lamb to it. Serve over couscous.
posted by whitelotus at 11:01 PM on August 2, 2015

Look up recipes for gumbo and dalcha.
posted by redlines at 6:24 AM on August 3, 2015

This is my jam! This is going to be a general link-dump of one-pot/one-pan vegetable+meat recipes. All of them can tolerate reducing the meat as much as you want.

Chicken curry in a hurry
Cassoulet style sausage and beans
Sausage, peas and rice (I've substituted spinach for peas to good results)
Greens and ham breakfast bowl
Sausage, beans and greens
Sukuma wiki (Kenyan greens + ground beef stir-fry)
Roasted cabbage, apples and sausage
Roasted sausage and root vegetables (You can speed this one up by parboiling the sausage; then roast everything for 45 minutes or so)
Spicy peanut chicken with broccolini
posted by mchorn at 6:30 AM on August 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

One of my favorite stir-fries is summer squash. I prefer yellow, but if you like zucchini, that's fine. Saute shopped onions in oil until soft, add sliced/ chunked squash, add mushrooms near the end. If you like, top with parmesan. Alternatively, take some soy sauce, grated ginger, toasted sesame oil and whisk in some corn starch to make an asian-ish sauce. I serve with pasta. I have added chicken or beef to this successfully.
posted by theora55 at 10:39 AM on August 3, 2015

Chili is usually made with beans, tomatoes, onions and bell peppers, but you can also add other vegetables. I like corn and carrots. I have also seen recipes with celery, zucchini, eggplant and other vegetables - if you google "vegetable chili" you can look at some recipes and get ideas. There will be a lot of vegetarian recipes but you can just add meat.
posted by Cinnamon Bear at 10:57 AM on August 3, 2015

Response by poster: So many great ideas! I'll just add one of mine to the list in case anyone else is looking - ratatouille with ground turkey!
posted by monologish at 11:57 AM on August 3, 2015

Nth-ing veggie sauté in olive oil and butter, whatever you got. I'm a big fan of onion, garlic, mushrooms, squash, green beans, some combo of above... Throw in some chopped prosciutto or cappicolla at the end, or those tasty pre cooked spinach sausages from trader joes or whatever... Deglaze with white wine and cook down. Serve as is or with pasta, quinoa, couscous.
posted by danapiper at 8:39 PM on August 3, 2015

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