Vegetarian cooking projects
January 17, 2017 8:20 AM   Subscribe

My wife and I like to take weekends to engage in more complicated (or just time intensive) cooking projects. The problem is that most of my ideas are very meat heavy. I'd like some ideas for vegetarian or just vegetable focused, cooking projects.

Either involved, with lots of active time, or just day long cooking projects (like, say, braised short ribs) are fine. Things I can't do after work, and which produce a meal as opposed to something like dessert or bread.

Ideally, we like projects that have both a baking and a cooking component, so we can split responsibilities along those lines (she likes to bake, I prefer to cook). For example, we recently made dumplings with me working on the filling and her on the wrappers. Ideas like that would be great. Specific recipes are preferred over generic ideas.

The recipes need not be vegan or exclusively vegetarian, but I'd like the focus to be on the vegetable component. Other than that, any ideas are welcome!
posted by Bulgaroktonos to Food & Drink (27 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
This is a side, not a whole meal, but these slow-cooked carrots (originally from Cook's Illustrated) take longer than I'd usually like on a weeknight (~1.5h due to wait times), and are quite tasty. (The initial cook basically sets the texture, so the secondary cook finishes them but they don't become mush; the parchment is cut to size to be atop the water in the pan to help keep the heat in).
posted by tocts at 8:29 AM on January 17, 2017

Kenji over at Serious Eats got super into vegan cooking a while back and did a few recipes that look amazing and also relatively labour-intensive - vegan wellington and vegan ramen might hit the spot.

(full disclosure: I haven't tried either of these as I rarely have the time or energy to make anything this elaborate, but I've wanted to eat them for a long time)
posted by terretu at 8:29 AM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've made the Serious Eats vegetables wellington for the past two Thanksgivings, and I think it meets your criteria. I think in total it took about 5-6 hours last year, and that was with pre-preparing some of the fillings.
posted by sonmi at 8:30 AM on January 17, 2017

If you want super fiddly complicated vegetarian meals, this is definitely the cookbook you want.
posted by soren_lorensen at 8:30 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lately, I've been really into watching Peaceful Cuisine videos purely as a chill-out thing. Almost all of his cooking is vegan, so it should fit the bill for you. It is, however, geared toward normal meal prep rather than day-long projects.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:31 AM on January 17, 2017

posted by raccoon409 at 8:34 AM on January 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Ottolenghi's books Plenty and Plenty More have some ambitious vegetable recipes, though they are not exclusively vegetarian.
posted by praemunire at 8:43 AM on January 17, 2017 [8 favorites]

Pierogies are a fun project!
posted by something something at 8:44 AM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

The people who run Vedge in Philadelphia have some of the best cookbooks for sophisticated, complex vegetarian and vegan dishes. My absolute favorite of theirs is published under the name of the restaurant they ran before Vedge, called Horizons. I link to it (and some other things) in this comment in another thread. A big part of their approach is making really luxuriant spice blends in bulk before preparing a single dish (with, like, 15 components). I strongly encourage you to try the hearts of palm moqueca!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 8:48 AM on January 17, 2017 [3 favorites]

Pot pies with homemade pastry crust. Tofu pot pie, or chicken pot pie with tofu and/or other substitute, would be great (add nutritional yeast if you want).

Vegetarian lasagna. I know they had "it" at the cafeteria, but it's completely different made the one-dish-in-the-oven way. It's surprisingly complicated and delicious. Look for a recipe that doesn't have zucchini, for heaven's sake.

Get Rancho Gordo beans and make chili (use a recipe that calls for multiple beans) or cassoulet. You will want to start on this the night before - just put the beans in some water overnight to soak.

Morroccan tagine can be a little involved, too. Also Indian cooking - do the whole "roast then grind the spices" thing for maximum amaze.
posted by amtho at 9:00 AM on January 17, 2017

And for recipes with baking components, another excellent restaurant cookbook comes from London's Mildreds. This book has a recipe for wild mushroom and ale pies, which is possibly the most delicious meal I ate last year. I had it once at the restaurant, and that alone convinced me to get the book.

Mildreds puts a good amount of their recipes online, but I'm not seeing the pies that I dream about. They do have a recipe online for their truffled mushroom and chestnut Wellington, which is also an excellent bake+cook dream.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:01 AM on January 17, 2017

The Vegducken is a complicated and potentially fun project.
posted by Candleman at 9:10 AM on January 17, 2017

Savory Mushroom Pie -- I use store-bought puff pastry, but your baking spouse could make the crust.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:17 AM on January 17, 2017

Enchiladas, lasagne, ravioli, empanadas.
posted by vunder at 9:48 AM on January 17, 2017

Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant likely has what you are looking for - a meal with a theme & backstory. Chances are there is a copy at your local library.
posted by childofTethys at 10:05 AM on January 17, 2017

posted by Beardman at 10:38 AM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

My partner and I recently did the same thing with homemade pasta. The possibilities are endless, but we added roasted cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, kale, and pine nuts.
posted by yawper at 10:52 AM on January 17, 2017

Homemade pasta

Kenji at Serious Eats/Food Lab has some amazing sauces that take ages and are worth the time

He also has some intensive worth-the-time soups

Samosas, everything from scratch

posted by sadmadglad at 11:16 AM on January 17, 2017

Seconding tamales: I've messed with Rick Bayless's recipes for veg ones and been really happy with them. Putting the butternut squash in the dough gives it a little something-something that makes up for leaving the lard out, and the shortening still makes them tender and light. I haven't made any of his specific fillings; usually I make New Mexico green chile or black beans and some kind of queso; rajas could also work. So it's a huge project: make beans/other filling from scratch, roast butternut squash, make and rest tamale dough, soak corn husks, fill tamales, steam tamales. You can go even more nuts if you want to make crema from scratch, or salsa. It's not baking, exactly, but could be split like the dumpling dough, and the forming of the tamales might also scratch that baking itch. (It's dough!) We usually do the fillings and dough in advance, since it's easier to work with fillings when they're not burning hot and the dough needs to rest anyways, so it easily splits into a two-day project.

Search "butternut" here for a start; couldn't link directly.
posted by felix grundy at 11:20 AM on January 17, 2017

What about a meal of several very different vegetarian curries. Make your own spice mixes from fresh.
posted by chapps at 11:47 AM on January 17, 2017

The Homemade Vegan Pantry mostly has recipes for staples, and can provide the building blocks for more complicated meals.
posted by quatsch at 12:43 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Hi! You sound like Shepherd and me. We love food projects! We make things like homemade soy milk, which gives us okara, which is turn we turn into dozens of vegan fish sticks or chik'n nuggets. Or making homemade crackers. Or pierogies or dumplings. Lots of batches of pizza dough, tomato sauce to freeze for emergency pizzas. Labour intensive pastries. Stacks and stacks of tortillas. Pre-made homemade mixes for cake or biscuits or pancakes that way you just measure out and bake to save time. If you like canning/preserving, make lots of BBQ sauce, ketchup, etc. Ferments and pickles are also fun!

Quatsch has already referenced the book that is the best for food projects!
posted by Kitteh at 12:47 PM on January 17, 2017 [2 favorites]

Some weekends we make stuffed dosas and sambhar and coconut chutney and it's so good and sooo much work so right up your alley! Also stuffed parathas. Also, this doesn't answer your "she makes the dough and I make the filling" ask but some free weekends we make kimchi / preserved lemons / hot sauce / jam / etc things and then we are so happy to have a dope hipster-homemaker larder as the payoff for a fun date in the kitchen.
posted by athirstforsalt at 12:52 PM on January 17, 2017

Charlie Trotter's Vegetables is what you want, but be prepared to experiment with substitutes and eliminating parts of the recipes because the ingredients or equipment (or the hugely expensive wine recommendations) may not be available to you. I have found it to be immensely satisfying to get even parts of the recipes completed.
posted by unliteral at 4:35 PM on January 17, 2017

Vegetarian Moroccan Pastilla/Bastilla (savoury phyllo pie)

-you need to roast the veggies
-you make sweet potato caramel
-then you put it all together in phyllo and bake it

Fairly labour intensive, vegetable focused, and delicious.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:56 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

Fields of Greens is a chef-ish vegetarian cookbook where the extra steps result in intensified flavor.
posted by yarntheory at 6:40 PM on January 17, 2017 [1 favorite]

o m g cheese empanadas yessss
(and feta/mini tomato/feta quiche!)
posted by speakeasy at 11:26 AM on January 18, 2017

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