Dinner ideas needed
November 15, 2021 7:55 AM   Subscribe

Hi mefites, I'm looking for some inspiration for dinner ideas/recipes with a bunch of limitations - no dairy, gluten, eggs, beans, or red meat/pork. I also have limited energy, especially towards the end of the day, so I'm looking for easier recipes (although I can cook well).

I asked about slow cooker recipes last month and got some good ideas.

Follow up question, is a subscription to NYT recipes worth it? I subscribe to the digital paper already and see lots of links there.
posted by ellieBOA to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Two Sleevers recipe index, set to dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free:

You could try using the main ingredient filters to filter further, or just browse for ideas that might need a little adaptation.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 8:11 AM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: To answer your followup question, I do enjoy my NYT Cooking subscription. I use that and my Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen digital subscription at least 3-4 times per week. I love the ability to search at whim and save what I want for later. The comments on NYT Cooking are just as helpful as the recipes themselves.

That being said, I'm not sure how useful it is for your dietary restrictions. BUT, if you know anyone who has a digital NYT Cooking subscription, they will get a second that they can give away to a friend, so maybe ask around to see if anyone has an extra they can give you to try (sorry, I've already given mine to someone else). Re-reading the question, if you're already paying for the digital paper, adding Cooking isn't much more. Maybe try it for a few months and see if you like it. The support folks are super easy to work with through chat on their website, and can add or cancel it pretty easily.
posted by hydra77 at 8:31 AM on November 15, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: One of my lazy day recipes is this Whole30 Egg Roll in a Bowl - actually, a lot of Whole30 recipes would fit the bill. For this recipe, you can use any ground meat - I often get bulk sausage, skip the rest of the seasoning except for garlic, and essentially brown the meat, add minced garlic from the fridge (and maybe salt/pepper/other spices), a bag of broccoli slaw, and cook til the veggies are soft.
posted by DoubleLune at 8:40 AM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: I've found that oat milk, storebought or homemade, is a fantastic milk replacer. There are lots of egg replacers out there too - here's a good list to get you started. Beyond that, beans and red meat shouldn't be too hard to avoid.

Also, I can give you a very enthusiastic cookbook recommendation for Whole Food Cooking Every Day - all the recipes are free of gluten, dairy, and refined sugar. More importantly, they actually taste pretty good for the most part.
posted by rjacobs at 9:36 AM on November 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Assuming soy is ok, here are some ideas!

I love this Garlicky chickpea & corn mix. Recipe suggests you top with an egg but you could also just... not. The other night I made it with no egg and stirred some kale in. It was great.

I often make a ratatouille loosely based on this recipe, it says it takes a little over an hour, and maybe that's true all told, but it isn't difficult and it's very forgiving. I usually put a dutch oven on the stovetop, sautee up the aromatics, then chop the veggies and layer them in a dutch oven on the stovetop in order, then toss in a can of tomatoes and some red wine or red wine vinegar or lemon, and let it simmer on the stovetop for 35-45 minutes. It's a really lovely meal with some red wine, or all by itself and it keeps well in the fridge or freezer for lunches/leftovers. Sometimes I make veggie risotto with the leftovers.

I also like a good weeknight coconut curry. They are relatively quick and easy to make. I would google recipes and then roll your own, I usually do:
Onions & garlic & ginger sauteed up... use your preferred ratio!
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp turmeric
1 tbsp garam masala
Optional: 1 tbsp tomato paste. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't!
Then toss in your main event, I usually do two of the following: Chickpeas, cauliflower, peas, potatoes. Coat/mix up with the very yummy smelling curried aromatics.
Toss in a can of coconut milk, stir it up.
toss in a can of veggie stock, stir that up, bring to boil, then simmer for... 30 mins?

Ugh, I just realized that CHICKPEAS ARE BEANS. What a dolt I am.
posted by pazazygeek at 9:39 AM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: HI!

I feel you. I'm eating low FODMAP and its tricky and a true PITA when you're tired and hungry and just want a decent meal in 10 mins. So here's my best one so far (requires having a few things kept on hand that you might not normally have in your pantry but they are shelf stable for years and you can easily just stock them next time you go to the grocery store- assuming you are in the U.S. I guess. Apologies for assuming that if you are not)

I heat one package of precooked Seeds Of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice (can be bought in bulk at Costco) for 1 min 30 seconds in the microwave.

While that heats I throw some precooked turkey or chicken into a bowl, along with salsa and premade guacamole I get from Costco. I top that with what's known as "vegan fairy dust" but is actually Braggs (that's the brand name) Nutritional Yeast. it sounds questionable I know, but it tastes like rich, delicious CHEESE!!! You can find nutritional yeast at most grocery stores or on line. Its a powder, but mixed with the salsa and guac it turns into this super, super nummy cheesey spread.

I put the quinoa and rice into the bowl and heat the whole thing one more minute in the microwave. Then I throw on some fresh parsley or cilantro, stir it all up and BOOM! A super filling, satisfying, healthy, tasty meal in under 5 mins!
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:42 AM on November 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: WalkerWestridge, I'm in France but thanks. Thanks everyone so far.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:47 AM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: I don't know if France has yet embraced the array of heat-and-eat/shelf-stable options we have in the US, but take advantage of what's there. I've been very low on spoons for a few months and I'm using a service for this in the US that ships everything to me but the core of every meal is 3-4 basic components: a protein, a prepackaged grain blend, a vegetable or the kind of bagged salad-slaw that can be eaten raw or sauteed, and a sauce. In my case I choose mostly proteins that are already cooked - shredded cooked meat, seasoned tofu or vegan meat, chicken or turkey sausages (mostly these are already cooked and only need heating, but if you cut them up they cook from raw very fast too). Occasionally I will choose shrimp or fish since they cook in minutes, ditto chicken/turkey meatballs/patties. I can pretty much one-pan most of these recipes, either throwing it all in the oven or sauteeing it all in one pan. You probably have access to really nice canned fish, as well.

They're barely recipes, you know? This is definitely not the time for NYT recipes as they are not fast or simple. I think the internet and searches for quick or weeknight or one-pot meals, and maybe sticking to Whole 30 and/or Paleo and/or Keto will keep you in the realm of easy substitutions (coconut milk or the alt-milk of your choice for cow dairy, for example, and just avoid really cheesy recipes) and even though most of those eschew rice and potatoes you can add those to your plate without needing long explanations on how to do so.

But also you can simply stick to a protein-starch-veg + flavors routine and eat perfectly serviceable meals that will keep you alive and healthy even if they're not exciting. Exciting takes too long. It's fall, so your markets should have ample brassicas, squash, dark leafy greens, and starch/root veg that can be simply roasted or steamed or microwaved. Add an easy protein that's allowed by your restrictions.

Don't forget salt and pepper, good olive oil, fancy vegan butter, cumin, paprika, garlic and onion if you can tolerate them, garam masala, ginger, a little sugar, soy sauce, various tomato products if you can tolerate them, non-dairy milk. Replace any of your staple seasonings that might be old and tired - cumin and paprika don't age well, and get a new container of garam masala.

Don't forget that things like mushrooms, sweet or hot peppers, parsley and cilantro, microgreens, citrus juice if you can have it, really fancy oils, and something pickled/briny like a couple of olives or gherkins can really zhuzh up a simple plate of food. Buy fragrant rices like Basmati and Jasmine.

With the exception of soups and stews, don't wear yourself out trying to prep full meals, but do try to cook extra *something* when the opportunity arises. Like, if you find a nice package of chicken sausages or patties but they're raw, go ahead and cook all of them and not just what you need for tonight. Or if you end up with several days' worth of broccoli, roast it all and just reheat what you need on subsequent nights.

If you have or wanted to get a rice cooker with a steamer insert, you could probably seriously streamline many nights' meals - rice with broccoli or cauliflower or brussels sprouts or cabbage chunks into the rice cooker, throw a chicken breast into a pan or the oven, make a little pan sauce with vegan butter and seasonings, it all goes into a plate or bowl. Learn to microwave potatoes - there are actually advantages to microwave over other cooking methods. Keep good prepackaged chicken stock on hand for enriching pan sauces and your rice.

And for one actual recipe, we were convalescing from our booster shots this weekend and I finally made the internet-famous Roberto soup. Use diced or ground chicken or turkey plus Italian-type seasonings (it's the fennel seed/anise seed that makes American "Italian Sausage" flavor, plus oregano), skip the beans and parmesan (but yes if you can get Nutritional Yeast, use that), fortify it with rice or diced starch/winter squash if you like. We're going to be eating the stuff all week.
posted by Lyn Never at 10:30 AM on November 15, 2021 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I love making a big batch of pulled chicken in the instant pot (or slow cooker) and then changing it up over the course of the week.
- enchiladas/tacos (corn tortillas instead of flour, add your favorite creamy condiment after cooking instead of cheese during cooking, if you want, or go without)
- sandwiches (if you have a gf bread you like?)
- over rice/quinoa/pasta
- with squash
- etc.

I like this recipe - stop after step 12 if you're just going for the pulled chicken not the enchiladas, slow cooker variant at the end of the recipe.
posted by february at 10:53 AM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: I didn't have a lot of energy for cooking dinner Saturday, so I coarsely chopped an onion, sauteed it in olive oil, then when it was soft, added a bit of chopped garlic and sauteed another minute. Then I added some broth, boneless, skinless chicken thighs, and some peeled and coarsely chopped carrot, parsnip, celery, cabbage, and tomato. I brought it to a boil, simmered until the chicken was tender, shredded the chicken, and then added a bit of potato and some turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, salt, and pepper, and cooked until the potato was tender. Just before serving I added some harissa. It made about 6 liters of stew. I froze what my wife and I didn't eat, but for more variety, you could add just salt and pepper, cook until it's done, and then parcel it out into single-serving containers and add seasoning when you reheat it, for more variety.

For a really quick meal from a French supermarket, how about potato gnocchi, a jar of gluten-free pasta sauce, and some rillettes de canard?
posted by brianogilvie at 11:07 AM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: I like my NYT Cooking sub and have recommended it to friends, and we all have noted that while there are some quicker and easier recipes on there, they trend heavily towards pasta and unless you like gluten-free pasta, I could see that being a problem.

You might find some recipes on Kalyn's Kitchen -- using a filtered search. I like her recipes a lot.
posted by sm1tten at 1:11 PM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: Does no beans mean no pulses at all or can you eat chickpeas or lentils?
Asking because I'm pretty proud of my very own vegan buckwheat galettes with spinach and mushrooms, but I use aquafaba for the galettes.

In your case, a good food processor can really be helpful, because the slicing and chopping can be less stressful, specially if you have a dishwasher. I have a small one that holds a liter of liquid (so not a tiny one). In that I can slice potatoes, onions, carrots and other vegetables and puree soup for one or two servings. I puree soups, like the classic leek and potato and a more modern Hokkaido soup, seasoned with garlic, chili and ginger. The sliced veg are used in casserole-type dishes where I use a "bechamel" based on oat milk and potato starch instead of milk and flour.

That said, I think it would be very helpful for you to study Asian food. Currently my favorite foods are Fish-Fragrant Aubergine and kung pao mushrooms, I serve them with boiled rice and a dish of steamed greens, perhaps with garlic. Maybe a bowl of soup would be even better. Or a Thai style curry, based on coconut milk. Again with rice. All of these dishes are really easy and quick to cook, once you have understood the system. So start on a day off, they will soon become week-day staples. If soy is an issue here, you can do without it. It won't be authentic, but it will be good. Always make enough rice that you can make fried rice the next day.

Polenta with a mushroom stew, or with chicken liver and onions (like fegato alla veneziana but with chicken liver instead of veal liver).

A moussaka made with only veg, and a vegan bechamel.

This is very simple, so maybe not enough for a meal for you, but a salad of cold boiled potatoes with peas and artichoke hearts, dressed with a vinaigrette with finely chopped shallots and dijon mustard. If you want to make it more meal-ish, it will be a perfect side for chicken breast or smoked mackerel or herring. With some watercress for flair.
posted by mumimor at 2:04 PM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: Rice bowls are kind of my go-to for that - I have a rice cooker (highly recommend) where I can cook rice, barley (not sure if barley can be had gluten-free?), steel oats, or quinoa.

Then I add diced vegetables - I'm really unfamiliar with French stores but here you can get pre-diced vegetables, or if there's a shop with a salad bar it's expensive but healthy to drop by and pick out the things for the top of the rice bowl.

For flavourings I like pickles, indian mango pickle, or wasabi and soy (tamari is gluten free I think? Sorry, but maybe this gives you ideas.)

Rice bowls can also give new life to slow cooker leftovers.

Some other suggestions are: baked/microwaved potato or sweet potato with toppings (also yummy in bowl format with roasted diced potatoes but that takes a bit more effort) - cashew cheese and caramelized onions on sweet potato, or goat cheese if you do goat cheese and thyme and pepiptas - on a baked potato I personally love sauteed mushrooms with thyme and here we have a vegan sour cream that's coconut based, not sure if you can find that.

Chopped salads are also a favourite of mine and to make them heartier I'll have nuts and/or a tahini-based dressing, maybe some diced chicken if you have leftovers.

I hope those ideas help!
posted by warriorqueen at 3:03 PM on November 15, 2021

Best answer: I can buy packs of about a pound of chopped, steamed pumpkin here and I take one, add a bit of water and a clove of garlic and perhaps some onion. I used to bring that to a boil and use a stick blender to emulsify it. Now it goes in the Vitamix cold before it goes in the pot. Add spices like cumin, paprika, chilli flakes, perhaps a tin of chick peas if you can have them, some cooked chicken (rotisserie) or some sliced chorizo and, if I feel fancy, I chop a red bell pepper for colour and add that as well. Simmer for as long as you like, at least 5 mins to allow the spices to blend. Dinner is ready.

I have also taken to boiling more rice than I need and freezing it in small portions. I also buy things like ready cooked meatballs (I can get chicken ones) and such and stick those in the freezer as well. I can buy frozen soup veg mix and ready to use stir fry veg. That opens up the world of very quick soups by adding water, veg bullion powder, ready cooked protein, frozen veg to a pot, bringing that to a boil and voila.

My dirty secret is value added ramen - I use half the noodles in the pack, the spice pack and dump into a large bowl. I add a generous amount of the ready to use stir fry mix and my cooked protein of choice, cover with boiling water and wait until the noodles have softened. I assume the noodles may be problematic for you but consider the concept. This would work with the aforementioned rice as well.

I actually portion out the stir fry veg and protein into single serve portions as soon as I get home from the shops and freeze them and use them straight out of the freezer. The protein would have to be in smallish pieces for that. If I feel organised I may get a bag out an hr before eating.

If soups aren’t your thing you could also just stir fry with some sauce and microwave the rice. Because it is all ready it just needs heating through and some flavour.

I am sure there are more economical ways to do it but I am short of time and my ramen is ready to eat in 3 mins.
posted by koahiatamadl at 3:35 PM on November 15, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you everyone! Some great ideas.

mumimor, no chickpeas, not sure about lentils but probably not.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:44 AM on November 16, 2021

Best answer: mumimor, no chickpeas, not sure about lentils but probably not.
Sorry, then the galettes are probably impossible. You could try and see how it would work out as a sort of quesadillas. For the filling fry 100 g mushrooms, sliced or quartered, until they are golden, salt them gently (you are going to season the final result, now you just need to aid the cooking proces by making the mushrooms release water. Put them aside. Now defrost 100 g of frozen whole leaf spinach. Use the same pan. when the spinach is cooked through and some (to your taste, I like my spinach a bit "over"cooked). Put it into the same dish as the mushrooms, they are all going to end in the same place. Still using the same pan, make a thickened sauce using 200 ml oat milk and either cornstarch or potato starch. Heat up the oat milk, and at the same time, mix a half tablespoon starch with a tablespoon of cold oat milk. When the milk is simmering, add in the starch mixture and stir well. Season with salt, white pepper, a hint of nutmeg and a tiny hint of chili powder or flakes. Stir till the mixture is very thick and creamy, and if it doesn't get thick, add more starch, using the same method. Now add in the spinach and mushrooms. Stir again, until everything is not quite a porridge-thickness, but in that direction. The point is that you don't want it to run out of the tortilla. Check the seasoning again.
Now pour the whole thing into the dish you've used for the mushrooms and spinach, and dry your pan with a paper towel. Heat up the pan while you make the quesadillas. Make a "sandwich" with two tortillas and the stuffing inside. Don't put the stuffing all the way out to the edges. Toast the quesadilla on both sides on your hot pan. This works best on a cast iron pan, or probably on a steel pan. Otherwise cook the filling in a pan, and toast the quesadilla on a griddle. I'm just trying to save you some washing up.
The text above is long, and I haven't tested it yet (I will!) but I'm pretty sure it will work and be easy to do. Maybe I am suggesting too much oat milk. When the oat milk is thickened, you can eyeball how much of it is needed for a thick, creamy vegetable mix, and only use as much as you need.
The filling will keep in the fridge for several days.

Another thing I thought of is toum. If you have some toum in the fridge, you can make delicious "salads" with grilled chicken breast, pickled red onions, strips of carrot made with a potato peeler, and toum, served on leaves of baby romaine. A bit like a Caesar salad but different. If you want the crouton crunch, break up toasted tortilla into bite size pieces.

I would also put toum on cold boiled potatoes, and sprinkle store-bought fried onions on top.
posted by mumimor at 1:56 PM on November 16, 2021

Response by poster: Thank you!
posted by ellieBOA at 1:36 AM on November 17, 2021 [1 favorite]

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