Advanced search

I want to learn some Vegetarian staple meals

(50 Posts)
Wex Tue 14-Mar-17 13:13:46

I think I'm a fairly good cook, I enjoy cooking and usually cook from scratch most of the time. I don't mind the odd ready meal especially if it's something I can't do myself.
DC are both at uni now and DS2 has decided to be vegetarian. I'm happy to support him in this but the rest of the family are big meat eaters.
I will cook meat free a couple of times a week - nut curries and veg fajitas are already favourites.
What I'm struggling with is serving a veggie option alongside a meat dish. When we have pulled pork or ham a piece of tasteless quorn is uninspiring.
I taught both DC to cook before uni and while DS1 is a keen and enthusiastic cook, DS2, the veggie is not. He seems to exist on quorn ready meals and pasta. Those ready meals seem awfully processed to me and I want to make proper food and encourage him to do the same.

OP’s posts: |
AtleastitsnotMonday Tue 14-Mar-17 13:21:58

Stuffed veg are good, peppers, mushrooms and BNS the obvious ones. Fill with cous cous, or rice with added herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, veg, cheese etc there are loads of options there.
Falafel may work as a veggie option when you cook meat, or a homemade spicy bean burger.
Fritata v. Quick and easy student cookery as are quaesidilla and veg stir fry with noodles and cashews.

FrenchLavender Tue 14-Mar-17 13:22:06

I've been eating a lot of vegetarian food lately and I can honestly say that the only time I don't miss meat or fish at least a bit is in curries and Asian dishes. All the flavours from a curry are from the spices and the sauce rather than from the meat or fish so it's easy to make do without it. And to a lesser extent the same is true with Mexican food where it's easy to use lots of pulses and legumes.

So many other vegetarian dishes taste fine, but they seem like side dishes, or afterthoughts, not stars in their own right. Meat and fish give so much flavour that without them, and in the absence of loads of spices/coconut milk etc., they can be pretty bland and one dimensional.

I've yet to find a really good alternative to take the place of meat in a 'meat and two veg' type meal - I am not sure one exists.

bumblingbovine49 Tue 14-Mar-17 13:38:48


I am afraid my husband who had been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years (though the last 4 years he has started eating a bit of fish) still feels like you do!!. He loves Mexican and Chillies/Curries but other than that he is very meh about most vegetarian food and we have tried a LOT in 18 years

In all the time I have known him, he has eaten meat twice (served it by mistake in a curry in a restaurant and once he picked up Ds's burger in a fast food place instead of his by mistake) Both times ( not knowing it was meat in it) he declared it the best curry/best veggie burger he has ever eaten. As soon as he realised they had meat in he stopped eating but he still refers to both incidents now as the best food he has tasted in ages.

As for the OP. I have lived with two vegetarian husbands (my ex was vegetarian as well) so have almost 30 years experience of trying to accommodate a vegetarian alongside a meat eater and the truth is unless you want to make lots of work for yourself preparing meat and vegetarian dishes at the same time, you are best off just substituting quorn for the meat if possible (just for the vegetarian if the meat eaters understandably don't want it ) or alternatively all eat a proper vegetarian meal without meat substitutes.

For instance if I make a chicken curry for me, I make one where I cook the meat and sauce separately then I split the sauce and add cooked chicken to one and quorn pieces to the other. For roast dinner, we just use breaded quorn escalopes instead of meat but make all the potatoes and trimmings etc as those are just about the only quorn I think tastes OK.

However see my point above about expecting much taste or flavour unless it is spicy/curry etc

Now that DS has also become a vegetarian, I am in the minority anyway so pretty much am vegetarian at home though I do eat meat when out and about

bumblingbovine49 Tue 14-Mar-17 13:51:56

Sorry with regards to suggested meals

Fajitas work as meat can be added for some people

Pea risotto is a favourite with all of us (though I cannot eat it without without parmesan and the veggie one is quite expensive)

Roasted Butternut squash macaroni cheese (DS loves this and DH says it is quite nice as well which is odd as he normally does not like pasta much)

Homemade pizza works OK

DH makes a nice rice and lentil pie (though he slathers it isn chilli sauce when eating)

Veggie sausage and lentil stew (see my note re separating lentils into two and adding real sausages for meat eaters

Jamie olivers summer lasagne is actually quite nice if you don't think it is supposed to be like a real lasagne. It has a fresh lemony taste, really nice actually. It is quick to make and reasonably healthy too.

This is nice and we eat this quite often in the spring/summer []

Using smoked paprika in veg stews can add a nice full depth flavour if you don't like too much spice

Otherwise though we do eat quite a bit of quorn (DH loves the stuff) in chillies and as sauces on pasta etc

BiddyPop Tue 14-Mar-17 14:03:02

Something I do frequently is garlicky mushrooms. As a side dish to a steak, served over hot (sourdough!) toast, or on a bed of rice or stirred through pasta (penne or fusilli are great). Or can be added to a basic risotto.

Chop and slowly fry (in olive oil and a knob of butter) 2 cloves of garlic. Toss in a good handful of thyme leaves if you have them.

Add a carton of regular mushrooms, chopped to a uniform size (size depends on the smallest size in the carton, how nicely you want to present them, and time you have to cook - I like bigger if a substantial meal, or smaller if a side dish). Season well with salt and pepper, and allow to slowly cook. You may need to add some extra butter during the cooking process, but you want them to cook well, and get some lovely golden colour on to them.

As a side dish, they can now be plated up, but for more substantial elements, I often add a dash of white wine and reduce that down, and then a decent splash of double cream to just heat through. Test seasoning. (For vegans, no butter, no cream but should otherwise be good).

If you have any more interesting mushrooms, either add them with the regular mushrooms if fresh, or part-way through if dehydrated (rehydrate them first though in some warm water - and that water makes great stock to add instead of wine, or for making risotto).

This is handy because it is so versatile, and could be your side dish while the main part for DS2.

We've also tried Jamie Oliver's veggie curry (from his "instead of a Friday night takeaway" slot on a money-saving meals series), which was great. Sorry I don't have a recipe to hand.

DH also learned how to do a veggie chilli when we had a veggie au pair a few years ago - basic chilli sauce (onion, garlic, tinned tomatoes, tinned kidney beans, chilli powder etc) but using peppers, cauliflower, onion cut much larger, tin of chickpeas, etc, which was very tasty and we still eat that as often as a beef chilli now.

Is he veggie or vegan? Because if he will eat cheese, teach him a cheese sauce and a tomato sauce as the base for various meals, and he can do lots then. We do cheese sauce based on melted butter, add in cornflour, then stir in the milk to make the roux, bring to the boil stirring, then add cheese (and a bit of English mustard sets off the cheese nicely), and grated pepper. I am rubbish at making sauces based on flour and cooking it out. But that can be used to make cauliflower cheese (substantial in its own right - I often have this with roast potatoes as dinner with no meat, but is also a grand side for the rest of you), or pasta dishes (I do macaroni cheese with (bacon pieces - I know leave those out), fried onions, fried garlic, fried mushrooms (not as long as the dish above), diced peppers, courgettes (I put those in the pasta water to cook for the last 4-5 minutes), French beans, broad beans, peas - whatever I have to hand but a nice mix of veggies), or just plain mac'n'cheese with no veg.

The other thing I do big batches of is roasted meditteranean veggies. I dice up my veg into equal sized chunks (mostly about 1cm, but sometimes I go for more rustic 3cm for less elegant, or BBQ skewers etc). A mix of red onions, garlic, red peppers, courgette, mushrooms, (fresh) tomatoes, (aubergines are good but the rest of my family don't eat them), etc. Mix together with salt, pepper, herbs (thyme, basil, rosemary etc - whatever you have), and a good slug each of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Leave them marinade for a while (20 mins is enough, overnight is great). They can be roasted now, frozen now and roasted later, or roasted now and leftovers frozen for later. Takes about 25-30 mins at 180 degrees for 1cm dice. Great as a side dish with roasts or BBQs (and larger pieces can be cooked on BBQs on skewers). They also make a great sauce with a basic tomato sauce with pasta (jar or onion, garlic, tin tomatoes, seasoning types), and we often do that with maybe some bacon bits, cooked sausages, cooked chicken or prawns too - so quorn sausages could work well, or fish (if he eats fish?), or taking his out of the pot before adding (already cooked) meat elements for the rest of you. Or the basis of a bruschetta type dish on nice bread. And as the cooked veg does freeze well, that could be a good one to have as a standby (I do BIG batches at a go (I fill the biggest IKEA freezer bag - I think it's 5l?), cook half and freeze half still raw, but of the cooked half, I get a couple of meal-sized batches of leftovers already cooked - so it's a great one for spend 20-30 minutes chopping but get lots of reward from that effort).

A VERY simple one, that I use when I feel like not making an effort, is cheesy leeky pasta. (The leeks are also something that can be made in bigger batches and frozen). Chop the leeks, and fry/saute gently for about 15 minutes with some butter and seasoning and a little veg stock. You want them soft and melting. (They are a great side dish with pork chops!). For the pasta dish, simply boil your pasta, have the leeks hot when pasta is cooked, grate a nice handful of a decent strong cheddar - drain pasta, throw in cheese and leeks together, stir around and allow 1 minute for cheese to start to melt with the heat of the pasta/leeks, throw on the plate.

(My other "go to" dish when DH is away and I want to spend no energy, is M&S welsh rarebit and a couple of part-baked bread rolls, thrown into the oven - no veg, not really great for you, but I think it's better than some of the ready meals in terms of additives etc, and I eat very little bread anyway). Sorry, that one is probably not quite hitting the "proper food" brief!

BiddyPop Tue 14-Mar-17 14:11:04

Sorry for the essay blush

PutThatPomBearBack Tue 14-Mar-17 14:52:32

Biddy as a vegetarian, I very much enjoyed your essaygrin

Emeralda Tue 14-Mar-17 14:57:51

Yes Biddy, full marks for that essay from another veggie. I am now hungry.

hellokittymania Tue 14-Mar-17 15:09:21

Have a look at blogs and YouTube. You can find plenty of recipes. Also don't forget about Vietnamese and Chinese dishes. Central Vietnam is known for its excellent vegetarian food.

coxsorangepippin Tue 14-Mar-17 16:20:47

Watching with interest!

Go-to favourites of mine so far are: Shakshouka
Frittata or Spanish omelette (sundried tomatoes are good)
Spinach tarka dal plus rice
Pad Thai (with egg and nuts but no meat)
Leek and goat's cheese tart
Brown lentils cook up nicely in red wine etc for moussaka/cottage pie etc, nicer than quorn mince in my view

BiddyPop Tue 14-Mar-17 16:58:04

We are meat eaters but with lots of veg generally, and while I am not planning on going veggie, I do eat "meat free" reasonably frequently when DH is away. We prefer to cook from scratch when possible but life is hectic so better shortcuts prepared in advance are always helpful to avoid reaching for ready meals or takeaway menus....

BiddyPop Tue 14-Mar-17 17:01:28

(And trying to put things how a late teen boy could put it together rather than "I'm cooking for 35+ years, so a pinch of this and a glug of that, til it looks done" type of recipes grin

Wex Tue 14-Mar-17 17:06:53

Thanks for all these!
BiddyPop Brilliant.
He is veggie not vegan and will eat prawns but doesn't like fish. He can cook a decent tomato sauce and a cheese one and those are the only real home cooked things he makes - with pasta. He uses soya mince for bolognese.
I've got a favourite Leek / cheese sauce that I do with salmon, will show him that as a pasta sauce. (I have garden full of leeks).
I will definitely try those Mediterranean vegetables, I'm all for bulk cooking and freezing.

bumblingbovine49 Will look for some smoked paprika. Anything that packs more flavour is useful when you are used to getting your flavours from meat, although we all like chilli I put chilli in everything.

I've never cooked with lentils and while I like beans and chick peas DS does not. He might be willing to be more adventurous now though as I think he's finding his diet a little dull.

OP’s posts: |
Wex Tue 14-Mar-17 17:10:04

BiddyPop a pinch of this and a glug of that, til it looks done
Ha ha, yes! I actually wrote a Student cook book for the DC blush
It took several goes before I got the hang of explaining every step. My first attempts had huge gaps because I forgot stages, under or over estimated times and I never weigh or measure anything.

OP’s posts: |
PollytheDolly Tue 14-Mar-17 17:11:34

We love veggie food so placemarking!!

highinthesky Tue 14-Mar-17 17:11:52

I'm pretty stunned by the thought in your post BiddyPop.

I've been vegetarian for 20+ years and I'm happy with a cheese and salad sandwich grin

Wex Tue 14-Mar-17 17:31:23

highinthesky I asked my friend who is a lifelong veggie for ideas and she said something to that effect - "it's boring and we eat lots of cheese"
The thing is I like food, I like to cook and I like to feed people good food. DC have also always enjoyed a wide variety of food and flavours, both have big appetites but are stick thin. I sense that DS is keen to adopt a vegetarian diet but wants it to be more interesting.

OP’s posts: |
Theworldisfullofidiots Tue 14-Mar-17 17:41:53

We eat lots of veggie dishes although we are meat eaters..

Veggie shepherds pie - Waitrose dish
Bean burgers - make from scratch. Kids love them
Lots of veggie curries including Dahl (good source of protein)
Tofu stir fries (make sure you marinade the tofu) again kids love this
Spanokoptia - spinach and feta pie in filo
We often do veggie mezze/tapad type thing - roasted beetroot with goat's cheese sprinkled on, haloumi, potatoes bravas, houmous....
Loads of meat free pasta sauces: pesto (homemade as I can't eat nuts) puttanesca,
Veggie stews (with beans)
Mexican stuff - loads of veggie options....
Lentil salads
Quinoa (protein)

I didn't realise until I listed it how much veggie we eat.....
Ottolenghi is a good source of inspiration... Italian cookbooks etc....

Purplebluebird Tue 14-Mar-17 17:52:08

This recipe is really good, vegan too.

For vegetarian, my son's favourite meal (he's 3) is the following:

boiled pasta penne

1 aubergine
1 tin tomatoes
1/2 feta cheese block
1 onion

you sweat the onion for a few minutes,, add in cut up aubergine (little squares), a tin of tomatoes, then you fill the tin with water and add that too. Simmer for 20 mins, add in cooked pasta and crumble feta cheese over it. Delicious.

Also this one, but we don't use lemon:

Wex Wed 15-Mar-17 18:25:57

Pah. First attempt at cooking lentils went in the bin. The recipe didn't say they need soaking. It was tasteless and gritty even after twice the cooking time.....
So, all but red lentils need soaking?

OP’s posts: |
helensburgh Wed 15-Mar-17 18:31:35

Our current favourite is a pasta dish

Sauce is 3 courgettes 2 chopped nadine 1 grated fried in a little oil with 3 cloves garlic and one chilli.
Add cooked pasta grate in parmesan or equivalent and stir. Top.with Finely chopped raw spinach and some tomatoes.

Also I sometimes make spinach balls with it which are loads spinach raw finely chopped with nutmeg parmesan an egg and flour to bind and seasoning
Roll into balls and deep-fry.

Theworldisfullofidiots Wed 15-Mar-17 20:52:50

Red lentils and puy lentils are the only dried ones that don't need soaking.
I think you can buy some ready soaked....

Iamastonished Wed 15-Mar-17 21:17:34

Pinterest is your friend.

DD is veggie and did Veganuary this year. We have had some fabulous meals, and have tried all the meat substitutes available. The best IMO and in DD's opinion is Linda McCartney's vegetarian shredded hoisin duck. The taste and texture beats spots off all other TVP and quorn. Veggie Deli also do hoisin duck pieces that are tasty.

We eat a lot of South East Asian inspired food which lends itself very well to veggie dishes. On Facebook Bosh have some great recipe ideas. Jamie Oliver's vegan shepherd's pie is insanely good as is Delia's spinach and ricotta lasagne.

I am omnivorous, but would say we eat veggie food about 90% of the time.

Wex Thu 16-Mar-17 09:37:37

Lesson learned on the lentils.
<looks at new batch soaking>
Iamastonished Never looked at pinterest, I thought it was like instagram for crafters. Will check it out.
DS reckons Linda McCartney stuff is good. DH says he will eat anything but LM because he can't forgive her for Mull of Kintyre grin

Today I am going to do a batch of BiddyPop's roasted veg and have another go at the lentil dish.

OP’s posts: |

Join the discussion

Registering is free, quick, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Get started »