These are nutty times in the grocery store, and it is not unusual to see entire cases or shelves empty. Our local stores have begun limiting purchases, not a bad idea to reduce hoarding. Still, when you go to the meat counter and see not one package of chicken left, or the pork is down to some ribs and ground pork, it is time to think about having some all plant based meals. We do this from time to time, but we are thinking of going to a more regular schedule. We eat a fair amount of seafood, but for this post, I’m mainly going to talk about veggies. Most of the time our vegetarian options are things like black bean burgers, or a homemade pizza with lots of fresh veggies. See my post on End of the Garden Tomatoes for how I roast the tomatoes for pizza topping.
It isn’t really necessary for every meal to have a ‘complete’ protein, meaning one with all nine amino acids that our bodies cannot make. If you eat a variety of grains, beans and veggies, you’ll get what you need. But some simple things will give you complete protein in a dish. Eggs, milk, quinoa, and soy (like in tofu) have complete proteins, and if you put beans with rice, grains with cheese, or peanut butter with whole grain bread you’ll get complete protein in that dish as well. There are other combinations too but these are the ones I usually use.
There are a few tips that I use to make a meatless meal more substantial than a salad. The first tip is to serve something hot. A hot dish seems to me to be more of a main course, unless it is hot outside and all I want is something cold. Second, it needs umami flavor, that savory taste and mouth feel that says main course. I get that with mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs and cheese. Starchy veggies like potatoes and corn are good, too, unless you are counting carbs. A baked potato topped with a little butter, broccoli and cheese is an easy and filling meal.
Umami can also be developed with grilling foods adding a smoky flavor, or slow roasting to concentrate flavor. Grilled zucchini is delicious, and I add a bit of garlic and finish with Parmesan cheese to boost the flavor.
Here are some of my veggie recipes that could be a meatless main course in themselves, or with minor modifications. Low Carb Crustless Anything Quiche is made with eggs, so you can add whatever is left in the refrigerator and it will be wonderful. Plus it is gluten free because there is no crust. Throw in some leftover cooked broccoli, fresh spinach, onion, mushrooms, fresh herbs or whatever you have, top with cheese and bake.
Summer Squash Casserole takes yellow squash to main course hearty.
Beautiful Heirloom Tomatoes on whole grain bread with a bit of cheese makes a fabulous sandwich. This post has several ideas for using this fresh summer treat.
Of course, I have to mention my Tomato Pie, with the recipe that comes out rich and flavorful without the sogginess or excess liquid. We eat this as a meatless meal.
This post was the second post on this delicious Tomato Pie with a Homemade Crust so flaky and easy you won’t believe it. I was able to dry the tomatoes even better, so no liquid left in the bottom at all this time, just a rich and creamy filling, full of fresh tomato flavor.
Spaghetti Squash and Broccoli Casserole is hearty and good, with an egg and 3 cheeses. Assembled then baked, it is a wonderful meal all by itself.
Baked Black and Great Northern Beans have a deep tomato based sauce with two kinds of beans. Leave out the bacon and add some crusty bread, and it is a meatless meal. Or leave the bacon in, if you have it.
Baked Spinach with Roasted Garlic and Mushrooms is a staple dish in our house. It is easily a meatless main course, and there is so much flavor we often finish the entire dish in one meal. This recipe is sized for two.
If some seafood can sneak in, my Chilled Corn Crab Soup is great cold for a hot summer day, or serve hot for a filling meal.
While we are on the subject of eating, I delivered the placemats from our Coronacation challenge to Meals on Wheels last week. They appreciated them so much, we had a total of 35! Receiving the delivery, wearing masks and keeping our social distance, was Keith Logan, Executive Director and Christy Zbylut, Director of Outreach and Volunteer Engagement.
Back to what to make for dinner, sometimes I go to one of my cookbooks for an idea. These are the best of the all vegetable or mostly vegetable recipe books I have.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac Garden Fresh Cookbook
Cooking From the Farmer’s Market
Favorite Brand Name Vegetarian Cooking
Bread, Tomato, Garlic Quick Cooking with 3 Main Ingredients
Cooks Illustrated Best American Side Dishes
Even just the vegetable section of a basic cookbook will have what you are looking for. Corn chowder, French onion soup, hearty vegetable casseroles, vegetarian lasagna and small recipes for two can all be great ideas.
Cooking for Two – lots of cookbooks available for small yield cooking
Bake Until Bubbly – hearty casseroles
50 Chowders – great recipes for corn chowders
Williams Sonoma Savouring Soups and Salads – French Onion soup, and more
and more ideas for Meatless Main cookbooks are on Amazon.
We often do quesadillas with spinach, mushrooms and cheese heated in tortillas. Just fill the tortilla with anything you like, add a bit of cheese and heat on a griddle or in a skillet until the tortilla is crispy and the filling is hot. Serve this with guacamole on the side and you won’t miss the meat. Yum!
Do you have a favorite meatless main meal?
Try Amazon delivered Food Gifts to send to family or a treat for yourself.
Sharing – Best of the Month