Tofu and tempeh are plant-based foods made from soybeans or texturized vegetable protein. Seitan is made from wheat gluten. You can replace meat in many recipes with one of those options.
Cubed or crumbled extra-firm tofu can replace ground or cubed chicken, beef, or pork and is especially popular in Asian cooking. The texture is soft and it has a bland taste. Tofu can be eaten as is, but most cooks prefer to marinate it to add flavor. Then it can easily be baked, sautéed, fried, or scrambled.
Mushrooms have a rich, meaty flavor, especially portobello and cremini mushrooms. They're nutritious, filling, and can replace the meat in most recipes.
For burgers, saute mushrooms in butter until soft and season with thyme, black pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Shape into patties. Marinate the mushroom burgers and grill them. Top with your favorite burger toppings.
Eggplant is a popular meat substitute in many places throughout the world. It has a rich, meaty taste and is very versatile. But what if you don't like the taste of eggplant? Try it grilled like a burger or used as a bread substitute for sandwiches. Other good ways to prepare eggplant: vegan meatballs, fries, and tasty seasoned noodles.
Would you be surprised to find out that cauliflower can also replace meat? With some seasoning and the correct preparation, it can be the star of numerous dishes. It can replace chicken in Asian dishes and be used to make buffalo wings and tacos.
Slice the cauliflower into steaks as shown above to make piccata. Pizza crust made from cauliflower has become very popular and is a healthy, low-calorie alternative to crusts made from wheat flour. It's especially beneficial for people who are sensitive to gluten.
Lentils have always been a favorite stand-in for meat. They're hearty and can easily replace ground beef. Lentils come in a variety of colors, such as green, red, brown, and black. They cook quickly, are inexpensive, and a small amount goes a long way.
Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are inexpensive, healthy, filling, and widely available. Pinto beans, black beans, kidney beans, adzuki beans, chickpeas and black-eyed peas are just a few of your choices. Beans make hearty soups, stews, burgers and, of course, chili. They can also be used to make tacos, enchiladas, and fritters.
Don't just think side dishes when you think about potatoes. Spuds can be turned into numerous hearty meals. Baked, roasted, boiled, mashed or fried, potatoes are always a crowd favorite.
Potatoes can be a satisfying main ingredient in many dishes. Begin a meal with creamy potato soup. Enjoy them as fried potato cakes. Samosas made from potatoes and topped with a spicy chutney are a delicious treat that originated in medieval times or earlier. And don’t forget about them for desserts like this Chocolate Potato Cake recipe.
(Photo by Craig Lee for the New York Times)
(Photo above is mine)
Beets are sweet, delicious, and ideal for salads. But they also have an earthy flavor that works well in savory dishes, especially when roasted.
Top off a meal with this Beetroot Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes recipe.
Nuts are not really a vegetable, but they can be used to make vegan cheese and can replace meat in some recipes. As a main dish, they add a very meaty texture to a meatless "meat" loaf. Nuts are often added to vegan burgers to provide an additional meaty quality.
Jackfruit is an exotic fruit grown in tropical regions of the world and a food many people haven't tasted. Native to South India, it's not a vegetable, but it can substitute for the meat in savory dishes. Purchase it raw or already cut and canned. Jackfruit has a slightly sweet taste. It can even be used to make a hearty cheesesteak sandwich. It's great for barbecue, stir-fry, or any other dish that uses pork, chicken, or beef.
When replacing meat in your meals, there are many options. And with all the hearty alternatives, you might discover that you don't miss meat at all.