Hearty dinner ideas for Meatless Monday? It's easy with these recipe ideas -- substantial enough you might not even guess they're vegetarian:
Fragrant garlic, fresh shiitake mushrooms, spicy chile -- tofu never looked this good, tossed with a rich and glossy black bean sauce. For a rich and flavorful -- and completely vegetarian -- dinner idea, look no further than this dish from Andrea Nguyen. It's a great main dish, served with a side of rice.
Bright yellow summer squash stuffed with a mixture of sauteed onions, mushrooms, cheese and chopped fresh parsley. Simple and flavorful, the dish takes a little more than an hour to prepare and makes for a filling light meal or a substantial side. I'd even argue the leftovers taste better reheated the next day.
For a filling one-dish meal, look no further than Coral Tree Cafe's vegetable soup. Fresh vegetables simmered with barley in a hearty broth, it makes for a rich and flavorful dinner solution. What's more, you might not even notice it's vegetarian.
You can find all three recipes below.
And for more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at email@example.com.
VEGETARIAN HUNAN-STYLE TOFU
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as part of a multi-dish meal
Note: Relatively firm-yet-tender tofu, such as Trader Joe's, pan-fries beautifully with minimal splatter. This is not overly saucy. There should be some visible sauce but the tofu isn't swimming in it. Serve the tofu with rice. The fermented black bean stock is from Fuchsia Dunlop's "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook."
Fermented black bean stock
4 cups water
1 tablespoon fermented black beans, unrinsed
In a small saucepan, bring the water and black beans to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Strain and use immediately or partially cover, cool and refrigerate for up to several days. This makes about 3 cups of stock, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the stock will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Hunan-style tofu and assembly
14- to 16-ounces firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt, more as needed
2 teaspoons light (regular) soy sauce
3/4 cup fermented black bean stock (or another vegetarian stock)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 Fresno chile, cut on the diagonal into thin pieces, discarding the seeds that fall out
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 to 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushroom, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch-thick pieces
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fermented black beans, unrinsed
Generous ½ teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons fermented black bean stock or water
1 green onion, white and green parts, cut on the bias
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chile oil
1. Cut the tofu into chunky matchboxes, each about 1½ inches by 2 inches by ½ inch. Line a plate with a dish towel or double layer of paper towels, then place the tofu on top to drain for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the one-fourth teaspoon salt, soy sauce and black bean stock to make the seasoning liquid. Taste and season with additional salt if desired. Set this seasoning liquid with the other ingredients near the stove.
3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Blot dry the tofu, then pan-fry until golden brown and lightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, leaving the oil behind.
4. Reduce the heat slightly and add the chile and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Scatter in the mushrooms along with 1 to 2 pinches of salt. Give things a turn, then splash in the rice wine and stir. After the wine evaporates, add the black beans. Continue to cook until the mushrooms have softened slightly, about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
5. Return the tofu to the skillet, gently toss to combine, then pour over the seasoning liquid. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning over the tofu midway. When about half of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in the cornstarch slurry. Cook, gently stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly and clings to the tofu, about 1 minute. Stir in the green onion and continue to cook just until the onion starts to wilt. Remove from heat, stir in the sesame and chile oils and transfer to a plate.
Each of 4 servings: 302 calories; 19 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 23 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 349 mg sodium.
STUFFED SUMMER SQUASH
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 10 to 12
Note: Adapted from Sotera Jaime. Look for smaller squash to avoid large seeds in the filling.
2 quarts water
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
2½ pounds small to medium yellow crookneck squash (about 8 to 10 squash)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely diced button mushrooms
1½ cups crumbled queso fresco
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
Fresh ground black pepper
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium pot, bring the 2 quarts of water to a boil, then add 2 teaspoons salt and the squash. Reduce the heat and simmer the squash, covered, until they are just tender when pierced with a knife, about 8 to 10 minutes (timing will vary depending on the size and age of the squash). Drain the squash and chill in a bowl of ice water until cool to the touch.
2. Halve each squash lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh in the center with a spoon, making sure to leave enough flesh near the shell so the shells can be stuffed. Place the scooped flesh in a strainer and set aside to drain for at least 10 minutes to drain excess liquid.
3. While the squash is draining, heat a medium saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then the onion and garlic and saute until the onion is softened and translucent, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook until they are tender and lightly browned, an additional 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the drained squash flesh (don't worry if it is still moist, it will not be completely dry) and stir well to combine, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and set the squash filling aside to cool slightly.
4. In a medium bowl, combine the squash filling, queso fresco and 1/4 cup parsley. Stir well and season with a generous 1/4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper.
5. Divide the filling into the squash shells. Place the shells in a large baking dish or on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until hot and lightly browned in spots, 25 to 35 minutes depending on the size of the squash. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon parsley and serve.
Each of 12 servings: 120 calories; 7 grams protein; 14 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 5 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 10 mg. cholesterol; 3 grams sugar; 96 mg. sodium.
CORAL TREE CAFE'S VEGETABLE SOUP
Total time: 1 hour
Servings: 8 to 10
Note: Adapted from Coral Tree Cafe in Los Angeles.
2 tablespoons oil
2 cups diced carrots
2 cups diced onions
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup pearl barley
1 quart vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
2 cups quartered mushrooms
2 cups diced zucchini
Salt and pepper
1. Heat a medium, heavy-bottom pot over medium heat until hot. Add the oil, then the carrots, onions, bell pepper, thyme and barley. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are golden-brown, about 18 minutes, taking care that the barley does not burn.
2. Stir in the vegetable broth and marinara. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.
3. Cook until the barley is al dente, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and zucchini, and season to taste with salt and pepper (amount of seasoning needed will vary depending on the vegetable broth and marinara used). Cover and continue to simmer until the mushrooms and zucchini are just tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
4. Remove from heat, thin if desired, and season again to taste, and serve. This makes about 2½ quarts of soup.
Each of 10 servings: 155 calories; 4 grams protein; 26 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 4 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 1 mg cholesterol; 8 grams sugar; 365 mg sodium.
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