- Caramelize the onions: In recipes that start by sauteeing onions or garlic, cooking them until they begin to blacken adds flavor and color that might be lost in a meatless rendition. Roasting vegetables such as peppers or tomatoes before adding them to the dish also helps.
- I've yet to find a recipe where vegetable stock can't be successfully substituted for other broths. For a healthier version than the canned ones, save the water you use to steam vegetables in your refrigerator (use a wine bottle or something opaque to help keep the vitamins intact--they don't like light). Add salt and herbs as needed, or just keep in mind that you'll need extra in the dishes it's used in. For the adventurous, pull out your food processor and try making your own vegetable bouillon!
- Whole wheat pasta, flour, breads, and pizza crusts lend a richer flavor than their refined counterparts. If you're worried about substituting successfully, try White Whole Wheat Flour, which yields a lighter finished product than regular whole wheat, but with the same nutritional value. I wouldn't use it for very light pastries or cakes, but for things like breads, cookies, pancakes, etc., I've had no problem substituting this for all of the white flour in my recipes. Whole wheat flours also contain more protein, which reminds me:
- Don't forget the protein! It's one thing to make up for the flavors lost from meat, but make sure you're getting the nutrients back in, too. Aside from vegetarian standards like tofu, try tossing in a handful of cashews or almonds with your green beans or carrots, use plain yogurt (or better yet, Greek yogurt) in your creamy sauces, add beans or nuts to your salads, and for the experienced cook, try thickening sauces (and even some soups) with eggs rather than flour or cornstarch. Dark green leafy vegetables and shellfish are great sources of the iron you may be missing, as well.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
We won't be publishing Lenten recipes on Sundays, but as you plan your menus for the upcoming weeks, I thought I'd offer a few tips for converting some of your normal recipes to meatless: