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Friday, May 8, 2020

The Meat Eater's Guide to Crafting a Meatless Meal, pt.5: Some Favorites From My Kitchen

I often think it must be boring to read about what I cook. But I did want to give suggestions from what works for meatless meals my family as a sort of springboard for ideas, yours and mine. So, I've divided my family's favorite meatless meals into categories based on the major protein source for each meal.


  • Tofu-Veggie Lasagna     This dish is something that I think about as I fall asleep at night. It's a garden vegetable lasagna. When my daughters were first born, the hospital sent us home with a dinner basket of a frozen vegetable lasagna and a bottle of sparkling apple cider. It wasn't long before I felt compelled to replicate the lasagna, adding my own twist to the dish. The greens can be frozen spinach or garden (or market) spinach, kale, chard, beet greens, collards, or broccoli. I also like to add about a half of a large carrot grated. I'm lactose intolerant, so I can't have a lot of soft or fresh cheese at any one time. That led me to try tofu as the "cheese" filling, sometimes all tofu, sometimes blended with part cottage cheese. So, I mash 16 oz of firm tofu and season with lemon juice, salt, and garlic. I then add the chopped veggies and stir together. I don't use any meat in this lasagna. Instead, I layer lasagna noodles with the tofu-veggie filling and a marinara sauce. I top the entire casserole with a mixture of grated mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. This makes a 9 X 13-inch baker of lasagna with about 140 grams of protein total and 8 servings, with about 17.5 grams protein per serving.
  • Chocolate-Tofu Silk     This is not a meal, but a high-protein end to a meal, with about 7.5 grams of protein in a serving (if dividing the recipe into eighths). 
  • TLT Sandwich     Using strips of fried tofu, layer tofu, lettuce, and tomato on whole grain bread, like a BLT only subbing in the fried tofu for the bacon. One-sixth of a 1-lb block of firm tofu, cut into slices and fried has roughly the same amount of grams of protein as 2 regular slices of pork bacon, about 6.5 grams. Two slices of whole wheat bread adds 7 grams of protein, for a sandwich with about 14 grams protein.


  • Sloppy Lentils on Buns     I make a Sloppy Joe filling with tomato sauce, green peppers, onions, garlic, chili powder, mustard powder, beef bouillon, salt, pepper, and bit of cornstarch, plus about 1 1/2 cups of cooked lentils and 1/2 cup of cooked barley for 4 people. Serve on large burger buns. Each sandwich contains about 17 grams of protein.
  • Lentil-Barley Marinated Salad     I toss together cooked lentils and cooked barley (in about a 2:1 ration lentils to barley), with diced celery, minced shallots, and a mustard vinaigrette. Chill for a couple of hours. Grams of protein would depend on serving size.

Garbanzo Beans

  • Hummus and Fry Bread     Fry bread is a yeast dough, such as French bread dough, that is formed into rounds about 4 to 5 inches in diameter and about 1/2-inch thick. I fry them in a skillet with a little oil to prevent sticking (these are NOT deep-fried). We like the fry bread spread with homemade hummus. I make hummus in the food processor with cooked garbanzo beans, lemon juice, garlic, salt, oregano, parsley, and olive oil.
  • Tabouli     The tabouli recipe that I follow comes from Jane Brody's Good Food Book. The recipe calls for prepared bulgar wheat, cooked garbanzo beans, olive oil, lemon juice, parsley, garlic, shredded carrot, diced tomatoes, diced cucumber, salt, and pepper. This is a favorite of ours in August, when my garden provides fresh cucumbers, tomatoes, and parsley. It's a dish that is served cold, so this can be made in the cool summer morning hours, refrigerated, and served in the evening -- no heating the kitchen in the late afternoon.
Assorted Other Beans
  • Vegetarian Chili     I make vegetarian chili, using beans, barley or TVP (for "chew"), canned tomatoes, green peppers, the usual seasonings, then top with shredded cheddar cheese and fried/baked corn tortilla strips. It's very good, even without meat. The barley or TVP provide that chewy sensation that would otherwise come from ground beef.
  • Vegan Shepherd's Pie     The "meat" in this shepherd's pie can be a vegan meat substitute, rehydrated TVP, or cooked beans. I like to use about half TVP/half cooked beans or lentils. We think this is quite delicious and don't miss the meat at all.   
  • Bean Tacos/Tostadas     filled with black beans or refried pintos, marinated corn (in a lime vinaigrette), avocado, tomatoes, bell pepper, shredded cheese, and drizzled with plain yogurt.
  • Bean and Cheese Quesadillas     whole grain flour tortilla spread with refried pinto beans and shredded cheese, topped with second tortilla and toasted on a griddle. 
  • Kitchen Sink Burritos     flour tortilla filled with beans, rice, avocado, cheese, yogurt/sour cream, salsa, tomatoes, olives
  • Pasta Primavera     made with spaghetti noodles, an assortment of sautéed vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, asparagus, green beans, carrots, onions, garlic), black olives, Greek olives or capers, cooked cannellini beans, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts or chopped almonds, basil and oregano -- all tossed together.
TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein
  • Egg Foo Yung
  • Garden Vegetable and Cheese Frittata
  • Garden Vegetable and Cheese Quiche
  • Skillet Huevos Rancheros     with corn tortillas, black beans, eggs, chopped tomatoes, onions, garlic, seasonings, olive oil, avocado, fresh cilantro, lime wedges, cheese, hot sauce, and any extra veggies (such as zucchini or bell peppers). 
Peanut Butter
  • Peanut Noodles     using whole grain pasta, peanut butter, red pepper flakes, garlic, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, and cilantro, topped with chopped peanuts.
  • Live and Learn's Curried Pumpkin-Peanut Soup     topped with whole grain croutons.
Wheat Meat made from whole wheat flour (I haven't ever given this recipe, here. The texture is a lot like ground beef.  It is high in gluten, so a very bad option for someone who needs to be gluten-free. But my family has enjoyed it over the years.)
  • "Salisbury Fake"     This is a faux ground beef patty smothered in brown gravy.
  • Wheat Meat Breakfast Sausage     Again, a high-gluten meat substitute, seasoned and formed into sausage patties.

Okay, so those are my family's favorites. What are your family's favorite meatless meals?


  1. This is a great lineup of meals and will be very useful. But mostly, I'm thinking about the fact that the hospital sent you home with food! That's a first for me. Also, I haven't made that soup in a while, maybe for lunch today.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      I know, I did have a pretty amazing delivery/recovery experience. In addition to the hospital sending us home with a dinner basket, my hospital room had an amazing view of the Puget Sound, something I'd hope to find in a nice hotel.

  2. I made Huevos Rancheros for supper last night. I use a simplified recipe which uses salsa. I would like to try peanut noodles sometime--I think my family would like that! I have an egg and cheese casserole that I make occasionally. Mac and cheese is the other meatless meal that we have. My family would probably be convinced to try the Mexican meals with beans, other egg recipes, and soups/chilis with beans. We are definitely a family who likes meat, but many meals, like tonight's potato and ham soup, don't use a lot of meat.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Have you made the mac and cheese casserole that calls for a beaten egg? I was thinking about that one the other night and thinking it would be a way to get even more protein in that dish.

      Yum, potato and ham soup! A lot of the meals that our family eats that have some meat, just have less meat than the typical meat and potatoes dinner -- like your potato and ham soup. That's such a great way to make meat go further.

      Peanut noodles are really delicious and filling. They're good to pair with sauteed veggies on the side.

    2. My mac and cheese recipe is a stovetop one, not one you bake in an oven. I cook the noodles in a mixture of evaporated milk and water and when they are cooked, thicken it with a cornstarch mixture, then add the cheese. The milk adds some extra protein to the meal.

    3. I do both kinds, Kris. It all depends on what type of mood I'm in. Yours sounds very creamy. I'm sue it's well-loved by your family!

  3. Lili, for your TLT sandwich, what is your dressing in the sandwich? We slice and fry tofu when it is a couple days old, as a way to eat it before it goes. I will take your suggestion and turn fried tofu into a sandwich next time.

    1. Hi Laura,
      We just use mayo, as that is what we'd use on a BLT. So, I'd say use what you'd like on a BLT.
      That's a great way to salvage the tofu that getting long in the tooth -- frying it up. I'm always on the look-out for ideas on how to get a few more days out of something about to go off, so thank you for this idea!


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