To successfully replace the animal meat part of your meal with a vegetarian option it requires some good thinking to be successful. Especially if you are trying to make your meals palatable to your family who may be used to eating meat.
As I heard in the comedy series, “Black Adder” you will need “A plan so cunning you can pin a tale on it and call it a weasel!”
Okay, that may not be the best description, but bear with me.
Food needs to be flavorsome. Meat has flavor, but I won’t get into what causes that flavor. It also has a certain texture of chewiness and our appetite may be trained to being satiated with those flavors and textures. For a vegetarian meal to feel satisfying, it needs to have a good strong, robust flavor and a texture that we need to chew, at least a little.
When looking at vegetarian recipes that you will use to replace meat, look for strong flavor and good texture. If a person has been a vegetarian for a long time, their palate will have changed and what seems tasty to them, may seem bland to you. Much like how Western people will order a spicy dish in Asian or India and find it is so hot and spicy that it is inedible to us. However, to the locals it has the right amount of taste.
You can add more flavor by adding mushrooms, tomato, soy, yeast, herbs and spices. You can add more texture with nuts, beans, legumes and grains. Adding vegetables to dishes is expected, so here we are just looking at the other things that add more depth of flavor.
The following is a recipe which can be adapted in various ways. For step by step photos click here.
Carrot and Tomato Loaf
1 cup tomato juice
1 medium to large carrot
1 cup water
½ – 1 cup flour
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tablespoon coconut oil
The idea with this recipe is to combine all the ingredients, place in a greased baking dish and bake in the oven at a moderate temperature until it dries out in the middle and the edges start to turn golden brown.
It can then be served hot, with ketchup or gravy with vegetables or salad. Or it can be served cold with a salad. You may prefer to mash a piece and place it on bread to make into a sandwich. Or you could fry a slice or two as part of your breakfast.
So it is rather versatile once it is cooked.
Let’s look at the ingredients and how you could add a little more zing. Instead of tomato juice you could replace that with a can of tomato puree or tomato puree with flavours added. Or you may use a can of cooked tomatoes cooked with other vegetables and herbs. Sometimes they are already prepared in the can and have names like Mexican Spiced tomatoes, or Indian Spiced tomatoes. And to add one more alternative, you could use a can of soup. Just be aware that with soup, it is often quite concentrate and may need to be diluted with more water.
The flour part of the ingredients could be soy flour, pea flour, besan flour or another. I would keep it a light flour however. Many people have allergies so be guided. Just use something that your family likes, but keep it light. If you can’t use flour, perhaps you could use breadcrumbs, rolled oats, cooked beans or cooked rice. The flour component is a starch to hold the ingredients together. If you take it out of the recipe, you will need to replace it with an alternative starch.
Another alternative you may try with this simple dish, is to add a nut butter. If you added peanut butter, perhaps you could also add some curry spices and maybe some coconut milk instead of water to give it that satay flavor.
Along with the finely chopped onion, I have also used finely grated carrot and finely chopped celery. I particularly like the carrot and feel it is a nice compliment with the tomato. Try 1 large or 2 small carrots to add a little more texture.