Cooking great vegetarian food is not rocket science. In fact, some of our favorite chefs—like Yotam Ottelenghi—embrace a veggie-forward menu, proving that we don’t need meat for flavor or substance. Whether you’re a full-time vegetarian, a fan of Meatless Monday, or begrudgingly eat your greens, there are a few tricks of the trade for making meat-free meals more satisfying.
1. Embrace Alterna-Protein
This (hopefully) goes without saying: A vegetarian meal needn’t be comprised exclusively of vegetables. In fact, please don’t toss some raw carrot and lettuce on a plate and call it good. We go for hearty, hefty, protein-packed options that round out the dish and can stand in for meat. Tofu is brilliant here, provided you treat it right. In the wrong hands, tofu can be bland with an unappealing texture. Season it well and pair it with big, bold flavors—and let the texture work for you, not against you. Give it a hard sear or grill it to impart a crust…or succumb to the softness and use it in a soup.
Another way we like to eat our tofu? As noodles! Yuba, strips of sliced tofu skin, are fantastic in a stir-fry. Other non-meat proteins to use and love include tempeh (made from fermented soy and grains), seitan (wheat gluten), and, of course, nuts and seeds. Whole grains contain protein—and are particularly tasty in salad.
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By Rochelle Bilow