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Author Topic: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.  (Read 3259 times)

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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2010, 11:54:29 AM »
I really don't have a lot of advice, but wanted to share a recipe that we kinda invented from a few others, and make almost weekly, it's so good. We call it Chester Salad. The ingredient amounts are really flexible, depending on your taste or what's cheap or what you have on hand.

The usual recipe:
olive oil in a skillet, add anywhere from 2-4 med-large cloves garlic, chopped fairly fine
when that starts to smell good, add ~2 onions, chopped, cook for a few minutes
add 2 bell peppers chopped (we like a green and yellow/orange, just for prettiness), cook for a few more
add 5-6 med plum tomatos, chopped, cook until they're getting warm
add 1 can drained and rinsed black-eyed peas and 5-7 leaves of sage, chopped fine; salt and pepper
cook till everything is hot.

Increase/reduce things like garlic and sage to your tastes.

We've used other beans in place, but similar ones do better, and b.e.p's are best.

Add some heat (hot peppers of some sort) and maybe a little tomato sauce to make a nice chip dip
adapts well to chili, soup/stew as well - we made a great hambone soup with it after Tgiving last year, adding more varieties of beans too.

we've even made omelets with it. It's so good!


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #16 on: December 09, 2010, 12:02:08 PM »
Another one I remembered: tuna fish. We buy canned tuna in bulk, so I'm not sure on the cost per can and if it's in your budget, but if it is: it's not just for mixing with mayo and eating on bread. I mix it a lot with pasta, all different kinds of pasta. There's traditional tuna noodle casserole, but I also mix it with pasta seasoned with olive oil and garlic. And if I have anything lying around - tomatoes, capers, peppers, whatever, I throw that in too. Very tasty.


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #17 on: December 09, 2010, 05:57:20 PM »
Just came across this recipe and thought you might be interested:

I like the whole Web site, honestly - lots of inexpensive ideas!

Black Delphinium

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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #18 on: December 09, 2010, 06:03:46 PM »
Love this site for recipes-

Maybe do more with tofu? You can make your own if you have the patience.
When angels go bad, they go worse than anyone. Remember, Lucifer was an angel. ~The Marquis De Carabas


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #19 on: December 09, 2010, 06:30:03 PM »
This is my go-to recipe when I don't have anything planned or don't want to spend a lot of time cooking.

2c cooked brown rice
2 cans beans (I use black beans, or half black and half pinto)
1 can kernel corn
1 cup salsa
1 cup fat free sour cream
1-2 cups cheddar cheese (I use less to cut the fat content, but more is definitely good)

Combine all ingredients, reserving half the cheese, in a 9x13 casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

I keep cooked brown rice in ziplock bags in the freezer, 2 cups per bag, so that when we need rice, we just pull out a bag and defrost in the microwave. I almost always have the rest of the ingredients on hand, so it makes a really easy, really good dinner. You can, of course, sub cooked beans and fresh/frozen corn for the cans.
"From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful."


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #20 on: December 09, 2010, 09:33:24 PM »

I second eggs for cheap protein.

Baked eggs are lovely - take a ramekin for each person, oil it lightly, and put in a slice of tomato, a bit of basil, a little cheese (or whatever else strikes your fancy), crack two or three eggs over top, season with salt and pepper and bake until just set.

Or poached eggs. I did a nice one recently with cooked soba (aka buckwheat) grains mixed with chopped cilantro, chopped tomato and lime juice, topped with two poached eggs, and drizzled with home-made hot sauce.

Whole grains can be very filling and nutritious - I find they fill me up more for the same volume than refined grains. For dried grains and beans you can stock up when you visit a good grocery store (or a Chinese grocery) and they'll last for a while. 

Check out Indian cookbooks for filling, tasty vegetarian dishes. Paneer (fresh Indian cheese) can be easily made at home if you can get reasonably priced milk - I can give a recipe if you want.  Chickpea curries are satisfying, or potato and cauliflower, and dhal (lentils) are very tasty as well.

A good trick for dried beans is to cook them ahead of time. I do big batches of chickpeas or beans, package them into one meal portions, and freeze for later use. Save the cooking liquid for use in soups - either as a broth by itself, or to add richness to other dishes.

I find stews are a good way to stretch meat. You don't need much for flavour, and you can use the cheapest cuts of meat. Chicken with tomato, celery, onion, corn, peppers, beef with potatoes, carrots, celery, mushrooms, onions, beans.

Can you get tofu?  I'm not a huge fan of the pressed tofu, but I like soft tofu. It's good by itself, with some grated fresh ginger and a drizzle of soy sauce. There's also a type of tofu that's frozen and thawed, making it spongy. That goes very well in soups and stews, with a good texture.


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #21 on: December 11, 2010, 07:27:02 AM »
Tuscan cooking uses a lot of beans-
You can throw a pasta dish together with cannellini beans, garlic, tomoatoes, dried sage, olive oil and macaroni. You can expand and add veggies, cheese,  etc.

I highly recommend "What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat" by Arthur Schwartz. This cookbook is invaluable to me- It helps you stay on a budget with many tasty, interesting, and easy recipes! Most are meat free, although I suggest you skip the sardine section of the book given your distaste for seafood. ;D


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #22 on: December 11, 2010, 07:39:59 AM »
I find that pasta sauces are a great way of stretching meat, or going veggie altogether. You can get quite a nice meaty sauce with 2oz per person, or even less if you are using something with a strong flavour, like bacon. Just increase the amount of other ingredients, like canned tomatoes or passata. You can make a nice suace with just Passata, a little oil and some herbs and spices for flavour.

I had a lovely irish stew a couple of days ago- a little lamb, lots of potatoes, carrots and pearl barley.

Don't be tempted to get cheap meat, as you end up paying for fat and gristle- better to buy half the amount of good lean  meat- you probably get more meat per dollar that way in any case. That said, don't dismiss the possiblities of offal. I'm not keen on the texture of liver, but heart and tongue are lovely. your other option is cheaper cuts which have to be cooked long and slow, and a crockpot is perfect for these.

Tongue is very nice served cold. You need to boil it slowly and then remove the skin before serving. Lovely stuff with a great flavour.

NE England


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #23 on: December 11, 2010, 03:06:03 PM »
Hey, found my Mom's Ratatouille recipe. It is the greatest food ever.

Mom's Ratatouille


4 Tbsp butter
1 lbs. zucchini or asparagus, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 yellow or orange pepper, cut into large chunks
10-12 oz mushrooms, sliced to medium thickness
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, sliced into rings
3 Roma tomatoes, skinned (see notes) and cut into bite-sized chunks
1/2 c. chopped parsley

A note on preparing the vegetables: what you're going for is hearty but still bite-sized chunks.


  • Melt butter in deep-sided frying pan
  • Saute everything, except tomatoes, parsley, asparagus (if you're using it) and onions, for six minutes
  • After six minutes, add asparagus and onions. Saute until onions are soft
  • Add tomatoes and parsley, saute 2 minutes

Tastes great with brown rice or on its own.

Note 1: If you also go for a low sodium diet, you can leave out or greatly reduce the salt

Note 2: Directions on how to skin tomatoes without losing your mind to follow...

Blanching tomatoes

  • Boil a pot of water. Score each tomato with a small X on the bottom (non-stem end)
  • Put a large bowl of cold water next to the stove
  • Place the tomatoes in the boiling water. When the skin at the Xs peels back (the skin starts peeling off and you'll see that the score you made is getting longer), remove the tomatoes and immediately put them in the bowl of cold water (this stops the cooking process)
  • Remove skins with paring knife

Now the skins should come off easily. The trick is to allow the skins to peel back enough that they are very easy to remove, but without leaving them boiling long enough to cook the tomatoes. Now, if you're going to cook the tomatoes anyway you can err on the over-cooked side. If you're going to make a tomato salad, err on the undercooked side (even though it takes longer to peel them that way).
« Last Edit: December 11, 2010, 03:08:24 PM by Nurvingiel »
If I had some ham, I could have ham and eggs, if I had some eggs.


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #24 on: December 11, 2010, 03:09:25 PM »
We really like breakfast burritos.

Saute sliced onions & pepper
when they are as soft as you want them to be pour beaten eggs on top of the onions & peppers
Move the pan around to get the egg mixture even & let it set for a minute or two

Serve with warm tortillas, cheese, salsa, etc.

Sometimes we add a couple of slices of diced bacon too


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Re: Going semi-vegetarian; need ideas.
« Reply #25 on: December 12, 2010, 09:16:38 PM »

Oh, another quick one with eggs.

Pasta with egg - cook pasta and drain. Put back in the pot with a bit of oil or butter. Crack two eggs into a bowl and whisk well, then pour them onto the pasta and stir until the eggs are cooked (not very long). Season with salt and pepper.

And  a good pasta dish that works well as vegetarian or with small amounts of meat. You can serve it warm or cold.

Boil a chunky pasta. While the pasta cooks get a can of diced tomatoes, some chopped black olives, a bit of thinly sliced onion, torn or chopped fresh herbs (basil or parsley work well) and crumbled feta cheese. Mix some fresh lemon juice, olive oil, a bit of garlic, salt and pepper for a dressing. Drain the pasta, toss in the tomatoes and juice, herbs, cheese and olives and mix well. Toss with the dressing. Optionally add some cooked diced chicken at the same time as the tomatoes.