Be the change you wish to see in the world...

- Gandhi

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meal Pleasers for Carnivores

Most of my daily menus are meatless with a few mixed meals that offer carnivorous options on the side (like ground turkey for tacos).  For holidays and special occasions, I always felt like I had to make meat or people would be disappointed.  My family celebrates Shabbat every Friday, a weekly Jewish holiday.  On this special night, my family had become accustomed to a special dinner, usually featuring a roast chicken or some other animal as the centerpiece of the meal.  When I first became vegan, I continued to cook similar meals on Fridays with sides that I could eat.  Over time, I added in a vegan main option, and now I have done away with meat altogether, cooking an entire plant based meal.  I was nervous to implement this with my family, for fear of disappointing, but as long as the food is tasty, I don't get any complaints about replacing their meat with tofu, tempeh or seitan.  Here are a few of my favorite meals to please carnivores.

Spaghetti and "Meat" Sauce

This is my favorite sauce ever.  I veganized a recipe that I used to love from  It is tasty over pasta or in a stew with cannellini beans and potatoes.  This recipe makes a huge pot of sauce.  I usually divide it and freeze half and still have leftovers after dinner.  I serve it with fresh challah bread, an antipasto veggie platter, and a salad.

Vegan meat sauce
Vegan Meat Sauce
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 slices of "Fakin' bacon" (my favorite tempeh bacon), chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
2 packages of vegan ground "beef"
1/2 cup dry red wine
One 28-ounce can tomato puree

1. In a large, heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat and add the "bacon."  Cook for 1-2 minutes and add the onion, carrot, and celery.  Cook until softened, about 8 minutes and add the garlic. Cook until it smells really good, about 1 minute.

2.  Add the "beef" and cook about 3-4 minutes.  Add the wine and cook until the liquid is cooked off, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomato puree and 1 cup of water.  Season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.  Partially cover and cook over low heat for about 30-45 minutes, until thickened.  Season with salt and pepper.

Orange Tofu
Orange tofu from Chloe Coscarelli's cookbook
Orange Tofu

My family loved this recipe from Chloe Coscarelli's cookbook.

Broccoli sauteed with garlic and sesame oil
Sesame garlic broccoli
I paired with sesame broccoli (steam broccoli florets with garlic for about 6-7 minutes and drizzle with sesame oil, a dash of shoyu and a sprinkle of gomasiyo),

and peanut noodles from Cooking With Trader Joe's.

Spaghetti with peanut sauce and chopped peanuts
Peanut noodles

Seitan Piccata

This recipe from Candle 79 (a very popular restaurant in New York) is a crowd pleaser.  I serve it with mashed potatoes or linguini, depending on what I am in the mood for, and a side of sauteed kale or a vegan Caesar salad.  This is a beautiful looking dinner and one of my go-to favorites.


6 seitan cutlets
Candle 79 Seitan Piccata for carnivorous dinner
Candle 79 Seitan Piccata, photo by Rita Maas
Whole wheat flour for dredging
6 TBL olive oil
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup capers, drained
2 cups vegetable stock or water
1 bay leaf
1 TBL fresh parsley, minced plus 1/4 cup chopped for garnish
1 tsp fresh thyme, minced
1/8 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Caper berries for garnish
1 lemon, thinly sliced, for garnish

1. On a cutting board, dredge cutlets with whole wheat flour. Shake off excess and set aside.

2. In a large sauté pan over high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add cutlets and cook until crisp and golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Place cutlets on individual plates or a platter.  

3. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, heat remaining 4 tablespoons oil. Add shallots, leek, salt, and pepper, and sauté until soft and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add all-purpose flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly, to form a roux. Add wine to pan and stir well to incorporate flour. Add capers, stock or water, bay leaf, minced parsley,  thyme, turmeric, and lemon juice, and cook over medium heat until sauce becomes slightly glossy, about 10 minutes

4. Spoon sauce onto serving plates. Place cutlets on sauce. Garnish with caper berries, chopped parsley, and lemon slices. Serve immediately. 

These are just a few.  I also have a few tempeh recipes that always go over well...more to share later.  Please try them and let me know what you and/or your family thinks in the comments below.