Try a Cooking Class or a New Cooking Technique
There is much more to cooking than an oven, a skillet, and a microwave. If you are not using them already, try experimenting with a slow cooker, pressure cooker, grill, or wok or enroll in a cooking class. Slow cookers are great if you have time in the morning; you can throw in a vegetarian stew, soup, or pasta sauce and come home to find dinner ready to go. On the other hand, pressure cookers can cook a meal, including risotto,quinoa, or bean soup in less than 20 minutes. Unlike your grandma’s pressure cooker, new technology makes current models safer to use. Grills—both outdooror the indoor George Foreman type—are perfect for grilling tasty fresh veggies,marinated tofu, and even fruit—yum! Woks and rice cookers are convenient if you make a lot.
I still make my rice in the pan and stir-fries in the skillet; however, learning to use a wok is on my list, after I take a Chinese cooking class, that is. To enroll in a class, check out those offered by hospitals, cooking stores, or college or university outreach programs. And, don’t be afraid to take a class if it is not specifically vegetarian. Many times the instructor will provide vegetarian suggestions if he or she knows up front that you are vegetarian. And usually you can modify the recipes so that they are vegan or vegetarian. Cooking classes not only give you ideas but often also improve your chopping and cooking skills. When was the last time you sharpened your vegetable-chopping knives?
Don’t Be Afraid to Modify Delicious-Sounding Omnivorous Recipes
Several of our favorite recipes in our recipe packet are ones I modified from meat-based recipes or dishes I saw on restaurant menus. Although you will get better at this the more you cook and eat vegetarian meals, here are a few tricks of the trade. Marinated tofu works well in place of chopped chicken or turkey. Marinate the to fuin the sauce or spices used in the recipe and if desired use frozen tofu. Freezingthe tofu removes some of the water and makes the texture a bit chewier. TVP, tempeh, or “burger” recipe crumbles, a ground-beef analogue, typically workwell in place of ground beef in many dishes.
The burger crumbles have moreflavor but also add salt. Thus, TVP works better in dishes with stronger flavors and burger crumbles work better when the flavor of the dish depends on the quality of the meat analogue. Fresh or dried mushrooms, particularly porcini, portobello,or crimini, also work well as beef substitutes. In many recipes, different beanswork well either alone or in combination with TVP. Just experiment, and it should become second nature. Finally, many spicy versions of vegetarian sausages can be sliced and added in place of meat sausage. However, these dishes will tastefine without sausage as long as you add a flavorful lower-salt vegetarian broth.