Vegetarian Gourmet----Meatless Makeovers

Three years ago I decided to go "meatless." It wasn't a difficult decision as I wasn't a voracious carnivore to begin with, however there were a few dishes that I missed that contained meat and wondered how I was going to live without these favorites.

Rather than resign myself to the notion that these dishes could never be converted over to a meatless status, I decided to pull myself up by my vegetarian bootstrings (cotton, of course), and see if I could find a way to convert these meat-ies to meatless.

The first was my Grammy's recipe for American Chop Suey, actually, almost everyone's Grammy made this or some variation of it. I tried different ways but this one comes the closest:

Meatless American Chop Suey

1 vidalia onion chopped
1-2 tbsp. butter
1/2 pkg Quorn (brandname) veggie grounds frozen
2 cans Campbells Tomato Soup
1 tblsp. catsup (yes catsup, you can't really taste it, it just adds a rich color to the sauce)
sea salt and pepper to taste

1 lb of your favorite fancy pasta in its rigati form, that means with lines, or something like like gemelli or rotini

Melt butter in a medium sized skillet over low heat. Add vidalia onion and gently saute until translucent. Add frozen Quorn grounds and heat till thawed. Add 2 cans soup and cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Add catsup salt and pepper and cook an additional 102 minutes.

Bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain thoroughly and add sauce to pasta. Stir to incorporate completely. Serve. Serves 4-6 people as a side.

This next one is an adaptation of a Greek-Middle-Eastern recipe for Dolma. I loved this dish as a youngster summering on Cape Cod. A wonderful Lebanese family "turned me on" to this dish and I have finally found a way to make it meatless and spectacular!

Veggie Dolmas

1 jar of Grapeleaves in brine

Filling:
2 cup basmati rice cooked
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup of pine nuts ground
1/2 cup quorn grounds thawed
2 tbsp. dried mint (or 1/4 cup fresh mint chopped fine)
1 tbsp. dried parsely (or 1/4 cup fresh parsely chopped fine)
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1/8 cup fresh oregano chopped fine)
1 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp pepper
1 small can tomato paste

Juice of 2 lemons

Remove the grape leaves from the jar, rinse and unfold carefully and rinse again. Lay paper towels and pat dry. Gently remove any stems that are still on the leaves.

In a large bowl mix the filling ingredients together till they are well incorporated.

Carefully separate a few of the leaves and line the bottom of a 1-2 gallon stock pot.

To roll take a leaf, place 1 heaping tsp of filling in the center of the leaf about 1/2 inch up from the bottom edge. Fold 1/2 inch up over the filling, fold each side toward the middle, then beginning at the bottom again roll the whole package up till you have a 1-2" "log.

Continue with the rolling process till you use up all the filling.

Line the rolled leaves up in a circular pattern in the stock pot till all are in. Pour the juice of both lemons gently over the rolled leaves. Place a dinner plate on top with a stone in the middle to keep in place. Gradually add cold water till it just covers the leaves.

Bring contents to a boil then reduce and simmer for abount 1/2 hour till tender. Drain water by holding on to stone to keep plate in place and gently pour out cooking water. Leave plate on till almost cool.

Remove plate and serve with plain yogurt, yummy.

These can be frozen in 1-2 serving sizes for later. I like to do it this way then microwave them for a minute and a half for a quickie meal.

Cathy O is a successful author who provides information on gourmet gift baskets, gourmet food, and gourmet recipes. "In addition to being a freelance writer, I also dabble in Aromatherapy, Herbalism and painting when I am so inspired. Living in the Lake region of Western Maine has been of tremendous inspiration to me and I am proud and happy to call it home."

In The News:

4 easy recipes for tailgating this fall  Santa Rosa Press Democrat
Repertoire recipe: Miso Chicken and Rice  San Francisco Chronicle
Food Companies Add AI to Their Recipes  The Wall Street Journal

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