Looking for meatless options for the dinner table? Want something on the lighter side but still satisfying? We're here to help! Check out some of these ideas:
For a rich and flavorful -- and completely vegetarian -- dinner idea, look no further than this tofu dish from Andrea Nguyen. Fermented black beans give it a rich, almost meaty flavor and feel. It's a great main dish, served with a side of rice.
Fresh, lightly herbal, sweetened with a touch of honey and with just the right amount of tang, BLD's homemade dressing is tossed with a wonderfully bright and colorful salad of crunchy fresh corn, edamame, roasted bell peppers and green beans, along with diced rich avocado and toasted cashews. The salad is topped with fresh sprouts and a drizzle of nutty hemp seeds. It works perfectly as a light meal.
Starting to notice zucchini in the markets? These frittatas make excellent use of this summer vegetable, combining grated small or medium zucchini with crumbly feta cheese, green onion and chopped fresh basil or oregano. Make perfectly sized individual frittatas or a bunch of tiny ones for dinner, saving any leftovers for snacks later.
For more ideas, click through our easy dinner recipes gallery and check out our Dinner Tonight page, devoted to recipes that can be made in an hour or less. Looking for a particular type of recipe? Comment below or email me at email@example.com.
VEGETARIAN HUNAN-STYLE TOFU
Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as part of a multi-dish meal
Note: Relatively firm-yet-tender tofu, such as Trader Joe's, pan-fries beautifully with minimal splatter. This is not overly saucy. There should be some visible sauce but the tofu shouldn't be swimming in it. Serve the tofu with rice. The fermented black bean stock is from Fuchsia Dunlop's "Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook."
Fermented black bean stock
4 cups water
1 tablespoon fermented black beans, unrinsed
In a small saucepan, bring the water and black beans to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Strain and use immediately or partially cover, cool and refrigerate for up to several days. This makes about 3 cups of stock, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the stock will keep, covered and refrigerated, up to 1 week.
Hunan-style tofu and assembly
14 to 16 ounces firm tofu
1/4 teaspoon salt, more as needed
2 teaspoons light (regular) soy sauce
3/4 cup fermented black bean stock (or another vegetarian stock)
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 Fresno chile, cut on the diagonal into thin pieces, discarding the seeds that fall out
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 to 4 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, trimmed and cut into ¼-inch-thick pieces
1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons fermented black beans, unrinsed
Generous ½ teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons fermented black bean stock or water
1 green onion, white and green parts, cut on the bias
3/4 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chile oil
1. Cut the tofu into chunky matchboxes, each about 1½ inches by 2 inches by ½ inch. Line a plate with a dish towel or double layer of paper towels, then place the tofu on top to drain for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the one-fourth teaspoon salt, soy sauce and black bean stock to make the seasoning liquid. Taste and season with additional salt if desired. Set this seasoning liquid with the other ingredients near the stove.
3. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Blot dry the tofu, then pan-fry until golden brown and lightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, leaving the oil behind.
4. Reduce the heat slightly and add the chile and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Scatter in the mushrooms along with 1 to 2 pinches of salt. Give things a turn, then splash in the rice wine and stir. After the wine evaporates, add the black beans. Continue to cook until the mushrooms have softened slightly, about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
5. Return the tofu to the skillet, gently toss to combine, then pour over the seasoning liquid. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning over the tofu midway. When about half of the liquid has been absorbed, stir in the cornstarch slurry. Cook, gently stirring, until the sauce thickens slightly and clings to the tofu, about 1 minute. Stir in the green onions and continue to cook just until the onions start to wilt. Remove from heat, stir in the sesame and chile oils and transfer to a plate.
Each of 4 servings: 302 calories; 19 grams protein; 9 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 23 grams fat; 2 grams saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 1 gram sugar; 349 mg sodium.
BLD's FRESH VEGETABLE SALAD
Total time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Note: Adapted from BLD in Los Angeles. Hemp seeds can be found at select well-stocked markets as well as most health food stores.
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped shallot
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sweet rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup canola oil
1. In a blender, grind the ginger, shallots and rosemary to a paste.
2. Add the soy sauce, honey, vinegar, lemon juice to the ginger mixture and blend until fairly smooth.
3. With the blender running, slowly add the oil. This makes about three-fourths cup dressing, more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe. The dressing will keep, up to 3 days, covered and refrigerated.
Fresh vegetable salad
2 cups shelled edamame beans
1 cup raw fresh yellow corn
2/3 cup diced avocado
2/3 cup toasted and salted cashews
1/2 cup sliced or diced roasted and peeled red bell peppers
1 1/2 cups French green beans (haricot vert), blanched, shocked and chopped
2 cups diced jicama
1/2 cup salad dressing, more as desired
1 cup daikon sprouts
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
In a large bowl, combine the edamame, corn, avocado, cashews, peppers, green beans and jicama. Add one-half cup of the dressing and toss to coat. Taste, and add additional dressing if desired. Divide the salad among 4 plates and garnish with the daikon sprouts and hemp seeds. This makes about 8 cups of salad. Serve immediately.
ZUCCHINI, FETA AND BASIL FRITTATA
Total time: 50 minutes
Servings: Makes 8 medium or 30 mini frittatas
3 medium or 4 small zucchini
2 large eggs, separated
1 1/3 cups coarsely grated feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup flour (or slightly more if necessary)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil or oregano (or half of each)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil for frying
1. Rinse the zucchini, grate and place in a colander. Drain for 15 minutes, then squeeze to remove any excess liquid; you should have 2 packed cups.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, feta cheese, green onions, flour, baking powder, basil and pepper. Add the drained zucchini and mix well. Whip the egg whites till soft peaks form and fold into the feta mixture.
3. Heat an 8-inch heavy or nonstick frying pan over medium-low heat and add just enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Pour enough batter to cover the base of the pan, a scant one-half cup for each medium frittata or about 1 heaping tablespoon for each mini frittata. Cook the frittatas until they are golden brown on one side and set in the center, about 3 minutes (the mini frittatas will take less time), adjusting the heat as needed so they don't brown before they are set. Gently flip the frittatas over and lightly brown the other side.
4. Keep the finished frittatas in a warm oven until all the batter is used.
Each of 8 servings: 200 calories; 7 grams protein; 10 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 15 grams fat; 5 grams saturated fat; 75 mg. cholesterol; 2 grams sugar; 335 mg. sodium.