Last winter, my 10-year-old, who is a voracious and wonderfully appreciative eater, started making noises about becoming a vegetarian. We engaged the conversation, of course, which then piqued the interest of my 8-year-old. They both decided that, because of their feelings about animals, they wanted to become vegetarians. My husband and I totally supported this, but told her that we wouldn’t have the family go full vegetarian because a) our 4-year-old loves meat and b) we like meat. But we agreed that all meals would have a vegetarian base and possibly some meat on the side, which they could choose to eat or not. They both felt comfortable with this.
So, here’s my question. I have really tried to expand my beans and lentils repertoire but I feel like I’m running out of new and exciting ideas for vegetarian meals. I feel slightly overwhelmed by tofu and frankly grossed out by tempeh. So, any good dishes that we could all eat would be a life saver.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten some version of this letter. A few weeks ago, at one of my talks, a mom raised her hand and outlined a very similar story then asked for advice. Frankly, I’m stymied, too, and I have a hard time coming up with anything beyond my usual one-word answer: Pizza. (I was grateful when another mother in the audience took over and started giving advice; her recommendation to visit Oh She Glows was validated by many head nods around the room.) I’m not going to leave you totally high and dry, though. I recommend picking up a few cookbooks that will be key in the inspiration department. Start with these:
Next, I’ve rounded up a couple vegetarian favorites in my house, focusing on the ones that are flexible, i.e. they can be easily doctored to suit all tastes without a lot of work on the part of the cook:
- Vegetable Fritters – They’re like pancakes for dinner; literally your golden ticket
- Burrito Bowl – Your two vegetarians can opt out of the chicken
- Salad Bar Night – A medley of fresh salads and leftovers
- Spaghetti with Mint-Pea Pesto or Regular Pesto
- Vegetable Dumplings – feel free to brown a quarter pound of ground pork, and stir into a separate bowl with the vegetable filling. Then the vegetarians and the meat-eaters will both be happy. Note: Do not attempt this on a weeknight when you are pressed for time; you will swear off DALS for all time.
- Pizza – The Dinner Elixir; try Salad Pizza or, since ramps will only be in season for another hour or two, this one.
Lastly, I feel certain there are DALS readers out there who are dealing with similar issues around the dinner table, and I feel certain they will share their support, their wisdom, and their recipes.