Chefs today must be skilled at creating meat-free meals to cater to food enthusiasts with a wide range of diets. A 2016 Harris Poll estimated 4.3 million U.S. adults were vegetarian and 3.7 million were vegan. For Colorado culinary arts students, it’s essential to develop a repertoire of amazing items that will keep these diners coming back for more, as well as omnivores who just love a well-crafted vegetarian dish.
Budding chefs who learn to use meat substitutes and find great flavor combinations of fruits, vegetables and grains will be well on their way to mastering vegetarian cooking. Here are a few ideas to get started.
1. Toast up a delicious breakfast
“Put your own stamp on avocado toast.”
While avocado toast has been served in cafes since the early 1990s, according to The Washington Post, it is only in recent years that this simple dish became one of the most-loved breakfast and brunch items around. With a few fun additions, you can put your own stamp on the combination of warm bread and creamy fruit. Cookie and Kate recommended an approach that calls for preparing an avocado-based pesto.
Start by toasting pepitas – shelled pumpkin seeds – in a skillet over medium heat. When you hear popping noises, move the seeds into a bowl to cool.
Pit your avocados and cut them in half, placing the insides in a food processor. Throw in garlic, lemon juice and salt, and then blend. When the mixture is smooth, add the pepitas with fresh basil leaves and pulse.
Toast bread and spread the avocado pesto. If you like, fry or scramble an egg to top the toast and serve with a side of halved cherry tomatoes. Finish the dish by sprinkling on sea salt and black pepper.
2. Who needs meat sauce?
With a vegetarian pasta dish, diners enjoy a meal that is as satisfying as it is fresh and flavorful. Country Living provided directions for a dinner featuring either fettuccine or tagliatelle.
First, place extra-virgin olive oil and butter in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Saute thinly sliced bell peppers and an onion, seasoning with salt and pepper. Stir frequently as they cook for up to 12 minutes. As the peppers begin to grow tender, throw in zucchini and continue cooking another four to six minutes.
Boil pasta until al dente, reserving a cup of water when you drain the pot. Combine the pasta and water with the pepper mixture to form a sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve topped by grated mozzarella and basil.
3. Take advantage of tofu’s possibilities
Tofu is an endlessly versatile meat substitute because the protein-packed bean curd is great at absorbing the tastes of other ingredients. That’s why Cooking Light’s tofu skewers are a fantastic way to enjoy a meat-free cookout.
Warm the grill to a high heat, somewhere between 450 and 550 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, combine a bottle of brown ale with honey and crushed red pepper in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Cook until the mixture reduces to a half cup, or up to 25 minutes.
Drain tofu, cutting into cubes and patting them dry. Place the cubes on skewers, and use cooking spray to coat them. Season with salt and pepper and brush on the beer sauce before placing on the grill. Coat planks of zucchini with sauce and lay them on the grill as well.
Cook the tofu for two to three minutes on either side. Grill the zucchini for three to four minutes on each side, and then chop. Toss the veggies with cooked barley, halved cherry tomatoes, arugula, extra-virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar and salt before topping with the grilled tofu.