When I think of wholesome, satisfying and delicious vegetarian food, this is precisely the type of meal I envision.
But that wasn’t always the case.
Having been a slapdash vegetarian in my teens, I fell into the common rookie trap of gravitating towards pasta with oodles of cheese as the mainstay of my diet. As yummy and addicting as that was, it was not exactly nourishing. I then slowly discovered processed soy foods – veggie dog this, veggie ground that – full of sodium and plenty of other additives until I eventually wound my way to whole food sources of plant protein.
The more you learn about healthful sources of plant based foods, the more options it invites for creating nourishing and delicious combinations. Herbs, spices and sauces are especially helpful for flavouring vegetarian fare so don’t be shy; play around and see what combinations you like best. I have a penchant for Thai cuisine so I often gravitate in this direction but the possibilities are endless.
Some of my favourite whole food sources of soy protein include: tofu, tempeh, edamame and miso. Other non-soy plant based proteins include: lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds, seitan, eggs and yes, some, dairy.
2 large yellow onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 heaping Tbsp chili garlic sauce, or less as desired (it’s hot)
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
1 cup frozen edamame, simply run under hot water and drain
3 cups cooked chickpea, thoroughly rinsed if using canned
1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1 generous nub of ginger, peeled and shaved*
4 tsp Thai red curry paste
2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cumin
2 cups coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
2 limes, each cut into four quarters
2 lemongrass stalks, ends and rough exterior casing removed
- 2 Tbsp fish sauce,*optional* for non-vegetarians
1 large bunch fresh basil, some torn into pieces and some left intact
Notes:I used a cast iron pan to illustrate this meal however you are probably best using a larger sized skillet, wok or pot if using the ingredient portions outlined above (otherwise, you can cut the recipe in half).
*Lately, I’ve been shaving ginger. Once the ginger is peeled, simply use a carrot or vegetable peeler to slice off thin shaved pieces of ginger. It works really well in recipes like this.
You can skip any of the spices that don’t appeal to you. This is just one version of the recipe but there are many others – it is fully open and awaiting your interpretation!
On stove top, sauté onion and chili garlic sauce with some olive oil in a large skillet, wok or pot set to low-medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, prepare lemongrass stalks by removing root end (bulb) and blades (if still there). Working from the middle section of the stalks, remove rough exterior layer/s until you get to the smooth white interior part of the lemongrass stalks. Slice the interior of the stalks very thin to reveal layered rings (a bit like an onion).
Sprinkle onion with turmeric and cumin, mixing to combine.
In a separate bowl, combine curry paste, coconut milk and vegetable stock whisking to combine. Add wet ingredients to skillet and bring mixture to a gentle boil. Add bell pepper, edamame, chickpeas, mushrooms, lemongrass and ginger and reduce to lowest heat. Add most of the basil leaves (reserving some for garnish). Allow mixture to simmer for about 6 minutes before removing from heat.
Squeeze lime juice into skillet along with fish sauce if using. Mix all ingredients together and serve with a few more basil leaves on top.