My parents are vegetarian and I'm running out of umami ideas. Unusual suggestions anyone?



Rich S. October 20, 2010
Thanks for the final posts on the caveat I tossed in. I'll take a look at my Jaffrey cookbook that's been collecting dust. It's all about good intentions...
innoabrd October 19, 2010
Here's the cookbook I'd suggest to you as an introduction to regional Indian cooking:
nutcakes October 19, 2010
I don't have any recipes that don't use onion or garlic. But I thought of this Toasted Angel Hair and Shiitake recipe that I like. You'd leave out the shallot and garlic:

The chef has another version where you'd sub in a flavorful vegetable stock and use porccini powder:

I read that toasting pasta is a Spanish technique.

I stick by my earlier recco of the eggplant gratin, the flavor of the feta, kalamata olive and mint is really nice with eggplant and tomato. It sits on a bed of carmelized onion, but just leave that out.

The South Indian cooking suggestion is a geat one. There is a whole following of no onion no garlic cooking. You can teach yourself to make Dosa and stuff it with a potato cabbage curry. With sambal and coconut chutney on the side, you will have lots of varied textures.
innoabrd October 18, 2010
Given the allum limitation, I'm more than ever convinced that the food of the indian sub-continent holds great promise for you. Lots of indian cuisine is prepared without onions and garlic because there are a lot of veggies there who don't take onions or garlic. Not just jains, but also many hindus.

My most favourite writer for indian food is Madhur Jaffrey (sp? I'm traveling and responding by blackberry). I find her stuff to be authentic and the recipes always work for me. Don't have the book here, but she did one organized by state that is a fantastic overview of regional indian cooking.
Rich S. October 18, 2010
The last posts are exactly what I'm looking for. Especially impressed with innoabrd, considering the love of bacon. In support, I have a mason jar that I fill with drippings from time to time.

One limitation that I forgot to mention, I can't use stuff out of the allium family (onions, garlic, leeks, etc.).

Please keep this rolling. All these ideas are making me want to convert. Almost...
AmandaE October 18, 2010
Tomoto Risotto is also a great option, or go fall with a butternut squash risotto. With the squash just roast it ahead of time in order to bring out the full earthiness and avoid adding nutmeg/cinnamon to it, just some oil on the outside.
Another great squash is spaghetti squash, roast it and then gently pull out the flesh which will resemble noodles. Serve with a simple garlic butter sauce, or topped with fresh roasted tomatoes. You can also do a squash casserole. Pick your favorite types and layer then in a dish, to with a bachemel sauce. Switch up the varieties in order to find the perfect taste. I enjoy sweet potatoes with turnips and red peppers.
Roasted Eggplant is also great, maybe with a Thai Peanut Sauce for dipping. If you aren't opposed to stuffing then try stuffing a Red Pepper with an eggplant parm. mixture or stuffing a pumpking with a simple veggie lasagna. for more vegetarian recipes.
innoabrd October 18, 2010
Ok, so if you won't try slipping them some bacon and bringing them over to the dark side, how about exploring some of the variety of Indian veg cuisine? South Indian food, in particular, is primarily veg and wonderful. Perhaps try your hand at dosa or uthapaam, different styles of pancakes made from the same base batter, a slightly fermented blend of rice and lentil flours. Usually served with a coconut chutney and sambar. You could also try some of the flavoured rices popular in the south: curd rice, tamarind rice and lemon rice make an attractive trio. Veg cooking in india is so much more than rice and dal or a mixed veg curry.
iuzzini October 17, 2010
Cold sesame noodles: mix 1/3 cup tahini, a bit of grated ginger, a minced clove of garlic, a splash of sesame oil, 1-2 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tbsp peanut butter, -2 tbsp rice vinegar or cider vinegar if you don't have rice vinegar, 1 tsp honey, .5 tsp garlic-pepper sauce, 1-2 tbsp of the hot water from cooking the noodles to thin out the sauce. Taste it- add more of whatever it needs. :) boil the noodles and then rinse in cold water (to make them cold) - Coat w the sauce right before serving or it will stick in a clump. Top w chopped scallions, chopped cucumber, and chopped peanuts. Squeeze a lime over it and enjoy!

Also- maybe a mushroom risotto- (using broth from reconstituted mushrooms is so rich) we made it on friday and it was umami city.
Rich S. October 17, 2010
Thanks for all the great suggestions on preparation that will be very helpful. I've been around the block with mushroom, tomato, eggplant, nuts, and dairy. Would like to add some new textural ideas to the repertoire to keep things interesting.

Here are some past dishes off the top of my head: chile rellenos with saffron rice, black beans, roasted eggplant and jack cheese filling; Thai-ish pumpkin soup with mushroom stock and coconut milk; Chinese dumplings filled with miso marinated dehyrdrated tofu strands, cut up thin vermicelli, nori, spinach and ground toasted walnuts; split pea soup using Chinese mock ham.

Can you guys push the envelope?
drbabs October 16, 2010
How about toasted walnut halves? Saute some veggies with onions and garlic and herbs; serve over rice or pasta (or quinoa) and mix in toasted walnut halves at the last minute for crunch and umami. I've also had (in a vegetarian restaurant) a play on sweet and sour pork in which large toasted pecans subbed for the meat.
kjrmcclain October 16, 2010
Mushrooms are the a versatile source of umami and my first stop when replacing a protein. Since the parents are vegetarian, they probably do not miss the texture of meat, so the possibilities are even greater. I am not vegetarian, but I often eat Indian food when I do not want meat but need some depth in a dish.
Jon P. October 16, 2010
If they like eggplant, perhaps my favorite thing to do with eggplant is worth a try:

Slice eggplant into 1/4" rounds and grill it with some olive oil and salt on it. Don't grill too long, as the eggplant will get flimsy if you do.

The last minute of grilling or so, throw sliced fresh mozzarella on top and cover the grill just long enough to start it melting.

I like to top it with roasted red pepper puree, basil, and a few drops of lemon juice.

It is delicious.
Kitchen B. October 16, 2010
Noodles in green tea, dried shitake mushrooms, soaked, rehydrated and sliced in a stirfry, a tomato-based sauce with a few sun-dried tomatoes/added parmesan rind in stewing put for some oomph
innoabrd October 16, 2010
Bacon. Its the gateway drug...
nutcakes October 16, 2010
If they eat cheese (feta), and you can still get eggplant, this dish is famous in my circle for converting people to eggplant/vegetarian. It rocks. Full of umami.
Recommended by Food52