There are many kinds of vegetarians out there, but my version falls closer to the “selectatarian” category. I’m a used-to-be-meat-free-but-got-sidetracked-by-the-bacon vegetarian. I do eat meat once in awhile, but I like to limit it to special occasions.
Whether or not you’re a full-on vegetarian, there are plenty of reasons to eat less meat—even once or twice a week. It’s better for your health, not to mention the planet. Plus, you can save a lot of money! Just think of all the delicious, healthy meals you could make with a can of beans. With all those benefits, it’s no wonder the Meatless Monday movement (meatlessmonday.com) is growing in popularity across the country. (Want to go meatless on Mondays? Here are 10 vegetarian recipes you must try.)
For the most part, I love to let my veggie food be what it is: veggies. But sometimes a little irony is fun too. Recently, I was invited to a dinner where Philly Cheese Steaks were the main course. I offered to bring these Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwiches as a vegetarian version. The meaty mushroom and melty cheese combo was a big hit! Even better than the real deal, in my opinion.
Try these other classic meat dishes with a vegetarian twist and challenge yourself to go meat-free at least once a week. I dare you!
Portobello "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwich
Cheese steaks are a Philadelphia tradition: thin slices from a rich and very fatty slab of beef, fried up and topped with a heavy cheese sauce. We've cut down on the fat considerably—but not on the taste—by swapping portobello mushrooms in place of the meat.
Instead of having a greasy, battered coating, the tofu “steaks” in this revamped Parmigiana are breaded and lightly pan-fried in just a small amount of oil then topped with part-skim mozzarella, fresh basil and your favorite marinara sauce. This Italian classic will please even those who are tofu-phobic.
Barbecue Portobello Quesadillas
This smoky mushroom-filled quesadilla is reminiscent of pulled pork. A touch of chipotle chile pepper adds extra heat. Serve with coleslaw and guacamole.
Moo Shu Vegetables
This vegetarian version of the classic Chinese stir-fry, Moo Shu, uses already-shredded vegetables to cut down on the prep time. Serve with warm whole-wheat tortillas, Asian hot sauce and extra hoisin if desired.
Bean Burgers with Spicy Guacamole
These bean burgers will even please carnivores. The cornmeal coating gives a pleasant crunch and smoked paprika, cumin, cilantro and guacamole add Southwestern flavor.