Plant-Based Swaps to Recreate Classic Comfort Food Dishes
Animal products — whether beef, pork, chicken, dairy or seafood — are often thought to be necessary for a balanced diet, and, as a result, these ingredients have typically played a prominent role in home cooking. But meat is not required for good health or good food, and the characteristics that make our favorite meals special — the texture, the flavor, the spice — can all be easily replicated with plant-based ingredients.
Swapping out meat for plant-based protein enables you to find the essence of a dish and really consider why that BLT is so refreshing and tasty or how that peanut satay finds the right balance of spicy, nutty, and sweet. Because it’s usually not the animal protein that makes a dish unique or exquisite, but rather the harmony of ingredients and specific techniques that make for the best eating.
Below is a list of classic comfort meals that have had their meaty ingredients swapped out for plant-based alternatives. Try a few this Monday, and gain a new appreciation for your favorite foods.
Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
Capture the spicy kick of Buffalo wings without the bones (and the chicken). This super simple recipe for cauliflower Buffalo wings is a definite crowd pleaser. No need to wait for gameday, whip up a batch this Monday.
Meatloaf is the iconic comfort food, a centerpiece of many family meals. But you can easily recreate the tang and texture of meatloaf sans the meat. This recipe for vegan meatloaf from Nora Cooks uses a base of chickpeas to mimic the density and richness of traditional meatloaf.
Photo & Recipe: Nora Cooks
Grilled Portobello Mushroom Burgers with Garlic Mayo
You won’t be missing ground beef after tasting this grilled portobello burger. The mushrooms are marinated in a homemade barbecue spice mix and grilled until tender. When served, they are loaded up with sweet grilled red onions and savory garlic and chive mayonnaise.
Everyone loves one-pot cooking. Swap out ground beef for lentils in this hearty recipe for lentil Bolognese from Tasty. Serve over pasta or zucchini “noodles.”
Photo & Recipe: Tasty
Impress an Eastern European mother-in-law or stubborn eater with this cozy and comforting (and completely plant-based) version of “beef” stroganoff. Mimic the flavor, texture, and creaminess of beef stroganoff by using succulent baby portobello mushrooms, soy sauce, and your favorite brand of plant-based sour cream. Try this mouth-watering recipe for mushroom stroganoff from Vegan Huggs.
Photo & Recipe: Vegan Huggs
Quinoa Chili Fries
Sometimes you’ve just got to cave to what you crave, but this recipe for quinoa chili fries doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. By baking your own French fries and making your own chunky vegetarian quinoa chili, you’ll still feel light as air even after eating second helping.
Seitan Peanut Satay
The perfect balance between nutty, spicy, and sweet: enter the seitan satay with spicy peanut sauce. Swap out traditional chicken breast for oven-roasted seitan; you won’t be able to tell the difference. Follow this yummy recipe from seitan peanut satay from Sunnyside Hanne.
Photo & Recipe: Sunnyside Hanne
Crisp, clean, and classic, who doesn’t love a BLT? Marinating the tempeh overnight in a mixture of apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, liquid smoke, maple syrup, and spices gives it the flavor of bacon, while baking it in a hot oven recreates its crisp-yet-chewy texture. Check out this recipe for a tempeh BLT from The Curious Chickpea and get ready for next weekend’s brunch.
Photo & Recipe: The Curious Chickpea
Paella is known for its copious amounts of seafood, chicken, and chunks of chorizo, but you can replicate the delicate flavors of Spanish paella with roasted red peppers, artichokes, kalamata olives, and a variety of spices. Try this tasty vegetable paella from Cookie and Kate.
Photo & Recipe: Cookie and Kate
You won’t miss “regular” meatballs after you’ve tried these better-for-you veggie meatballs. Featuring hearty lentils, mushrooms and walnuts, this recipe is sure to hit the spot next time a meatball craving hits. Serve with your favorite pesto or marinara sauce with some sautéed broccoli rabe, pasta, or polenta with spiraled greens.
Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes. When posting pictures of recipes to your social media network, tag @MeatlessMonday use #MeatlessMonday to show the plant-based community your creation.