Meat is one of the most popular things to abstain from during the Lenten season. Whether it be on a Friday or throughout the entire season, those who observe are tasked with finding suitable swaps for meat in daily dishes. While seafood is the obvious answer, it can get a bit expensive to upkeep as prices usually increase during this high-demand time. Your next best option is to swap meat with vegetables. Many vegetables are meaty, filling and just as satisfying as meat (you won’t even miss it, we promise). So even if you’re just doing meatless Mondays, fasting or you are a current vegetarian, you’ll find something to help you out on this list. Here are our favourite vegetables to swap with meat.
Eggplant comes as no surprise as it’s one of the first vegetables you think of when you hear, ‘meaty vegetable’. We’re used to roasted baigan choka however, this fleshy vegetable can substitute meat in many more ways. Eggplant Parmesan, curried baigan or melongene steaks are three ways you can easily incorporate eggplant into your fasting and genuinely not miss the meat. We believe that eggplant’s secret is in its flesh; it is thick, spongy meat creates the volume needed to bulk up vegetarian recipes.
Another unsurprising vegetable, mushrooms have the earthiness and dense texture of beef. This makes it an easy swap for meat in spaghetti meat sauce, burgers and curries or stews. Additionally, larger variations of mushrooms like Portobello, are great substitutions for steak. We suggest marinating the mushroom in garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and then grilling or pan sautéeing on each side. Enjoy with a side of veggies or between toasted buns.
Everyone knows about stewed lentils but, did you know that it can be added to almost any vegetarian dish for a satisfying meal? This hearty legume is an old favourite of many vegetarians. Apart from being relatively inexpensive, it is also super versatile and quick cooking—perfect for weekday meals. We love adding lentils to salads, stews and as fillers for vegetarian burgers and wraps.
We know what you’re thinking, how can a bland, cruciferous vegetable be a replacement for juicy, flavourful meat? Cauliflower’s blandness allows it to take on flavours beautifully. It’s crunchy, hard exterior also means that it crisps and browns well—and we all know that brown is equal to flavour in the culinary world. Curried cauliflower is popular in Indian cuisine but it can also be added to pasta bakes or roasted. We love to slice large steaks of cauliflower and grill or pan sear it. The result is a thick, delicious hunk of cauliflower with delicious golden-brown crispiness.
Either sweet or white potatoes can bulk up any meal but, besides that, potatoes can stand on their own. Baked white or sweet potatoes smothered in butter, chives, sour cream and cheese are deliciously satisfying and a meal by itself. You can also add either potato to shrimp or fish curries and stews in order to make your meal more filling and hearty.
Apart from looking like a rare piece of beef, beets have an incredibly meaty texture when cooked. This makes them perfect for salads, burgers, pizza (paired with Goat cheese—yum!) and grilling.
Another cauliflower-like vegetable, it’s hard to believe that cabbage is a great substitute for meat. Okay, maybe it isn’t juicy or meaty but, it is definitely hearty and packs a punch if cooked correctly. A grilled wedge of cabbage is a surprisingly formidable substitution for meat. Drizzle your wedge of cabbage with a buttery sauce to up the fat content and flavour.
Fibrous, meaty pumpkin is a fulfilling way to substitute meat. Though it may not work in every dish, it is fantastic to cook down as a substitute for meaty pasta sauce, as taco fillings, in salads and roasted in wraps. We think it truly shines when cubed, tossed with curry and sautéed or roasted. Serve with dhal and rice and you’ll forget about curry chicken (well, almost).
We included zucchini on this list because of its versatility and spongy texture. Zucchini can be made into patties, added to stir-frys and cut into noodles or zoodles. However, one of its major benefits and the reason it is on this list is because of its ability to turn into a bolognese-style vegetarian meat sauce. Admittedly, this takes a while, however, if you cook zucchini with onions and garlic for a long time, it turns into a meat-like, thick sauce.
The nutty legume is famous for being a substitute in a number of dishes—chickpea blondies anyone? It’s meaty, versatile and super filling. After all, aren’t you content with channa, aloo and some roti? Yes? It’s because of the high protein and fibre content in the tiny chickpea. Try it sautéed with herbs and garlic, curried, stewed and even in salads.
For recipes using these meaty vegetables, visit PropaEats.com!
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