Where’s the Meat?

These vegetarian recipes are so good you won’t miss it, really.

Caramelized eggplant with sprouted lentils, tofu and radishes. 

Photo by Mark Edward Atkinson 

There was a time when vegetarians got short shrift when dining out, often restricted to basic salads and ho-hum sides. Fortunately, the meat-free lifestyle has made its mark and now all-veg meals are just as inventive and delicious as anything else you’ll find on a menu. 

Check out some of our favorite recipes that will make even the most diehard carnivore reconsider vegetarianism. 

Caramelized Eggplant with Sprouted Lentils, Tofu and Radishes 

Clifton Inn, Charlottesville

For Sprouted Lentils:

1 cup dried lentils
3 cups water

Soak lentils overnight in water. Drain and rinse. Spread on a cookie sheet. Cover with cheesecloth and let sit at room temperature for at least six hours. Rinse lentils and spread on cookie sheet for another night. At this point, you should see small sprouts coming out of the lentils. If not, re-rinse, lay out and cover for one more day. This should not take longer than three days.

For Charred Eggplant Purée:

1 large eggplant
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Roast eggplant over an open flame until it is fully charred all over. Place in 350-degree oven and cook all the way through, approximately 10-15 minutes. Purée everything until smooth. Season with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.

To Serve:

2 medium Japanese eggplants
1 tablespoon blend of olive oil and canola oil
4 tablespoons charred eggplant purée
4 tablespoons Twin Oaks tofu
4 tablespoons sprout lentils
1 teaspoon fresh lavender
1 teaspoon malt vinegar
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 French breakfast radishes, very thinly sliced

Slice eggplant into 12 slices. Season with salt. Heat oil in a pan until very hot. Add eggplant and sear on one side until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip eggplant. Add lavender and remove pan from heat. Place a small dollop of charred eggplant purée on a plate. Toss lentils with oil and vinegar. Place a small pile of sprouted lentils next to eggplant purée. Place tofu on opposite side of lentils. Shingle three slices of eggplant across the top of everything. Arrange radishes around plate.

Serves 4

Artichoke Bargoule

Artichoke bargoule. 

Photo by Mark Edward Atkinson 

Ashby Inn, Paris

1 quart dry white wine
1 cup white distilled vinegar
1 quart vegetable broth
4 lemons with zest
½ large onion
½ head garlic
2-3 stalks celery
½ cup olive oil
½ bunch parsley
½ bunch tarragon
½ bunch chervil
½ bunch chives
3 fresh bay leaves
1 cup pitted lucques olives
3 very large artichokes
½ lemon for zesting
salt and white pepper to taste (you can be slightly aggressive with the salt to offset the sourness.)

Put all ingredients except the parsley, chervil, lemon for zesting and chives into a heavy bottomed tall stockpot. Bring to a light boil and turn off heat. Let sit on the stove for two hours to infuse. As quickly as possible (to prevent browning), clean the artichokes of their green leaves and the furry choke. While keeping the stem attached, peel off the tough outer layer. After each artichoke is cleaned, add it to the broth to prevent browning.

When all artichokes are cleaned and in broth, turn the heat up to a simmer and cook them until the tip of a knife can penetrate them easily. When cooked, turn off the heat, and add all the herbs. Let cool to room temperature.

To Serve:

Using a slotted spoon, remove the artichokes and plate each with some of the olives and aromatic goodies. Ladle over them some of the broth and lemon zest, then serve with hot crusty bread, butter, and buttery white wine. 

Serves 3 

Lentil Wheat Berry Couscous Cakes

Lentil wheat berry couscous cakes. 

Photo by Mark Edwards Atkinson 

Local Chop & Grill House, Harrisonburg 

2 cups couscous
2 cups wheat berries
2 cups lentils
1 quart oyster mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated
1 white onion, diced small
1 head garlic, minced
3 sprigs each, rosemary, oregano, finely chopped
2 bunches flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 lemons, juice and zest
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons smoked or regular paprika
¾ cup Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Fill pan with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Add couscous, stir, cover, then remove from heat. Let stand 10 minutes. When all liquid is absorbed, fluff with a fork and reserve. Cook lentils in water until soft, about 20 minutes, adding water as necessary.

Cook wheat berries in water until soft, roughly an hour, adding water as necessary. Sauté onions, herbs, mushrooms and carrot in a bit of olive oil over medium heat until transparent. Add garlic, and cook over low heat for 3 more minutes, then remove from heat. Drain lentils and wheat berries and mash them with a potato masher, your hands or a whisk. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix until well combined. Shape the mixture into patties that fit in the palm of your hand. Coat in breadcrumbs and lightly sear in butter. Heat to serve.

Serve with a sauté of cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, basil and arugula. 

Serves 4 
June 11, 2022

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