Vegetarian Dishes Without Soy Or Processed Foods

I’m looking for dishes that feature beans and/or vegetables but do not contain any processed ingredients (premade or convenience foods) or soy products (tofu, TVP, fake meat).

I am trying to show my daughters how to cook nutritious meals with ingredients we either grow or make ourselves.

Much Thanks,

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Sage - July 20, 2010

I’m a vegetarian who recently moved to Denmark from the US and I do not have a lot of processed foods available to me. I do a lot with chickpeas, beans and veggies and a post my recipes on my blog (along with pretty pictures).

Mary Higgins - July 21, 2010

While I am not a vegetarian, I have recently started getting serious about lowering my grocery bill and meat is/was the most expensive item on my grocery list. (My daughter calls me “ole Miss Pennypacker”)I was raised in Appalachia and vegetarian dishes were the norm when I was growing up. You wouldn’t find us eating any humus or that type of food but we did occasionally eat polenta (we called it cornmeal mush that has chilled)=)
I have been cooking a looonnng time and usually don’t use a recipe but here are some ideas and I know the recipes would be easy to find online:
Beans: We prefer pinto beans and I cook large amounts and use in several dishes. We eat beans and cornbread, hush puppies, corn fritters or corn muffins.

Bean Tostados – I bake corn tortillas (they are better fried in oil) and drain, mash and flavor beans with taco seasoning mix (can be homemade) and spread on baked tortillas and add lettuce, tom, onions, cheese, salsa, sour cream or your preference

Bean Burritoes – can spread the same type refried bean mixture on flour tortillas (can be homemade) and add taco type fixins and roll up

Bean soup -so easy and delicious- cook a pound of pinto beans according to directions and add a small to med jar of salsa and eat with garlic bread or some type of cornbread

Potato soup – good with fresh onions and grated cheese on top, good with crackers or cornbread
Potato cakes – made from leftover mashed potatoes and add egg, flour and chopped onion and fry

Also any variation of fresh garden veggies in any combination. We think adding homemade bread made makes these vegeatble meals special. Last night we had corn on the cob, potato cakes, and fresh green beans. I always fix a plate of sliced tomatoes and sliced cucumbers with most meals, in season,. We like just a pot of fresh green beans, seasoned w/canola oil and chicken or vegetable bouillon, with homemade bread or rolls and butter. One of my favorite garden meals, growing up was when my grandmother would go out to the garden and cut a head of cabbage, dig some potatoes and make fried potatoes, coleslaw and make a pan of buttermilk biscuits. When you add jars of homemade pickles, and homemade jams and jellies it is a delicious meal.
Yesterday for lunch I made stir fried grated cabbage and carrots and added soy sauce. Also good over angel hair pasta.
Macaroni and canned tomatoes are good (if I make spaghetti with just marinara sauce my husband says, Wheres the beef! but he will eat macaroni and tomatoes.
We love these simple basic “hillbilly” dishes. Hopefully you will find one of two items your family will like.

geekbearinggifts - July 21, 2010

Do you consider cheese too processed, or a convenience food? If so, leave it out of the following recipe and season the vegetables any way you like.


For each person:
1 large Baked Potato
1-2 cups hot Steamed Vegetables (my favorite combination is broccoli, cauliflower and carrots)
1 handful shredded Cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, etc.)
Sour Cream (optional)
Sliced Green Onions
Sunflower Seed Kernels
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper if desired

Split the baked potatoes and place on heat-safe plates. Top with the steamed vegetables. Sprinkle with the cheese. Melt the cheese under the broiler or in the microwave. Top with sour cream if desired, and garnish with green onions and sunflower seeds to taste. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Becky - July 22, 2010


2 pounds (about 2 medium-sized) eggplant
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup fresh bread crumbs, seasoned with 1/4 chopped fresh basil leaves and 1/4 cup pecorino
2 cups Basic Tomato Sauce, recipe follows
1 pound ball fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash and towel dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant horizontally about 1/4-inch thick. Place the slices in a large colander, sprinkle with salt and set aside to rest about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse the eggplant and dry on towels.

In a saute pan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil until just smoking. Press the drained eggplant pieces into the seasoned bread crumb mixture and saute until light golden brown on both sides. Repeat with all of the pieces. On a cookie sheet lay out the 4 largest pieces of eggplant. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce over each piece and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano and top each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the Parmigiano. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the top of each little stack is golden brown and bubbly, about 15 minutes.

Mario’s Basic Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, chopped into 1/4-inch dice
4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 medium carrot, finely shredded
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes

In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve.
This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

–Mario Batali

Cavatelli with Glazed Vegetables
(save time and buy pre-made pasta)

Cook Time: 8 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Kosher salt
1/4 pound (1½ cups) ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 bunches scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
6 to 8 small radishes, quartered lengthwise
8 oz thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, diced
Freshly ground pepper

Combine the flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Add 1 cup ricotta and the egg to the well; gradually mix into the flour with a fork to form a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead into a smooth ball. Wrap in a kitchen towel and set aside for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch the vegetables: Prepare a bowl of salted ice water. Bring a medium saucepan of generously salted water to a boil. Add the scallions; boil until bright green, about 30 seconds. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the ice water. Boil the radishes, then the asparagus, cooking each until bright but still firm, 2 to 3 minutes, then plunging into the ice water. Drain the vegetables and set aside.

On a clean, dry surface, form the cavatelli (see instructions below).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the cavatelli; cook until they float and are tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a bowl (reserve the pasta water) and toss with 2 tablespoons butter, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm.

Melt another 2 tablespoons butter with 3 to 4 tablespoons pasta water in a skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetables; toss until warm and glazed. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and more pasta water to make a light sauce. Toss with the cavatelli; serve topped with dollops of the remaining 1/2 cup ricotta.

Make Cavatelli:
1. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Work with one piece of dough at a time; cover the rest with a towel.
2. Roll the dough into a long 1/2″-thick rope, working from the center to the edges to maintain an even thickness as you go.
3. Cut the rope into 1/4″-wide pieces (we used a pastry scraper), pressing down and pushing away with each cut so the piece curls slightly.

–Food Network Kitchens

Spicy Chili con Chile

1 large acorn squash (about 2 lb.) cut into quarters and seeded
3 dried red chiles
Boiling water
1 tsp. chili powder
3 poblano chiles
3 Tbsp. EVOO
1 large onion, chopped
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp. dry)
Salt and pepper to taste
½ cup sour cream

1. Preheat the broiler. microwave the squash on med-high power until fork-tender, about 10 min; let cool slightly. Scoop out the flesh and transfer to a food processor; discard skins.
2. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, soak the red chiles in just enough boiling water to cover until softened, about 15 min. Discard the stems and seeds. Add the red chiles to the food processor; puree.
3. Place the poblano chiles on a baking sheet and broil, turning occasionally until charred all over. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 min. Discard the steams and seeds, then chop.
4. In a saucepan, heat the EVOO over med-high heat. Add the onions and cook until softened, about 5 min. Stir in squash puree, poblanos, black beans, oregano, and 1 cup water Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 min; season w/ S&P. Remove from heat, stir in sour cream.

Becky - July 22, 2010

LENTIL STEW (Slow Cooker)
Makes: about 14 cups
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 8- 9 hours on Low
1½ cup dried lentils
3 cups water
1 small acorn squash (about 1¼ lb.), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups store-bought marinara sauce
1 medium green bell pepper cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium baking potato cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 (10-oz) package frozen cut green beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup water (if needed at end)
Combine all ingredients in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker; mix well. Cook on low 7 hours; add green beans and oil. If too thick, stir in water. Cook 1 more hour or until lentils and vegetables are done.
Per cup: 140 calories, 8 grams protein, 2 grams fat (11 percent calories from fat), 0.3 gram saturated fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 174 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

–7 Day Menu Planner


This vegetarian dish can be prepared up to a day ahead; fill the squash halves with the cooked bulgur mixture, then refrigerate, covered, until ready to bake.

4 large summer squash (about 8 ounces each)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3/4 cup bulgur wheat
8 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
lemon wedges, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve each squash lengthwise; slice off a sliver of skin from each half so they sit flat. Scoop out flesh with a small spoon or melon-baller, leaving a 1/4-inch border; chop finely, and reserve. Place squash halves on a rimmed baking sheet, skin sides down; set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add reserved chopped squash, onion, almonds, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is dry, 5 to 7 minutes.

3. Add bulgur and 2 cups water; simmer over medium heat until liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes (bulgur should still be slightly crunchy). Remove from heat; stir in feta.

4. Mound bulgur mixture in reserved squash halves. Bake until squash is tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges.

Note: Once the flesh has been removed from the squash halves, it is chopped and added to the filling so nothing is wasted.


Helene - July 24, 2010

I’m not vegetarian, but do try to eat meat & chicken only 2x per week. One of the vegetarian dishes my family enjoys is enchiladas.

I make the sauce with:
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp chili powder
Bring to boil and simmer a few minutes until flavors blend.
Use sauce to a) coat bottom of shallow baking pan and b) coat inside of ea. tortilla

I use 6-8 flour tortillas, filled with black beans, chopped mushrooms* and cheese. Roll up, place in backing pan, top with remaining sauce, more black beans and more cheese.

Bake @ 375 until cheese melts and bubbles.

* chopped mushrooms can be used as a substitute for ground beef in many recipes

Teresa - July 29, 2010

We are vegetarian and here is one of our favorite recipes.

Millet Patties

11/2 c.precooked millet
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. soy flour
1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. almonds(raw)
1 c. hot water
1/2 med. onion,chopped fine
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1 TBLS.chicken like seasoning(Like Mccay’s)

Blend almonds and water in a blender.Pour over millet,wheat and soy flour,oats,and onion.Add remaining ingredients and mix well.Form into patties and bake on a cookie sheet sprayed with non-stick spray at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes(turning once in between)Can be used
for burgers or with gravy or can be baked as a casserole for 45-60 minutes at 325 degrees.

Brown or Chicken-Like Gravy

Saute 1 onion diced
1/4 c. water and 3 TBLS. whole wheat flour
3 c. potato or green bean water
1 TBLS. Vegix,Soy-Sauce or Chicken-Like Seasoning.

Blend and bring to a boil.
Variation:For Creamy gravy add 1/2 c cashews to the
mixture and blend,using a little chicken-like seasoning.

jd in st louis - July 29, 2010

my husband is from india and grew up a vegetarian. most people think of indian food as being spicy hot – but it doesn’t need to be. you can season to your taste. complete protein is obtained in most indian meals with the combination of lentils (dal) and rice. lentils form the basis for most soups and many combined vegetable dishes. lentils come in many colors – not just the split peas that we are all familiar with. since indians eat almost no cheese and no tofu – but do use TVP in chunks, almost all the recipes can be adapted to suit individual tastes. however, there is a product called nutrela which are TVP chunks (really balls) that you soak in water first, then put in any veg stew. they soak up the flavor of the dish they’re in but have the chewing texture of meat. unlike the granulated TVP which many are familiar with, these balls are especially satisfying to a meat lover. also, canned jackfruit can be used to make chili. it closely mimics the texture of ground meat and, again, takes on the flavors of spices used in the chili recipe. these products are readily available at indian ethnic shops but can be purchased online if necessary. the nutrella sells for about $2/box which will make at least 16 servings. one can of jackfruit will make a huge pot of chili. nonvegetarians will swear it’s meat! i strongly suggest obtaining an cookbook of indian food, adapt the recipes to the vegetables that are available to you – for instance substitute black eyed peas for lentils if you don’t have lentils, substitute broccoli for eggplant. whatever. it all works. temper the ‘heat’ to suit your tastebuds.
jd in st louis

Susan - August 1, 2010

Taco Mountain

5-6 Flour Tortillas
1 can Refried Beans
4 ounces, Shredded Colby, Colby-Jack or Cheddar Cheese
2-3 Green Onions or 1/4 cup chopped white onions
1 Red Bell Pepper, optional
To taste, Cumin
1/3 bunch, Fresh Cilantro
2 tablespoons + extra after baking, Sour cream

Mix all ingredients except tortillas and cheese in a bowl. Layer on tortillas like lasagna. Put cheese on layer and put another tortilla on top. Stack as high as you’d like. Bake for 20 minutes or so on 350. Cut into wedges. Top with additional sour cream.

I normally use leftover chicken in this recipe but it is fine without it as well.

Christy - August 4, 2010

I like the website I have found great vegetarian and vegan recipes there.

Gwen - August 4, 2010

I was a vegetarian for 21 years and somes meals I cooked (and still do) without using processed protein were: Vegetable stir fry with noodles and cashew nuts, Broccoli Quiche, Baked potatoes with bean stew (any kind of beans), Minestrone soup (with beans instead of meat), Chili and rice (with kidney beans)and pasta sauce with onions, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes and pine nuts.

Hope this is of help!

Jen - August 11, 2010

I’m veggie too and find that I eat the convenience products or rely heavily on tofu when either I want a protein I can barbecue, or when my mouth wants a different texture.

Cheaper options are homemade seitan
1:1 water and vital wheat gluten (or find instructions on separating gluten from flour) kneaded and boiled until it rises to the top. Press and treat like any unseasoned meat or tofu.

chickpea cutlets
these are incredible! the recipe uses gluten flour, but I’ve heard of people using an egg for some of the liquid and another flour in the recipe – you wouldn’t get the chewieness though

I also make my own veggie burgers,
Just partially mush any bean or lentil. Add one to two finely chopped veggies, seasonings that match the veggies, and an egg to bind. You could use other binders if you don’t eat eggs. With lentils and some beans, this will be more like a batter than a patty. (I call them lentil pancakes sometimes). Cook on a grill or in a frying pan, ladling out like a pancake batter, but eating like a burger.

PlumFairy1 - August 11, 2010

Fried rice (is rice allowed?) can use simple veges, plus eggs, and rice. I flavor with salt (use enough to simulate the salt that soy sauce would add.), green onions, fresh ginger, and fresh, or granulated, garlic. The same goes for stir fries.

A pot of pinto beans can have tomatoes, and/or other veges added to it. Serve with homemade cornbread, biscuits, or other bread-type carb. (will you be including flour?)

If you don’t want to buy pasta, try spaghetti squash with homemade pasta sauce over. (You cook the squash, and fluff it into “spaghetti.”)

I have cooked down shredded carrots, tomatoes, celery, onion, and garlic, with salt/spices/herbs to make a very thick “sauce”, which goes well over slices of grilled eggplant. A Foreman grill works fine, you don’t need to use the outdoor kind. Mushrooms are good grilled with it, too.

Vegetarian chili with peppers, onions, beans, tomatoes, etc.

Summer soup. Some thoughts on ingredients: green beans, cauliflower in florets, or cabbage, summer squash, onions, red bell peppers, celery, corn kernals, tomatoes, a little tomato sauce if you make it, garlic, seasonings of choice, carrots, finely cut greens, etc.

Corn chowder with corn, and potatoes etc.

A meal of baked sweet potatoes, cooked greens (I like to saute them with garlic for this dish.) and the grilled eggplant, or other “main dish” which could be beans, or whatever you like.

Dinner salads. Start with either cabbage, or lettuce as a base. Add bite sized pieces of colored peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, or any veges you like. Then, add garbanzo beans, or other beans. If you can use it, olives are also nice. We have olive groves here, so it’s not pre-packaged…maybe you do, too. Then, wedge hard boiled eggs, and serve with dressing of choice. If you are including it, a little shredded mozzarella is nice on the very top, but not needed.

I don’t know what nuts are local, but they are a good protein. You can put toasted slivered almonds on green beans, over stir fry, with desserts etc., walnuts or pecans go into desserts, or into salads. Etc.

You can also toast sunflower seeds. I’ve served them over many dishes for crunch, and nutrition…both savory dishes, and desserts.

You can also make your own desserts within’ your criteria. For example, if you don’t want to buy flour, make a pie filling, and don’t use a crust. Then it’s a “pudding.” To stick with sweet potatoes, make a pie filling of it, then turn it into a Pyrex, bake as usual.

Also, don’t forget frozen desserts. Whatever fruit you have can be blended, or chunked, (add water, if needed.) and frozen as sorbet, or Popsicles.

If you are using flour, then you have it made. Fruit + simple batter = cobbler!

Jen - May 22, 2015

Quinoa, lentils, dried or canned beans and eggs are all great protein choices. When cooking quinoa, I always cook it in veggie broth (a two to one ratio). There are great instructions on the kitchen’s website. Some vegetarian blogs I love are: Cookie and Cake
Oh My Veggies which is a multiple contributor blog
naturally ella. It may be spelled e-l-a. I ‘m not entirely sure. Budget Bytes has many vegetarian recipes too that I really love but the site is not exclusively vegetarian.
Slow cookers are so helpful for cooking up a whole pound of beans. There is a how to article on The Hillbilly housewife’swebsite here. I love roasting veggies. You can have them as is, with eggs, with pasta, tossed in a sad or on a sandwich and so forth. I make different kinds of tacos or burritos or some other sort of mexican food once a week it seems. Stuff like that is really adaptable to what you have on hand any given week. Seasonal produce shopping is helpful also. Soups, salads, homemade pizza, breakfast for dinner, pasta, curry type dishes all of these are easy to throw together using non-processed foods and will usually stretch for a few meals so you could make some and freeze leftovers or save for other meals. Hope this helps.

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