From A to Z: The ABCs of plant ingredients
Choosing to follow a plant-based diet can be a great way to improve your health, reduce your environmental impact, and support animal welfare. However, if you’re new to vegan cooking, it can be difficult to know where to start. One of the most important aspects of vegetarian cooking is understanding the wide range of ingredients available to you, and how to use them to create delicious and satisfying meals. From A to Z, here’s a guide to some basic plant ingredients to get you started.
A for avocado
Avocado is a versatile and nutritious fruit that can be used in many ways in vegetarian cooking. It is rich in healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, making it a great addition to salads, sandwiches and smoothies. You can also use avocado as a substitute for butter or mayonnaise in recipes, or simply enjoy it on its own with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
B is for black beans
Black beans are a staple in vegetarian cooking, because they are packed with protein, fiber, and essential nutrients. They can be used in a wide range of dishes, including soups, stews, salads and burritos. Black beans are also a great meat substitute in veggie burgers and tacos, making them a versatile and budget-friendly ingredient.
C for chickpeas
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are another excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber. They can be used in a variety of dishes, including hummus, curries and salads. Chickpeas can also be roasted and seasoned for a crunchy and satisfying snack, or used to make vegetarian meatballs and falafel.
D for quinoa
Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that is high in protein and essential amino acids, making it an important ingredient for vegetarians. It can be used as a base for salads, stir-fries, and grain bowls, or as a substitute for rice in pilafs and stuffed vegetables. Quinoa is also versatile and can be used in both savory and sweet recipes.
E for eggplant
Eggplant is a popular vegetable in vegetarian cooking, as it has a meaty texture and mild flavor that makes it a great substitute for meat in many recipes. It can be grilled, roasted, or fried for use in pasta dishes, stir-fries, and casseroles. Eggplant can also be used to make vegetarian lasagna, moussaka, and curries.
F for fennel
Fennel is a versatile and aromatic plant that can add a unique flavor to vegetarian dishes. It can be used raw in salads, roasted, sautéed, or braised to bring out its natural sweetness. Fennel can also be used to make delicious soups, stews and side dishes, and the fronds can be used as a garnish or herb.
G for greens
Vegetables such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and chard are an important source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for vegetarians. They can be used in salads, smoothies, and sandwiches, or cooked into a variety of dishes such as soups, stir-fries, and casseroles. Greens are also a great addition to omelettes, frittatas, and quiches.
H is for hing
Hing, also known as asafoetida, is a pungent and salty spice commonly used in vegetarian cooking, especially in Indian cuisine. It has a strong flavor and is often used as a substitute for onions and garlic in dishes, making it suitable for those who follow a strict vegetarian or Jain diet. Hing can be used to add flavor to lentil dishes, vegetable curries and rice dishes.
I’m all for fake meat
Imitation meat products are becoming increasingly popular in vegan cooking, because they provide a convenient and familiar way to enjoy favorite dishes without the use of animal products. They are made from a variety of plant-based ingredients such as soy, wheat gluten and vegetables, and can be used in recipes such as burgers, sausages and meatballs.
J is for Jackfruit
Jackfruit is a large tropical fruit with a fibrous texture and mild taste, making it an excellent substitute for meat in vegetarian cooking. It can be used in recipes such as pork sandwiches, tacos and curries, and is a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Jackfruit can also be used to make vegetarian “crab” cakes and “fish” tacos.
K is for kelp
Kelp is a type of seaweed rich in iodine, vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritious addition to a vegetarian diet. It can be used in soups, salads and stir-fries, or added to stocks and broths to enhance the umami flavour. Kelp can also be used to make vegetarian sushi rolls, seafood-free crab cakes, and tuna salad.
L for lentils
Lentils are a staple in vegetarian cooking, as they are a great source of protein, fiber and essential nutrients. They come in a variety of colors and can be used in soups, stews, salads and curries. Lentils can also be used to make veggie burgers, meatloaf, and desserts, and are a versatile and budget-friendly ingredient.
M for mushrooms
Mushrooms are a popular and versatile ingredient in vegetarian cooking, with a meaty texture and rich flavor that can be used in a wide range of dishes. They can be fried, roasted, grilled, or used to make vegetarian “bacon,” “meatballs,” and “steaks.” Mushrooms can also be used to add a deep umami flavor to soups, sauces, and stews.
N for nutritional yeast
Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast that is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, making it a popular ingredient in vegetarian cooking. It has a cheesy, nutty flavor that can be used to add depth and umami to dishes such as pasta, popcorn, and roasted vegetables. Nutritional yeast can also be used to make vegan cheese, sauces, and dressings.
Oats are a versatile and nutritious grain that can be used in a variety of vegetarian recipes. They can be used to make oatmeal, granola, and overnight oats for breakfast, or added to cookies, muffins, and bread for a filling and satisfying snack. Oats can also be used to make vegetarian meatloaf, burgers, and “meatballs.”
P for pepper
Peppers like bell peppers, chili peppers, and jalapeños are a colorful and delicious addition to vegetarian cooking. They can be used raw in salads, sauces and dips, or cooked in a variety of dishes such as soups, stews and stir-fries. Peppers can also be roasted, grilled, or stuffed for a delicious and satisfying meal.
Q is for Quorn
Quorn is a popular meat substitute made from mycoprotein, a type of fungus that is high in protein and low in fat. It can be used in a variety of vegetarian dishes, including burgers, nuggets, and hot dogs. Quorn is a convenient and versatile ingredient that can help make vegetarian cooking easier and more enjoyable.
R for rice
Rice is a staple grain in vegetarian cooking, because it is a versatile, budget-friendly ingredient that can be used in a wide range of dishes. It can be used as a base for curries, stir-fries and grain bowls or added to soups, salads and stuffed vegetables. Rice can also be used to make vegetarian sushi rolls, rice pudding, and fried rice.
S is for seitan
Seitan, also known as wheat gluten, is a protein-rich meat substitute commonly used in vegetarian cooking, especially in Asian cuisine. It has a chewy and meaty texture that can be used to make vegetarian “chicken” steaks, “beef” stir-fries, and “pork” barbecue. Seitan can also be seasoned and flavored to mimic a wide range of meat dishes.
T is for tofu
Tofu is a versatile and nutritious soybean-based ingredient that is a staple in vegetarian cooking. It has a mild taste and sponge-like texture that can be used in a wide range of dishes such as stir-fries, curries and soups. Tofu can also be squeezed, marinated and grilled to make vegetarian kebabs, burgers and steaks.
U for udon
Udon noodles are a thick, chewy type of Japanese noodles that are a great addition to vegetarian stir-fries, soups, and salads. They can be used as a base for a wide range of dishes, or added to hot stocks and soups for a comforting and satisfying meal. Udon noodles are a versatile and filling ingredient that can be used in both hot and cold dishes.
V is for vegetables
Vegetables are the basis of vegetarian cooking, as they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They can be used in a variety of dishes such as soups, stews, salads and stir-fries, and can be prepared in a wide range of ways including roasting, grilling, steaming and frying. Vegetables are a versatile and colorful addition to any vegetarian meal.
W for nut
Walnuts are a nutritious and satisfying nut that can be used in a variety of vegetarian recipes. They can be added to salads, oatmeal, and yogurt for a crunchy, healthy topping, or used to make vegetarian meatballs, taco sauce, and bolognese sauce. Walnuts are also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein and fiber.
X is for Xaciti Spice Mix
Xacuti spice mix is a delicious and aromatic blend of spices commonly used in vegetarian cooking, especially in Goan cuisine. It can be used to add depth and heat to vegetable curries, rice dishes and lentil stews. The spice blend typically contains a combination of coriander, cumin, fennel, and black pepper, among other warm and aromatic spices.
Y is for yam
Potatoes are a starchy, sweet root vegetable that is a great addition to vegetarian cooking. They can be roasted, boiled or pureed for use in a variety of dishes such as soups, stews and curries. Potatoes can also be used to make vegetable “fries”, “hash” and “mash”, and are a great source of vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Z for zucchini
Zucchini is a versatile, mild-tasting summer squash that is a popular ingredient in vegetarian cooking. It can be used in a variety of dishes such as salads, stir-fries and pasta dishes, or grilled, roasted or sauteed to bring out its natural sweetness and texture. Zucchini can also be used to make vegetarian “pastas,” “pancakes,” and “breads.”
There are countless vegan ingredients and recipes you can explore, but this A-Z guide is a great place to start. Whether you’re new to plant-based cooking or looking for new ingredients to try, these essential plant-based ingredients will help you create delicious, satisfying meals that are good for your health and the planet.