Eau Claire Eats

Three vegetarian dishes not just for vegetarians

More stories from Amira Lunderville

In Eau Claire and surrounding areas, it might be difficult to find a place that offers a variety of vegetarian options. This week, I was curious how vegetarians add a healthy variety to their diet when they don’t have the option to eat out.

I have two fun and easy recipes to spice up any diet — vegetarian or not.

Some of these recipes may not be entirely dorm-friendly, but they all give the option to downsize on ingredients and you can always find alternative ways to cook them (safely) in a microwave.

Spaghetti Squash

The first recipe I found was one of my favorites: spaghetti squash. Don’t tell any pasta companies, but I prefer spaghetti squash over real noodles any day.

Ingredients needed:

  •       One spaghetti squash
  •       Extra-virgin olive oil
  •       Salt
  •       Black pepper

First, preheat the oven to 400°F and slide the spaghetti squash in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds and ribbing. Lightly drizzle olive oil over the inside of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the squash cut side down on a baking sheet and use a fork to poke holes in the skin. Roast for 30 to 40 minutes or until lightly browned on the outside.  

Once cooked, remove from the oven and flip the squash cut-side up. When cool to the touch, use a fork to scrape and fluff the strands from the inside of the squash. You will notice it start to form noodle-like pieces.

This recipe is great because it leaves it completely open for your choice of toppings. For extra protein, mix in pieces of tofu or chickpeas with tomato sauce for a healthy, vegetarian rendition of spaghetti and meatballs.

Or, add a little extra olive oil and salt for “buttered” noodles.

Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry

This next and last recipe to share is a stir fry with tofu and vegetables.

You will need:

  •       Four cups of brown rice
  •       One piece of ginger
  •       One-fourth cup of low-sodium soy sauce
  •       One to two tablespoons of garlic chili sauce
  •       One tablespoon of toasted sesame oil
  •       Twelve ounces of baked tofu
  •       Three tablespoons of canola oil
  •       Two cups of sliced shiitake mushrooms
  •       One pound of fresh stir-fry vegetable mix
  •       Salt
  •       One-half cup roasted or salted cashew halves or pieces

This recipe is also flexible with ingredients. Ground ginger is an option to season to taste. Adding any vegetables in favor is also an option, as well as the cashews for those with a nut allergy.

Prepare the rice according to the package directions. Peel and finely grate the ginger and put it into a medium bowl with the soy sauce, garlic chili sauce and sesame oil. Whisk to combine.

Cut the baked tofu into one to one-and-a-half inch pieces and add to the marinade. Stir to combine and set off to the side.

Fill a measuring cup or bowl with cold water and leave beside the stovetop.

Put the canola oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Put in the shiitake mushrooms and cook until tender, stirring frequently. Add the stir-fry vegetable mix and a pinch of salt to the mixture.

Cook until crisp-tender, about three to five minutes.

If at any time the pan seems too hot, stir in one-to-two tablespoons of water.

Put in the marinated tofu with vegetables and two tablespoons of water. Cook until the tofu is warm through, or one-to-two minutes long.

Scatter the cashews on top and serve on top of the rice.

These recipes are relatively easy and can be switched up in various ways. Being vegetarian is not a requirement for these two tasty recipes. 

 Lunderville can be reached at [email protected]