By Carissa Chesanek, Contributing Editor
Vegetables have been taking center stage on the menu, making for ample selections for those looking for vegan and vegetarian meals. But there's plenty more than salads and roasted veggies to pick from.
We spoke with the team at California Avocado Commission to get their take on the latest in vegetarian and vegan dishes that wow the palate. Here’s are five plates that are a must-try right now.
Veggie Meal Bowls
Hearty meal bowls are not necessarily new but they aren’t about to go anywhere anytime soon. The popularity for these dishes continue to grow within the entire food community, especially those who are looking for a substantial vegetarian item. These bowls work because they are packed with everything to keep you fuller longer, including whole grains and plenty of veggies. But they can really be done anyway you like, as the California Avocado Commission noted a recipe that calls for meat can simply be substituted for something more vegetarian-friendly like black beans or tofu.
Real, authentic ingredients are ideal for vegetarian and vegan menus because many patrons want only the freshest items. Ingredient-driven concepts are popular with eaters who are more interested in what they are eating and where it comes from rather than the overall technique or presentation. With these types of meals, simplicity is key. And the California Avocado Commission are noticing the rise in one very special ingredient: avocados, which we see in places like Brooklyn’s cool avocado bar, Avocaderia.
Recently avocado toast has been booming in the food and dining scene, with just about everyone craving the dish - both vegetarian and non. And these days, the popularity continues to rise and in more creative forms. With ingredients that can include anything from grilled corn to basil pesto, avocado toast can be transformed in many ways. And while some are served on sour dough, others can be found with garlic bread or rye. The Smashed Avocado Tartine is a delicious recipe from California Avocado Commission (by Tartine Manufactory), which calls for green garlic, poblano pepper, avocado, and crushed corn nuts served on sourdough, making for a perfect vegan option.
Who says vegetarian and vegan fare has to be boring? Bring on the flavor when you incorporate ethic flavors found all over the globe. Using ingredients stemmed from the Philippines or India (who doesn’t love curry?) can help enhance any meal instantly. And those traditional dishes that call for meat can be still be vegan-inspired with a little planning. Take the traditional Filipino dish lumpia for example. This can be made by stuffing the crepes with fresh vegetables instead of pork or chicken.
The classic Hawaiian poke bowls are growing all over the nation because of its simple and fresh ingredients. And while some might think of poke as only fresh fish, it can easily be transformed into something both vegans and vegetarians can enjoy. Skip the tuna and bring on the tofu, adding in the regular ingredients the recipe calls for, such as seaweed salad, rice or kelp noodles, cucumbers, and avocado. The end result is ideal for those looking for an vegan option without skimping on the taste.