I’ve been sitting on this post for really long time. I mean, not literally, that would be kind of weird. I’ve wanted to share this recipe with you in the past, but something has always held me back. One major challenge was coming up with a name. Vegetable Meat Substitute? Let’s face it, it’s not sexy. But in the end, it’s accurate, and I wanted to go with something that could easily be Googled. I didn’t think “You Won’t Believe It’s Not Meat!” would go over very well. Plus, who knows what Fabio is up to these days. Please, someone tell me you get this joke.
This recipe came about when I was developing and testing my Vegetable Bolognese. To this day, it is by far the most popular recipe on the blog, and I get comments regularly from people who have made it and loved it. They say things like this:
“It really looks like a “real” spaghetti sauce!”
“This is so awesome, I have no words! I love finding veggie versions of my favorite foods and I adore the fact that you didn’t “cheat” and use the faux meat crumbles.”
“I made this and almost cried… it was that good!!!”
“Man, I’m Italian and I’m telling you: this sauce is amazing. I don’t like the seitan/soy “meaty” sauces, but this one is sooooo good.”
and my personal favorite
“This is the fourth time I’ve made this recipe. I’ve never left a comment on anyone’s website until now. Honestly, it’s the best sauce…ever. And healthy. How often do you get healthy and delicious in one place? And it makes so much! Thank you!”
My heart is happy just reading those comments again. Anyway, the point of all that is this – the core of what makes that recipe so popular is a base of ingredients that can take the place of ground meat in almost any dish. I know, because I’ve been testing it like crazy in things like Shepherds Pie, Sloppy Joes, burritos, chili, soup, “meatballs”, veggie burgers, taquitos, and on and on and on. I still kind of can’t believe how versatile it is. And before you ask, yes, I will be sharing those recipes ASAP. But in the meantime, you can make this vegetable meat substitute yourself! It’s super easy, so let’s do this thing.
First, gather your ingredients. Cauliflower (my obsession), carrots, walnuts, sun dried tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, and garlic.
Next, cut the cauliflower, onion, and carrots into large chunks, then shred them with a food processor along with the mushrooms and garlic. Depending on how big of a cauliflower you have, you may need to do this in two batches.
Add the shredded vegetables to your largest skillet over medium-high heat, and start to let them cook, stirring often to let the moisture evaporate. While that’s happening, wipe out the food processor and add the walnuts and sun dried tomatoes and process with the S-blade until a fine, crumbly meal forms.
Add the walnuts and sun dried tomato mixture to the skillet, and cook for about one minute. That’s it! You’re done. You should now have about 6 cups of the vegetable meat substitute to use in place of ground meat.
Cost Comparison – Vegetable Meat Substitute vs. Ground Beef
You might be wondering if it costs more to make this than to use ground beef. The answer is no, but it is about the same. To buy the ingredients for this recipe will cost about $10 on average, and the recipe yields about 6 cups. 1 pound of ground beef yields 1 1/2 – 2 cups after cooking, and the average price per pound is around $3.50, so you’re looking at about $10 to get the same amount of food. Except one is less than 100 calories per cup. I’ll let you figure out which one that is.
I sure hope you’ll give this recipe a try and let me know what you think! I’m hoping for a bunch of great stories of tricking carnivores into eating cauliflower. 🙂 Don’t forget to share a pic of your creations on Instagram with the tag #eatwithinyourmeans! It gives me the happies.
P.S. I have a really fun idea that uses this recipe, and I can’t wait to tell you more about it. Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter Eat-Mail, so that you can get the inside scoop!
- 1 head cauliflower, broken into large florets
- 8 oz. crimini mushrooms
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into fourths
- 1 medium yellow onion, quartered
- 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
- ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes
- 1 cup raw walnuts
- Using the shredding attachment on a food processor, shred the cauliflower, mushrooms, carrots, onions and garlic. If you don't have a shredding attachment, pulse small amounts at a time using the S-blade until finely chopped but not pureed.
- In a large nonstick skillet, cook the shredded vegetables over medium-high heat until the moisture has evaporated and the vegetables are cooked, about 6 minutes.
- While the vegetables are cooking, process the walnuts and sun dried tomatoes in the food processor until a fine meal forms, but be careful not to go so far as to make walnut butter.
- Add the walnut and sun dried tomato mixture into the skillet, and mix with the vegetables, cooking for 1 minute.
- Use in place of ground meat with the ratio of 2 cups of vegetable meat substitute for 1 pound of ground meat. This recipe is wonderful in a Vegetable Bolognese.