Meatless Monday has brought the focus of meals away from meat... but there are still a lot of vegetarian recipes that focus on replacing meat with something else. Many recipes are naturally meatless, especially in cultures where a focus is not really placed on meat. Japanese cuisine is one great example. While a lot of meals are fish-heavy, there are a lot of classic Japanese recipes that are naturally meatless. Take a look at these four great meatless Japanese meals, the perfect inspiration for your Meatless Monday table!
Image adapted from khawkins04, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0
Start things off with a perfect pressed salad. Pressed salad is a traditional Japanese dish that's common in macrobiotic diets. The principle is simple: the salad contains raw ingredients that are pressed to release water and make them more digestible. The flavors of the different ingredients you choose combine, creating a salad that's packed full of flavor... regardless of whether you choose to add dressing or not. The great thing about a salad like this is that because it is, in its very essence, a salad that needs to sit for awhile, it's perfect for bringing to work for a healthy, delicious Meatless Monday lunch.
Another great Japanese Meatless Monday option is the gyoza. Gyoza are Japanese-style dumplings. They can either be steamed or pan-fried, like potstickers. Lots of different varieties exist, including vegetarian potstickers. While some recipes include vegetables, this particular recipe uses tempeh for the unique textural element it adds to the final dish. The effort involved in making these is worth it; make a huge batch and freeze the extra, so all you have to do next Meatless Monday is defrost and pan-fry. The accompanying spicy dipping sauce makes these perfect.
Another Japanese classic is miso soup; learn to make your own nourishing, naturally meatless miso soup. Vegetarian dashi and a variety of different vegetables make this soup what it is--chunks of tofu add great texture and additional protein. Serve this as an appetizer or as a main, and be sure to have the recipe on-hand as fall approaches; it's sure to be a filling, warming alternative to other favorite soup recipes.
Mochi is a Japanese staple made with rice. Its texture is chewy, with a flavor that goes just as well with sweet foods as with savory. Our own recipe for brown rice mochi is delicious with either. It's frequently served alongside ice cream, but a favorite is also to stuff the mochi balls with sweetened red bean paste. Mochi can also serve in place of rice or noodles in soups or stir fries.
Top image: geoff peters