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Jul 29, 2014
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Meatless Mondays

Meatless Monday: Smoked Portobello Sandwich at Sugarfire Smoke House

Monday, July 28th, 2014



Frequenting a barbecue joint and attempting to eat meatless can seem like an exercise in futility. But if there’s ever a time to start murmuring your vegetarian hosannas, it’s while tucking in to the smoked portobello sandwich at Sugarfire Smoke House. The lone meatless entree on the menu, the sandwich at first feels a little like a sheepish afterthought, something the kitchen came up after realizing how much meat it puts in everything. But take a bite and be changed.

It’s not far off the mark to call this a spiffed-up fungiform Big Mac; according to head pitmaster Casey Jovick, that’s more or less what Sugarfire is reaching for. Two balsamic-marinated, smoked portobello are layered between a double-decker bun fresh from Fazio’s Bakery on The Hill. Huge marinated onions, shredded lettuce and sliced pickles are stuffed in between, and slices of American cheese laid over the mushrooms melt and mingle with the house-made “special sauce,” Sugarfire’s knockout take on Thousand Island dressing.

A squirt of any of the house’s menu of bottled sauces would be worth your while, but the coffee barbecue sauce is your best bet. It complements the sandwich’s sharp, vinegary tones with the sweet, earthy notes of coffee. The whole affair is a hot mess – bread, mushroom and fixings toppling everywhere – but catch it all in your tray, wipe your fingers with a paper towel, and scoop up the remnants with a fork.

With a bit of luck, you’ll find crazy corn on the menu, one of several daily rotating side options displayed on butcher paper. The side usually makes a weekly appearance and slings together corn, Sugarfire’s house rub, five cheeses, green chiles, masa and other ingredients (sometimes sausage; vegetarians, keep a watchful eye out) for a piquant, Southwestern-style side. You never knew the meat-free masses could be so at home in the land of barbecue.



Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Tuna Salad

Monday, July 21st, 2014


Like so many culinary “aha” moments, the idea for the base of this recipe came to me during what I like to call a “college kitchen” day. I needed something for lunch but hadn’t gone grocery shopping in more than a week. My ingredient options were either in can form or sitting in the freezer in unmarked plastic bags (with an ominous layer of ice, I might add).

I opted out of rediscovering the frozen tundra of past cooking adventures and stood in the pantry, staring at the shelves, willing something to jump into my hands and reveal a brilliant plan. After several scans, I settled on a can of garbanzo beans, thinking I’d whip up some hummus. Then I remembered our food processor went kaput earlier that week. Drat.

Undeterred, I decided it was nothing my good ol’ potato masher couldn’t handle, so I set to work draining the beans and adding some salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil to get things going. About halfway through the mashing process, I realized I had the beginning of tuna salad.

Find out how Beth Styles went from half-smashed beans to a spot-on vegetarian version of this picnic staple here, and get the recipe here.

-photo by Carmen Troesser


Meatless Monday: Seitan Gyro at Frida’s Deli

Monday, July 14th, 2014



Since I went vegetarian seven years ago, I’ve been on the hunt for an authentic-tasting, satisfying meat-free gyro. I grew up eating my grandmother’s Greek food, but my picky childhood palate limited me to french fries, chicken fingers and pasta Alfredo. I only became adventurous enough to try a traditional gyro – sliced meat, tomatoes and onions slathered in thick, tangy tzatziki – just one year before I chose to eschew meat altogether. Now that I’m vegan to boot, finding a delicious substitute is harder still, but Frida’s Deli helped me take one step closer to veggie gyro nirvana.

Frida’s vegan seitan gyro comes in a warmed pita (not oiled and grilled like many traditional sandwiches – it’s a health-conscious restaurant after all) with plenty of crunchy lettuce, tomatoes and red onions. A hefty handful of shredded, chicken-style seitan serves as the gyro “meat,” dotted with flavorful dried oregano and other herbs. Everything is tossed in a light “tzatziki” sauce, which is tough to get right without thick Greek yogurt. Since Frida’s vegan tzatziki is a little on the thin side, I recommend slathering your pita with the side of hummus, adding moisture and an extra hit of flavor for a satisfying vegan meal.

Meatless Monday: Summer Lasagna

Monday, July 7th, 2014


Lasagna has something for everyone. Cheese. Starch. More cheese. But vegetarian lasagna? Well that’s usually just Mom’s recipe without the meat. Bo-ring. (Nothing against your mom. She’s lovely.) Since it’s too hot to turn on the oven and my farmers market produce overfloweth, it’s time to find a new twist on this old favorite.

Ready for a vegetarian lasagna that doesn’t require gallons of tomato sauce or even pasta? Click here for the recipe and click here to read more about how a friend’s love affair with polenta inspired Kellie Hynes to create this vibrant vegetarian dish.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Meatless Monday: Joanie’s Pizzeria’s Favorite Veggie

Monday, June 30th, 2014



A veggie pizza might sound like a humdrum solution for a Meatless Monday, but not when it’s Joanie’s Pizzeria’s Favorite Veggie. This specialty pie from the Soulard pizza joint bursts with the bright flavors of colorful, fresh produce. Summer squash, spinach, mushrooms, yellow onions and roasted garlic all claim space on this pie, and a light tomato sauce walks a balanced line between acid and sugar. Watery vegetables like spinach can easily turn a thin crust into goo, but not here. Ours was toothsome from edge to center, and it took four Sauce staffers less than five minutes to devour all 16 inches of it. Next time, we’re ordering two.



Meatless Monday: Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas

Monday, June 23rd, 2014



Barbecue season is upon us, which means meat, meat and more meat … and leaves poor vegetarians and vegans to make a meal with some sorry sides. Fear not; it’s jackfruit to the rescue.

Looking at a fresh jackfruit, you wouldn’t expect it to inspire anything. In fact, if one snuck into your house, you’d probably whack it with a baseball bat. A fresh jackfruit is humongous, oblong and yellowish green. Like an 80-pound alien booger with tumors. But the inside, ah, the inside of this gentle giant is interesting. Crack open a jackfruit and you’ll find pale yellow, fibrous flesh that vaguely resembles a pineapple. With tumors – er, seeds. OK, the jackfruit is not going to win any beauty prizes, but those fibers and seeds are where the magic happens. They soak up the flavors of the sauce you cook them in. And, yes, when you tear it up, braised jackfruit has the exact look and mouth feel of pulled pork.

Read more about the weird, wonderful powers of jackfruit here, and get the recipe for Vegan Jackfruit Carnitas here.

-photo by Carmen Troesser

Meatless Monday: Cauliflower two ways at Lulu’s Local Eatery

Monday, June 16th, 2014



Anything on the menu at Lulu’s Local Eatery, the newly opened brick-and-mortar of the beloved food truck at 3201 South Grand, is fair game for Meatless Monday. After all, it’s not just vegetarian; it’s vegan. Check out the Spring Roll Bowl with crispy cauliflower atop greens, shredded carrot, green onions and cilantro dressed in a savory orange peanut sauce. It’s a dish with contrasting flavors, temperatures and texture and that makes us feel full but not at all heavy.




For something a little richer, try the Buffalo Cauliflower Wrap. Crispy, fried cauliflower is tossed in buffalo sauce and rolled into a burrito along with greens, cucumber, carrot, onion and Lulu’s nondairy ranch sauce that cools things off just enough to take a big bite.

If they haven’t sold out already, snag an order of the brownie bites, provided by Sweet Art. They’re decadent with intense chocolate flavor and are also a Sauce office favorite.



Meatless Monday: Spinach Walnut Pesto

Monday, June 9th, 2014


Gardens are brimming with fresh leafy spinach right now, and we love its nutritious versatility in everything from salads to sides. Tonight, blitz it with fresh herbs, walnuts and Parmesan cheese for a vibrant, earthy pesto. Cook a pot of your favorite pasta or gnocchi until al dente, then coat it liberally in the sauce for a quick, flavorful Meatless Monday meal. Get the recipe here.


-photo by Greg Rannells

Meatless Monday: Who Needs Meat? at MoKaBe’s

Monday, June 2nd, 2014




My first encounter with alfalfa sprouts occurred in high school when I became a die-hard fan of Jimmy John’s Turkey Tom, a plain-Jane turkey sandwich stuffed with sprouts. Alas, sprouts disappeared from that sandwich in 2012, and since then, a turkey-tomato-mayo sandwich just isn’t the same – and neither is my palate.

Luckily I can get my sprout fix at MoKaBe’s, the coffeeshop that anchors the corner of Arsenal Street and South Grand Boulevard– and a much healthier, meat-free option at that. The vegetarian menu at MoKaBe’s isn’t just a dinky collection of salads and a grilled cheese sandwich; the number of its meatless menu items practically equals the carnivorous offerings. Four different house-made veggie burgers are listed (In fact, MoKaBe’s Blue Mac burger made our Veggie Burger Short List a few years ago.), not to mention several other meatless sandwich options, like the appropriately named Who Needs Meat?

Two slices of Companion multigrain bread speckled with white and black sesame seeds are slicked with a creamy, house-made dill sauce. The bread barely contains a large stack of lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber and a hefty handful of my crunchy, beloved sprouts, all bookended by slices of Monterey Jack and cheddar cheese. I continued to feed my veggie fix with a side house salad of spring greens, artichoke hearts, yellow peppers and mushrooms tossed with sundried tomato dressing. This vegetarian meal left me full and had me wondering the eponymous question: who needs meat? Well, at least for today.


Meatless Monday: Blondie’s Coffee and Wine Bar

Monday, May 19th, 2014



We’ve pigeonholed Blondie’s Coffee and Wine Bar into the “date night” and “girls’ night out” categories for too long. Add “vegetarian” and “lunch” to the mix because the upscale cafe located downtown on Washington Avenue more than satisfied with noontime meatless fare.

There are a few vegetarian salads on the menu, but we were hungry, which means that we went the sandwich route and ordered the JuJu Veggie – sliced avocado and cucumber, mixed greens and Swiss cheese between slices of toasted honey-wheat bread smeared with pesto. Sandwiches can be ordered cold, hot or in a wrap and come with a side order of fresh fruit, chips or a pasta salad. For a lighter meal, order a half-sandwich and pair it with any half-order of salad or soup for $7.50.




Speaking of soup, we also opted for a bowl of roasted red pepper and Gouda. Sweet tomato and herbs shone through and warmed our bellies on an unseasonably chilly spring day. Not feeling the usual sandwich-and-soup combo? Try the hummus, a generous portion of the chickpea dip flecked with feta and accompanied by sliced cucumbers and warm, oil-brushed pita.

For this lunch run, we indulged in a basket of popovers, the restaurant’s specialty. Among sweet and savory spreads to pair with that puffy goodness, we picked the seasonal marmalade. Currently, it’s orange – and sensational.

Even though Blondie’s stays open on Mondays until 4 p.m., the kitchen closes at 2 p.m., so make lunch the meatless meal of your day.

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