Flavorful vegetarian versions of America's favorite one-dish meals: ramen, pho, bibimbap, dumplings, and burrito bowls
A restorative bowl of vegetarian ramen sent Lukas Volger on a quest to capture the full flavor of all the one-bowl meals that are the rage today—but in vegetarian form. With the bowl as organizer, the possibilities for improvisational meals full of seasonal produce and herbs are nearly endless.
Volger’s ramen explorations led him from a simple bowl of miso ramen to a glorious summer ramen with corn broth, tomatoes, and basil. From there, he went on to the Vietnamese noodle soup pho, with combinations like caramelized spring onions, peas, and baby bok choy. His edamame dumplings with mint are served in soup or over salad, while spicy carrot dumplings appear over toasted quinoa and kale for a rounded dinner. Imaginative grain bowls range from ratatouille polenta to black rice burrito with avocado. And unlike their meatier counterparts, these dishes can be made in little time and without great expense.
Volger also includes many tips, techniques, and indispensable base recipes perfected over years of cooking, including broths, handmade noodles, sauces, and garnishes.
Photographs by Michael Harlan Turkell
Volger (Veggie Burgers Every Which Way) takes on formidable opponents ramen and pho in this imaginative collection. As any noodle slurper can attest, the broth of one's ramen is just as important as the noodles. Volger does an admirable job of handling this culinary hurdle vegetarian-style by employing kombu and dried mushrooms to achieve the deep, rich umami aspect that meat-based stocks provide. Once that's settled, readers are on their way to creating any number of healthy Asian dishes. Those who don't want to bother with stock-making will appreciate Volger's many bibimbap offerings as well as rice and grain bowls. Those who prefer to make their meals from scratch will appreciate recipes and tips for homemade ramen noodles, pickled ginger, and curry paste, as well as DIY dumpling assembly. He also explains how to make the most of leftovers (rinse unused noodles under cold water, drain, and portion into resealable bags). As with most Asian recipes, readers will find that the work is all in the prep: once they have their ingredients chopped and assembled, the vast majority of Volger's recipes come together with a minimum of fuss or effort. The bulk of the book's ingredients are easily sourced. Though kombu and mushrooms may never completely replace the unctuous umami of their meaty brethren, these recipes sure come close to what readers may recall from their carnivorous days.