3 mouth-watering ways to turn vegetables into delicious meat substitutes

Tired of the mash-like consistency of vegetarian and vegan meat substitutes? Sink your teeth into something a little juicier with these meaty vegetable alternatives that will have you drooling.

The smell of sizzling chops cooking on the fire, digging into hot dogs smothered in caramelised onions at a rugby game or watching everyone else cut through a steak whilst you settle for yet another falafel burger. Sometimes choosing to not eat meat can leave you with a string of disappointing meals. However, that doesn’t have to be the case.

There are a ton of vegetables that mimic the texture and meatiness of real meat. From juicy jackfruit braised in a medley of sauces and spices to sticky cauliflower with a creamy dip, you don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to enjoy these delicious alternatives to meat dishes.

Mushroom bacon

By @yourfavouritevegannan

Picture: Instagram.

The next brunch you attend won’t be as dull if you bring the flavour of these meaty mushrooms to the party. Packed with umami goodness, you can add these strips to anything from sandwiches to salads or have them served with brekkie.

Ingredients

2-3 portobello mushrooms, sliced

Marinade

½ tsp onion powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1-2 tsp liquid smoke (optional but highly recommended)

½ to 1 tbs maple syrup (or brown sugar)

¼ to ⅓ cup soy sauce

2-3 tbs neutral cooking oil (recipe uses sunflower)

¼ tsp sesame oil

½ tsp herbs blend (thyme, oregano and sage)

Black pepper

Instructions

Combine all ingredients in a tupperware container or bowl (use one that will be big enough for the sliced mushrooms)

Remove stems and cut mushrooms into ½cm slices. Place in marinade for a minimum of 45 minutes, turning occasionally (overnight is even better).

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and coat with a small amount of a neutral cooking oil or spray.

Add strips of marinated mushrooms to the pan in one single layer (being careful not to have them overlapping/ on top of each other) cook for around 3 minutes or until lightly browned on one side

Flip and cook them until the other side has browned.

BBQ pulled jackfruit

By @pulsesandplants

Picture: Instagram.

The texture of jackfruit can be described as dense and fibrous. As for the taste, some say it has a sweetness similar to mango, pineapple and banana. However, when unripe, it is more neutral in flavour, making it perfectly suited for absorbing the flavours in savoury cooking. This pulled “pork” recipe can be used for sliders, as a topping for nachos or in tacos making it the ideal grub for a game night or braai.

Ingredients

½ tbsp sesame oil

½ onion, chopped

½ garlic cloves, minced

½ red chilli, finely chopped

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp ground coriander

½ -1 tsp smoked paprika

½ tbs soy sauce

1 tin young green jackfruit

A few tbs BBQ sauce

Instructions

Start by chopping half an onion and frying it in some sesame oil over a low-medium heat.

After a few minutes, add the garlic and chilli.

While that’s cooking, drain and start prepping the jackfruit. My top tip is to gently wring out as much water as you can using a tea towel or some kitchen roll so that the chunks are super firm. This gives them a lot more bite when they’re cooked.

To the pan, add all the spices and let cook for a minute or so. Then add the soy sauce and mix.

Add the jackfruit and the BBQ sauce and leave to cook for a few minutes until the jackfruit is softened and the BBQ sauce is slightly thickened. Lightly mash/pull the jackfruit while it’s cooking until you reach your desired consistency.

Serve in with soft tacos, with shredded red cabbage, spring onions, fresh coriander, a drizzle of sriracha mayo, a squeeze of fresh lime juice and a garnish of fresh chilli and spring onion

Cauliflower wings

By @tishasveggieeats

Picture: Instagram.

Coated in a crispy batter, these little golden nuggets are the perfect pub grub to indulge in on movie nights, game day or anytime the craving for something scrumptious hits. Paired it with a creamy dip, a side of carrot sticks and celery and you have a grazing platter to get the night started.

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower⁠

⅔ cup almond flour

1 tsp smoked paprika⁠

½ tsp chili powder⁠

2 tsp garlic powder⁠

Dash of cayenne, sea salt and pepper⁠

¾ cup almond milk ⁠

Buffalo Sauce⁠

3 tbs tomato sauce

1 ½ tbs sriracha (or any hot sauce)⁠

1 tbs vegan butter, melted ⁠

Dash of garlic powder and sea salt⁠

Yogurt Dip

3 tbsp plain yoghurt

½ small lemon, juiced⁠

Dash of garlic powder, sea salt and pepper⁠

Dash of buffalo sauce⁠

Chopped dill⁠

Instructions

Cut your cauliflower in half and remove the florets. Set aside.⁠

In a mixing bowl, add in all the ingredients & mix evenly.⁠

Then add in your cauliflower and evenly coat.⁠

Add to a baking sheet (shaking off excess batter). Spread cauliflower evenly. Air fry in at 220°C for 15 mins (or bake in oven at 230°C for 15-18 mins.)⁠

Meanwhile, prep you buffalo sauce by mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl.⁠

Once your cauliflower is ready, heavily brush on the sauce. Air fry in at 220°C for 10-12 minutes (or bake in oven for 12-15 minutes.)⁠

Meanwhile, prep your yogurt dip by mixing all the ingredients together in another bowl.⁠

Serve your wings with your yoghurt dip and add more buffalo sauce if desired.