Saturday, November 26, 2011

Being a veggie HEAD!

Ingredient Substitution Guide

The next time you’re missing an ingredient in a recipe, don’t panic.

The next time you’re missing an ingredient in a recipe, don’t panic. Many recipes are flexible and will still come out delicious when you improvise. Plus, many non-vegetarian recipes can be tweaked to create a new veg version.

Use our chart below as a starting point, and start asking yourself questions such as: What do I really want this dish to taste like? What textures do I like? Why did the recipe developer put all of these ingredients in here, anyway? Here are some general guidelines about making substitutions in recipes:

Try to keep ingredients within the same ethnic category. Ethnic flavor combinations have been developed over centuries and blend together naturally. If you are making over a Mexican dish without meat, use traditional Mexican proteins and starches such as pinto beans, black beans, and posole (hominy), not Asian mung beans or Indian lentils.

Dissect the basic flavors of the dish. If you’re missing a certain flavoring, ask yourself if it is basically sweet, salty, sour, bitter, or spicy? Think of something from your cupboard in the same category.

Substituting starches and proteins makes less of a difference in overall taste than spices and flavorings.

Try the pantry approach to cooking: If you find yourself continually missing key ingredients, analyze your pantry and consider restocking it.

Assemble complementary herbs, spices and flavoring in groupings in your pantry. That way, when you are experimenting with a dish—Italian, for example—your Italian seasonings such as basil, parsley, garlic, and oregano will be grouped together, and you can substitute accordingly.

Keep staples such as flours, oils, beans, and grains on hand so you don’t have to run out to the store at the last minute.

Ingredient Substitute
Meat Beans, cheese, seitan (wheat meat), tempeh (cultured soybeans), textured vegetable protein (TVP), tofu
Meat/seafood stocks Vegetable stock, water in which beans, pasta, or vegetables have been cooked, vegetable bouillon cubes, miso (fermented soybean paste) diluted with water
Seasoned or smoked meats Flavored soy meat substitutes, crumbled tofu seasoned with fennel, parsley, and garlic, canned chipotle chiles, roasted vegetables, toasted nuts, smoked tofu, smoked cheeses
Gelatin  Agar-agar (powder or flakes), arrowroot (powder), guar gum (made from seeds), xanthan gum (made from corn), kudzu powder
Ingredient Substitute
Buttermilk Clabbered soymilk (1 cup soymilk mixed with 2 tsp. lemon juice or white vinegar)
Soy- and nut-based cheeses
Cheese or ricotta cheese Crumbled tofu
Eggs Ener-G Egg Replacer, 1 mashed banana or 1/4 cup applesauce per egg (best for baked goods); 1 Tbs. agar flakes whisked into 1 Tbs. water and chilled for 5 minutes (for an egg white substitute), 1 Tbs. ground flaxseeds simmered in 3 Tbs. boiling water for 2 minutes
Mayonnaise Soy-based mayonnaise
Milk Nut milk, rice milk, soymilk
Ingredient Substitute
Creamy soups and sauces Nonfat strained yogurt, soymilk, puréed roasted vegetables, cooking rice in soup then puréeing it
Oil in baked goods Applesauce, puréed bananas, puréed cooked prunes
Oil for sautéing Vegetable stock, wine, vinegar
Salad dressing Vinegar or citrus juice thickened with puréed roasted red peppers, carrots, onions, or garlic
Sour cream Strained nonfat yogurt
White sauce Puréed white beans
Ingredient Substitute
Butter Clarified butter (milk solids have been removed), olive oil, sesame oil
Chocolate Carob
Cows’ milk Goats’ milk, soymilk, rice milk, nut milk
Cows’ milk cheese Goat cheese, sheep cheese, soy cheese, nut cheese
Eggs Ener-G Egg Replacer, 1 mashed banana or 1/4 cup applesauce per egg (best for baked goods); 1 Tbs. agar flakes whisked into 1 Tbs. water and chilled for 5 minutes (for an egg white substitute), 1 Tbs. ground flaxseeds simmered in 3 Tbs. boiling water for 2 minutes
Peanuts Almonds
Wheat flour (for baking) Flours made from barley, buckwheat, corn, kamut, oats, rice, rye, spelt
Wheat pasta Pasta made from corn, spelt, kamut, quinoa, rice
Origin Ingredient Substitute
Americas Cactus pads (nopales) Green beans, okra

Chayote squash  Yellow or green pattypan squash or zucchini

Poblano or Anaheim chiles  Minced jalapeño chiles and green bell pepper

Posole (dried hominy)  Canned white hominy
Asian Bok choy (Chinese white cabbage) Beet greens, kale, Swiss chard
Chinese cooking wine Dry sherry
Chinese five-spice powder Mixture of anise seed or star anise, fennel seed, cinnamon, black peppercorns, and cloves
Galangal (Thai ginger) Fresh ginger
Lemongrass Lemon zest
Lotus root Jicama or water chestnuts
Mirin (Japanese rice wine) Sweet white wine
Nam pla (Thai fish sauce) Soy sauce and lime juice
Rice wine vinegar Cider vinegar, white wine vinegar
Sesame oil 1 Tbs. sesame seeds fried in 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Thai basil Italian basil
Water chestnuts Jicama
Indian Atta (chapati flour) 1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour plus 1/2 cup sifted whole-wheat flour
Chana dal Split yellow peas
Curry powder Mixture of ground ginger, cumin, coriander, fenugreek, turmeric and fennel
Garam masala Mixture of 1 tsp. cardamom seeds, 1 Tbs. cumin seed, 1 Tbs. coriander seed, 2 tsp. black peppercorns, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. cloves, and 1 tsp. nutmeg
Jaggery (coarse palm sugar) Date sugar or brown sugar
Toor dal, urad dal, mung dal Red lentils
Mediterranean Broccoli rabe Broccoli plus arugula or dandelion greens
Cannellini beans Great Northern beans, navy beans, red kidney beans
Fava beans Lima beans or butter beans
Fennel Celery plus some fennel or anise seeds
Parmesan cheese Any hard, aged grating cheese such as Asiago, Romano or aged Monterey Jack
Pine nuts Walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and almonds
Ingredient Substitute
Red wine Pomegranate juice or 1/2 cup water with 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
White wine Vegetable stock, apple juice, carrot juice
Wine or beer Non-alcoholic wine or beer


By Vicki McIver on Jul 08, 2007:
What is tempeh and where do you buy it?
By Anonymous on Jul 12, 2007:
Hi Vicki,

Thanks for writing! Tempeh is made from soybeans that are pressed into thin rectangular cakes and fermented. You can also find tempeh made with grains and/or veggies in addition to soybeans. By itself, it has a mild nutty flavor, but like tofu, it absorbs flavors well.

Tempeh is usually found near tofu in refrigerated sections. You can definitely find it at natural foods stores, but I've also seen it at many supermarket chains. Lightlife is a common brand (

To prepare tempeh, it's best to steam or simmer it in a marinade, broth, or sauce for at least 15 minutes. This will soften it a bit and make it even more flavorful. Hope you give it a try!

What do you recommend for vegetarians if they can't take soy-based protein or foods with high concentrations of potassium? Appreciate any help.
By shelly kataria on Aug 02, 2011:
I am running low on olive oil .What can I substitute this with in pasta salad ?
By lorena on Oct 28, 2011:
im allergic to soy and im trying to go vegetarian how can i substitute that? and im also trying to do this with out breacking the bank! why is so expensive to buy in places like whole foods or the fresh market? any advices??
By Susan on Nov 18, 2011:
I am making the Cornucopia Compote recipe (Nov 1, 2004 issue) with acorn squash. From the picture, the squash appears to be yellow, as if it were pealed but nothing is mentioned about this; since acorn squash are green am I missing a step? Thx for any help.
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