Where's the Beef?

I've been trying to cook more for my vegetarian husband instead of us always going out, which led me to burn through my intake of salads, veggie pizzas and pasta dishes pretty quickly. And even though I love my roasted vegetable plates, I was even getting tired of eating those as well. I wanted to make and eat dishes I grew up with - meatloaf, tacos, sloppy joes - and not be left with a weeks-worth of leftovers for myself.

I had my "ah-ha" moment or should I say "duh" moment when I made my vegetarian shepherd's pie and realized that I can easily substitute many recipes that call for ground meat with veggie ground crumbles instead. And most of the time, it tasted pretty damn good.

Two of my favorite products for ground crumbles are Yves Veggie Cuisine and Boca. They work really well and with some seasoning can almost pass for the real thing. Some of my favorite dishes that I have cooked with veggie ground crumbles are: tacos, meatloaf, pasta with meat sauce, taco casserole, chili and of course, shepherd's pie. You can find a ton of great ground beef recipes on Food Network and All Recipes.

Another recipe I just recently stumbled upon was for grilled nacho pizzas courtesy of Pillsbury. I modified to be vegetarian-friendly. Give it a try. I definitely am this weekend.

  • 1/2 cup spicy bean dip
  • 2 packages (10 oz each) pre-baked Italian pizza crusts (6 inch)
  • 1 cup of taco-seasoned veggie ground crumbles (can buy taco-flavored veggie meat, or use taco seasoning or salsa to enhance the flavor)
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (8 medium)
  • 2 cups finely shredded Mexican cheese blend (8 oz)

You can use the grill to cook your pizza or your oven. If using oven, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread 2 tablespoons of the bean dip evenly on each pizza crust and spoon and spread ground beef mixture evenly over dip. Sprinkle each with tomato, onions and cheese.If using the grill, place pizzas over medium heat. Cover grill and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until crusts are crisp and toppings are thoroughly heated. If using the oven, place pizzas on backing tray or pizza tray and cook for 15-20 minutes or until crusts are crispy. Serve immediately with sour cream, guacamole or salsa as an extra topping or dipping component.