If your regular meatless Monday could use an exotic infusion, look no further than these Japanese-inspired dishes, sure to add some pizzazz to your weekly routine. While the Tokyo Olympics may be delayed, we can still pay homage to the culture and be ready for 2021 by changing up our menus. These vegetarian recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner are easy, healthful twists on traditional Japanese recipes and ingredients to add flavor — and fun — to your meatless meals on Monday or any other day.
Matcha is a marvelous, health-boosting ingredient occasionally used to cook grains — in sweet and savory styles. If you like its astringent taste and are trying to reduce your sugar intake, omit the maple syrup.
Coconut Matcha Green Tea Oats
- 1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
- 2 tea bags matcha green tea, or regular green tea
- 1 teaspoon matcha powder (see instructions if you don’t have the powder)
- 1 1/2 cups (135g) rolled oats
- 1/4 cup (200g) coconut sugar or raw sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon coconut oil
- Pinch of cinnamon
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1/4 cup (70g) unsweetened shredded coconut flakes or shavings (optional)
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
- Coconut flakes
- Sliced bananas
Warm the coconut milk in a small saucepan on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat and place tea bags in the milk. Let steep for 3–5 minutes. Then remove and discard the teabags and whisk in the matcha powder using a small whisk. (If you don’t have matcha powder, just use the matcha tea bags.)
Next, cook the oats plus 2 cups of water over medium heat until plump and tender; this should yield a thicker oat mixture. When the oats are cooked halfway. Pour 2/3 cup of the green tea latte into the pan, Reserve 1/3 cup for pouring on top once cooked. Oats are finished cooking when they are creamy but still thick.
Once cooked, remove from heat and stir in coconut sugar, a dash of salt, cinnamon and coconut oil.
Top with remaining tea latte plus optional toppings, if using, and serve.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 1 cup
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 235; Total Fat: 7g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Monounsaturated Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 69mg; Carbohydrate: 42g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 21g; Protein: 4g
It’s difficult to find fresh leafy salads in Japan, but it’s very easy to find wilted spinach and sesame salad, which are practically staples of the Japanese diet. This easy dish is a lovely accompaniment to rice or your favorite protein and a delicious way to enjoy your greens.
Easy Spinach + Sesame Salad
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 2 pounds (900g) frozen whole-leaf spinach, divided
- 1/4 cup (142g) sesame seeds untoasted
- 1/4 cup (32g) nutritional yeast
- 1/4 cup (60ml) low-sodium soy sauce, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or tamari
- 1/4 cup (60ml) unseasoned rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil; season generously with salt. Stir in half of the frozen spinach and cook, stirring, until warmed through, about 30 seconds. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer spinach to a rimmed baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Return water to a boil, then repeat the process with the remaining spinach. Chill spinach at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, toast sesame seeds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat, shaking the skillet occasionally, until seeds are slightly darkened in color and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Transfer seeds to a plate and let cool slightly. Pour into a resealable plastic bag and seal pressing out air. Using a rolling pin or wine bottle, crush seeds until mostly mashed but with some whole seeds remain; transfer to a large bowl. Add soy sauce, vinegar and mirin, whisking to combine.
Working over the sink, grab one small handful of spinach at a time and squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands, then transfer to a bowl with dressing. Once all spinach has been added to the bowl, toss with your hands, taking care to break up any clumps so all spinach is well-coated. Serve with the protein of your choice for a complete meal.
Serves: 10 | Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 57; Total Fat: 2g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Monounsaturated Fat: 1g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 416mg; Carbohydrate: 4g; Dietary Fiber: 4g; Sugar: 2g; Protein: 4g
A common and much-loved dinner option in Japan is a grounding bowl of ramen. Most recipes use a meat-based broth, but this recipe uses miso paste and red pepper powder to spice it up. Add eggs or tofu to this recipe if you like. You could also substitute a favorite vegetable or bone broth for the water in making the stock.
So Simple Vegetarian Ramen
- 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon gochugaru (coarse Korean red pepper powder) or 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon white miso paste
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 4 scallions
- 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
- 8 ounces (75g) fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
- 12 ounces (340g) fresh spinach or baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
- 2 5-ounce (150g) packages dried soba noodles
- 1 kabocha squash, roasted, or a 14.5-ounce (250g) can of pumpkin puree
- Jammy eggs
- Toasted nori sheets
- 2 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds
- Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
Cook garlic and 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium pot over medium heat, stirring often, until garlic begins to turn golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in sesame seeds and cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and stir in gochugaru; season with salt. Set garlic oil aside. Wipe out the pot and set aside.
Trim dark green parts from scallions and thinly slice; set aside for serving. Coarsely chop white and pale green parts. Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in the reserved pot over medium-high. Cook chopped scallions and ginger, stirring often, until scallions are charred in spots, about 4 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and sauté until browned and soft, roughly 3–4 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve the miso paste in 5 cups of water, then add to the pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for flavors to meld, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spinach or bok choy and cook until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer greens to a plate. Return water to a boil and cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and divide among bowls.
To serve, ladle broth over noodles, then top with spinach or bok choy and reserved garlic oil. Top with eggs, nori, 1/2 tablespoon of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos and cilantro, if desired.
Serves: 4 | Serving Size: 2 cups
Nutrition (per serving): Calories: 401; Total Fat: 16g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Monounsaturated Fat: 9g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 765mg; Carbohydrate: 53g; Dietary Fiber: 8g; Sugar: 7g; Protein: 13g