The veggie vibe: Unlocking the flavorful power of plants

Let’s talk about veggies. Before you roll your eyes and skip to another section, give me a chance to show you just how incredible, healthy and downright delicious vegetarian recipes can be. Forget the old myths about bland, boring or unsatisfying plant-based meals. I promise these dishes will make you reconsider everything you thought you knew about vegetarian cuisine.

Take corn chowder, for instance. Imagine a bowl brimming with sweet, golden kernels of corn nestled in a creamy, savory broth that’s lightly spiced and perfectly comforting. Each spoonful is a journey through layers of flavors, from the sweetness of the corn to the subtle heat from a touch of paprika, all brought together by the rich, velvety texture.

Then we have tofu cabbage stir fry. Picture tender chunks of tofu, crisp cabbage and vibrant veggies sizzling in a wok, all tossed in a savory-sweet sauce with just the right amount of garlic and spice. The tofu soaks up all those delicious flavors, while the cabbage adds a satisfying crunch that makes every bite exciting.

And don’t even get me started on lentil smashburger tacos. Yes, you heard that right — tacos. Think hearty lentils mashed to perfection, spiced up with a blend of savory spices and then piled high on a crispy tortilla. Top it off with your favorite fresh toppings, and you’ve got a meal that’s as filling as it is delicious.

So, whether you’re a lifelong vegetarian or veggie-curious, join me each week as we explore the vibrant, flavorful world of plant-based cooking. Your taste buds — and your health — will thank you.

• My Bizzy Kitchen runs once a month in Food. Follow Biz Velatini on her blog at, on Instagram at and Facebook at

Lentil smashburger tacos are nothing short of astonishingly good. Courtesy of Biz Velatini

Lentil Smashburger Tacos

2 cups lentils (I used 1 can of canned lentils)

½ cup bell pepper (I used yellow)

5 large mushrooms

½ cup quick oats

2 tablespoons ketchup (I used zero sugar)

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon beef bouillon (optional, but I think it adds a bit of beef flavor — leave out if you want to keep the recipe vegan/vegetarian)

8 corn tortillas

Toppings of choice (cheese, lettuce, pickles, tomato, Thousand Island dressing)

Chop the peppers and mushrooms (and onion if using) and saute for 5 minutes. Let cool.

Blend oats in a blender to make a flour. Add veggie mix and lentils to flour with ketchup and seasonings. Mix until combined.

Divide mixture into 8 servings.

Heat skillet with avocado oil spray over medium heat. Spread the lentil mixture portion on a tortilla, and place the burger side down and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Flip and add cheese (optional), and place a lid on the pan for the cheese to melt.

Now top as you would your favorite burger with Thousand Island dressing, pickles, red onion, lettuce.

Makes 8 tacos

— Biz Velatini

Tofu Cabbage Stir Fry is a quick lunch or dinner for one. Courtesy of Biz Velatini

Tofu Cabbage Stir Fry

2 ounces lo mein noodles (dry) cooked and set aside

3 ounces extra firm tofu, cut into bite-size pieces

Salt and pepper

1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced

½ cup carrots, cut into matchsticks

1 tablespoon stir fry sauce

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon chili crisp

Cook lo mein noodles according to package directions. Mine cook in about 3 minutes. Set aside.

Heat skillet with avocado oil spray. Season tofu with salt and pepper. Pan fry for 3 minutes and remove from skillet.

Add cabbage and carrots to the skillet and saute for 2-3 minutes.

Add in the noodles, tofu, stir fry sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili crisp and cook for 1 minute. Done.

Serves 1

— Biz Velatini

Corn Chowder

8 ears of corn, husks and silk removed

1 tablespoon butter

4 slices bacon (optional if not vegetarian)

½ yellow onion

¼ cup flour

5 cups chicken broth

12 ounces red potatoes

1 cup fat-free half and half

Pickled jalapeños for topping (optional)

Cut all of the corn off the cob and set aside. In another bowl, continue scraping down the sides of the corn cob to get all of the corn milk off.

Melt the butter in a pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. If using bacon, cook the bacon at this point. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. Remove bacon once crisp.

Add the flour to the pot and stir, cooking for 3 minutes. With a whisk, slowly pour in the chicken broth. Bring this to a boil once whisked together.

Add salt and pepper to taste, potatoes and corn kernels. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are fork-tender.

Transfer 2 cups of the chowder to a blender and blend until smooth. Return to the pot and mix.

Stir in the half and half as well as the corn milk and mix to combine.

Top with crispy bacon and pickled jalapeños when ready to serve.

Serves 8

— Biz Velatini

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