A 3-Step Recipe Formula To Make Cooking A Vegetarian Meal A Breeze

Vegetarian and plant-based cooking can be intimidating to someone just starting out, but it doesn't need to be.

This is a simple, practical way to understand recipes. Recognize this pattern in new recipes, or identify the ingredients when you go out for a meal. As your understanding increases, your confidence increases. As your confidence increases, the fun increases!

Begin with a few ingredients you'd like to use and build it from there.

The Basic Recipe Formula:

1. Necessary (Main) Ingredients

2. Accessory Ingredients

3. Sauce

This applies to virtually any recipe. Here are some examples, to illustrate:


  • Main ingredient: lettuce, kale or spinach
  • Accessory ingredients: onions, peppers and tomatoes
  • Sauce: oil and vinegar


  • Main: tofu
  • Accessory: carrots, onion, celery, and garlic
  • Sauce: gravy

Asian Stir Fried Noodles

  • Main: noodles
  • Accessory: broccoli, mushrooms, and bean sprouts
  • Sauce: ginger and tamari


  • Main: taco shells and beans
  • Accessory: cabbage, jalapenos, and cilantro
  • Sauce: salsa


  • Main: eggs
  • Accessory: broccoli, herbs, and cheese
  • Sauce: milk


  • Main: tortilla wraps
  • Accessory: mushrooms, spinach, and eggplant
  • Sauce: hummus


  • Main: bread and cheese
  • Accessory: tomato, avocado, and sprouts
  • Sauce: mayonnaise


  • Main: flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda (dry ingredients)
  • Accessory: nuts, fruit, flavorings, and spices
  • Sauce: eggs, oil, sweeteners, and milk (wet ingredients)

Excerpted with permission from The Vegetarian Chef: Mastering the Art of Recipe-Free Cooking by Susan Crowther. Copyright 2015, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.

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