European plant-based dieters — have you heard the news? Mic just crowned Ghent, a city in Belgium, the “veggie capital” of Europe!
Known for its chocolate, beer, and, to be frank, its beef, outsiders looking for a plant-based meal may have overlooked Belgium in the past, not realizing that Ghent is now a bonafide mecca for vegan diners. A lot of this can be attributed to a local tradition called Donderdag Veggiedag, which translates to Thursday Veggie Day. Essentially, on Thursdays, over 90 restaurants, 20 hotels, and 50 percent of Ghent’s population go vegetarian. Pretty cool, right?
Luckily, now we all know that Belgium has our backs when it comes to delicious plant-based fare — but we here at One Green Planet aren’t satisfied just knowing that we can get great vegan food, should we ever find ourselves gamboling around Ghent (especially on a Thursday). We want to know how to take classic Belgian foods and make them vegan at home. Right here. Right now.
As always, we’re overjoyed to have an abundance of plant-based recipes at our fingertips, courtesy of the Food Monster App. We did a little researching to see what foods and ingredients are typically associated with Belgium, and then dug up some of our favorite recipes to show you how to make classic Belgian eats totally plant-based. Now you’ll be prepared and familiar with the local cuisine when you visit the veg-friendly city of Ghent! Dig in below:
DId you know that fries as we know them — you know, deep-fried potato sticks and wedges — are said to have originated in Belgium? That’s right — the whole “French fry” phrase actually came from United States soldiers’ erroneous belief that they were being served fries while in France during the first World War.
Check out How to Make Perfectly Crispy French Fries Without Frying in Oil, and then once you’ve mastered that, go ahead and branch out. You can use chickpeas to make Chickpea Fries, test out this recipe for some super herbaceous Paprika and Oregano Polenta Fries, or even change up the length and width and make these Baked Shoestring Fries With Garlic and Thyme. Make sure to wrap them up in a cone to eat them like a true Belgian would.
Belgium loves its frites, and it loves its sauces to dip them in. Don’t we all? From curry ketchup to mayonnaise, Belgians enjoy a variety of condiments with their potatoes. If you’re wondering How to Take Condiments From Ordinary to Extraordinary, you’ve come to the right place!
We know, we know: moules, aka mussels, aren’t exactly the plant-based eater’s snack of choice. However, a classic Belgian dish is moules-frites, or mussels with fries. If you’re curious what a plant-based “mussel” tastes like, try out this recipe for Seaweed and Seitan “Mussels” in a Zesty Marinade.
Ah, the Belgian endive — did you know citizens of Belgium actually refer to these pale green chicory leaves as “white gold”?
Crisp and bitter while raw, endives transform into a mellow, sweet delight after being cooked (you can braise them, roast them, steam them, or grill them), and are highly treasured by Belgians. If you want to learn more about working with endives, check out How to Make Endives Delicious.
We love endives raw in Belgian Pear and Endive Salad, and seared in this recipe for Pan-Seared Belgian Endives With White Wine, pictured above. The endives become tender and take on a light and nutty flavor. They also become mildly sweet, something that gets further amplified with a delicious white wine orange reduction. Finally, try them out in this warm and delicious Belgian Endive Soup.
Belgian beer and chocolate may be the most popular treats in Belgium (and come on, who doesn’t love a nice, vegan German Chocolate Cake?) but tartines, which are also referred to as “boterhammen”, are served any time of the day (most notably during breakfast and lunch) and rank highly with Belgians themselves.
So what’s a tartine? Essentially, you’re looking at a slice of bread that is liberally dressed with your fresh topping of choice — whether that be asparagus and vegan hollandaise sauce, like in the recipe pictured above for Asparagus Tofu Tartines With Light Hollandaise Sauce, or fresh tomatoes, like in this recipe for Heirloom Tomato Tartines.
From their beloved stoemp, which are creamy mashed potatoes made even more flavorful with the addition of leeks and carrots, to Waterzooi, a traditionally fish-based stew flavored with leeks, carrots, potatoes, and more, people in Belgium absolutely adore leeks and potatoes.
This Potato Leek Quiche, pictured above, is egg-free, gluten-free, grain-free, and oil-free! The filling is made by combining shredded potatoes, carrots, and leeks and then covering it with a creamy, cheesy sauce made from chickpea flour before baking in the oven. Light and fluffy, it’s great for that Sunday morning breakfast or for special occasions. This Creamy Potato Leek Soup, on the other hand, is warm, comforting, and filled with hearty potato carbohydrates for long-lasting energy. In addition to garlic cloves, the leeks add a nice, subtle flavor that is similar to an onion. Enjoy this dish with a piece of crusty bread.
In Belgium, there are actually two popular styles of waffles: the Brussels waffle, which is light, crisp, and comes with large pockets, and the Liège waffle, which is a super dense, rich, and chewy, sweet waffle.
When Americans talk about Belgian waffles, they’re referring to a simplified version of the Brussels waffle: big, crispy, and either soda-leavened or yeast-raised. In America, when we say we want a Belgian waffle, what we mean is that we want an indulgent, big pile of carbs, with pockets that can cradle whatever toppings we desire.
‘Tis the season for pumpkin, so we’re crushing on these Pumpkin Spice Snickerdoodle Waffles, pictured above. However, we’d also never turn our nose up to these Fudgy Brownie Waffles when we’re in the mood for chocolate, or these vegan Carrot Cake Waffles With Cream Cheese Frosting when we’re just going all out.
We also highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: dinozzaver/Shutterstock