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3 Mouthwatering meatless meals

As program host of QVC’s popular cooking and dining show "In the Kitchen with David," David Venable offers a diverse and unique viewership experience with features such as product information, cooking demonstrations, on-air guests, celeb...

Three flavorful, meatless recipes from QVC's resident foodie and best-selling cookbook author David Venable.

I'll be the first to admit it: I think bacon is the world's most perfect food. However, meals without meat can be just as tasty and satisfying. Below are some of my favorite vegetarian-approved recipes, all of which are so delicious that meat won't even be missed. Trust me, this meat lover was honestly surprised by how hearty and filling meatless meals could be.

Easy vegetarian pad thai

(Serves 4–6 )

David's insider tip: "Don't let 'tofu' scare you if you're on the fence. In this recipe, it really just gives the sauce a creamier texture. Also, if you don't have or can't find rice noodles, you can substitute linguine!"

Ingredients:

  • 1 (11 ounce) box rice noodles, cooked according to package directions and slightly al dente
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1/2 pound silken tofu
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup sliced scallions
  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 1 red pepper, julienned
  • 1 cup chopped dry roasted salted peanuts, divided
  • 2 cups bean sprouts, divided
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • Additional cilantro leaves (optional garnish)
  • Lime wedges (optional garnish)

Preparation:

  1. Place the vegetable stock, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, sweet chili sauce, brown sugar, chili garlic sauce and tofu in a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic and scallions and saute until the garlic begins to brown. Add the carrots and red pepper and saute until they begin to soften. Stir in the rice noodles and sauce until well combined and bring to a simmer. Let the pad thai simmer, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are cooked through.
  3. Add 1/2 cup of peanuts, 1 cup of bean sprouts and chopped cilantro. Toss together. Serve with the remaining peanuts, bean sprouts, cilantro leaves and lime wedges.

Peaches and cream French toast

(Serves 6)

David’s insider tip: "Use thick slices of an egg-based bread like brioche or challah to make the best French toast. But, be careful not to cut the bread too thick, otherwise it will taste mushy in the middle."

Ingredients:

Sauce:

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen peach slices
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

French toast:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/4 cups milk
  • 8 thick bread slices (like Texas toast)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, for cooking

Preparation:

  1. To prepare the sauce, place the peaches, water, sugar and apricot jam into a 3-quart saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat until most of the liquid has evaporated and the peaches are tender. Add the cream, bring the mixture to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 6 more minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the sauce cool for 10 minutes.
  2. To prepare the French toast, whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and milk in a medium-size mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Soak the bread slices, 2 at a time, in the egg mixture until saturated, about 20 seconds on each side. Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon of butter on a griddle or frying pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat until all the bread slices are cooked.
  4. Meanwhile, place half of the sauce mixture into a blender and process until smooth. Pour the blended mixture back into the saucepan and stir to combine. Serve the sauce on top of the French toast. Garnish with whipped cream and fresh peach slices, if desired.

Garden vegetable mac and cheese

(Serves 4–6)

David's insider tip: "In the dead of winter when you're craving this dish, and the garden of fresh veggies that it calls for, look to your freezer and pantry. Just thaw any frozen vegetables before adding and use 1-2 teaspoons of dried spices. Use canned diced tomatoes, drained of their juices, instead of fresh."

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound dry penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 5 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup medium diced onions
  • 1/2 cup medium diced carrots
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup diced zucchini
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup roasted peppers
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons flour
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup grated dill havarti cheese
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 3 beefsteak tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 10-12 slices)

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a large, oven-safe skillet. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parsley, basil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then, add the melted butter and stir until combined. Set aside.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in the same skillet. Add the garlic, onions and carrots and saute until the onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add the broccoli and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn and peppers and saute for another 2 minutes. Add flour and saute for another minute. Add the milk and heat until nearly simmering and the mixture has thickened, stirring constantly.
  4. Reduce the heat to low and add both cheeses, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir until the cheese has melted, and then remove the pan from the heat. Add the pasta and stir until it's evenly coated with sauce and vegetables. Top the surface of the mac and cheese with the tomato slices. Finish the dish by sprinkling the bread crumb mixture over the tomatoes.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are cooked through and the crumbs are golden.
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