there are many wonderful recipes for non-casserole-y veggie main dishes
that really *need* to have side dishes to be appealing. halved baked
stuffed squashes... stuffed peppers... grilled or roasted veggies...
m**t loaves.... there's a very nice little book on seitan (a white
paperback, can't recall the title right now, but it's something
obvious--*quick and easy seitan* or some such) that's chock-full of
m**t-like main dishes that you'd garnish just as you would a normal m**t
meal. while you might (or might not! i certainly don't worry much
about it) ultimately want to get away from the m**t mentality of m**t
substitutes, they're absolutely wonderful for the transition period that
you and your dh are in. for delicious recipes that don't rely on
substitutes (although they are ovo-lacto and not VLF--but she indicates
easy ways to convert most of them to VLF/vegan), deborah madison's
cookbooks (the green's cookbook, the savory way, and everyday vegetarian
cooking) are just splendid and have many suggestions for beautifully
i think the key is not to focus on having different food groups on your
plate (that m**t mentality is, after all, a holdover from the 4 basic
food groups), but on how the dishes interact. a stuffed acorn squash
half can have all the whole, simple presence of m**t and play the most
important role, with a sautee of mushrooms and bell peppers and a leafy
salad to round out the plate. it's not so much what's on the plate as
how they interrelate.
hope this helps some!