Casseroles are easy weeknight meals that you can make in the oven or crockpot. They serve a crowd and can appeal to everyone’s taste buds, whether you are a vegetarian, like meat, cheese, beans, or all of the above. Vegetarian-friendly casseroles are especially great to serve in the summer when you have carnivores and vegetarians coming over for an al fresco dinner, as they’re delicious enough to appeal to both kinds of eaters, and they will keep you from making two separate meals. Fortunately, there are a wealth of recipes to choose from, and we’re highlighting five of them today. Check out these tasty and healthy vegetarian casseroles that we find especially appetizing, and get to work on your meal that will feed a crowd, or make lots of leftovers.
1. Broccoli and Wild Mushroom Casserole
First up is a recipe from Food & Wine for those who like their mushrooms. This food formula for a broccoli and wild mushroom casserole is devoid of meat but full of flavor thanks to the cheese and vegetables on its ingredients list. There is no canned mushroom soup required for this casserole, but there are Ritz crackers, so count on a buttery topping coming out of your oven. This casserole feeds 12 and makes great vegetarian comfort food.
- ¾ pound mixed wild mushrooms, such as cremini and shiitake, stemmed and quartered
- 1 stick unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted
- 1 large onion, minced
- 4 large celery ribs, finely diced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup low-sodium broth [Editor’s note, 7/11/2016: The original recipe calls for chicken stock, but feel free to use any low-sodium broth as a replacement.]
- ¼ cup milk
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 2½ pounds broccoli, heads cut into 1-inch florets, stems peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
- 1½ cups coarsely shredded sharp cheddar cheese (6 ounces)
- 1 1/3 cups crumbled Ritz crackers (from 1 sleeve, about 35 crackers)
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In a food processor, pulse the mushrooms until coarsely chopped. In a large saucepan, melt the stick of butter. Add the onion and celery and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until their liquid evaporates and they begin to brown, about 6 minutes. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the broth and cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the pan, until the mixture is very thick, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the milk. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large bowl to let cool, then stir in the mayonnaise.
Arrange the broccoli florets and stems in a large steamer basket and steam until barely crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Add the broccoli to the mushroom mixture and season with salt and pepper.
Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Pour in the broccoli-mushroom mixture, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle the cheese on top. In a small bowl, toss the cracker crumbs with the melted butter and scatter them over the casserole. Cover with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, until bubbling. Remove the foil and bake for about 40 minutes longer, until the topping is golden and crisp. Serve warm or at room temperature.
2. Healthy Mexican Casserole
If you care for Mexican, you’re going to love this healthy Mexican casserole from Pinch of Yum. It’s packed with roasted corn and peppers, and the lack of meat makes more room for the additional beans and cheese. A Mexican lunch or dinner can sometimes put you in a food coma, but this one is the healthy kind and one serving yields fewer than 250 calories. Load on the guacamole, serve your casserole warm, and top with the garnishes of your liking.
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 green bell peppers
- 1 jalapeno or 2 chipotle peppers
- ½ red onion
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoon cumin
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups Mexican cheese
- 18 to 20 corn tortillas
- 1 can refried beans
- 2 cups red enchilada sauce
- Cilantro, guacamole, or sour cream for topping
Directions: Pan-roast the veggies: Dice the peppers and mince the onions. Heat a large nonstick skillet with a little bit of oil over high heat. Add the onion and peppers, sprinkle with chili and cumin, and stir, rest, stir, rest until you get a nice browning on the outside of the peppers. Remove and set aside. Repeat the roasting process with the corn, sprinkling with chili and cumin, removing from the heat when browned and roasted on the outside. Sprinkle the roasted veggies with a little bit of salt and toss to coat.
Prep the ingredients: Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the tortillas into thin strips. Put the refried beans in a bowl and mix with a little bit of water to make them easier to spread.
Assemble: Spread a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer starting with half of the tortilla strips, all the beans, half of the veggies, half of the sauce, half of the cheese. Cover with the other half of the tortilla strips, veggies, sauce, and cheese.
Bake: Cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Serve with guacamole, fresh cilantro, and sour cream.
3. Roasted Vegetable and Pasta Casserole
This next vegetarian-friendly casserole comes from Betty Crocker and it helps you get your healthy dose of carbs and veggies. The roasted vegetable and pasta casserole will take 45 minutes of prep time and most of that is spent chopping vegetables, preparing your sauce, and then stirring in the pasta. Two kinds of cheese are enlisted in the casserole, along with peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and penne. Shh: a shortcut, pre-made white sauce tops everything off.
- 3 cups uncooked penne pasta (9 oz)
- 2 medium red, green or yellow bell peppers, each cut into 12 pieces
- 1 cup fresh mushrooms, cut in half
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces (2 cups)
- 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 package (1.8 oz) white sauce mix
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup shredded Havarti cheese (4 oz)
- 1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (4 oz)
Directions: Heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray 8-inch square (2-quart) baking dish with cooking spray. Cook and drain pasta as directed on package.
Meanwhile, in large bowl, toss bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, oil, Italian seasoning and salt to coat. Spoon into ungreased 15-by-10-by-1-inch pan. Bake uncovered about 20 minutes or until crisp-tender. Cool slightly. Coarsely chop vegetables.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. In 4-quart saucepan, mix sauce mix and milk. Heat to boiling over medium heat, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in cheeses until melted. Stir in pasta until well coated.
Spoon half of pasta mixture into baking dish. Reserve about ½ cup of the vegetables. Spoon remaining vegetables evenly over pasta. Top with remaining pasta. Sprinkle with reserved vegetables.
Cover with foil; bake 30 minutes. Uncover; bake 10 to 15 minutes longer or until bubbly.
4. Pizza Quinoa Casserole
If you like pizza, this healthy spin on the pie from Food Doodles is for you. The recipe yields a pizza quinoa casserole that takes only 10 minutes to prep and it’s both kid- and vegetarian-friendly. If you are craving pizza but want to eat healthy, try the casserole that packs in the fiber and protein from quinoa, cheese, nutritional yeast, and tomatoes. The food formula serves four, takes an hour to make start to finish, and is a fun dinner you can serve to you and your family without guilt.
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa cooked in 2 cups water or about 3½ cups cooked quinoa
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- 3 to 4 large cloves garlic, finely minced, grated or pressed
- ½ small onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 tablespoons dried parsley
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon sea salt
- dash black pepper
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional)
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, to top (optional)
Directions: Rinse quinoa well and combine with water in a small pot over high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and turn down to low and simmer for 15 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed, the quinoa is tender and completely cooked. Remove from the heat and leave covered in the pot for 5 minutes while assembling other ingredients.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease dish.
In a small bowl, combine the tomato paste with the garlic and onion, water and olive oil. Mix well. Add all the seasonings including the nutritional yeast if using. Mix well again before adding the quinoa. Once the mixture is completely mixed, taste for seasonings and add more salt as needed. Then divide evenly among the dishes for baking, sprinkle with cheese if desired and place in the oven.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes until the cheese is golden and bubbly or until the quinoa on top is golden and crispy. If desired, sprinkle with more nutritional yeast and fresh basil or parsley and serve.
5. Vegetarian Quinoa and Squash Casserole
Our last casserole also stars quinoa. This vegetarian quinoa and squash casserole from Eating Well is all about the superfoods, as it boasts an ingredients list that includes squash, quinoa, chickpeas, spinach, raisins, and a handful of spices. The meal is as flavorful as it is colorful and it takes 30 minutes of your active time to make. It’s low in calories and high in deliciousness and proves that eating healthy doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be as easy as going back for serving after serving of this fiber-packed casserole.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 ½ teaspoons ground cumin, divided
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups frozen chopped spinach
- 1 cup quinoa or whole-wheat couscous
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 1 cup water
- ½ teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 (10- to 12-ounce) boxes frozen pureed squash, thawed
- 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and browned, 9 to 11 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, 2 teaspoons cumin, coriander, cayenne, and allspice and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, spinach, quinoa (or couscous), raisins, water and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
If thawed squash is watery, place in a fine-mesh sieve and gently press to extract excess liquid. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, ½ teaspoon cumin and ¼ teaspoon salt. Spread the squash evenly over the chickpea mixture.
Cover the pan and bake until steaming hot, about 45 minutes for quinoa. Let cool for 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.