Vegetarian meals are becoming more and more popular, even for those who are regular meat-eaters. Because while animal protein can be healthy in and of itself, there’s something to be said for going meat-free and leaving more room for vegetables on your plate. Now that more and more home cooks are learning how to cook vegetarian the delicious way, there’s nothing to fear about going meat-free for a day. If you’re interesting in learning how to make more vegetarian dinners at home, here’s a list of the six best that will get you started. Vegetarian dinners are not only delicious and nutritious, they’re also typically inexpensive, too.
1. Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
Starting out on a strong foot, we’re kicking things off with Thai pineapple fried rice from Cookie and Kate. This vegetarian spin on typical take-out food proves that you can healthify some of your favorite dinners by eliminating the meat and adding in the vegetables. Making fried rice at home also lets you control how much oil goes into the dish, and this way, you can feel good about your look-alike take-out food. The recipe serves two to four.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil or quality vegetable oil, divided
- 2 eggs, beaten with a dash of salt
- 1½ cups chopped fresh pineapple
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced (about ¾ cup diced)
- ½ bunch green onions, green and white parts, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ½ cup chopped raw, unsalted cashews
- 2 cups cooked and chilled brown rice, preferably long-grain brown jasmine rice
- 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- 1 to 2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce or sriracha
- 1 small lime, halved
- Season with salt, to taste
- Handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped, for garnishing
Check out the recipe directions at Cookie & Kate.
2. Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables
Next is baked penne with roasted vegetables from Cooking Channel TV. Many people like their pasta paired with meatballs, but this recipe proves you can enjoy a dinner full of carbs and eat healthy, too, by calling vegetables into the mix instead. Zucchini, red peppers, squash, and mushrooms all go into this baked pasta, along with peas and two types of cheese. You’ll bake your pasta for about 25 minutes until you can dip into the warm bed of carbs that is packed with flavor thanks to veggies and cheese that you won’t even miss the meat.
- 2 red peppers, cored and cut into 1-inch wide strips
- 2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 4 cremini mushrooms, halved
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced into 1-inch strips
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian herb mix or herbs de Provence
- 1 pound penne pasta
- 3 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade)
- 1 cup grated fontina cheese
- ½ cup grated smoked mozzarella
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas, thawed
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus 1/3 cup for topping
- 2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Check out the recipe directions at Cooking Channel TV.
3. Loaded Vegetarian Baked Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are gaining in popularity, but what many consumers don’t realize is that they can also enjoy the healthy carbs for a main meal, rather than a side dish. You can easily take your sweet potatoes up a notch by giving them a Southwestern spin and loading them with black beans, peppers, Greek yogurt, taco seasoning, and cheese. This recipe for loaded vegetarian sweet potatoes from Skinny Taste will show you how it’s done. The food formula feeds four and each serving clocks in at only 307 calories. Enjoy this vegetarian meal for dinner and you’ll learn to love sweet potatoes even more.
- 4 medium sized sweet potatoes
- ½ cup fat free Greek yogurt (or light sour cream)
- 1 teaspoon taco seasoning
- 1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ red onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- A pinch of salt
- 1-1/3 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- ½ cup mild or spicy salsa
- ½ cup reduced fat Mexican cheese blend
- ¼ cup chopped scallions or cilantro
Check out the recipe directions at Skinny Taste.
4. Black Bean Quesadillas
Chicken quesadillas are a favorite for many, but you can easily swap out the meat and swap in the beans next time you’re craving carbs and want to keep things healthier. These black bean quesadillas from Eating Well require only a handful of ingredients and take 15 minutes to prepare. Cheesy carbs might not seem like the most nutritious thing to eat for dinner, but when your quesadillas are made with whole wheat tortillas, black beans, cheese, salsa, and avocado, they pack a punch with fiber and protein, and also boast an impressive amount of healthy fats.
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed
- ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, preferably pepper Jack
- ½ cup prepared fresh salsa, divided
- 4 8-inch whole-wheat tortillas
- 2 teaspoons canola oil, divided
- 1 ripe avocado, diced
Check out the recipe directions at Eating Well.
5. Black Bean Burger
Speaking of black beans, the superfood also stars in this black bean burger recipe from Cooking Light. Burgers can get a bad rap, but there’s nothing to feel guilty about when you’re indulging in a patty prepared from beans, garlic, eggs, and bread crumbs. One burger yields only 182 calories, and you can serve it with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, and any cheese that you wish. Whether you make your burgers in a skillet, oven, or on the grill, you can easily perfect this vegetarian meal that many think only restaurant chefs can master.
- 1 (2-ounce) hamburger bun, torn into pieces
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 1 (15.25-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon grated lime rind
- ¾ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
Check out the recipe directions at Cooking Light.
6. Vegetable Teriyaki Stir-Fry
If you have 30 minutes to spare, you can make this last vegetarian dinner recipe from Hummusapien. It yields a vegetable teriyaki stir-fry that will forever change your mind on how delicious meat-free food can taste. The stir-fry is made up of carrots, peppers, broccoli, sugar snap peas, brown rice, cashews, and edamame, and the nutrient-packed dish is all dressed with a homemade sauce. When your dinner consists of veggies, whole grain rice, olive oil, nuts, and chia seeds, you’re talking about a meal that brings on the flavor along with protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 2 heaping cups shredded carrots
- 1 cup sliced bell pepper
- 1 large head broccoli, chopped into florets
- 1½ cups sugar snap peas
- 2 cups cooked brown rice or quinoa
- ¾ cup roasted salted cashews
- 1 cup edamame
- Sliced green onions, optional for garnish
For the sauce:
- 1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks in pineapple juice, not drained
- ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sweetener of choice
- 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 2 teaspoons sriracha
Check out the recipe directions at Hummusapien.