Being a vegetarian — or even a part-time vegetarian — is not only good for you, it’s also good for the environment. Women’s Health notes that limiting the meat you eat reduces your likelihood for heart disease. “Fatty red meats and many processed meats are high in saturated fat, which raises LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases risk of coronary heart disease,” Rachel K. Johnson, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association and professor of nutrition and medicine at the University of Vermont, told Women’s Health.
Consuming less meat also reduces your cancer risk and helps with weight maintenance. Furthermore, vegetarianism helps preserve essential resources; eating a plant-based meal for lunch rather than a burger saves 2.5 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions, 133 gallons of water, and 24 square feet of land, Women’s Health reports.
The benefits don’t end there, either. Vegetarian dishes are delicious and easy to make, especially when you opt for recipes that only require 5 ingredients or fewer. From crispy ricotta cakes to salsa lasagna, these 6 recipes deliver delicious meat-free dishes to your table.
1. Refried Bean Poblanos with Cheese
Craving something spicy for supper? If so, Oxmoor House’s refried bean poblanos with cheese is a must-make! In addition to only requiring 5 ingredients, this recipe, which yields 4 servings, only takes about 10 minutes to prepare. Microwave your chile halves, combine the beans, rice, and picante sauce, and spoon the mixture evenly into the chiles. Microwave for 2 minutes, sprinkle with cheese, and voilà! Dinner is served.
- 4 medium poblano chiles, halved and seeded
- 1 (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
- 1 (8.8-ounce) pouch microwaveable cooked long-grain rice
- ½ cup picante sauce
- 1 cup (4 ounces) pre-shredded reduced-fat 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese
- Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Directions: Place chile halves, cut sides up, on a round microwave-safe plate. Cover with wax paper; microwave at high 3 minutes.
While chiles cook, combine beans, rice, and picante sauce in a medium bowl, stirring well. Spoon bean mixture evenly into chile halves. Cover with wax paper; microwave at high 2 minutes. Uncover chiles, sprinkle each half with 2 tablespoons cheese, and microwave at high 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle evenly with cilantro, if desired.
2. 5-Ingredient Soup
Vegetable broth, refried beans, black beans, frozen corn, and tomatoes are all you need to prepare Food.com’s 5-ingredient soup. Not only does this recipe call for basic pantry staples, but it’s good for you. High in protein and fiber and low in fat and calories, this nutritious dish will appease your tastebuds and diet. The recipe yields 6 servings.
- 1 (15-ounce) can vegetable broth
- 1 (15-ounce) can fat-free refried beans
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes and chilies
Directions: Put the broth and refried beans into a soup pot and heat while whisking together, until the beans have incorporated fully into the broth. Add the rest of the ingredients and heat, while stirring, until the soup is nice and bubbly. Serve with a variety of toppings, including shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro, or a few drops Chipotle tabasco.
3. Salsa Lasagna
Requiring very few ingredients and minimal prep time, Recipe 4 Living’s meat-free lasagna is a great go-to for weeknight dinners. Refried beans, salsa, cottage cheese, and cheddar cheese are slathered between layers of noodles and baked until nice and bubbly.
- 1 (16-ounce) can vegetarian refried beans
- 1 cup salsa (mild, medium, or hot, depending on taste)
- 1 cup cottage cheese, divided
- 9 lasagna noodles, cooked and divided
- 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Directions: Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine refried beans and salsa in a small saucepan; heat on medium-low until warmed through, stirring well to mix. Spread 2 tablespoons of the mixture in an un-greased 8-by-8-inch baking dish and arrange 3 noodles on top.
Layer with half the remaining mixture, half the cottage cheese, and ½ cups cheddar cheese. Repeat layers once more starting with the noodles, and top with remaining noodles and cheddar cheese. Bake for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
4. Easy Five-Ingredient Caesar Salad
This is no ordinary caesar salad. Relish puts a fun spin on the classic, utilizing chickpeas, hemp seeds, and avocado to create a nutritious and flavorful lunch or dinner dish. For an even zestier meal, mix in garlic and a dash of apple cider vinegar — we promise this is one salad that won’t disappoint!
- 2 to 3 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
- ½ cup chickpeas
- 3 tablespoons hemp seeds
- ½ avocado
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- Garlic, optional
- Apple cider vinegar, optional
Directions: Chop romaine lettuce and set aside in a serving bowl. For the dressing, in a blender or food processor, combine avocado, hemp seeds, and nutritional yeast. Optional ingredients to add to the mix are garlic and a dash of apple cider vinegar. Blend together for a thick and creamy dressing. Pour dressing over romaine lettuce. Combine and top with chickpeas.
5. Baked Eggs with Veggies
Consisting of frozen veggies, eggs, butter, cheese, and thyme, About.com’s entrée will satisfy vegetarians and meat lovers alike! Place your veggies around the outside edges of four individual ramekins, drizzling butter over them. Break the eggs, one at a time, and slip 2 in the center of each dish. Sprinkle with cheese and thyme, and bake until the eggs are thoroughly cooked. The recipe yields 4 servings.
- Package of frozen broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower, thawed
- ¼ cup butter
- 8 eggs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Directions: Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Drain vegetables well. Melt butter. Arrange vegetables around outside edges of 4 individual 2-cup ramekins and drizzle ¼ of the melted butter over vegetables in each dish. Break eggs, one at a time, into a small dish and slip 2 into the center of each ramekin.
Sprinkle each ramekin with ¼ of the Parmesan cheese and ¼ of the thyme leaves. Place ramekins on cookie sheet and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 25 minutes until eggs are thoroughly cooked.
6. Risotto Cakes
Put your leftover risotto to good use by preparing Eating Well’s risotto cakes. Combine the risotto, eggs, and breadcrumbs, form into cakes, and dredge in additional breadcrumbs. Fry until brown, 2 to 4 minutes per side.
For a well-rounded dinner, serve with marinara sauce and a salad. For those who’d like to prepare their own breadcrumbs, Eating Well says to trim the crusts from whole-wheat bread. Tear the bread into pieces and process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Spread on a baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees Farenheit until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes. One slice of bread makes about ⅓ cup dry breadcrumbs.
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups cold leftover risotto
- 1 cup coarse dry whole-wheat breadcrumbs, divided
- 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Directions: Beat egg in a large bowl; stir in risotto and ½ cup breadcrumbs. Place the remaining ½ cup breadcrumbs in a shallow dish. Form the risotto mixture into eight 2½-inch cakes and dredge in the breadcrumbs.
Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray, add 1 teaspoon oil, and heat over medium heat. Add the cakes and cook until browned on the first side, 2 to 4 minutes. Turn the cakes over, add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the pan, and swirl the pan to coat the undersides of the cakes. Cook, reducing the heat if necessary, until browned on the second side, 2 to 4 minutes more.