40 Easy Vegetarian Recipes for Busy Weeknights
40 Easy Vegetarian Recipes for Busy Weeknights
Avocado, Black Bean, and Charred Tomato Bowl
This meatless bowl offers a range of textures and flavors, including cumin-scented black beans, blistered tomatoes, corn, and fresh avocado that are equally good at room temperature. If you don’t have time to stew your own beans, canned unsalted beans work just as well here. Feel free to mix it all together instead of portioning into quadrants. Finish it with a squeeze of lime, if you like.
Instead of a sauce or side, we serve this Provençal dish as it was originally intended—a simple, humble stew. It’s a great way to use up a bundle of peak summer produce. You can also double the stew and refrigerate up to 1 week ahead, then serve as is, spooned over polenta, or with a baked protein. You want a hearty stew consistency rather than a soup here; reserving 1/2 cup of the canned tomato liquid will be just enough. If you’d like to use fresh ripe tomatoes, start with 2 pounds, halving and seeding 1 pound before dicing.
Quinoa Bowls with Avocado and Egg
This quick, satisfying breakfast is loaded with anti-inflammatory foods extra-virgin olive oil, avocado, tomatoes, quinoa, and omega-3 eggs. For even more anti-inflammatory benefit, serve with an orange or grapefruit.
Egg Foo Young With Mushroom Sauce
Think of egg foo young as a cross between an American-style omelet and a crispy Chinese pancake, loaded with vegetables and topped with a savory mushroom “gravy.” It’s a super-speedy meal thanks to packaged broccoli slaw, matchstick-cut carrots, and microwaveable brown rice. A smaller (8- to 10-inch) skillet will make for a taller, fluffier pancake. Tamari sauce is slightly thicker than soy sauce with a more robust flavor (many brands are also gluten-free). Use anywhere you’d use soy sauce, especially in meat marinades.
Brussels Sprouts and Crispy Tempeh With Soy Dressing
Look for tempeh with the other vegetarian meat subs in the produce aisle. Tempeh is not only an excellent source of plant protein, but it is also full of probiotics for greater gut health.
Vegan Lentil Chili
Reminiscent of your classic chili, this vegan lentil chili is rounded out with sugar, vinegar, and spices. The lentils shine, but aren’t overwhelmingly earthy. The beans and tomatoes give the chili hearty texture, plenty of protein, and nearly half of your daily fiber requirement. Serve with cornbread and play with your toppings—add red onion, or avocado, even Fritos to the mix.
Umami Broth with Buckwheat and Vegetables
The richness of the broth comes from what’s basically an Asian version of soffrito, the Italian “starter paste” that flavors so many delicious soups and sauces. Whereas the Italian version is a mixture of sautéed celery, onions, garlic, bell peppers, and sometimes tomato paste, this version uses miso, onion, ginger, and garlic sautéed in toasty sesame oil until browned and caramelized. We opt for red miso here, the saltiest and most pungent kind. If you only have white miso on hand, it will work, too; you just might want to add a splash of soy sauce to deepen the flavor.
Tomato, Basil, and Corn Pizza
A sprinkling of cornmeal keeps the dough from sticking to the pizza stone and gets the bottom of the crust extra crispy. If you don't have a rectangular pizza stone, use a heavy baking sheet instead. Serve with a green side salad for a winning weeknight combination.
Kale-and-Chickpea Grain Bowl With Avocado Dressing
Canned beans are under-sung heroes. We always keep a few cans on hand in the pantry—they're an endlessly adaptable resource for quick weeknight meals. Beans are fiber-rich, budget-friendly, and just dang tasty, so we've collected our favorite meals that start with you guessed it, a humble can of beans.
Farro, Green Bean, and Kale Salad
Pouched precooked farro (which you’ll find on the rice and grains aisle of some larger supermarkets) is a great product to keep on hand. It’ll keep for months in the pantry, reheats in just 90 seconds, and is versatile enough to go into salads, soups, pilafs, and more. You can also cook your own farro if you have time; you’ll need 2 cups for this recipe. This salad holds up beautifully for several days, so feel free to double the recipe and have lunch in the bag for nearly the whole week.
Rigatoni with Kale Pesto
Whole-wheat pasta would be a tasty option here, complementing the earthy flavor of kale.
Cauliflower Risotto With Mushrooms
This vegan cauliflower risotto recipe is incredibly satisfying thanks to a few key tricks we employed: riced cauliflower perfectly mimics rice, then using a cauliflower puree instead of cream delivers the creaminess you’d expect in risotto. Sauteed mushrooms add a satisfying, savory, rich bite, and help to tone down cauliflower’s cruciferous-ness.
Curried Lentil-and-Vegetable Stew
Cooking Indian dishes at home doesn't have to take hours. Unsalted ketchup is a secret ingredient that adds just the right balance of tomato sweetness and vinegar tang. Serve with lime wedges and toasted naan bread.
Farro Burrito Bowls
Enjoy these make-ahead grain bowls for lunch or as a no-cook dinner on hot days.
Grilled Vegetable Frittata
Frittatas are great canvases for leftover ingredients, especially grilled summer vegetables. We add the vegetables to the egg mixture just before it sets so the veggies don't release too much moisture into the frittata.
Gluten-Free Vegan Lasagna
For this gluten-free vegan lasagna, thinly-sliced zucchini is a great stand in for noodles. When salted, the excess moisture is drawn out, leaving you with a lasagna just as firm as the noodle version. Mashed tofu, when seasoned correctly, tastes eerily similar to ricotta, but with significantly fewer calories and fat. It holds its own against traditional recipes and will wow dinner guests all the same.
Mixed Grain, Cherry, and Snap Pea Salad
Fresh cherries take the place of tomatoes in this triple-grain salad. Bulgur, quinoa, and brown rice make for a nutty, wonderfully textured base, though you can omit the bulgur and double the quinoa for a gluten-free version. Extra crunch comes from fresh snap peas and red onion.
Pasta with Charred Broccoli, Feta, and Lemon
Author Colu Henry loves taking vegetables to the edge by roasting until they are deeply browned and caramelized, giving them great texture and amping up their flavor. The feta cheese emulsifies in the pasta water, creating a velvety sauce for the pasta.
Mini Mozzarella-and-Kale Pita Pizzas
Try this clever idea—split the pitas in half before toasting so the crusts can get extra crisp. They’ll also be slightly shallow rather than flat, a perfect vessel for the sauce and toppings.
Pasta with Chickpea Sauce
Onions, carrots, and garlic cook in olive oil until buttery soft, then get blended with chickpeas and water to form a deeply savory puree that coats pasta beautifully. It’s a satisfying dish that just happens to be vegan. Try to let the blender run for a minute or two when pureeing the ingredients; the smoother the sauce, the better the dish. A flourish of fresh herbs at the end brightens and freshens the dish; you can use all parsley or all basil if you don’t have both on hand.
Garden Greens Pizza
This springtime pie taps into some of the season's superior produce for a vibrant, fresh take on pizza.
Mushroom and Arugula Pizza
Mushrooms stand in for cured meat toppers, adding meaty, umami-rich flavor while shaving off sodium and saturated fat.
Pretty "Parslied" Spaghetti
Leftover flat-leaf parsley is likely lurking in your crisper. This unassuming herb has a bright, grassy personality that, combined with cheese, garlic, and good olive oil, makes this dish sing. Try embellishing with lemon zest, toasted nuts, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, or even sardines.
If you're pro-pepper, this combination of sweet and heat will tickle your tastebuds—and it takes less than half an hour to make! Look for mild Sweety Drop peppers at specialty stores, or buy them on Amazon, here. You can also use chopped pickled sweet cherry peppers instead. A baking steel works great here if you preheat it for an hour.
Farro Breakfast Bowl
This meal in a bowl takes its morning cue from soft-boiled eggs and a dollop of yogurt, and then goes savory with toasty cumin-scented farro and a creamy avocado. It’s also perfectly portioned for two. Boil the farro like pasta—in plenty of water that you’ll drain off—to cut the cook time in half. Toasting the farro in a little oil is a great way to revive any leftover cooked whole grains. Whole-milk Greek yogurt has a cool, luxurious mouthfeel that brings all the elements together. It also has more protein than reduced- or nonfat yogurt. Add Blistered Tomatoes with Kale on top for a final touch of veg.
20-Minute Black Bean Burgers
One serving contains more iron than 3 ounces of steak—even more reason to enjoy them between the bun, like in these 20-minute burgers below. Try using half of a spare whole-grain hamburger bun in place of the bread slice. These burgers also work with any other canned bean variety. Pile it high with red onion, creamy avocado, and a juicy tomato slice.
Smoky Potato and Greens Tacos
Cooked greens and crispy potatoes are great as a base for a skillet hash, but why not try something new? Pile into lightly charred corn tortillas, and top with vibrant toppings like fresh cilantro and radishes to turn a one-note leftover into a tasty, satisfying main. Our trick for crispy potatoes without the added fat: spread on paper towels after boiling and draining to remove any extra moisture, and then stir occasionally as they sauté for even browning on all sides. If you’re starting without a batch of collard greens, wilt or sauté any hearty green like kale or chard.
Spinach, Hummus, and Bell Pepper Wraps
Make this super-simple wrap the night before, wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and store in the fridge—just grab it in the morning on your way out the door. Use Flatout Light whole-grain flatbreads to keep calories in check; you can find them at most supermarkets, usually in the bakery section.
Saucy Skillet-Poached Eggs
If you've ever had Italian eggs in purgatory, this recipes makes a similar Israeli breakfast dish called shakshuka. If you need to stretch the meal, simply add another egg to the pan. Top with any herb, such as cilantro, chives, or oregano.
Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad
It may seem too good to be true, but it’s not: This impressive, full plate requires only 5 ingredients (water, oil, salt, and pepper are considered freebies). Microwaved sweet potatoes are sliced into medallions, brushed with oil, and lightly seared so they become satisfyingly steak-like. The creamy, nutty sauce adds richness, and the lemon-dressed arugula-chickpea salad bulks up the plate beautifully. In place of almond butter, you could substitute any nut butter you like—peanut, cashew, or sunflower butter would be delicious. And if canned chickpeas aren’t in your pantry, you can use another mild legume; try cannellini or navy beans.
Hummus-Zucchini English Muffin
Instead of the usual bagel with cream cheese and jam, we're adding protein and cutting sugar with creamy hummus and vegetables. Start with a whole-grain English muffin, and pile on shaved carrot, zucchini, and roasted salted sunflower seeds for a savings of 30g added sugar.
Wheat Berry "Ribollita"
Traditional ribollita is a Tuscan specialty made of leftover minestrone warmed up with chunks of bread tossed into it. In this version, wheat berries stand in for bread, bulking up the soup with nutty flavor and pleasant texture. The Parmesan cheese rind that simmers in the broth enriches the whole pot with umami depth. It’s a great technique that’ll convince you to always save your Parmesan rinds, stashing them in the freezer for uses like this. If you don’t have any, check the cheese counter at your local gourmet grocer; you’ll often find rinds for sale there.
Greek Spaghetti Squash Toss
Spaghetti squash is a great lower-calorie, lower-carb alternative to pasta. It’s a neutral tasting veggie that absorbs all the flavors of this simple skillet, so be sure to toss well to coat every strand. The end result is a veggie-based meal in a bowl that you can quickly throw together—a nice alternative to salads when you want to fill up on vegetables.
Quinoa-Arugula Bowl With Peaches and Avocado
Whole grains are standard fare on the clean diet, and quinoa is the best of the bunch. Not only is it high in fiber, 1 cup cooked gives you 5 grams of fiber, it’s an excellent source of protein, providing all nine essential amino acids and making it a complete protein. It’s slightly crunchy, nutty taste goes well with many nuts, fruits and vegetables plus it cooks up quick in just 20 minutes or less. This five-minute salad offers a range of flavors and textures: earthy quinoa, spicy arugula, crunchy walnuts, salty cheese, and sweet peaches drizzled with tangy vinaigrette. It’s also quick to make and easily portable.
Mushroom Bolognese over Spaghetti Squash
We swap traditional pasta for gluten-free spaghetti squash in this meatless main. Roasted until tender and scraped with a fork, the squash comes apart in noodle-like strands that hold the sauce well. Roast an extra squash, scrape out the flesh, and store in ziplock plastic bags for a quick side during the week. A blend of mushrooms—dried porcini and fresh cremini and button—mimic the texture of ground beef while adding plenty of savory depth. You could substitute 1/4 cup of the canned tomato liquid for a dry red wine to add even more body to the sauce.
Hearty Tortellini Soup
This satisfying main is a great way to reset after a few weeks of meat-centered holiday eating. If freezing, be sure to cool the soup completely before adding the tortellini or they will absorb too much liquid and lose their shape.
Broccoli, Cheddar, and Brown Rice Cakes
These quick, crispy vegetarian cakes are inspired by cheesy broccoli-and-rice casserole, right down to the layer of melted cheddar cheese on top. Make the cakes ahead and refrigerate or freeze for a last-minute meal. You could also increase the number of servings and serve the cakes as a side with a simple tomato soup. Grainy mustard packs a welcome punch and adds great texture to the cakes. It’s also fantastic in creamy sandwich spreads, rémoulade sauce, and glazes with a sweet base (such as maple syrup or honey) for contrast and balance.
Creamy Carrot and Herb Linguine
A quick dunk of fresh carrot ribbons in the pasta cooking water softens them just enough so you can swirl them through the creamy sauce with the linguine. If you have a spiralizer, spiralize the carrots and add to the pasta cooking water 3 minutes before draining. Shaved Parmesan melts evenly into the sauce and creates lovely shards on top for a visual and textural contrast. A handful of fresh parsley and tarragon add a springy pop of green right at the end. You could also use thinly sliced chives or the green parts of green onions.
Nutty Fried Rice
This hearty vegetarian dish is a fun twist on the usual takeout version of fried rice, incorporating lots of nutty flavor from toasted sesame oil, roasted cashews, peanut butter, and sesame seeds. The rice is drizzled with a savory, creamy peanut sauce that takes the whole thing right into indulgence territory. If you have a peanut allergy, opt for cashew, almond, or sunflower butter instead of peanut butter. Look for toasted sesame seeds on the spice aisle of your supermarket; it’s a great ingredient to keep on hand for busy nights because it saves a step.
White Bean and Vegetable Bowls with Frizzled Eggs
This easy bowl of brothy goodness is loaded with both veggies and umami depth--it's comfort food you can feel good about. It's also great for times when the food budget is tight, as it costs only about $11 for 4 servings. One-bowl dinners are a great way to solve the "What's for Dinner?" question that strikes daily. This flavorful option offers up a vegetarian option. The eggs add great protein and staying power to the veggie-heavy dish. The ingredients are similar to what you find in a traditional chili, but the results are anything but. Grab a bowl and enjoy.