Superfast Vegetarian Recipes
Meatless dishes, ready in 20 minutes or less
This chili is heavy on the sweet and tangy flavor of tomatoes, with both diced and paste, but it also boasts four different kinds of beans. The unusual addition of Worcestershire sauce (if you're a strict vegetarian or vegan, make sure to use a vegetarian version) brings great meaty flavor to the chili. Serve with jalapeño cornbread or over cooked spaghetti, Cincinnati-style.
Browning tofu cubes over high heat gives them a nice firm texture and caramelized flavor that goes well with the simple stir-fried veggies. The flavors of sesame oil, rice vinegar, and soy sauce, along with ample ginger and garlic, stand up to the bell pepper, and a topping of sprouts adds a fresh, spicy crunch that makes this dish different. If you can't find pungent radish sprouts, substitute broccoli, alfalfa, or bean sprouts.
Your family will never guess what's in this pesto, but the macadamias give a creamier texture than other types of nuts. Add half-and-half to that for a wonderfully rich, indulgent sauce with familiar flavor but a hint of something new. The pesto comes together in the time the pasta cooks, so it takes just a few minutes to create a creamy, comforting dish with less than 400 calories per serving.
Convert carnivores into vegetarians (if only temporarily) with this recipe: The meatless crumbles are nearly indistinguishable from ground beef. Add to that the fiery heat of chipotles, creamy avocado and sour cream, and plenty of cheese, and you've got a great plate of nachos. Best of all, this version has only 408 calories per serving and provides nearly half a day's fiber and more than a third of a day's calcium.
This light pasta doesn't sacrifice flavor. With earthy beans, bitter greens, and sharp Parmesan cheese, this dish needs a dose of fruit to bring it to life. Try a pinot grigio with lively melon and citrus flavors, such as Lungarotti Torre di Giano 2010 ($15).
You can easily shave thin slices of cheese in a snap using an inexpensive kitchen tool: a vegetable peeler. This is a perfect technique for many hard cheeses like Gruyère.
This hearty recipe is a rich and comforting dish that will satisfy any savory cravings. Fresh herbs and creamy fontina cheese up the flavor quota and add even more dimension to the mushrooms.
Seasoned with mustard, cumin, and paprika, these classic chickpea patties have a great crunchy exterior and zesty flavor. Paired with bitter arugula and a creamy-tangy dressing on pita, they create an easy 10-minute dinner. Toss together lettuce, tomato, some feta cheese, and extra dressing for a nice side salad.
The flavors in this dish may be exotic for a weeknight dinner, but it's fast (about 15 minutes) and calls for common pantry ingredients. Pineapple and red bell pepper provide a balance of sweet and savory while coconut milk and curry powder combine for a creamy, spicy sauce. This doesn't have to be a vegetarian dish, either; chicken or pork can replace the tofu with almost no change in cooking.
The ingredients might sound like they'd clash when combined, but this recipe proves that spicy, sweet, and savory go great together. The tangy mango moderates the hot pepper while perking up the beans, and avocado adds creamy texture and healthy fats. Add another layer of flavor by serving with sour cream or your favorite salsa or guacamole for dipping.
Each element of this dish contributes unique elements. Crispy and chewy texture come from the grilled pita; tanginess and cooling creaminess from the goat cheese; sweet, juicy freshness from the tomato; and earthy smoky flavors and meaty texture from the portobellos. It's a great summer combination with a simple fruit salad made from whatever you have on hand.
Pesto is a wonderfully diverse recipe component because there are so many possible variations. Here, almonds and sun-dried tomatoes make for a sweet-and-savory flavor with extra richness from the oil in the tomatoes. Mixed into a bit of reserved pasta cooking water, the pesto makes a great thick sauce that sticks to the noodles, and a last-minute topping of tangy feta brightens all the flavors. It tastes indulgent, but this dish has only 300 calories and less than 10 grams of fat per serving.
Packaged greens are ultra-easy to use, and you just have to add a few extra ingredients to put a unique stamp on a salad. Basil and kalamata olives build a Mediterranean salad with a sweet cider vinaigrette that's served over an easy pita pizza for a complete meal.
Prepared filled pastas from the refrigerated section of the supermarket are a great boon to get dinner on the table fast. They add multilayered flavor and cook even more quickly than dried pasta. Here, cheese tortellini is paired with fresh, crisp asparagus, bitter arugula, sweet and juicy tomatoes, pungent onion, and tart canned artichoke hearts in a simple two-vinegar vinaigrette for a meal that takes no longer than cooking the pasta.
Vegetarian chilis are so hearty and full of flavor that you'll never miss meat. Canned beans shorten the total cooking time to 13 minutes, plus they add lots of fiber. Corn bread―store-bought or homemade―is a natural side, but you could serve the chili over rice instead for a different twist.
This very nontraditional falafel, made with pinto beans, cheese, and a zesty avocado spread, was named our all-time best vegetarian entrée. It also works as an appetizer: Make about 12 small patties instead of four large ones and serve the spread as a dipping sauce.
One advantage of tofu is that it's a blank slate―it can absorb almost any flavor and take on many different identities. Here, the tofu gets a dip in a sauce with sweet, sour, and salty tastes and a big wallop of heat. The rice with vegetables in this recipe provides an excellent base for tofu, but you can use the tofu as a main-course protein with other sides, too. Try soba or rice noodles and steamed broccoli, or pair with baked sweet potatoes.
Talk about quick and easy: This recipe takes 10 minutes and five ingredients. But it's still delicious, satisfying, and contains just 264 calories per serving. The eggs take on lots of flavor from poaching in pasta sauce, and polenta adds body and unique texture. Other kinds of greens can also work here, though they might need to cook a bit longer―try Swiss chard or kale.
All your favorites are here―okra, bell pepper, corn, black beans―cooked through but still crisp and tender for lots of fresh flavor and a shockingly low 90 calories per serving. Feel free to have seconds―or thirds! Serve like a salad with your favorite bread, or fill tortillas for vegetable tacos.
Burritos like these are a great option to feed picky eaters, since you can customize the filling of each one. On a zesty base of rice and beans combined with salsa, you can add whatever other fillings you like (and leave out those you don’t) to fill up a tasty burrito. The recipe calls for cheese, avocado, and cilantro, but try just about any vegetable―corn's a delicious option, and cooked zucchini is great in addition to or in place of the black beans.
Breakfast for dinner is a fun way to shake up your menu, and breakfast foods are almost always quick and easy. This 10-minute dish is no exception. We combine whole eggs and egg whites to give great flavor but keep fat in check, and use deeply flavored smoked mozzarella to add more depth. Switch up the bread and cheese for easy variations like pepper jack on a tortilla or pecorino on a bagel.
Most chowders only contain a small amount of meat in comparison to vegetables, so making this dish vegetarian was easy. It's warm and filling with lots of hearty potato and sweet corn in a creamy base. Seafood seasoning adds that classic New England flavor without meat, and a sprinkling of green onions and cheese on top punches up both color and taste. Not bad for 15 minutes' work and only 343 calories a serving.
For the very busiest of times, this recipe requires zero cooking and can be made ahead. A garlic- and onion-infused cream cheese spread matches with flavorful roasted bell peppers in an extremely easy recipe to put together. If you cut the mini bagels in half, this recipe yields 24 hors d'oeuvre servings, but two whole sandwiches make a meal with only 248 calories and 8 grams of fat.
We love this dish with pistachios, but for a less expensive alternative, try walnuts. Save the smallest mint leaves for a pretty, delicate garnish.
Fresh cherries add a meaty bite and tart-sweet flavor. If you can't find fresh cherries, add 2 tablespoons boiling water to 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cherries. Let stand 10 minutes; drain and chop.
This simple stew, boldly flavored with exotic spices and packed with vegetables, is endlessly adaptable. You can try it any time of year with seasonal vegetables, adjusting the liquid and cooking time accordingly.