Vegan Christmas Main Dishes
Tempeh with Charred Peppers and Kale
Going plant-based has never been so tasty. These main dishes will dazzle family and friends, all the while being free of meat, dairy, and eggs.
Tempeh is a great option for vegetarian or vegan recipes because of its firm texture and incredible flavor adaptability. We love it here with a quick soy sauce hit, layered over earthy kale. Got leftovers? Pile this tempeh and veggie combo into a whole-wheat wrap for a perfect to-go lunch.
Acorn Squash with Pomegranate and Kale Tabbouleh
This is a fun dish to "carve" at the table, as each person gets one wedge to enjoy as a side dish. For an entrée take, give each person half a squash.
Gluten Free Vegan Zucchini Lasagna
Oh, lasagna, that ultimate comfort food. Creamy, cheesy, and flavorful. Now, what happens if you want to make a gluten-free or (heaven forbid) vegan version? Well, two wonderful foods, zucchini and tofu, step into the picture. 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, is eerily similar to ricotta, but with significantly less calories and fat.
Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea Salad
It may seem too good to be true, but it's not: This impressive plate requires only 5 ingredients (water, oil, salt, and pepper are 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 can use any nut butter you like—try peanut, cashew, or sunflower butter. And if canned chickpeas aren't in your pantry, try cannellini or navy beans.
Whole Roasted Carrots with Black Lentils and Green Harissa
Cajun spiced lentils serve as a delicious protein component in this vegan meal, but what really makes this dish shine is the green harissa drizzled on top. The Tunisian-like sauce brings spice, tang, and bright herbiness to the sweet winter carrots.
Butternut-Cauliflower Coconut Curry
A range of textures—crunchy peas, tender vegetables, and silky coconut broth—makes this cool-weather main incredibly satisfying. The chickpea mixture can also be a delicious gluten-free snack: After baking, toss with a little kosher salt, ground cumin, and ground red pepper. Serve with Cilantro-Chile Couscous.
Smoked Barley, Beet and Grapefruit Salad
This CL-perfected stovetop technique makes smoking food easier than ever (though the salad is still tasty if you choose not to smoke the grains), and smoke is such a fun flavor to apply to unexpected ingredients like barley. A sweet vinaigrette, earthy beets, and the intense citrus twang of grapefruit balance the robust smoky hit of the grains for a memorable salad. To make sure you're getting the whole-grain version of barley, look for hulled, and skip past pearled.
"Paella may sound like something fancy, but it is a humble dish, made from ingredients that are fresh and healthy," says star chef José Andrés, whose restaurants in Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, and California helped spark America's celebration of Spanish cuisine. The classic Spanish rice dish is a crowd-pleaser in his celebrated restaurants and at home. The heat for this paella starts high and reduced gradually, making the rice perfectly al dente and then crisping it at the bottom.
Seared Tofu with Sweet Chili Sauce and Broccoli
Halve the tofu lengthwise for more surface area so the water can drain out quickly; then pat dry so it won't spatter in the pan. Sweet chili sauce has less heat than Sriracha. A bit of sugar balances its vinegar punch. Find it in the international aisle.
Spaghetti with Spinach-Avocado Sauce
Move over, pesto: You're not the only sauce worth going green for. Pureed avocado makes this dish positively irresistible. Garnish with extra basil leaves, if desired.
This spin on the bistro staple steak frites offers plenty of umami satisfaction in the form of juicy, meaty portobello mushrooms and a savory wine sauce. Finishing the sauce with a touch of vegan butter gives it luxurious and velvety consistency.
Tahiree Vegetable and Rice Casserole
This ancient dish traces its roots to India's Kayastha community, who developed it as a unique variation of biryani. In tahiree, rice and other elements cook together, while biryani rice is cooked separately and then layered with meat and vegetables.
"Toast the rice, as you would in risotto, to draw out fragrance and add nuttiness. Add garam masala toward the end so it doesn't get bitter," Saran says.