When cooking more than one meal to please everyone just isn’t an option, try one of these vegetarian-friendly main dishes that stands alone, or can be complemented with a grilled protein.  

By Arielle Weg
June 08, 2017
Credit: Photo: Brian Woodcock

Meal planning for multiple dietary needs and preferences can be taxing. The last thing you want to worry about is preparing more than one dinner so that vegetarians and meat-loving diners feel at home.

Instead, choose dishes that do it all. We found our favorite vegetarian recipes that are delicious, stand-alone meat-free options, but can also compliment a piece of meat or fish. We call that a win-win! These dishes are hearty enough to be enjoyed on their own, but if someone is craving meat, we suggest serving these up with a grilled protein of your choice.

Credit: Photo: Brian Woodcock

1. Roasted Garlic Mac and CheeseThis quick Mac and Cheese dish works flawlessly solo, but also pairs well with some roasted chicken sprinkled on top. If you're short on time, a rotisserie chicken makes this step practically effortless.

Credit: Photo: Jason Varney

2. Whole Roasted Carrots with Black Lentils and Green HarissaLentils are the star of this colorful dish and make a fantastic plate or side to seafood. Simply meld the flavors by drizzling the green harissa over your fillet.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

3. Vegetables Lasagna with Butternut BechamelServe up dinner the traditional Italian way- pasta, veggies, and protein! Meat eaters can enjoy this hearty pasta dish with a side of baked chicken. Or, if you're feel particularly generous, try making one with shredded chicken in this three-fold lasagna pan. Related: Why the Three-Fold Lasagna Pan is Actually a Kitchen Essential

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

4. Sesame- Ginger-Chickpea-Stuffed Sweet PotatoesThese dressed up baked sweet potatoes work as a colorful, filling main, but can also accompany any protein you like. Grilled or smoked chicken works particularly well with this dish. 

Credit: Photo: Jamie Vespa

 5. Spring Soba SaladCelebrate spring with this colorful, light main for a vegetarian feast that also sets the stage for a protein. 

Credit: Photo: Greg Dupree; Styling: Lindsey Lower

 6. Sweet Potato Medallions with Almond Sauce and Chickpea SaladVegetarians will rave about this main dish for weeks to come, and meat eaters can salivate over the side of protein as a nice addition. For holidays, dress this one up with beef or pork tenderloin.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

7. Vegetable PaellaTake this classic seafood dish, and simply add it back on the side. Vegetarians won’t miss the seafood that traditionally accompanies paella, because this stand-alone dish is a winner. 

Credit: Photo: John Autry

 8. Falafel-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce and Tomato RelishVegetarians will go crazy for this hearty falafel recipe. For the meat lovers, try adding a shredded chicken shawarma for a Mediterranean-inspired meal. 

Credit: Photo: John Autry

 9. Summer Lemon-Vegetable RisottoWhite wine, fresh lemon, and seasonal veggies make this dish a perfect summer side or vegetarian meal you’ll dream about.

Credit: Photo: John Autry

10. Summer Squash and Ricotta GaletteServe this dish as a side to grilled meats, and offer an extra piece to your vegetarian diner; the flavors capture the best of fresh summer produce.