Did you know that October is Vegetarian Awareness Month? No? Well, now you’re aware. As a vegetarian myself, I’m not exactly sure why my people need an awareness month – after all, my diet is a choice, not a diagnosis – but I’m in favor of chances to share recipes I love, so I guess I’ll use this month as a chance to do that.
Whether you’re a vegetarian, have friends who are, or just want to broaden your food horizons, I’ve gathered up some of my favorite vegetarian recipes that even meat-eaters will love. Tested and enjoyed by me personally, these recipes have made their way into my regular meal-planning rotation, and there’s sure to be something almost anyone will like.
Want to know more about vegetarians before we get started? Check out my post explaining who we are and why.
And for some good reasons to care about Vegetarian Awareness Month, check out this post.
And now, the recipes!
Spiced Lentils and Poached Eggs
This is among the earliest vegetarian recipes I tried. And it was an adventure. Before this, I didn’t even know what lentils were. And curry powder? My mom didn’t even have it in her spice rack. And eggs are a breakfast food, right? What was this nonsense?
Amazing. Delicious and life-changing. Think I’m being over dramatic? Maybe. But it was damn good and helped me to discover new and delicious ways to eat. Lentils are now a staple in my pantry and eggs are regularly part of dinner. And curry? I started buying it from the bulk section of my grocery store – along with cumin.
This amazing recipe packs a lot of flavor and protein. I’ve tweaked it a bit along the way to suit my personal preferences, but Cooking Light gets the credit. I like adding more tomato (and I often used fire-roasted, diced tomatoes), and I usually up the spices for a really flavor-packed dish.
Lentils are super easy to cook, but poaching eggs is a real art. To this day, I still struggle to make a perfect egg. But don’t let that deter you. There are all kinds of kitchen gadgets to help you out. And you could always fry eggs – just make sure to leave the yolk nice and runny; you want all that golden yellow goodness to spill out and blend with the lentils.
Don’t forget to top with some plain Greek yogurt! It gives the dish the perfect creamy tang.
Seriously, I give this recipe 5 stars. Head to Cooking Light to get it.
General Tso’s Tofu
Wanting to learn more about vegetarian cooking, I subscribed to Vegetarian Times. It’s been my go-to for great recipes for years, and it’s where I found this exotic gem.
If you’re familiar with the traditional General Tso’s chicken you may have had from your local Chinese carry-out spot, you know it’s not always very healthy. This vegetarian-friendly version skips the deep-frying without skimping on flavor.
To get the best flavor, I recommend allowing the tofu to marinate for a few hours. I usually make the sauce in the morning, toss in the chopped tofu and let it sit in the fridge while I’m at work.
If you don’t have rice wine, don’t worry. I typically use a combination of rice vinegar, sesame oil, soy sauce and whatever else I feel like throwing in there. Sometimes I add a little brown sugar and lime juice. You could also use powdered ginger instead of fresh in a pinch, but I highly recommend getting the real root. Experiment with the sauce and tweak it until you like it.
Serve it over rice with plenty of broccoli. And don’t forget the fortune cookie!
Get the full recipe here.
Caramelized Onion, Spinach and Avocado Quesadillas
I can scarcely believe it now, but as a kid, I didn’t care for Mexican food very much. Now I eat it practically every week. It’s such an easy cuisine to make vegetarian. Beans pack a lot of good protein and the spices and heat give a great hearty and satisfying taste – especially with the addition of some cheese.
This quesadilla recipe comes from the vegetarian blog Oh My Veggies. It takes your basic quesadilla and gives it a healthy, but still tasty, twist. Spinach is packed with nutrients, and avocado gives you some good healthy fats and a wonderful creaminess.
To be honest, my version of this recipe is fairly different. But, it was the inspiration, so I have to give credit where credit is due. To make it more filling and to add some extra protein, I add black beans. And because my boyfriend (also vegetarian) isn’t a huge fan of onions, I skip the caramelized onions (this also saves a lot of time). Instead, I dice up a small to medium onion, saute it for about five minutes until it’s somewhat translucent, and then add a can of black beans. I add some seasoning – like some cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, lime juice and cayenne pepper for a touch of heat – and then mash the bean mixture a bit so it stays in place nicely in the quesadilla.
Simple and delicious, this is one you can make once and then make again without even having to look at the recipe.
For more details and for the original recipe, go to Oh My Veggies.
Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
I love a dish that’s sweet, yet savory. That’s why I love Pad Thai. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet found a vegetarian-friendly recipe that can come close to the amazing and authentic dish I get at my local Thai restaurant. For those days when I’m craving something sweet, slightly spicy and Thai-inspired, this Thai Pineapple Fried Rice from the blog Cookie + Kate hits the spot without a whole lot of effort or specialty ingredients.
Seriously, if you think fried rice is a lot of work, give this recipe a go. Make the rice itself ahead of time. Not only does this cut down on cook time the night of, but having your rice already cooked allows you to give it that final fry for delicious crispness. Kate recommends long-grain brown jasmine rice, but plain brown rice works, too.
With a cup and a half of fresh pineapple and red bell pepper, I love this dish for cold and flu season. Yummy vitamin C! Plus it’s got a little bit of spiciness to clear out those sinuses. And it gets protein from cashews and a little bit of scrambled egg.
The recipes calls for a bit of chili garlic sauce or sriracha. Add as much as you want for your desired level of flavor and spiciness. Personally, I like to have a bottle of sweet chili sauce on the side. If I feel like the dish is a little bland, I just add a bit to my bowl. Plus, I just love that sweet and spicy combo.
Head to Cookie + Kate’s blog for the full recipe.
Bread & Tomato Soup
Drawing from Tuscan classics, this dish is hearty and oh-so-satisfying. And, as you can see in the picture, it’s another great dish making eggs part of dinner. If you’re not already on the eggs-for-dinner bandwagon, this recipe will help get you there.
This one-pot dish looks tricky, but it’s nearly impossible to mess up. The soup itself is very simple. Canned diced tomatoes (I like fire-roasted tomatoes, of course) with the juice plus water makes up the base. For flavor, it has some garlic and crushed red pepper, and a piece of Parmesan rind to infuse it with a great savoriness. (Some like to argue that Parmesan isn’t vegetarian, but I’ll leave you to be the judge of that moral technicality. Vegetarian-friendly Parmesan and other cheeses do exist, so you can always pick a substitute. And if you can’t find a rind, sprinkle in some grated cheese when you’re ready to serve the soup.) I also like to add a sprinkle of basil and oregano to bring out that Italian feel.
For substance, each bowl includes an egg that’s poached right in the pot in all that rich, tomato goodness. As I said earlier, poaching eggs is an art, but with this recipe, it’s an art almost anyone can master. The natural chunkiness of the soup helps to keep the white from spreading too much.
The most important part of this dish is the bread. Get good bread, and you’ll have great soup. Put a toasted slice in each bowl, top it with the broth and an egg, and presto, you have a totally satisfying meal for a chilly night.
This recipe comes from Eating Well magazine. It’s not vegetarian, but they do include some good meatless dishes. Check it out here.
There you have it, vegetarian and non-vegetarian friends. Whether meat is part of your diet or not, these recipes are all a must-try and come with my seal of approval.
Want more meatless options and info? Check out some of our other veggie-centric posts. And let us know your favorite meatless dishes in the comments.
You can also subscribe to our blog to get posts like these sent straight to your inbox. Stay tuned for vegetarian ideas for Thanksgiving!