5 Simple Vegetarian Recipes (That Even Meat Eaters Will Love)


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By Cassie King Eng

I am a meat eater, and a meat lover. I would have never in a million years thought that going vegetarian was possible for me. I mean, I really like vegetables, and our family probably eats more vegetables than the average American family. But no meat? That sounded so limited—and boring! But last January, I gave myself and my kids a 5-day vegetarian challenge, and believe it or not, we all loved it! I actually loved it so much, I continued my vegetarian diet for six months! Here’s why.

  • It was cheap. Cutting meat out of my grocery list significantly lowered my grocery bill.
  • It was clean. No more worrying about raw meat juice on the counter, scrubbing cutting boards, or nasty smelling trashcans.
  • It was fast. Cooking and prep times are short. And clean-up is often shorter because you don’t have to worry about raw meat juices and greasy splatter.
  • I loved what it did for my body. I became much more, ahem, regular, which had become a minor issue after the birth of my second child. My general sense of well-being improved because I knew I was doing something good for my body, and for my family. I also saw a marked improvement in my skin, which was an unexpected bonus!
  • It is good for the environment. The meat business is notoriously harsh on the environment and requires tons of natural resources and produces tons of waste.

Although I have gone back to eating meat these days, I do it much more sparingly, and I am constantly looking for new and delicious vegetarian dishes to share with my family. I think everyone, even the healthiest of us, wants to find ways to incorporate more vegetables into our diet. And we want our kids to learn to love to eat their veggies too! Here are 5 super simple and delicious vegetarian recipes to help get you started!

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1. Oven Roasted Broccoli (prep time: 5 min, cooking time: 12 minutes)
Vegan and gluten-free
Ingredients:
1 head of broccoli
1-2 tablespoons Olive oil
Kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 400 and move the oven rack to the top-most position, closest to your broilers. Rinse your broccoli and trim the end of the stalk. Cut the broccoli into bite-sized pieces and toss in a large bowl with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt. (Less is better! You can always add more later). Spread the broccoli on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil for easy cleanup. Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, then turn your broiler on low and cook for an addition 1-3 minutes. Serves 2-3 as a side dish.

Additional notes: You can do this with just about any vegetable. Try sweet mini-peppers, cauliflower, zucchini, asparagus, brussel sprouts, etc. You can also add your favorite spices. Some of my favorite options are minced fresh garlic or garlic powder, a sprinkle of cumin, paprika, or chili powder. It is so quick, easy, and versatile that we literally eat some version of this just about every day.

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2. Cauliflower Rice (prep time: 5 min, cooking time: 10-15 min)
Vegan and gluten-free
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower
1 clove minced garlic
1 small shallot or half of a yellow/red onion, diced
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt

Trim the leaves and tough stem off and rinse the cauliflower. Cut it into medium pieces (about 1-2 inches) and put into your food processes. Pulse until the cauliflower has been cut up into tiny pieces, resembling rice or couscous.

In a medium-sized pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and onion and sautee for 2-3 minutes until the onion softens and turns translucent. Add the cauliflower “rice” and a pinch of salt and stir it around for a minute or two. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover the pan. Cook for an additional 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower has released some of its water and softened slightly. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

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3. Pot’o’beans (Active prep time: 5 min, Soaking time: 3-12 hours, Cooking time: 1 hour)
Vegan and gluten-free
Ingredients:
1 bag of dried beans (black, white, pinto, kidney, etc.)
1 yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bay leaf
vegetable stock (optional)
Kosher salt

Rinse the beans and pick out any stones or debris. Put the beans in a large bowl and cover with water. The beans will expand so make sure your bowl is big enough to accommodate. Leave them to soak for 3-4 hours, or overnight.

Drain the beans. In a large pot, put the soaked beans, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and 2-3 teaspoons of salt. Cover completely with water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil. Cover the pot (leave it slightly cracked or the beans may boil over) and lower your heat to a simmer. Cook for about an hour, checking in at 45 minutes to see if they are done. The cooking time of the beans will vary depending on the kind of bean, how long they have been soaking, and whether you like your beans firm or soft. Usually it takes about 1-1.5 hours.

Additional Notes: Canned beans are convenient, but when you take into consideration how much cheaper dried beans are per serving, and how gross that slimy “bean juice” is in the can, it’s really worth it to make your own. You can also make lentil or split peas this way, but the cooking time will be much shorter (about 30 min). This recipe makes A LOT of beans and feeds my family of 6 for about a week! You can eat them as a side, on top of (cauliflower) rice, mix them into soups and pastas, put them on your salads, or eat a bowl of them with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh parsley or cilantro on top for a meal. They freeze well and you can drain them and put them into smaller freezer bags for later use, which makes them just as convenient as canned beans. If you’re not strictly vegetarian, you can use chicken stock, or even better, just throw old bones from last night’s pork chops, or roasted chicken (I always keep bones in the freezer for stock and things like this) into the pot with the beans while they are cooking. You can also make these in your crock pot. It takes about 3-4 hours on high, or 6+ hours on low.

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4. White Bean Vegetable Soup (Prep time: 15 min, Cook time: 20-30 min)
Vegan and gluten-free
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1 small onion, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
Additional assorted vegetables (zucchini, squash, chopped kale, leftover roasted vegetables from the first recipe)
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 cups cooked white beans (from recipe above)
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper

In a medium pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, onion, carrot, celery and a pinch of salt and sauté until softened and slightly caramelized, about 3 minutes. Add any additional vegetables and the oregano sauté for another minute. Add the tomatoes and beans, a teaspoon of salt, then enough water (or vegetable stock) to cover everything. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Vegetarian lasagne with ricotta cheese and spinach filling

5. Gluten-free, Vegetarian Lasagna (Prep time: 20 min, Cook time: 1 hour)
Ingredients:
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large eggplant
1-2 medium or small zucchinis,
15 oz. ricotta
½ cup grated parmesan
Small handful fresh parsley or basil, chopped (or 1 tsp dried herbs)
1 jar (or about 2-3 cups homemade) marinara sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 350 with the rack centered. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil and minced garlic. Set aside.

In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the ricotta, parmesan, herbs, and a pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside.

Wash and trim the ends off the eggplant and zucchinis. With a mandolin slicer or a sharp knife, slice the eggplant and zucchinis into rounds about ¼” thick. Spread ½ cup of marinara in the bottom of a 9”x13” inch baking dish. Put one layer of eggplant slices over the sauce, and then one layer of zucchini slices. Spread the cheese mixture on top. Cover with another layer of eggplant and zucchini. Spread the remaining marinara on top, and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella. Drizzle with garlicky olive oil.

Cover the pan with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6-10.

Additional notes: This is a great recipe to make with kids. My 2- and 4-year-olds love to layer the veggies and sprinkle the cheese on top. They might not love eggplant, but if they help make it, they are much more likely to eat it! I often up the veggie content bye stirring in chopped frozen broccoli or kale into the ricotta mixture. You can also make this ahead of time and refrigerate for up to 2 days before baking.

Ladies, what simple and delicious vegetarian recipes would you add to this list?!

Cassie King Eng is a mother of 4 who lives in Chicago.

Leila

About Leila

Leila is the founding editor of Baby and Blog. She splits her time between editing hair and culture site, Black Girl with Long Hair, whipping up butters at BGLH Marketplace, and writing here. She adores her husband and two kids, her parents and her friends. But she hates Chicago weather although she is slowly coming to peace with it...