When the coronavirus pandemic first sent us hibernating in our homes, it felt like everyone took up cooking and baking—as evidenced by the sudden proliferation of snaps of homemade banana bread and sourdough loaves on social media.
Four months into quarantine, however, you might be more likely to hear people complaining about how tired they are of being in the kitchen. Many of us are, after all, cooking a greater number of meals at home than ever before. And just because social obligations are fewer doesn’t mean obligations are less intense, period—just ask any working parent. Busy, for some, is an understatement right now.
So, time may be of the essence when it comes to getting meals on the table. Bonus points if they’re nutrient-dense and delicious too. To help you out with your cooking fatigue, we pulled some of our favorite easy vegetarian dinners from the Cook With Us video archives. All of them are vegetable forward, and quite a few are vegan-friendly, too (either as is or with a few easy modifications). Next time you’re in a dinner rut, you know where to turn.
Keep reading for delicious, easy vegetarian dinners to try at home, straight from top chefs:
1. Kelly LeVeque’s vegan Italian meatball soup
This Italian meatball soup dupe from celebrity nutritionist Kelly Leveque uses protein-packed lentil meatballs in place of traditional animal protein-based ‘balls. It also swaps noodles for zoodles (aka zucchini noodles) to up the ante on fiber and antioxidant content. Add parmesan or omit it if you’re vegan—either way, this is a surprisingly robust yet summer-friendly soup fixable in 30-minutes flat.
2. Dale Talde’s vegetarian cauliflower fried rice
No list of easy vegetarian dinners would be complete without some form of fried rice. This nutrient-dense take from Dale Talde, chef and partner at Goosefeather restaurant, is officially the most delicious way to use up all of your leftover vegetables. It’s also packed with an array of antioxidant-rich aromatics (e.g. ginger, garlic, onions) to create a robust flavor profile that packs every bite with delight. It’s super quick to make, too, especially if you use pre-chopped veggies (frozen or not).
3. Lukas Volger’s vegan beef Bourguignon
Traditional French food isn’t noted for being vegetarian- or vegan-friendly, but this bourguignon from Start Simple author Lukas Vulger is both. To accomplish this, he’s replaced beef with beets and utilized a veggie bouillon. (But don’t worry, it still has red wine in it for an incredibly rich flavor.) Watch the video for additional veggie hacks to pepper into your meal and snack prep throughout the week.
4. Sam Kass’s 2-in-1 anti-inflammatory salad
I know what you’re thinking: “Salad for dinner, yawn.'” But this recipe from former Obama chef Sam Kass is actually two recipes in one, and neither is a bore. The first is a cold, kale-based salad featuring his go-to nutrient-dense homemade dressing, and the second is a warm salad made from roasted vegetables. Not convinced this will be enough to excite those seated around your table? Watch Well+Good’s senior food editor taste test in the video above.
5. Tanya Zuckerbrot’s veggie-packed cauliflower Bolognese
In this recipe, Tanya Zuckerbrot, RD, creator of the F-Factor Diet, utilizes an ingenious means for sneaking more veggies into her favorite comfort food. For starters, she replaces animal protein with mushrooms and then tosses in cauliflower rice for added volume and fiber. Her big secret, however, is almond milk, which gives the sauce a creamy texture. And while the demonstrated version calls for traditional noodles, you can use gluten-free varieties or even zoodles instead if you so choose.
6. Emily Yuen’s pickled chickpea Tsukemen
As far as easy vegetarian dinners go, this pick is a bit more complex than some of the others on this list—but it is absolutely worth the effort (and still clocks in at 30 minutes from start to finish). Emily Yuen, Executive Chef at Bessou, specializes in Japanese comfort food, and her cozy Tsukemen (aka Japanese dish where ramen is dipped into a separate sauce bowl) features protein-packed, high-fiber chickpeas as well as a rainbow assortment of veggies. While Yuen uses a non-vegetarian ingredient made from bonito flakes in the above demonstration, she describes how to sub it out if you’re not keen on fish. Either way, the resulting dish is high in fiber, antioxidants, and flavor.
7. Klancy Miller’s gluten-free pasta salad
Pasta can sometimes feel either boring or overly complicated, but this version from Cooking Solo author and For the Culture founder Klancy Miller is neither. It’s packed with a surprising and inventive array of ingredients—from red lentil quinoa pasta to pomegranate seeds—that combine for a pleasantly textured dish high in healthy fats, fiber, and protein. As an added bonus, it keeps well so you can *pack it* for lunch (er, in pandemic times, “pack” equals “eat”) the second day, too.
8. Rachel Mansfield’s garlicky kale Caesar salad
This 20-minute salad is a perfect easy vegetarian dinner, but it’s far from basic. For the recipe, Just the Good Stuff author Rachel Mansfield tosses homemade croutons with kale and a simple vegan, tamari-based caesar dressing and then tops it with a quick-fried brown rice and quinoa mixture for added fiber, volume, and crunch. The result is flavorful, satisfying, and good for your body, mind, and sanity.
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