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healthy easy vegetarian recipes
Have you been trying to eat less meat throughout the week? Or find new, exciting ways to cook with vegetables and fruits? First, let me say “good on ya!” It’s always a smart idea to incorporate more plant-based foods, whether you’re a vegetarian or omnivore. But if you’re new to vegetarian cooking, here’s a few things to keep in mind that will make the transition a whole lot easier.
- Replace meat with your favorite vegetables. Whether it’s a stew, taco, or grain bowl, vegetables can easily substitute meat in your favorite recipes. Think cauliflower, sweet potato, tofu, broccoli, or chickpeas. Just head over to the produce section and you’ll find a plethora of hearty, colorful vegetables that are just as filling.
- Get your protein fix with delicious plant-based ingredients. You’d be surprised how many plant-based ingredients have just as much protein as meat such as beans, lentils, or even cashews. And let’s not forget that they’re filled with a range of vitamins and minerals. In other words, they’re the best of both worlds.
- Utilize spices and sauces to amp up the flavor! Unique spice blends, fresh herbs, and flavorful sauces can make all the difference – turning a boring recipe into mouth-watering one. And as you cook more vegetarian meals, you’ll learn how to create the best aromatic combinations.
Caprese Pasta Salad
This Caprese pasta salad recipe is easy, delicious and perfect for summertime! Just cook cherry tomatoes with olive oil to make the perfect pasta sauce. Recipe yields 4 modest servings.
- 6 ounces (2 cups) whole grain fusilli or rotini pasta
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 pints cherry or grape tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 ounces mozzarella “pearls”, or one mozzarella ball, torn into bite-sized pieces
- Several sprigs of fresh basil (enough for 2+ tablespoons chopped)
- 2 to 3 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar or regular balsamic vinegar, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the pasta until al dente, according to package instructions. Drain the pasta and set it aside.
While the pasta is cooking, combine the olive oil, tomatoes and salt in a large, non-reactive skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Cover the skillet (use a baking sheet if you don’t have a better lid). Cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the tomatoes have started to burst out of their skins and the olive oil has a light red hue (about 6 to 12 minutes).
Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the cooked pasta. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes while you chop the basil. We don’t want the cheese to melt on contact, so wait to proceed to the next step until your pasta is lightly warm (not hot).
This salad will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Leftovers are great chilled or at room temperature. You can also reheat the pasta if you don’t mind the mozzarella melting (yum).
BUTTERNUT SQUASH RISOTTO
Cozy up with a comforting bowl of Butternut Risotto with Leeks and Spinach made with very little fuss, in your Instant Pot pressure cooker. Vegan-adaptable and Gluten-free. Stovetop version in the notes below!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or butter)
- 2 cups sliced leeks (one extra large leek)
- 4 garlic cloves, rough chopped
- 8 sage leaves, chopped
- 1 cup Arborio rice or short-grain Spanish rice (Bomba)
- 2 heaping cups butternut squash, cubed (please see notes if making on stove top!)
- 1/4 cup white wine (or skip it)
- 2 cups veggie stock or chicken stock or broth (or water and one teaspoon or cube veggie bouillon)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper (or sub black pepper to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg the nutmeg makes this- don’t leave it out!
- 2–3 handfuls baby spinach or chopped kale
- OPTIONAL: 1/4 – 1/2 cup parmesan, pecorino, manchego, goat cheese, vegan cheese or cashew cheese – or the leave cheese out and use LEEK OIL for garnish. Or stir in 1-2 tablespoons of butter or ghee, or a drizzle of olive oil.
- Slice and rinse leeks, separating rings (rinsing will help them to soften faster).
- Set Instant Pot to the “Saute” function.
- Heat oil in the instant pot, add the rinsed leeks and stir for 2 minutes. Add garlic, sage and rice, stir for 2 minutes.
- Add butternut squash, and keep stirring for a couple of minutes, until there is a bit of browning on the bottom of the instant pot.
- Add the wine and scrape up the browned bits- a wooden spoon is good for this. Let all the wine cook off, about 2-3 minutes. Add the stock or broth. Scrape up more browned bits. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg, and give a good stir.
- Seal the instant pot and pressure cook on HIGH for 6 minutes. Naturally, release for 5 minutes, then manually release.
- While the Instant pot is going you could make the leek oil and/or the maple glazed pecans.
- Stir the risotto, adding the spinach and cheese or butter if you like, or leave them out. As the butternut breaks down a bit, it will add a nice natural creaminess to the risotto.
- Garnish with optional leek oil or maple glazed pecans.
Moroccan freekeh traybake
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 400g can chickpeas , rinsed and drained
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp chilli flakes
- 270g cherry tomatoes
- ½ x 400g can apricot halves , drained and roughly chopped
- 70g green olives
- 250g pouch cooked freekeh
- 70g fat-free Greek yogurt
- small bunch dill , finely chopped
Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 6. Toss the oil with the chickpeas, spices and chilli flakes in a medium roasting tin. Roast for 15 mins or until the chickpeas are beginning to crisp and turn golden brown. Add the tomatoes, apricots, olives and freekeh to the pan and toss everything together. Return to the oven for a final 10-15 mins until the tomatoes start to burst and everything is piping hot. Season to taste.
Combine the yogurt and most of the dill and season with salt. Serve the freekeh with any extra dill fronds scattered over and a dollop of the herby yogurt.
Sweet Potato Quinoa Skillet with Kale and Sage
The combination of sweet potato, quinoa, and kale makes this dish savory, sweet, and slightly nutty.
Add in the sage, and you’ll have such an earthy and filling dinner. Not to mention, it’s protein-packed and colorful!
I like to pre-roast my sweet potatoes for enhanced flavor, but if you cut the cubes small enough, they will cook along with the quinoa.
One-Pot Vegan White Bean Shakshuka
Shakshuka is a fabulous breakfast/brunch dish, full of runny egg yolks and an intense tomato sauce.
With this version being vegan, you won’t see any eggs but rather a few dollops of vegan cream cheese.
It’s just enough to add some lovely creaminess to the mostly acidic dish.
I think paprika is essential in this, so don’t be shy with it and be sure to get something good quality.
Much like the above recipe, fire-roasted tomatoes will be sensational here.
ONE-POT VEGAN WHITE BEAN SHAKSHUKA
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 head kale, destemmed and chopped
- 28 oz diced or crushed tomatoes
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt & pepper
- pinch of crushed red pepper (optional)
- 15 oz can cannellini beans
- vegan cream cheese and handful of chopped fresh parsley for topping
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until transparent. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes, until fragrant. Then add the kale, cover and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes, until wilted down.
To the skillet, add the tomatoes and their juices. Add the smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, salt & pepper, and red pepper flakes (optional). Stir to combine and allow the sauce to come to a simmer. Add the white beans and cook until heated through. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Top with dollops of vegan cream cheese or cashew ricotta then sprinkle with pepper and chopped parsley. Serve warm with toasted bread and enjoy!
Vegetarian cauliflower tacos are loaded with air-fried or baked cauliflower, a delicious seasoning blend, and creamy lime cilantro slaw inside a tortilla.
For the cauliflower:
2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the cilantro lime slaw
- ⅔ cup plain Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- ½ tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons lime juice, freshly squeezed (from ½ lime)
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- 2 cups coleslaw mix (or shredded cabbage)
For assembling the tacos
- 8 corn tortillas or flour tortillas, 6-inch
- 1 cup red onions, diced
- ½ cup fresh cilantro, finely choppe
Cook the cauliflower:
- In a large mixing bowl or Ziploc bag, add cauliflower, oil, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, cumin, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Mix well until evenly coated.
- Cook the cauliflower by roasting them in the oven or cooking in the air fryer:
- To cook in the oven: Preheat oven to 400F. Spread the seasoned cauliflower florets in a single layer in a large half sheet baking pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 20- 25 minutes until tender and the edges become crispy.
- To cook in the air fryer: Transfer the seasoned cauliflower into the air fryer basket and cook at 375F for 15 minutes until tender and the edges become crispy.
- Set aside on a plate until ready to assemble the tacos.
Make the cilantro lime slaw:
- In a medium mixing bowl, add yogurt, mayonnaise, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir well until smooth.
- Place coleslaw mix in a large mixing bowl and pour in the dressing. Toss well to combine and coat evenly.
Assemble the tacos:
- Heat the tortillas according to the package instructions, or heat in an ungreased cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat for 30 seconds per side. You can also heat corn tortillas directly on a gas burner for a few seconds per side to get char marks on the edges. Repeat with all tortillas.
- Divide the cilantro lime slaw into each tortilla. Top with cooked cauliflower, red onions, and cilantro. Squeeze in some lime juice, if desired. You can also serve cauliflower tacos with a drizzle of Cilantro Lime Dressing or Lime Crema.
easy healthy vegetarian recipes for beginnes
- Zucchini Chips: Get your veggie snack fix with these ultra crisp zucchini chips!
- Apple Chips: For chips with a hint of natural sweetness and a dash of cinnamon.
- Baked Zucchini Fries: While these may not be everyday snacks, when zucchini season is in full swing you must make a batch.
- Kale Chips: I say it’s time to make kale chips cool! They’re so easy to make with a sprinkle of salt and drizzle of olive oil.
- Trail Mix Granola Bars: Mix together your favorite nuts and seeds to create these deliciously chewy granola bars.
- Baked Yuca Fries: Turn cassava into tasty, golden crisp fries! These will pleasantly surprise you. Oh, and don’t forget the cilantro lime mayonnaise dip.
- Baked Plantain Chips: These chips are the perfect combo of sweet and salty flavors – a healthy snack essential.
- No Bake Energy Balls: Need a midday pick me up? These delicious balls filled with healthy fats, fiber, carbs, and protein will come in handy. Switch it up between my mango date energy balls, banana bread energy balls, or matcha pistachio bliss balls.