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Great Vegetarian Recipes for Meat Lovers

My husband and I, in an effort to remain healthy and to improve our well being are planning on adding several vegetarian meals weekly to our diets. We will be attempting to eat around 2-3 vegetarian meals per week. I am looking for any main dishes, sides, soups, salads etc that will be great for our family. We will still be eating meat, simply decreasing the quantity. We both grew up in the South, so anything that simulates fried food (i.e. any "baked" dishes) or any and all spicy and ultra flavorful dishes would be our first choice but I appreciate any and all suggestions for tried and true veggie dishes. Any dish that is either elaborate or simple will work for us as we love to cook. Also, if anyone out there has a "baked" recipe for fried green tomatoes(not sure if this is possible : ) I would love to have that as well. Thanks in advance for any recipes or suggestions.

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  1. A great idea, I'm tuscan and always suggest, this time of the year at least Panzanella, it's an ancient recipe that used to be made in Tuscany and is still very popular, all you need is some stale bread, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes and basil leaves. Our secret is the bread, it must be unsalted and sogged in cold water, then all you do is squeeze the water out and add all the ingredients, finally season with extravirgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt....that's all meatless, healthy and fresh....

    1. Last night I made a first course that I will now be making larger for a main course it was that good!

      I got a mixed variety of beets, roasted them and served them with farm fresh yogurt on top. Would probably be great if you added dill if you like dill (I don't).

      Served that along side a caramelized onion and tellegio cheese tart.
      rolled out square of puffed pastry with caramelized onion reduced with a little red wine vinegar and brown sugar...top with tellegio on the pastry, leave a 1" edge and brush with melted butter. 350 oven for 15-20 minutes and it was GREAT. Crispy, flaky crust and great flavors.

      I also love making paninis in the summer to get the most out of produce from the farmers market - they're easy and can be made with anything. standard is artichoke pesto, goat cheese, and grilled summer squash...smushed in the panini press (usually use ciabatta rolls).

      Lastly, my summer go-to is gaspacho. I can live on this in the summer and just made my first batch.
      - tomato juice, lots of onion, lots of seedless cucumbers, peppers, jalapenos. Blend everything together with a little red wine vinegar, then serve VERY cold. Better the next day, and I add small chunks of sweet onion, cukes and peppers to the blended soup because I like the chunky bits. Great with avocado or plain yogurt on top.

      1. will chime in with more later, but "oven-fried" green tomatoes are absolutely possible, and delicious!


        3 large green tomatoes
        ½ cup flour (or GF flour substitute)
        ½ cup medium-grind cornmeal
        ¼ cup Panko breadcrumbs (or sub ground flax, almond meal, or GF bread crumbs)
        1 tsp celery salt
        ¼ tsp paprika
        ¼ tsp cayenne
        ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
        2 egg whites
        ½ cup low fat buttermilk (or evaporated skim milk “soured” with 1½ tsp lemon juice)

        - Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray or parchment.
        - Slice tomatoes – you want them about ¼-inch thick.
        - Add flour, cornmeal, breadcrumbs (or substitute), and seasonings to a flat, shallow dish, and combine thoroughly with a whisk.
        - In a small bowl, whisk together egg whites and buttermilk.
        - Dip each tomato slice in egg wash, let excess drip off, dredge in cornmeal mixture, and gently shake off any excess.
        - Lay tomato slices on prepared baking sheet and mist lightly with oil.
        - Bake for 18- 20 minutes, turning once to ensure even browning.

        NOTE: this is also a terrific way to make okra!

        gratin is another favorite vegetarian dish. i love this NY Times recipe. it's always a hit, it's easy, and it's relatively low in fat...


        a couple of notes:
        - you can sub Swiss, Emmentaler, or a combo of Fontina & Parm for the Gruyère
        - if you don't like cumin, substitute a teaspoon of minced fresh thyme or rosemary and some freshly grated nutmeg.
        - try it with turnips, parsnips, or rutabaga instead of (or in addition to) potatoes.

        also do a search for quinoa & grain salads. there have been tons of threads during the past couple of years.

        2 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          I get a Page Not Found on the NYTimes recipe. Can you specify what recipe you're referring to?

        2. I found this recipe yesterday for a zucchini galette and haven't made it yet, but it's on my list: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

          Other meals I've made lately:
          Greek salad stuffed into a pita with hummus

          Bean and cheese burritos with a salad. Actually - a lot of bean dishes lately as my freezer was crammed with beans I made during cooler weather. Thankfully today is again cool so I'm making another batch to freeze.

          Asparagus risotto

          I made a little appetizer dinner recently: carrot sticks and stuffed celery, tiny tostada (small flour tortilla cut in thirds then fried and piled), mushroom duxelle with toast points cheese and fruit. It was an odd combo but completely satisfying and wonderfully tasty.

          Panzanella sounds great.

          I'm also going to take a whack at Buffalo and BBQ styles of tofu and different vegetables with polenta both creamy and fried.

          1. I made an easy courgette lasagne tonight which was a big hit with Mr GG - who is massively into meat. Very light and summery, and more healthy than regular lasagnes.


            1 Reply
            1. re: greedygirl

              The courgette lasagne is pretty good and well worth a try. That said, I think it needs "something" but I'm not sure quite what.

              One of my favourite "almost veggie" meals - macaroni cheese, incorporating softened onion, courgette and a smallish quantity of bacon/pancetta. When it's cooked, put in a serving dish, top with breadcrumbs, mixed with a little cayenne, and a sprinkle of cheese and stick it under the grill for a couple of minutes.

              Most of my completely veggie dishes are more autumn/winter stuff. But b=how about lentil burgers to be going on with? Cook 225g green lentils. Fry some garlic, a large onion, couple of carrots and a stick of celery. Mix the two, with some ground coriander and cumin, a lot of parsley and a juice of half a lemon (maybe more). Whizz it in a processor with an egg and 100g breadcrumbs. Make into burgers and chill for 30 minutes or so to firm up and then grill to heat through. I'd serve these without a bun but with chips and some mayo mixed with curry powder and a tomato salad. Delish, IMO.

            2. Good for you for trying to eat less meat! It's all about balance and summer is a great time of year to include more veggies. I'm not clear on whether you are looking for "healthy" mains or simply meatless dishes. Are you interested in meat substitutes at all? Good luck in whatever you choose!

              Some vegetarian mains I like:

              Zuni Cafe's Chard, Onion & Gruyère Panade

              Crispy Black Bean Tacos With Feta & Cabbage Slaw

              Spiced Lentil Tacos

              (Gourmet Magazine's Tomato and Onion Tart

              I haven't tried these ones but many others have given them great reviews:

              Vegetable Tortilla Lasagne

              Chili Relleno Casserole

              Spicy Black Beans with Bell Peppers and Rice

              And if you click on this link you'll find lots of great Southwestern dishes from Cooking Light, Southern Living, and other magazines:

              9 Replies
              1. re: toveggiegirl

                I am looking for both healthy mains and/or meatless dishes as well as any meat substitutes. I really like tofu, but not sure what my husband would think about the texture and taste. Any suggestions are very welcome, and I really like all of the posts so far! Thanks to all and keep em coming!

                1. re: ScarlettNola

                  baking tofu until its crispy gives it the same texture as fried tofu - often preferred by meat eaters - but obviously with less fat. you can marinade it in something like yogurt and indian spices for 15-30 minutes, then bake....or soy based marinades.

                  1. re: ScarlettNola

                    ScarlettNola...don't overlook the awesome portobello mushrooms...so very meaty!!!Remove stem and scrape out some of the gills... Grilling them is best, if you can...otherwise, you can rub a little oil on them and bake in the oven...great with a little balsamic vinegar too.

                    1. re: Val

                      Yummy. I had these at a vegetarian "BBQ" and have loved them since. I have used a bit of terriyaki, but will try balsamic as well.

                      1. re: ScarlettNola

                        I like this recipe from the Mayo Clinic:
                        Grilled Balsamic Portabella Mushroom Burger

                        1. re: toveggiegirl

                          Loved this recipe! I tried a 'sliders' version using mini portabellas, hawaiian sweet rolls topped with sauteed onions and cheddar and provolone. My husband said they are even better than my usual ground beef sliders. Many thanx!

                          1. re: DeskPotato

                            I'm so glad they worked for you! And your version sounds so delicious, I might have to try that next time.

                  2. re: toveggiegirl

                    The crispy black bean tacos are a favorite of mine! I've also made the rellano cassrole, it was OK, a little too eggy for me. But I am MOST interested in those spiced lentil tacos...have you made them toveggiegirl?

                    1. re: toveggiegirl

                      My husband and I LOVE that spicy black beans w bell peppers and rice recipe. It has been a long time staple in our house. We live in London and when people visit, we have them bring tins of chipotle chillis so we can continue to make this.

                    2. So many delicious choices and some great ideas suggested here. At home, we eat chicken and fish once a week but most days I try to make inventive vegetarian meals which are healthy and interesting.

                      Some of my favourites are:

                      - Vegetarian wholemeal empanadas;
                      - Phyllo pie filled with roasted vegetables, ricotta and mozzarella or crumbles feta cheese
                      - Chickpea and mixed bean burgers served with a beet and Greek Yogurt dip
                      - Wholemeal pasta with pesto (spinach, broccoli or basil)
                      - Vegetarian tagine (with couscous, sweet potato, apricots, raisins and other veggies)
                      - Frittatas
                      - Risottos (made with rice or barley)
                      - Homemade gnocchi
                      - Vegetarian curry or dhal

                      1. Well, for starters, you might get into SmartGround. My husband and I both eat meat, but often sub SmartGround (or other brands of Textured Vegetable Protein) in things like lasagna, bolognese, meatballs, sherpherd's pie, tacos, etc. It's just like ground beef but healthier, cheaper, and frankly, EASIER since you don't have to brown it. You just crumble it in. It's in the supermarket with the Tofu.

                        Beyond that, we eat about 4 veg. meals/ week. A few favorites:

                        -enchilada casserole (layers of corn tortillas, black beans, veggies, smart ground, and enchilada sauce)
                        -grilled veggie burritos/ sandwiches/ whatever, with portabellos, zucchini, etc.
                        -black-eyed pea cakes with remoulade
                        -salmon/ tuna cakes with remoulade
                        -curries, with chickpeas, sweet potatoes, spinach, etc, over rice
                        -eggplant parm
                        -casseroles that typically have chicken, but sub. cannelini beans (I do this with my mom's chicken and stuffing casserole, mexican chicken casseroles, and veggie-chicken casseroles)
                        -pastas with white beans or chick peas and veggies
                        -salad with corn fritters, black beans, avocado
                        -salad with lima beans, fresh corn, cherry tomatoes, red onion
                        -cornbread and pinto beans
                        -grits with tomatoes and white beans or black-eyed peas

                        (can you tell I'm from the south too?!)

                        1. Apologies for duping any ones recipes

                          Quesadillas or tacos are great using eggplant, squash, beans, fresh cheese, avacados, onions, tomatoes. They are a great way to use fresh market veggies and local cheese.
                          Mushrooms, smoky gouda and arugula is a favorite
                          Red pepper, cream cheese, parm, avacados, black olives and artichokes and spinach
                          Spinach, olive tapenade, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella.
                          So go wild and have fun.

                          Fritattas, A great dish wish tons of possibilities

                          Pizza with a whole wheat crust, a simple pesto base, fresh mozz, some parm, fresh tomato, onion and mushrooms or eggplant, olives, spinach and feta. A wonderful dish.

                          Whole wheat pasta with a arugula and wild mushroom ragu with smoky gouda and fresh rosemary and thyme.

                          I love to make a big batch of fresh roasted vegetable soup. I know soup in summer, but it is really good with a fresh grilled cheese sandwich.

                          Lasagna is a favorite of mine with zucchini, spinach and mushrooms.
                          I also make one with asparagus, peas and arugula
                          I white vs red sauce and a great dish for summer cooking.

                          Of course the portabello. I like to stuff mine with black beans and roasted corn sauteed with onions, garlic and a spicy pepperjack cheese topped with bread crumbs and baked. A wonderful dish

                          Simple cheese ravioli with a fresh tomato sauce is easy

                          Chick peas make great dishes with salads, pastas or simple chick pea cakes.

                          And I am sure someone mentioned Mexican. Beans, Rice, Chilis, Hundreds of ideas there.

                          I love just grilling vegetables and adding them to my pasta. A little fresh cream, peccerino romano and fresh herbs. Maybe a few black olives to the dish and it is an amazing pasta.

                          I also make a shepherds pie which isn't. It's base it carrots, celery, tomatoes, onion, garlic and portabellos, then the fresh roasted corn, eggplant and squash. Topped with lots of mashed potatoes and leeks and cheese. It is just as hearty.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: kchurchill5

                            kchurchill5 - My mouth is WATERING! Do you have a recipe for the:

                            asparagus lasagna
                            stuffed portabellas
                            zucchini/mushroom/spinach lasagna?

                            My husband and I eat seafood periodically (and very rarely poultry), but I've been making mostly vegetarian dinners and I'm not very creative.

                            1. re: MPJ

                              Kchurchill5, who used to have hundreds of CH posts weekly, has not done so in 2 months, so may not see your post. You might want to go to her profile and e-mail her directly.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                Thank you so much, greygarious! I'll try her that way. :)

                          2. Soup beans and corn bread of course
                            Tomato pie with a light salad
                            Stuffed tomatoes with corn on the cob
                            grit cakes with a veggie plate

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: LaLa

                              Stuffed tomatoes are great.
                              I make stuffed zuchinni all the time with all vegetables, a little bread crumbs and cheese
                              Very decadent and great flavor. Same with eggplant.

                              A nice baguette stuffed with all vegetables sauteed with some fresh diced tomatoes and fresh mozz is a great hearty sandwich. You can add spinach, squash, onions, eggplant, olives, peppers, anything you want. It is an amazing simple sandwich.

                            2. The Eggplant Pepper Tomato Sauce in CH Recipes is hearty and the eggplant gives it a meaty mouth-feel. I add mushrooms for more umami and texture. In general, eggplant and mushroom make vegetarian dishes heartier.

                              I find that Indian vegetarian dishes are more satisfying than other non-meat entrees. Recipes can have intimidatingly long ingredient lists because of the complex spice mixtures. I am fortunate to have a wonderful Indian place nearby, and am disinclined to get deeply involved in cooking it at home, but on occasion have managed to turn out a respectable korma or curry by subbing garam masala, hing (asefoetida) and curry powder for the individual spices in the recipes. Include paneer (if you are okay with dairy) for taste and firmness.

                              1. Roasted greens, kale, chard and bok choy with a light garlic oil, chopped with fresh whole wheat pasta and a light miso and lemon sauce tossed with some mushrooms and red peppers and scallions.

                                1. All of these are fabulous suggestions. Mr Eatmo and I are doing the same as you. I use dried beans at least once a week. Also, we like a baked white or sweet potato and salad. Make it a super salad with fresh stuff from the local market. I am also experimenting with using rice pilaf as a main dish. There are many variations. I like using brown rice. I saw some very nice yellow beets at the market today. I think the idea of roasting fresh beets is a winner. Something I want to do is to make a hummus sandwich with roasted veggies. Haven't done that in a while. Good luck!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                    I roast beets once a week, I get them at my market. They are great in casseroles, salads, chopped over fish. I know you said veggie, but I was thinking options. But equally good with couscous especially the yellow ones, some criminis, goat cheese, roasted beets, arugula as a rich salad. Some grilled bread and a potato soup, a rich healthy soup and salad dinner.

                                    1. re: kchurchill5

                                      You make a good point about a rich salad. I have found that when you are not eating meat, you need a richer salad, or perhaps a richer salad dressing, to feel satisfied.

                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                        I guess it just makes it feel like more of a meal. A panzanella is great too. But even just adding a nice crostinni with pesto and cheese makes it more rich.

                                        I love creamy veggie soups during the summer with a nice toasted crostinni, it is healthy but still very satisfying. A small sammy or salad which makes a great dinner.

                                        I have a warm egg dressing with no oil, fresh herbs but makes a great warm dressing over grilled veggies and lettuce. Makes a hearty salad. Add some chick peas or black beans and makes a great salad.

                                  2. We have been on this journey too, and I would like to suggest two columns in the NY Times, Rose Shulman's column, 4 days/week, recipes for health, and Mark Bittman often writes about vegetarian recipes. Here's a link to Rose Shulman's column today. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/06/hea...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: veggielover

                                      Those are both good recommendations. 101 Cookbooks also has great veggie recipes. http://www.101cookbooks.com/index.html

                                    2. Thanks to all! I have tried quite a few of these recipes in the past week and intend to try them all. Everything has been great thus far!

                                      2 Replies
                                        1. re: toveggiegirl

                                          Thus far we have tried the oven baked "fried" green tomatoes, grilled portabella balsamic mushroom burger (delish!) , panzanella, black bean tacos, gazpacho, Roasted beet salad, holly ds enchilada casserole, and any number of grilled and roasted squash and zucchini dishes. I intend to try each and every recipe listed as they all sound fabulous. I did almost an entire meat free week and felt fabulous. Now, we will have to try 2-3 meals per week without meat, or using a meat substiute. I have had no red meat in over 2 weeks either, so I am feeling pretty damn healthy at this point! Thanks again to all. Everything has been wonderful and my even my husband is enjoying our new recipes.

                                      1. It wouldn't be summer if I didn't make Julia Childs ratatouille from The Way To Cook. It turned my husband into an eggplant lover. There are stove top versions as well that take less time.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: ginnyhw

                                          I add some white beans to my easier version that is still very good.

                                        2. Have you gone cookbook shopping at the library? Deborah Madison and Maddur Jaffrey have such a knack with wonderful veggie dishes. Also, check out the AMAZING blog 101 Cookbooks. Her salads and gratins are mind blowingly well thought out, and good, AND really healthful.

                                          1. I know I posted in this thread a while back but my posts are gone? That's why I haven't been able to find it.

                                            Anyway, here are some awesome vegetarian recipes:

                                            M'Baazi: Kenyan Black-Eyed Peas in Coconut Milk
                                            Cheese Stuffed Poblano Chiles with Chipotle Sauce, Guacamole, and Salsa Verde
                                            Fried Green Tomatoes, Two Ways
                                            West African Style Greens and Peanut Butter Stew
                                            lots more! Yum!

                                            1. I make a rice dish that I've served to a few vegetarians who seemed very pleased with it, and some meat eaters who loved it, too. It's very simple, but tasty.

                                              I don't measure and you won't need to, either.

                                              Make a batch of basmati rice, and while it's cooking, saute sliced mushrooms (whichever kind you like), red and yellow peppers, celery, onions, shredded carrots and garlic in some olive oil. Throw in some parsley near the end.

                                              Toast some pecans in a skillet or on a baking sheet in the oven (salting immediately after toasting).

                                              Mix the veggies and pecans with the rice, almost like a stir fry or jambalaya and then season it well.

                                              I season with Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning & Louisiana Gold green hot sauce, but that's a personal choice. Season as you wish.

                                              1. Now that the weather is starting to turn, and we have less summer produce, I wonder what cooler weather veggie dishes you all are cooking. Does anyone do a good veggie chili?

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                  Not a veggie chili, but I'm so stoked for lentil soup, I've been craving it for a while. I was going to make Barefoot Contessa's recipe this fall:


                                                  And butternut squash soup topped with creme fraiche and fried sage - I saw that somewhere recently (can't remember where). I think that sounds so good.

                                                  I'd actually be interested in a veggie chili recipe, too - but something without faux meat crumbles. Just veggies.

                                                2. I really like butternut squash as a filling vegetable side. Cooked in a bit of olive oil with rosemary with a sprinkle of sea salt.

                                                  Squash gratins are really good! There will be plenty of recipes and results on this site.

                                                  Zuchini is great julienned lightly sauted with salt and lots of fresh ground pepper and a spinkle of parmesan. Really good on toasted bread like bruschetta style.

                                                  1. I just made a great vegetarian "bunny chow" (Durban curry). I started by browning an onion in oil, then added minced garlic, minced ginger, turmeric and some "Durban curry powder" that I bought at a farmer's market. Then I added in a chopped green apple and red pepper. Cooked it up and added some veggie stock to keep it moist. When the apple and red pepper were soft, I added peeled chopped carrots and a yam. When they were soft, I added in cauliflower florets and diced rehydrated apricots and a bit more stock. When that was soft, in went the green beans and more stock. When soft, I added tons of shredded red cabbage and a pinch more curry powder. I let it cook on low until everything was soft and the flavours were all blended together. My understanding is that "bunny chow" is typically served in a "bread bowl" made from a hollowed out chunk of bread, but I'm just serving mine over basmati rice. My dad is a hardcore meat eater but he's enjoyed this recipe in the past.