Too often, recipes for vegetarian entrées seem more like side dishes masquerading as mains, or they rely on loads of fatty cheese or butter for flavor. These easy vegetarian mains are inspired by global cuisines and are all simple enough for a weeknight dinner.
They’re satisfying, delicious, and pretty darn healthy—we only slipped cheese into a few (and for the last one it’s optional). As an added bonus, many of these meals are pantry-friendly too.
Related Reading: Easy Pasta Recipes to Make with Pantry Staples
This vibrant vegetarian take on sweet and sour chicken stars cauliflower as the meaty main ingredient, and only takes a little over 30 minutes to make. Baking it means it’s healthy, but it’s still crunchy too. Who needs takeout? Get the Sweet and Sour Cauliflower recipe.
This is pesto like you’ve never had it before: a blend of Swiss chard, red miso, rice vinegar, and garlic is dynamite on noodles of any kind, but earthy buckwheat soba are a favorite; if you can’t find them, try a whole-wheat pasta. You can also substitute other hearty winter greens for the chard. Get our Soba Noodles with Swiss Chard Miso Pesto recipe.
Hikari Organic Red Miso Paste, 2 tubs for $17.50 on Amazon
A little goes a long way.
A melange of peppers, onions, zucchini, and halloumi cheese is a fantastic vegetarian sheet pan dinner—but for the first part of the cooking time, it’s wrapped up in parchment to make sure the veggies are perfectly tender. A drizzle of oregano-basil oil makes it even better. Serve with rice, couscous, quinoa, or flatbread for sopping up every last drop. Get the Mediterranean Vegetables and Halloumi recipe.
Prepared red curry paste (definitely one of those gourmet pantry staples to keep on hand along with rice and beans), and creamy coconut milk combine with sauteed veggies, soy sauce, fresh lime juice, garlic, and ginger for a delicious dish that works just as well with any winter squash. Serve over steamed white or brown rice, or cauliflower rice for even more veggie goodness. Get our Thai Red Curry with Kabocha Squash recipe.
This hearty vegetarian dish is built from pantry staples (namely, chickpeas and tomatoes), plus fresh aromatics, onions, and spices. Serve with naan or flatbread you’ve bought at the store, or try making roti to go alongside. Get our Chole (Chana) Masala recipe.
This one-pan dinner channels shepherd’s pie but without any meat…so, gardener’s pie, maybe? Silky eggplant and meaty mushrooms are a great combo, but you can use any veggies you have on hand. The cheesy polenta topping means no side is necessary (although a crisp, fresh salad is a nice contrast). Get our Eggplant and Mushroom Polenta Bake recipe.
A mix of sauteed shiitake mushrooms, carrots, spinach, onion, and garlic tangle up with pleasantly chewy sweet potato noodles in a sweet and savory sauce. As a bonus, the noodles are naturally gluten-free. Get our Japchae recipe.
Stew might conjure up images of thick, meaty mixtures, but this veggie version is a welcome change of pace. Sweet beets and butternut squash and slightly spicy radishes are unexpectedly great together, especially with the multifaceted flavors of harissa, honey, and preserved lemons in the pot. Serve over rice or a quick couscous pilaf. Get our Beet, Squash, and Radish Moroccan Stew recipe.
Starting with a robust vegetable broth is key to getting maximum flavor into this quick soup; toasting the cinnamon, star anise, and cloves gives it even more dimension. You can add whatever protein you like—a mix of mushrooms and tofu is nice—and snap peas freshen things up, but try bok choy or other green, crisp-tender vegetables too. And add as many toppings as you like (fresh herbs, lime wedges, peanuts, chilies, bean sprouts, and so on). Get the Quick Vegetarian Pho recipe.
10. Broiled Tofu
Tofu is only bland if you don’t treat it right. You have to press it first, then hit it with plenty of flavor (soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil do the trick here). Broiling gives the tofu more texture, and you can use any veggies you like as long as they’ll stand up to the heat—think broccoli, peppers, onions, etc. Get our Broiled Tofu recipe.
Related Reading: 5 Tips for the Best Tofu, According to Vegetarian Chefs
Italian risotto takes a bit of patience, but not as much time as you might think. This rendition uses vegetable broth and is ready in about 30 minutes. Onions, garlic, and parmesan add extra depth, but for a vegan version, sprinkle in some nutritional yeast instead of the cheese. And play around with other vegetables, spices, and herbs for endless variations. Get our Easy Veggie Risotto recipe.
Related Video: This Persian Butter Bean Stew Is a Perfect Vegetarian Dish
Header image by Chowhound.