My Favorite Easy Go-To Vegetarian Dinners

by Lisa on Monday: Feb 08, 2016
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If you’re first starting out on a vegetarian lifestyle, it can be a little challenging to build up a good list of go-to dinners that don’t contain any meat. After many years as a vegetarian who cooks most meals at home, I’ve got a good list of dinners that I can turn to at any time that I know will be delicious and easy.

Here are some of my favorite go-to vegetarian dinners!

Sauteed Veggies with Quinoa

When I’m looking for a super healthy option for dinner, I’ll turn to this recipe. It’s simple, tasty and has a nice dose of protein thanks to the quinoa. It’s really very simple: sautee a large pepper and onion with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder.

Sauteed veggies

If I have any on hand, I’ll sometimes throw in a tablespoon of enchilada sauce to give the dish a nice Mexican flavor (my favorite!). Meanwhile, cook up a cup of quinoa according to the package directions. Then combine in a bowl! This is a very filling option, and I always feel like I made a healthy decision when I have this for dinner.

Vegetarian Burrito Bowl

This has been a staple dinner option for me for years, being a Mexican food lover. Also, when I make a burrito bowl for myself, I can easily make one for D, substituting in turkey meat for the non-vegetarian in my life. I usually saute up a few veggies and/or soy chorizo, make some guacamole from scratch and top with lettuce, salsa, cheese and sour cream. Delicious!

Spaghetti Squash and Pasta Sauce

My family is Italian, and I grew up eating pasta 2-3 times per week for my entire childhood. I still love pasta very much, and one of my favorite dinners will always be rigatoni or penne with red sauce and plenty of parm or mozzarella on top. However, when I’m looking to be more healthy, spaghetti squash (or sometimes zucchini noodles) is the way to go.

spaghetti squash

I’ve come a long way since I first attempted to make spaghetti squash, and now I just go straight to the microwave to cook it up. Some squash “noodles” topped with sauce and some cheese hits all the notes of the traditional pasta dish, since the sauce is where all the flavor is anyway. Occasionally, I’ll pair this with a tofurkey sausage.

Macaroni and Cheese with Brussel Sprouts

This option is lower on the healthy scale, but when in need of a nice, hot, comfort-style meal, I turn to homemade mac and cheese with a side of brussel sprouts. The mac and cheese is gooey and filling and instantly brings me back to my childhood. The brussel sprouts are roasted and add that much needed side of greens to this rich meal. This is great to serve for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. Who doesn’t love mac and cheese?

Mac and Cheese and Brussel Sprouts

Roasted Vegetables

The possibilities are endless with a nice pan of roasted vegetables. You can throw in any veggie you have hanging around the house. My usual options include peppers, onions, garlic, potatoes (or sweet potatoes depending on what I have), squash, brussel sprouts, and carrots coated in olive oil, salt, pepper, and onion and garlic powder.

Homemade Vegetable Soup

This recipe is adapted from a family recipe that dates back to my grandmother. Her version was chicken-based, and was what I ate growing up as my mother cooked it all the time as well. In the past few years, I’ve been able to adapt it to be vegetarian by making two simple changes: remove the chicken (obviously), and substitute the chicken broth with veggie broth. I also add in a few more spices and some garlic to up the flavors. A nice veggie soup is a perfect comfort food on cold days, and is very simple to make. You just throw everything into a pot and cook for 2 hours. I will be posting my full recipe soon!

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What’s your favorite comfort food to make at home?

Do you cook at home more often or eat out?

15 Responses to “My Favorite Easy Go-To Vegetarian Dinners”

  1. I LOVE spaghetti squash. There are so many ways to use it and it never gets old for me!!!

    I cook more at home now. Saves money and I know what’s going in my food!

    • Lisa says:

      I agree with you about cooking at home. I feel like even if I order something out that’s supposed to be healthy, it will still be much more unhealthy than anything I would cook for myself at home!

  2. Great ideas! I love having a few meals that are in rotation that I don’t even have to think about. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lisa says:

      Me too! It definitely helps to have some stand-by meals on hand especially on busy weeknights.

  3. I love making mac & cheese a little healthier by adding a big ol’ side of vegetables, or even sometimes I’ll mix broccoli into my mac & cheese. Still not super healthy, but better than no veggies at all!

    • Lisa says:

      I agree – when you’re having a meal as rich as mac and cheese, you need something green! Plus it makes it more delicious, in my opinion.

  4. Kerry says:

    I love spaghetti squash with pasta sauce! I have been big in to the zoodles lately too! Yum!

    • Lisa says:

      I love it too! And another great part about it is that when I cook up a whole spaghetti squash, there’s usually enough for multiple meals.

  5. Thanks for sharing these recipes. I used to be veggie and still don’t eat much meat. I love eating comfort food with a side of veggies. Then it’s healthy. 🙂

    • Lisa says:

      I’m also a big fan of comfort food with veggies on the side. Comfort food is necessary every now and then!

  6. Love these ideas!

  7. Caroline says:

    Definitely keeping this for a reference! I’ve been trying to eat quinoa lately for a healthy option as opposed to rice all the time, but its been hard finding enjoyment in its taste. I really LOVE mexican rice! So I’m very interested in trying that quinoa w/ enchilada sauce! Thanks for sharing!

    link to curlycaroline.wordpress.com

    • Lisa says:

      I find that quinoa, much like rice, absorbs the flavors of what you put it with. For example, sometimes I’ll have some leftover quinoa in the fridge and I’ll throw it on top of a salad. Then it tastes exactly like the dressing I’m using. Thanks for coming by from the hop!

  8. Karen says:

    My favorite (currently) veggie dish is roasted cauliflower with white beans. I totally cheat and use frozen cauliflower that I kinda roast in the oven. While its roasting, I combine a can of white beans, olive oil, minced garlic, hot pepper flakes, and parmesan cheese. When the cauliflower looks cooked enough, combine them and then put back in the oven in the same baking dish and cook till is all hot. Sometimes i turn on the broiler to get is a little browned. Yum.

    Now i have some new ideas to try, thanks!

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