12 Delicious Ways to Go Meatless for the Newly Vegetarian

By Marla Walters on 22 August 2017 0 comments

I have the hang of Meatless Monday, and I'm even able to cruise through Tofu Tuesday. By the time I get to Tempeh Thursday, though, the Golden Arches start calling to me. Sound familiar? The science behind eating more plant-based foods is compelling, but if you aren't used to it, it's just harder to figure out what to put on the table.

While I might be inclined to try making veggie burgers, will my family eat them? How in the heck can grilled tofu compete with a rib-eye? If you're just starting out with more meatless meals, here are 12 recipes for hearty, meatless dinners. (See also: 35 Slow Cooker Recipes for Busy Vegetarians)

Jackfruit

Have you seen packages of jackfruit popping up in stores? Popular in Brazil and native to South India, it has made its way to the U.S. and there are some good reasons to try it as a meatless dish. Besides being full of dietary fiber, minerals, and vitamins, it contains no cholesterol.

If you buy it prepared (which I recommend, as the fruits are large and a little daunting to cut), it looks a lot like pulled pork. It comes in prepared pouches or canned. If you buy canned, be aware it comes two ways: with syrup and without. You don't want the sweetened kind. Jackfruit tastes like mild pineapple and if you add a little barbecue sauce, you've got the perfect tangy treat.

1. Jackfruit Rice Bowl

This Spicy Jackfruit Rice Bowl is a good jackfruit tester dish. See if you like the flavor in a very simple preparation. It's also nice with jasmine rice and some chopped avocado.

2. Jackfruit "Pulled Pork" Sandwiches

Try this vegetarian take on "Pulled Pork" sandwiches. Great with sweet-potato fries!

Tofu

Tofu is mainstream now, but preparing it can still be a mystery. It's worth learning to cook, because it's a good source of protein, iron, minerals, and vitamin B1. When is tofu at its best? In my opinion, when the outside is crispy, and it's well-seasoned.

Many people make the mistake of selecting the wrong type of tofu for cooking. Look for firm tofu, and not the "silken" variety. Slice it into the shape as directed in your recipe and let it dry out on a clean towel.

3. Crispy Tofu Bowl

This Crispy Tofu Bowl is a good beginner recipe. I liked their recommendation of letting the tofu sit for 30 minutes, not just 10, before cooking for extra crispiness.

4. Crispy Tofu Nuggets

Need a kid-friendly meal? These Crispy Tofu Nuggets will fit the bill. If you don't have corn flake cereal, panko crumbs are a great substitute.

Mushrooms

If you are wary about making the move to a vegetarian lifestyle, mushrooms are a great "bridge" food.

5. Mushroom Bourguignon

One of my favorite meals is Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon. This Mushroom Bourguignon amazed me, because the flavors are dead-on. If you like farro, it's a delicious, chewy grain to go under the stew. This is also good with crusty French bread.

6. Vegan Portobello Pizza

Pizza is another great "transition" food when you are trying out a vegetarian diet. These Vegan Portobello Pizzas will really wow you. Pro tip: Let the edges get crispy when you broil.

Black Beans

Black beans are an excellent source of protein, and I personally love their flavor, so I use them a lot in vegetarian recipes. (See also: 35 Delicious Rice and Bean Dishes)

7. Black Bean Burger

Leave it to a rancher's wife to come up with a seriously delicious meatless Black Bean Burger. These are so yummy that you will, like me, start watching for black beans to go on sale.

8. Black Bean Chili

Next time you have a drizzly evening, cook up a batch of this Vegetarian Black Bean Chili. I think it's even better the next day, when the flavors have mellowed. Again, use soy cheese if you are avoiding dairy. The leftovers are great to pack in your lunchbox, too.

Chickpeas

I eat chickpeas right out of the can. I like them that much. My husband, however, will sprinkle them over a salad, but eating them out of the can? No. That's not a problem, because they are easy to prepare and contain protein, fiber, and manganese. (See also: 10 Tasty and Frugal Chickpea Recipes)

9. Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad

This Chickpea, Barley, and Feta Salad has a Greek flavor palate. It is satisfyingly chewy, thanks to the barley, and the feta adds a tart touch. I like to make extra so that I can tote leftovers for lunch.

10. Indian Chickpea Stew

As suggested, head for an Indian grocery for the spices needed for this easy "Chana Masala," or Indian Chickpea Stew. I like this with ready-made Garlic Naan, lightly toasted in the oven.

Eggplant

Eggplants are big, meaty vegetables, and when added as the main ingredient to a meal, they can be very filling. (See also: 14 Tasty, Frugal Eggplant Recipes)

11. Eggplant Bolognese

This Eggplant Bolognese takes less than an hour to prepare, and is still as hearty and delicious as the meat version. And if you have leftovers, it's a great freezable meal to save for later.

12. Eggplant Rollatini Quinoa Casserole

When you need a belly-filling meal that can be tossed into a baking dish and thrown into the oven, this Eggplant Rollatini Quinoa Casserole is a great option. Also? There is a ridiculous amount of cheese on top.

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