Weeknight Cooking

25 Vegetarian Dinners for Non-Cooks (or Those Who Claim to Be)

November 29, 2016

Back in August, we shared a list of 25 main dish dinners for people who claim they can't cook (though if this is only their evil and brilliant excuse to get you to cook for them, well, we can't speak to that).

All of those recipes included an animal from the land or the sea, so now we're back and entirely meat-free.

Send this list to those in your life who claim they can't cook—vegetarian or not—to instill a bit of confidence. Or if you, friend, are the hesitant one who—after some scarring experience (tasteless potatoes, a burned lasagna or five)—thinks that you cannot cook, let these recipes ease you back into things.

  • The finished salad will stick around in your fridge for 3 days at least—which means you can reap the rewards of your (minimal) cooking the next day, and the day after that, and the day after that... It also means you should considering doubling the recipe.
  • Our most-beloved Food52 recipe, One Pot Kale and Quinoa Pilaf has been saved over 11,000 times, with more than 400 comments. You're in good hands. Go forth!
  • Make extra enchilada sauce and keep it in your freezer. That way, the next time you want to make enchiladas—which will be very soon—you'll just have to thaw it overnight in your fridge and you're halfway there. Also, you can get creative with just want goes inside them.
  • If you can bake a potato—and you can bake a potato!—and open a can of chickpeas, you can make this simple vegetarian main. Pair it with sautéed greens for a complete winter meal.
  • Fettucine Alfredo meets cream of mushroom soup (in a good way).
  • Once you can get the hang of this recipe, you'll riff on it indefinitely. ("I made the Braised Chickpeas last night," Ali Slagle told me one morning. "Except instead of chickpeas I used white beans, and I added a whole bunch of chard.")
  • A totally fuss-less way to make delicious, firm-yet-tender tofu—with no pressing or dredging or frying. In fact, you'll only use one pan for the whole dinner. Yahtzee!
  • The most difficult part about this recipe is roasting the squash—and you can even skip that part and sub in slices of apple or persimmon instead. Add an egg—fried, soft-boiled, that thing that happens when you try to make a sunny-side up egg but the yolks oozes everywhere so you kind of scramble everything together (just me?)—on top.
  • Here are two versions of one-pan pasta (you add all the ingredients for the sauce in with the noodles as they cook and, as the pasta absorbs the water, it sauces itself—you don't even have to drain it). One is for summer; one is for all other times of year.

And now for the imitation pastas...

  • We've made fun of spaghetti squash a lot in the past—but it doesn't have to be bland! And it takes care of itself (poke some holes in it, stick it in the oven for an hour and a bit, and voilà: spaghetti—kind of). Make it spicy and fresh with chiles and cilantro...
  • Or make it heartier by topping it with a white bean ragoût (or with your favorite tomato sauce warmed up with some white beans).
  • This recipe calls for chicken stock, but you can substitute in vegetarian broth for a fully meat-free meal. And yes, you will have to keep an eye on the farro as it cooks, but you don't have to be as vigilant as with a standard Arborio rice risotto.
  • To make the soup half chunky, half smooth, Gena recommends using an immersion blender. But if you don't have one, you can transfer half of the soup to a blender or food processor (a ladle helps), purée it, then add it back to the pot.
  • Entice a friend to help you chop the vegetables with the promise of a spicy, huggable bowl of curry.
  • The better your tomato sauce, the better your shakshuka. (The day we made this recipe in the Food52 test kitchen, we accidentally used a cream-spiked sauce. No one complained.)
  • Make a big batch of wild rice and roasted broccoli when you're cooking the ingredients for this bowl: You'll definitely find other ways to eat them throughout the week, even if it's as simple as cheesy rice (grated cheese melted over rice—I love this) or stir-fried wild rice mixed with the finely chopped broccoli.
  • Thirty-minute chili—and quinoa's chili cameo!
  • Let this recipe be a formula for tempeh + any kind of vegetable leftover in your fridge. You could use potato instead of sweet potato or another hearty green (chard, mustard greens, collards) in place of the kale. Or, you could swap in—or just add to the fray—leftover cooked vegetables like Brussels sprouts or green beans.
  • You'll want to make the effort to track down black soy sauce for this recipe—its deep flavor is what allows the rest of the ingredient list to be surprisingly pared-down.
  • From Julia Turshen's Small Victories, these lentils (stick with 100% split red, or add some French green lentils to the mix) come together in about 30 minutes, are deeply satisfying, and could be vegan if you leave out the yogurt.
  • Baking eggs means never having to say you're sorry flip them.
  • Spinach, mushrooms, and creams may not a complete meal make—but toss in some pasta and see what happens next.
  • Equal parts sesame oil, soy sauce, and cooking wine makes an aromatic Taiwanese sauce—and you only have to remember three ingredients.

Tell us: What's your go-to, super simple vegetarian main?

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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1 Comment

Susan M. November 30, 2016
Love this sight. Thank you Cori Martone for the share. Yeehaw. New
Recipes. Here is to a healthy ew Year.