Dinner Tonight

Our Most Popular Vegetarian Mains of All Time

Meat-free entrées everyone will love.

January  7, 2019
Photo by Bobbi Lin

I'll admit, I'm not the biggest fan of New Year's resolutions. At least, not the broad, sweeping type like, "become a perfect person" or "make my bed every day, all year."

But I do love a certain sort: simple, manageable New Year's projects. Like, challenging myself to spend a full weekend alone, or learning how to master (fingers crossed) laminated pastry doughs (I'm addicted to kouign-amann). One I'm especially excited about this January is a week of vegetarianism. I'm looking forward to trying this primarily because as a recipe developer, I really appreciate dishes that build a mind-blowing amount of flavor with no meat at all.

With an endless supply of excellent-looking vegetarian entrées out there, I thought I'd start my menu planning with a handful of battle-tested options—Food52's all-time most popular meatless mains. Here's what I've got lined up:

Our Most Popular Vegetarian Dinners

A whole head of cauliflower gets poached then roasted 'til super tender. And I won't be sleeping on the tangy whipped goat cheese!

Deeply caramelized onions take a bath in butter, then get showered in Parmesan and mixed into pasta.

Fluffy quinoa and perfectly steamed kale join forces, and add zingy lemon and tangy goat cheese to their crew. Count me in.

A three-ingredient tomato sauce I plan to slurp straight from the pot. Then toss with pasta. Then dip a baguette into.

An endlessly riffable salty-sweet textural dream of a salad I'm planning to make a double batch of, so I can bring it for lunch the next day.

Seven ingredients and just five simple steps for a delicately nuanced and delicious carrot soup.

Pan-fried giant white beans that look so genius, I wonder how I've eaten beans any other way.

I've made this pitch-perfect pasta—which comes together from storable staples (think: chickpeas, tomato paste, olive oil)—before, and it made me want to buy my pantry a BFF bracelet.

Just onion, cauliflower, and olive oil team up for a delicate, lightly sweet vegetarian soup.

Perfectly cooked eggplant blanketed in sauce, with a melty belly of mozzarella cheese? Sounds like an excerpt from my diary.

What's your go-to vegetarian entrée? Let me know in the comments!

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a a writer at Food52. She covers food, travel, wellness, lifestyle, home, novelty snacks, and internet-famous sandwiches. You can follow her on Instagram @equittner, or Twitter at @ellaquittner. She also develops recipes for Food52, and has a soft spot for all pasta, anything spicy, and salty chocolate things.


Ellen January 26, 2019
Fried rice is a go-to dinner favorite; we riff off Sam Sifton's New York Times recipe.
Terry January 21, 2019
You mean, everybody doesn't make their bed every day??

kathy January 20, 2019
I made the quinoa salad with apples, cranberries, & nuts (I used almonds instead of hazelnuts) for Thanksgiving for vegetarians but EVERYONE loved it. Had lots leftover for the next day's lunch. Great recipe that all thought tasted so fresh even the next day!
FS January 20, 2019
That roasted cauliflower is drop dead gorgeous - I'll have to try that recipe soon.
Louise G. January 20, 2019
I do love spaghetti aglio e olio. I have tried many recipes but love Ina Garten’s recipe. Also I try to use whole wheat pasta when I cook, I prefer the regular for this recipe.
Bryanah W. January 20, 2019
A nice variety of veg options.... and not all are pasta!!
Debra L. January 20, 2019
This is great timing as one of our New Year's "modifications" is doing Meat Free Mondays. Like the other commenter, we would definitely be interested in mains that will be filling and satisfying. I understand lentils are a good protein source so we'll definitely be looking for those recipes.
Pat January 20, 2019
These look like great recipes. I agree totally with Joanne. If you’re a vegetarian, you need protein in all your meals. If you’re trying it for a week this will feed you, but not nourish you. There is more to being a vegetarian than just eating vegetables and pasta.
Joanne January 20, 2019
Hi! These look wonderful and tasty, and i will be trying them out! - but from my experience, some of these veggie recipes are definitely ‘sides’... Without more protein, for example after eating the carrot or cauli soup, you will be raiding the kitchen at 2 am, starving. Planning your veggie meal is important - be sure to include lots of beans, tofu, tempeh, quinoa, nuts, seeds - something to sustain you, or you won’t make it a week!
Bryanah W. January 20, 2019
I thought I was the only one starving after having soup for dinner 😂😂😂
Snow February 19, 2019
Great reminder Joanne....some of us learned the hard way.
Replace what you know...grilled hummus and pesto sandwiches instead of grilled cheese. (Because its sometimes more about that buttery salty grilled bread than the cheese-only sometimes). Roasted nuts chopped or broken up and used as soup garnish/salad mix-in. A small bowl of beans with olive oil and herbs with a few slabs of garlicky toasted bread balanced on top to scoop them up with. You'll be surprised how easy it is.