Dinner Tonight

Our Most Popular Vegetarian Recipes of All Time

Meat-free entrées everyone will love.

May  4, 2020
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). And I like the kind of resolutions you can continue to dip into periodically throughout the year, making them less New Year's resolutions and more New Year's resolutions. One such pledge is a week or more of vegetarianism. I was attracted to this notion primarily because as a recipe developer, I really appreciate dishes that build a mind-blowing amount of flavor with no meat at all.

So I tried it out in January for the first time, to great success. With an endless supply of excellent-looking vegetarian entrées out there, I menu-planned with a handful of battle-tested options—Food52's all-time most popular meatless mains. Here's what I lined up, and plan to return to throughout the year:


Our Most Popular Vegetarian Dinners

1. Whole-Roasted Cauliflower With Whipped Goat Cheese

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

2. Pasta With Braised Onion Sauce

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

3. One-Pot Kale & Quinoa Pilaf

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

4. Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter

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

5. Quinoa Salad With Hazelnuts, Apple & Dried Cranberries

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.

6. Roasted Carrot Soup

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

7. Pan-Fried Giant White Beans With Kale

Pan-fried giant white beans that look so genius, I wonder how I've eaten beans any other way. “I have made Giant White Beans With Kale at least 4 times (or 5 or 6),” one reviewer wrote. “This is such a deceptively simple dish and can be adapted in so many ways to help clean out the pantry,” said another. “First of all, YUM!” said another. You get the idea.

8. Pasta Con Ceci

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.

9. Cauliflower Soup

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

10. Eggplant Parmesan

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

11. Black Bean & Corn Burgers

As we learned a couple years back, the most popular burger on our site isn’t actually a burger. Or, isn’t actually a burger in the traditional, beefy sense of the word. Instead, the most popular burger on our site is totally vegan—mostly black beans, spiced up with chili powder, paprika, and garlic.

12. Baked Eggs With Mushrooms & Gruyère

Once you master creamy, cheesy baked eggs, you’ll have a back-pocket dinner even on the tiredest of weeknights. In this case, they feature mushrooms and tangy Gruyère—but let your fridge guide you (kale and provolone? broccoli and cheddar?). For bonus points: Serve with a crusty baguette, extra-vinegary salad, and cold bottle of white wine.

13. Broccoli, Lemon & Parmesan Soup

Leisurely simmered broccoli, perked up with lemon and Parmesan. To make the soup vegetarian, feel free to skip the chicken stock and swap in an equal quantity of vegetable stock. And if you happen to have cauliflower around but not broccoli? That works great too.

14. Crispy Sesame Baked Tofu With Shiitake Mushrooms

To get crispy tofu, you need to fry it, right? Wrong. This tofu gets tossed with oil, panko, and sesame seeds, then baked in a high-heat oven, to yield a wonderfully crusty crust. Team up with shiitake mushrooms as written—or off-road with whatever vegetable you have around.


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

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • april
    april
  • RoastedBeet
    RoastedBeet
  • Ellen
    Ellen
  • Terry
    Terry
  • kathy
    kathy
Ella Quittner

Written by: Ella Quittner

Ella Quittner is a contributing writer and the Absolute Best Tests columnist 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.

13 Comments

april November 16, 2020
I love to hack shepard's pie and make curried tofu scramble with sweet potato topping, pecans add a nice crunch
 
RoastedBeet May 5, 2020
My husband, who is definitely *not* a vegetarian, often asks me to make Yotam Ottolenghi's black pepper tofu. And Deborah Madison's lentil minestrone (she calls for green lentils, but I make them with black lentils) is the over-all most popular vegetarian dish in our house -- my kids love it.
 
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.