1. Perfectly Smooth HUMMUS
Making your own hummus is basically simple — throwing a handful of ingredients in a food processor and pressing the button — but to get that super smooth texture you have to remove the chickpeas from their skins. It’s not particularly fun but it’s mindless enough that you can do it while you’re on the phone or watching TV. Recipe for the perfect hummus here. Want to spice things up? Try a smoky, sweet potato version or a protein-packed edamame hummus.
2. A Big Pot of VEGETABLE SOUP
Making vegetable soup should be easy and flexible. Don’t have celery? NBD. No carrots? Not a problem. Just sauté what vegetables you have, add some beans for protein, then add some broth, warm it all up and you’re done. This Hearty White Bean Vegetable Soup or a basic vegetarian lentil are both good starting points.
3. Simple BEAN SALAD
Beans are an important part of the vegetarian diet, so you should have always have a few basic bean salad recipes in your arsenal. Try this Three Bean Salad or this Southwestern Black Bean Salad for some easy, healthy lunches.
4. Cheesy EGGPLANT PARMESAN
While a lot of recipes involve pan frying the individual pieces of breaded eggplant, this one has you bake them instead. (And yes, you can use a jar of sauce instead of making your own.) If you’re looking for a lightened-up version, try these eggplant parmesan stacks, which don’t involve breadcrumbs.
5. Crispy BAKED TOFU
Crispy baked tofu is perfect for adding to stir-fries and salads, but you can also just eat the pieces on their own for a yummy snack. Plain tofu is fine, but a delicious marinade makes a huge difference. For easy baking instructions click here. Use the marinade listed in the recipe, or try another, like this spicy Sriracha recipe.
6. Homemade VEGETABLE STOCK
A good vegetable stock will make any soup or grain tastier, even if the recipe says using water is okay. It’s very easy to make but takes some time. Throw chopped vegetables and herbs in a pot and add lots of water. Then cover the pot, bring to a boil, simmer for an hour-ish and strain, squeezing all the water out of the vegetables. Recipes like this one can give you more details on making a basic veggie stock, but you can also save vegetable scraps in the freezer and add them in, as this recipe does. Don’t have time to make a stock tonight but still want to make a homemade soup? Try this 10 Minute Stock recipe.
7. A Melty GRILLED CHEESE
Everyone loves grilled cheeses, but they hold a special place in the vegetarian’s heart. Here’s a nice tutorial from Serious Eats, but once you’ve mastered the basics, step up your game with recipes showcasing fancier breads, delicious vegetables, and obvs, plenty of cheese.
8. An Easy TOFU STIR-FRY
Making a delicious stir-fry shouldn’t be hard. First, prep the tofu by wrapping the block in paper towels and putting it between two plates with something heavy, like a jar of sauce, on top. Leave it that way while you chop up your veggies, at least ten minutes, to get water out of it. Then cut it into 3/4” — 1” cubes. Next, heat oil in a wok or frying pan. Add your seasoning to the oil (sliced garlic and ginger are delicious). When it gets fragrant, add the tofu and cook for a few minutes on each side, searing it. Before you add the veggies, remove the tofu. Then, once your veggies are almost done, add the tofu back in and cook it all together for a couple of minutes. Click here for a super quick and fresh scallion and tofu recipe or here for a stir-fry that uses baked tofu.
9. Upgraded, Veggie-Loaded RAMEN
Another delicious use for that homemade stock you now know how to make. Throw away the powdery flavoring that comes with instant ramen noodles and use your own broth instead. Add fresh vegetables and an egg to the noodles and you will never look back. (Serious Eats has a whole slew of easy ramen hacks here.) Click here for a basic upgraded ramen recipe, but feel free to get a little fancier with this Shoyu Cabbage Ramen or this shiitake and kale version.
10. Plain QUINOA
The world loves quinoa, but thanks to all its protein, vegetarians love it extra. Knowing how to make a good batch means you can make all sorts of delicious recipes. The two most important parts of making quinoa are (1) to rinse the seeds before you cook them to get rid of the bitterness, and (2) to use stock, not just water, to make it. Use this recipe to make plain quinoa, then start adding it to basically everything.
11. A Spicy CURRY
Considering how complex and rich they are, curries are actually surprisingly fast to make. This Pumpkin-Chickpea Curry is perfect for fall, but if you want more flexibility with your veggie choices, try this healthy recipe instead.
12. Refreshing COLD SESAME NOODLES
Cold sesame noodles are great in the summer but work well the rest of the year, too. This recipe calls for adding summer vegetables, but you can make this dish any time of year. (And if you want, you can even … EEK! … leave out the vegetables.)
13. Healthy STUFFED PEPPERS
What you’re gonna do is this: Mix up a grain, a bean, and some vegetables. Stuff them into peppers. Sprinkle with cheese. Roast at 350°F for about 25 — 30 minutes. Enjoy. Feel free to make it up as you go along. This recipe uses quinoa instead of a grain, this one has a Greek spin, and this one goes really wild, stuffing tomatoes instead of peppers. WHOA.
14. Real MAC ‘N’ CHEESE
There is a time and a place for mac ‘n’ cheese from a box but if you make it from scratch you will feel like a grown-up.
15. A Mouthwatering SAAG PANEER
The next time you’re feeling ambitious, teach yourself how to make Saag Paneer, that old Indian restaurant favorite that fills your mouth and stomach with pure, delicious joy. The creamy spinach and chunks of cheese will taste even better when you know all the work that goes into it.
16. Crunchy ROASTED CHICKPEAS
Sure, roasted chickpeas are a great snack, but they’re also one of the easiest way to add protein to anything, from salads to pastas. This recipe has a delicious spicy flavor going on, but seasoning possibilities are essentially endless. (Here are 15 suggestions to get you started.)
17. Hearty BEAN CHILI
In the winter, chili is the lifeblood of many vegetarians. This vegan recipe is delicious on its own or with a dollop of sour cream or plain Greek yogurt and/or some freshly grated cheddar cheese on top. (Also, chili freezes really well so you can make a giant batch and put a bunch away for later.)
18. Classic EGG SALAD
19. Perfectly ROASTED VEGETABLES
Roasting vegetables is simple and easy and the results are always tasty. Dial your oven up to 450°F and toss your chopped veggies with some olive oil and kosher salt. Spread them on a baking sheet, not too crowded, and roast until they look/taste good (usually about 40 minutes). Just keep in mind that harder vegetables, like potatoes, carrots, etc., will take longer to cook and so need to be cut into smaller pieces. Follow this basic recipe to get started.
20. An Easy FRITTATA
Frittatas: Easy to make, good hot or cold, and a perfect way to use up leftover vegetables. This recipe is for a spinach frittata but you can make it with different vegetables using the same basic technique. Here’s a lighter, no-cheese recipe.
21. Crispy FALAFEL
Yes, you can make these deep-fried chickpea balls in your own kitchen. Here’s a classic recipe and here’s one that uses collard greens, which is great, since who ever knows what to do with collards once ham is out of the picture?
22. A Healthy Bowl of PASTA
Pasta is great, but if you’re not dressing it up, you’re doing it wrong. Add veggies, beans, cheese and/or any combination of the above to create a well-rounded meal. This Parmesan Fusilli with Roasted Chickpeas, Broccoli and Cauliflower is a delicious format for building endless dinner recipes: Pasta + Vegetable + Bean + Cheese = True Happiness. (You can also trade out the beans for other proteins, like in this whole wheat pasta, veggie, and pine nut recipe or this dish that uses eggs.)
23. Tasty FRIED RICE
This is what you do with the rice leftover from last night’s takeout. This recipe has lots of vegetables and an egg, so it’s more than a side dish, it’s really a nice little one-person meal. This kale and mushroom version classes it up a notch.
24. Homemade SALAD DRESSING
Knowing how to make a good dressing is obviously key to lifelong salad happiness. The basic formula is to mix together a base (e.g. oil), an acid (e.g. vinegar), an emulsifier (e.g. mustard, mayo, or honey), and other flavors as you wish. This simple Dijon vinaigrette uses olive oil, white balsamic, mustard, salt, pepper and minced shallot, but you can make a dressing with basically whatever you got. Here’s a nice little infographic to give you some more ideas and an explainer from Serious Eats with more information about vinaigrette than you probably ever wanted.
25. Creamy FETTUCCINI ALFREDO
Pasta, butter, heavy cream, and parmesan cheese make this one of the least healthy dinners you can make, but DANG is it tasty. Next time you’re craving a bowl of it, skip takeout and try this simple but totally indulgent recipe. If you want to take things in a healthier direction, try this Light Pasta Alfredo or this version that adds some spinach.
26. Delicious VEGGIE BURGERS
There are so many ways to make a veggie burger, but the basic truth is this: You don’t need a recipe. These step-by-step instructions from Food52 will teach you how to make a veggie burger with your favorite beans, grains, and seasonings. So much more interesting than boring ol’ beef.
27. Juicy GRILLED PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
When making your own burger is too much work, go with the tried and true portobello mushroom. You’ll basically just brush some oil on the cap and grill it. Adding cheese, onions, or anything else is totally up to you. Easy recipe here.
28. Super Satisfying TACOS
To make great tacos, all you need are tortillas, beans, sautéed vegetables, and cheese. (And killer guac makes everything better.) This recipe is delicious and great for reference, but you can really assemble these with anything you want.