Whether you are a fully-committed vegetarian or you are opting for a semi-vegetarian diet in order to cut down on the fatty meats and rich food that you would otherwise eat, then there is always space in your weeknight meals schedule to fit in a tasty vegetable-based meal.
And for those veteran vegetarians among you, you'll know by now that vegetarian food doesn't have to be bland and boring - for from it! Ingredients such as black beans, chickpeas, avocado, sweet potato and other roasted vegetables form the base ingredients of delicious dishes and there are many meat substitutes such as veggie burgers, quorn or tofu that can take your vegetarian dinners to the next level.
Greens in particular go well with everything: pizza, pasta, Asian spices, Spanish paellas... Meanwhile, other veggies like sweet potatoes and carrots bring extra sweetness to dishes, with the greatest example being carrot cake.
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If you are new to this diet here are some tips To Be A Healthy Vegetarian . Or if you are running low on inspiration or you are open to trying new dishes suitable for vegetarians or vegans, then why not give some of the below recipes a go. I've chosen these ten superb recipes as they each offer something unique to the palate.
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10 Amazing Vegetarian Meal Ideas to Try
Check out these truly unique meatless recipes that your veggie pals won't have seen before!
1. Mushroom, spinach and blue cheese lasagne
3 tbsp olive oil
2 x 250g packs chestnut mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
2 x 240g packs pre-washed fresh spinach
1 large jar ready-made white sauce (710g)
12 sheets ready-to-bake lasagne
125g blue cheese, crumbled
1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan, add half the mushrooms and fry until golden, about five minutes. Transfer them to kitchen paper, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and fry the remaining mushrooms, also transferring them to kitchen paper after five minutes.
2. Add the final tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the onion and garlic for about four minutes, until soft. Add the spinach to the pan, cover with a lid and allow it to wilt for one to two minutes. Return the mushrooms to the pan, mix together and season.
3. Use a rectangular dish about 24 x 18cm and spread a layer of white sauce on the base. Place three lasagne sheets on the sauce followed by a third of the mushroom mixture, another layer of white sauce and some crumbled cheese.
4. Add another three sheets of lasagne and continue layering, finishing with the final three sheets of lasagne, a good covering of white sauce and a sprinkling of crumbled cheese.
5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until it is cooked through and the topping is bubbling and golden. Serve with a side salad or garlic bread.
Recipe courtesy of The Telegraph.
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2. The New Vegetarian's Sauerkraut filo parcels
3. Deliciously Ella's spring quinoa and pomegranate salad
For the full list of ingredients and cooking method, click here.
4. The New Vegetarian's Risotto cake with ratatouille
5. Jamie Oliver's Cracker ravioli
1 butternut squash , (1.2kg)
250 g ricotta cheese
½ teaspoon dried red chilli flakes
1 whole nutmeg , for grating
200 g vac-packed chestnuts
½ a bunch of fresh sage , (15g)
20 g Parmesan cheese , plus extra to serve
For the pasta
1 x Royal pasta dough
75 g baby spinach
semolina , for dusting
For the butter sauce
100 g unsalted butter
50 g skin-on almonds
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1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas 4.
2. To make your filling, wash the squash, carefully cut it in half lengthways and remove the seeds, then chop into eight big chunks and place in a large roasting tray.
3. Add the whole ricotta, sprinkle over the chilli flakes and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper, then finely grate over half the nutmeg. Drizzle with oil and gently toss together. Roast for 1 hour.
4. Crumble up the chestnuts, pick the sage leaves, toss both in a little oil, then sprinkle into the tray. 5. Roast for another 15 minutes, or until the squash is tender and golden, and the ricotta is gnarly-looking.
6. Finely grate the Parmesan into the tray, season and mash it all together, as chunky or smooth as you like. Leave to cool completely.
7. Make the pasta dough in a food processor, blitzing the spinach and egg yolks together before adding the dry ingredients. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop into the fridge for 30 minutes.
8. Divide the pasta in half, saving one half for another day. Cut the remaining piece in two (wrapping one piece back up momentarily), and roll out into sheets that are just 2mm thick – use a pasta machine, or do it by hand with a rolling pin.
9. Cut into rectangles 15cm x 12cm. Spoon 2 tablespoons of filling along the length of each one, near the bottom edge, leaving 1.5cm at either end.
10. Brush the exposed pasta with a damp brush, then roll up and pinch in the sides to seal and create cracker shapes.
11. Repeat with the remaining pasta and filling to make 24 crackers in total. Transfer to semolina-dusted greaseproof paper as you go.
12. For the sauce, melt the butter in a large frying pan, then, once foamy and starting to darken, squeeze in the clementine juice and swirl to create a creamy butter sauce. Season with pepper and keep warm over a very low heat until needed.
13. Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water for 3 to 4 minutes, transferring it to the buttery sauce when cooked, with a splash of cooking water. Work in batches (the first will happily sit in the sauce while you cook the rest).
14. Finish with a grating of nutmeg and Parmesan, and a scattering of toasted, crushed almonds.
Recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver.
6. Vegetarian skillet chili topped with cornbread
For the chili
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 lb(s) (about 4 cups) store-bought diced butternut squash, cut into 1/2" cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
3 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes with chiles, drained
1 14.5-oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp sugar
5 oz (about 6 cups lightly packed) baby spinach
For the cornbread topping
¾ cup fine cornmeal
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
3 Tbsp sugar
½ cup whole milk
¼ cup sour cream, plus more for serving
1 large egg
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup shredded Cheddar (about 3 oz)
Pickled jalapenos, for serving
1. Heat the oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash and a pinch of salt and black pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and browned in spots, about 8 minutes. Remove the squash from the pan and set aside.
2. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring often, until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes. Add the chili powder (use less if you like milder chili) and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes, beans, sugar and cooked squash and bring to a simmer. Cook until all of the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. (If the liquid reduces to less than three-quarters of the way up the sides of the squash, stir in a little water.) Stir in the baby spinach by the handful until all is incorporated and wilted.
1. Meanwhile, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400ºF. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl. Whisk the milk, sour cream and egg together in another bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, whisking until well combined. Stir in the melted butter and Cheddar. Drop spoonfuls of the batter on top of the chili, leaving space in between. (The batter will not completely cover the chili.)
2. Bake until the cornbread is golden brown and springs back when touched and the chili is hot and bubbly, about 18 minutes. Serve with more sour cream and pickled jalapenos.
Recipe courtesy of The Food Network.
7. Meatless meatloaf with mushroom gravy
For the full list of ingredients and cooking method, visit The Food Network.
8. Roasted cauliflower curry
1 large cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp sea salt
For the curry
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 small piece cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods, seeds crushed
2 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 green chillies, deseeded and roughly chopped
30g fresh ginger, roughly chopped
4 tbsp tomato purée
1½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or mild chilli powder)
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp kasturi methi
1 tbsp clear honey
3 tbsp full-fat natural yogurt, plus extra to garnish
Handful fresh coriander, leaves torn, to serve
Warm flatbreads to serve
1. Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ gas 6. Put the cauliflower florets in a roasting tin, toss with the oil and salt, then roast for 20 minutes. Set aside in the tin when cooked.
2. Meanwhile, for the curry, heat the oil on a medium heat in a medium lidded saucepan or casserole. Add the cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves and cumin seeds. Cook for 1 minute until they start to sizzle. Add the onions, tomatoes, green chillies and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 5 minutes, then remove and discard the cinnamon stick and cloves. In a mini food processor or blender, whizz the mixture into a smooth paste.
3. Put the paste back into the same pan and add the tomato purée and 200ml water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat. Add the salt, chilli powder, garam masala, kasturi methi and honey, then stir together.
4. Add the roasted cauliflower and the yogurt, then stir, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Scatter with coriander, spoon over a little extra yogurt, grind over black pepper and serve with flatbreads.
Recipe courtesy of Delicious Magazine.
9. Palestinian matfoul salad
For the full list of ingredients and cooking method, visit Delicious Magazine.
10. Thai curry vegetable and tofu soup
For the full list of ingredients and cooking method, visit Real Simple.
More On Vegetarian Recipes
You can find many more free recipes online, including vegetarian breakfast recipes, side dishes, puddings and, of course, more vegetarian dinner recipes.
Some of the recipes you could try are: stir fried noodles with tofu in a peanut sauce, macaroni and cheese with a spinach salad on the side, portobello mushroom wellington with roasted cauliflower and sprouts, goat cheese and caramelized onion quiche with Mediterranean roasted vegetables, Mexican bean chili with tortilla crisps and an avocado salad, sweet potato frittata with kale and asparagus, cheesy cannelloni with a tomato salad, onion tart with carrot salad, curried potato curry with pickled chutney, grilled bean burger with a sweetcorn and carrot salad topped with a balsamic vinaigrette, pumpkin soup with bread to dip in, feta stuffed pepper with spiced couscous, black bean burritos with wild rice, mushroom and parmesan arancini (risotto balls) coated in fried garlicky bread crumbs...
Or, if you prefer fast and easy recipes, then you could try things like avocado on toast, hummus with sliced peppers and pitta bread, tomato, onion and pesto bruschetta, vegetarian lasagna, or simple pasta recipes. You see, your healthy dinner doesn't have to be boring!
If you fancy trying your hand at creating your own fragrant and mouth watering meat-free dishes but are stuck for ideas to base your meal around, then you might be interested to know about these delicious yet less mainstream products that are great to cook with: quinoa, lentils, polenta, arugula, acorn squash, seitan, artichoke, orzo, gnudi, tempeh, farro salad, bok choy, yukon gold potatoes, okra and cremini mushrooms.
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For more vegetarian recipe suggestions check out these food bloggers. If you liked these recipes, take a look at other blogs on the subject of vegetarian cooking: