Eating plant-based has become a popular trend. People are seeing the advantages in terms of their pocketbooks and sustainability. They also recognize the potential health benefits of incorporating meatless options into their daily routine. And while vegetarian meals are often perceived as lacking in flavor, nothing could be further from the truth.
These vegetarian dishes from the Daily Meal archives are unique, easy, and delicious. They will satisfy even the most discriminating palate among guests at your dinner table. Moreover, they can be an elegant addition to any holiday menu, providing distinct color, flavor, and texture.
Whether you are searching for appetizers, a salad, casserole, or a main dish to bring along for a holiday potluck or are trying to round out your menu for Thanksgiving or Christmas, look no further than these recipes. They are guaranteed to be popular, and nobody will miss the meat in any of them.
Read more: 11 Of The Best Cooking Tips From Bobby Flay
Spiced Sweet Potato And Kale Stew
This festive stew contains warm, earthy spices guaranteed to take the chill out of your bones. While sweet potato is the star, you could easily substitute butternut squash or russet potatoes. If chickpeas aren’t your jam, try using navy or kidney beans.
For those who fear kale, there is nothing to be scared of. Cutting the leaves into smaller pieces and cooking them will tenderize them. While they have a mild bitterness, this will be offset by the sweetness of coconut milk. If you are still concerned, use baby spinach leaves instead. Just remember they take less time to cook than kale.
Recipe: Spiced Sweet Potato And Kale Stew
Gluten-Free Gazpacho And Crispy Chickpeas
Gazpacho may seem like summer fare, but there is no reason why you couldn’t make it year-round. If you have canned or frozen fresh tomatoes, use them. Alternatively, you can purchase high-quality canned whole, peeled tomatoes for this recipe. If the soup is too acidic after puréeing the vegetables, try adding a hint of honey or maple syrup to temper the acidity.
The roasted chickpeas lend a delightful nutty flavor and crunch that gives this soup complexity. And don’t skip the garnishes. Salty feta and olives will make this dish pop. If you don’t like olives, try substituting chopped pistachios or roasted pumpkin seeds.
Beet And Sweet Potato Taquitos
These delightful taquito appetizers have a lot going for them. First, they are baked instead of fried, giving them a golden crisp crust without the excess grease. They also take advantage of the earthy caramelized flavor of roasted beets and sweet potatoes. Whatever you do, do not use pickled beets. These do not have the flavor of steamed or baked beets.
If you are searching for a good dipping sauce for these taquitos, consider making a bright salsa verde or a creamy guacamole. You could also whip up a classic Spanish romesco sauce rife with roasted peppers, tomatoes, almonds, and smoked paprika.
Recipe: Beet And Sweet Potato Taquitos
Falafel is a classic Middle Eastern specialty of chickpeas and fresh herbs puréed and formed into delightful fritters before getting fried. This appetizer is designed to be baked rather than fried, making them less greasy and healthier. But don’t worry, it doesn’t sacrifice any flavor.
Typically, falafel is served atop pita with a mixed vegetable salad and a tahini sauce. While you could turn these into a sandwich to incorporate them into your holiday meal, they would be best as an appetizer served with a bright, acidic sauce, like a preserved lemon-infused Moroccan chermoula or a vegan pesto made with avocado instead of parmesan cheese.
Recipe: Baked Falafel
Classic (For A Reason) Deviled Eggs
Making the perfect deviled egg requires removing the shells without damaging the hard-boiled eggs. While there are many theories for how to boil an egg, one of the best ways is to start with water that has a teaspoon of baking soda added to it. Bring the water to a boil and gently lower your eggs into the water. Reduce the heat to a simmer.
After about 12 minutes, remove your eggs and place them in an ice water bath for at least five minutes. This will help to cool them quickly and draw the shell away from the egg whites. Gently tap the eggs against a bowl or the countertop and voilà! The eggs are ready for deviling.
Easy Baba Ganoush
Since eggplant is the star of this recipe, knowing how to select a good one matters. Opt for an eggplant that is firm, shiny, and smooth. Eggplants get their bitterness from the presence of too many seeds. An eggplant with fewer seeds should feel heavy for its size and not sound hollow when you tap on it.
Alternatively, opt to use Chinese eggplants, which are smaller and typically have fewer seeds. You will need three of these for every globe eggplant. Roast them whole rather than halved. For extra smoky baba ganoush, consider grilling your eggplant instead of roasting it. And don’t skimp on the paprika. It’ll make the dish.
Recipe: Easy Baba Ganoush
This cornbread would be the ideal accompaniment to your Thanksgiving turkey or Christmas ham. To jazz up this recipe, consider adding a cup of canned sweet corn and a can of chopped green chilis that have been drained. You can also toss in some chopped roasted red peppers for color.
If you plan to make a cornbread stuffing, whip up this bread in advance and use it. For a delightful spread, make a sweet and spicy compound butter. Start with a stick of softened butter and add a couple of tablespoons of honey or maple syrup and a teaspoon of hot sauce. Your guests will gobble this up.
Recipe: Cast-Iron Cornbread
Classic Jalapeño Poppers
For those craving a spicy, cheesy appetizer to start the holiday festivities, consider bringing a platter of these jalapeño poppers. They come together relatively quickly. The biggest hassle is seeding the jalapeños, which should always be done wearing disposable gloves.
Consider substituting the cream cheese with goat cheese and the cheddar with pepper jack for a tangy and spicy twist. And if you feel like using an alternative to seasoned bread crumbs, pulverized tortillas, potato chips, or cornflakes work brilliantly. Just add a hint of Italian seasoning and paprika to the blend.
Recipe: Classic Jalapeño Poppers
Easy Broccoli Salad
For a great make-ahead salad, consider this one. It can be assembled and kept in the refrigerator for up to three days and tastes better the longer the vegetables marinate. This is a win if you are looking for ways to save time in the kitchen on the day of your holiday party.
If you’d like to add a hint of umami richness to the sweet and tangy dressing, substitute the salt with a hint of soy sauce. And don’t skimp on the almonds. They lend just the right crunchy texture to make this salad a party in your mouth. Just don’t burn them while preoccupied with other things in the kitchen.
Recipe: Easy Broccoli Salad
Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad
This salad needs to be assembled at the last minute as the vinaigrette quickly begins to break down the vegetables and causes them to get watery. Though the recipe suggests you can use any pasta, farfalle and fusilli are ideal as they don’t trap the dressing. You can substitute the pine nuts with toasted almonds or pistachios if you cannot find them or are worried about allergies.
When it comes to raw onions, many individuals have difficulty digesting them. That said, they do provide a much-needed flavor. You can minimize the intensity of raw onions by soaking them in ice-cold water or quickly pickling them in vinegar before adding them to your salad.
Recipe: Easy Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Baked Spaghetti Squash
Hard or winter squash commonly makes an appearance at holiday feasts. This spaghetti squash recipe is a playful alternative to the usual sweet potato and marshmallow casserole. The fun spaghetti-like strands take on flavors like a sponge. The key is to cook the squash thoroughly. Slicing the squash into rings before you bake them is an ingenious solution to hacking into an otherwise unruly exterior shell.
In sticking with the holiday theme, you might use something other than a marinara. Combine an alfredo with canned pumpkin, freshly grated nutmeg, and a hint of cinnamon. Garnish the dish with toasted chopped almonds or pumpkin seeds for crunch and complexity.
Recipe: Baked Spaghetti Squash
Baked Mac And Cheese
Macaroni and cheese casserole is a classic holiday side dish. This recipe elevates the classic by skipping the store-bought boxed variety and making the whole thing from scratch. The key is not to overcook the pasta. Because this dish bakes in the oven, you should cook the noodles until quite al dente, or they will disintegrate.
To achieve a more complex flavor, consider doctoring your cheese sauce with freshly grated nutmeg, garlic powder, and a hint of smoked paprika. Quick add-ins, like marinated artichoke hearts, roasted red peppers, and frozen peas, will add color, providing visual appeal and textural interest.
Recipe: Baked Mac And Cheese
Cheesy Tomato And Zucchini Casserole
You will want to make a big batch of this casserole for your holiday gathering. Again, this can be pre-baked and reheated, or you can assemble ahead and finish in the oven when you arrive. It is forgiving either way.
If you have trouble finding ripe tomatoes and zucchini this time of year, try substituting sweet potato or butternut squash for the zucchini and quince or apples for the tomato. Eliminate the Italian seasoning and use pumpkin pie spice instead. Sweet potato and butternut squash will take slightly longer to bake. You will need to test doneness by inserting a paring knife into the center of the vegetables until it comes out clean.
Recipe: Cheesy Tomato And Zucchini Casserole
Vegetarian-Friendly Pea And Spinach Carbonara
A classic carbonara features an Italian specialty known as guanciale. This cured meat takes advantage of rich pork cheeks or jowl that, when combined with the eggs and cheese, coats spaghetti noodles with a luscious creamy sauce. This alternative incorporates fresh vegetables for color and cleverly uses the reserved starchy cooking liquid from the pasta to help the eggs and cheese adhere to the noodles.
If you want to amp up the umami intensity of this dish, consider adding roasted mushrooms to the vegetables. Once you top this dish with the toasted bread crumbs, your guests will not miss the pork.
Classic Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe
Cacio e pepe is a classic Roman dish whose name bespeaks its simplicity. Translated, this cheese and pepper dish has just five ingredients. What makes it work is good quality butter and pecorino romano cheese. A feature of Italian cuisine is its focus on premium ingredients and showcasing them in ways that don’t overcomplicate them but rather highlight their superiority.
You probably won’t want to amend this recipe in any way for your holiday dinner. That said, you will want to ensure that you serve it with plenty of vegetables, like a Green bean casserole and roasted Brussels sprouts, as opposed to other starchy side dishes.
Recipe: Classic Spaghetti Cacio E Pepe
Cheesy Corn Casserole
Corn casserole is another dish that evokes nostalgia this time of year. The cheesy soufflé-like texture is the perfect complement to other toothsome holiday recipes. For a bit of color, consider incorporating chopped roasted red peppers or sun-dried tomatoes. Frozen peas or edamame will provide a hint of Christmas flair. Though cheddar cheese works well, add some heat with pepper jack.
This dish is best when freshly baked as it will have the most fluffy texture straight out of the oven. If you want to prepare it ahead of time, reheat it in the oven covered in foil to keep it from drying out.
Recipe: Cheesy Corn Casserole
Spruced-Up Green Bean Casserole
No holiday would be complete without the classic green bean casserole. That said, it can sometimes be a bit boring. This iteration is a mushroom lover’s dream. It adds sautéed fresh mushrooms and garlic to the staple creamy soup for even more umami flavor and a luxurious mouthfeel.
If you can get them, using a combination of fresh mushrooms, like chanterelles, porcini, and cremini, will push this nostalgic dish into the realm of sophistication. You can add complexity with freshly grated nutmeg, a dash of herbes de Provence, and cognac or white wine. These should be added at the beginning of sautéeing the mushrooms to infuse them with flavor.
Recipe: Spruced-Up Green Bean Casserole
Vegetable Tortellini Casserole
This recipe uses store-bought tortellini and sauce for a quick and easy gooey baked casserole that transports well. You can either pre-bake and reheat the casserole when you arrive at your gathering or bring the assembled dish to finish off in the oven at your final destination.
For a festive change of pace, consider substituting the marinara with canned pumpkin mixed with store-bought alfredo and a hint of freshly grated nutmeg. The nutmeg accentuates the flavors of both the spinach and mushrooms. Finish the casserole with more cheese or use toasted bread crumbs before baking the dish to golden brown perfection.
Recipe: Vegetable Tortellini Casserole
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