13 hearty, budget-friendly vegetarian entrees

13 hearty, budget-friendly vegetarian entrees

Top left: watermelon burger; Bottom left: mushroom fajitas; Right: zucchini pesto pasta
Photo: Allison Robicelli, Graphic: Rebecca Fassola

When plant-based food is this colorful, flavorful, and satisfying, there’s no reason not to make Meatless Mondays a fixture of your week. Here are some of The Takeout’s best vegetarian entrees, hearty enough to fill the whole family. Of course, you don’t have to observe a plant-based diet to find them delicious, and you can even serve them alongside a nicely grilled chicken thigh, if that’s your thing. No matter how you use them, they’re great recipes to have in your repertoire.

Note to desktop users: If you’d like to view this story in a scrolling layout, you can narrow your browser window. You can also click “List Slides” at any time to see the full list and navigate to particular recipes.

Advertisement

2 / 15

Grilled Watermelon Burgers with Goat Cheese and Charred Orange-Fennel Gremolata

Grilled Watermelon Burgers with Goat Cheese and Charred Orange-Fennel Gremolata

Grilled watermelon sandwich on white plate
Grilled Watermelon Burger with Goat Cheese and Charred Orange-Fennel Gremolata
Photo: Allison Robicelli

As watermelon sits directly over an open flame, the most miraculous things happen to its flavor and texture. When placed on a ciabatta bun, a thick slice of grilled watermelon can absolutely function as a burger, skeptics be damned. And just like beef burgers, grilled watermelon is delicious on its own but becomes even more exciting when you play around with toppings. Get the recipe for Grilled Watermelon Burgers with Goat Cheese and Charred Orange-Fennel Gremolata here.

Advertisement

3 / 15

Caramelized Mushroom Pasta

Caramelized Mushroom Pasta

White plate with spaghetti, mushrooms, and Parmesan
Caramelized Mushroom Pasta
Photo: Allison Robicelli

This recipe for Caramelized Mushroom Pasta takes a fair amount of time to come together, but nearly all of that time is inactive, requiring little more than occasional stirring. Two whole pounds of mushrooms are included, because when something tastes this good, why skimp on it? What you’re left with is a rich plateful of umami flavors that’ll make you wonder why you ever settled for mediocre mushrooms. Get the recipe for Caramelized Mushroom Pasta here.

Advertisement

4 / 15

Mushroom and Beer Runzas

Mushroom and Beer Runzas

Three runzas on a white plate, with a cat visible in the background
Mushroom and Beer Runzas
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Ever heard of a runza? It’s Nebraska’s answer to a Hot Pocket, a baked yeast dough surrounding a savory filling for maximum portability. This runza recipe removes the traditional beef filling and replaces it with cooked mushrooms, cabbage, and a can of beer, among other things. The result is a baseball-sized lunch that freezes and reheats exceptionally well. Get our recipe for Mushroom and Beer Runzas here.

Advertisement

5 / 15

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

Aerial view of plate of pasta against a striped graphical background
Zucchini Pesto Pasta
Photo: Allison Robicelli, Graphic: Rebecca Fassola

Whenever you’re craving pasta, it’s actual pasta you want—not zoodles. There are better ways to incorporate vegetables into your dinner. And if you want to eat pasta while also eating a whole bunch of zucchini, this Zucchini Pesto Pasta is the way to do it. Summer squash has a ridiculously high water content, which makes it the perfect summer sauce when steamed and pureed. Throw in a bit of basil, cheese, and toasted nuts, and you’ve got a thick pesto “cream” sauce without the need to spend $60 on groceries to make a small pint of pesto. Get our recipe for Zucchini Pesto Pasta here.

Advertisement

6 / 15

Crispy Air-Fried Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce

Crispy Air-Fried Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce

Bowl of air fried gnocchi with sliced cherry tomatoes and herbs
Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Just as you can air-fry vegetables to create crispy new possibilities, you can also air-fry other components of your meal to pair with fresh vegetables, which creates a unique and exciting textural contrast. The air fryer does something wonderful to gnocchi, and that something is “turn them into crispy little potato nuggets.” Paired with fresh cherry tomatoes, it’s a combination you’ll want for lunch, dinner, and second dinner. Get the recipe for Crispy Gnocchi and Raw Tomato Sauce here.

Advertisement

7 / 15

Lentil Rice Balls with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Lentil Rice Balls with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Close-up of Lentil Rice Balls on a bed of greens
Lentil Rice Balls with Lemon Tahini Sauce
Photo: Allison Robicelli

This recipe for Lentil Rice Balls, adapted from Eddie McNamara’s Toss Your Own Salad, is insanely versatile. Using a mixture of lentils, rice, cheese, and spices, you can fry up some plant-based burger patties, prepare some “meat”loaves with glaze on top, or form “meat”balls that you can deep fry, air fry, or simply bake in the oven. Top them with a lemon tahini sauce for a satisfying meal you’ll want to add to your weekly rotation immediately. Get the recipe for Lentil Rice Balls with Lemon Tahini Sauce here.

Advertisement

8 / 15

Beans, Ricotta, And Broccolini 

Beans, Ricotta, And Broccolini 

Cherry tomatoes, beans, and broccolini arranged in stripes over a bed of ricotta
Beans, Ricotta, And Broccolini
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Who doesn’t love saving money? This bang-for-your-buck vegetarian dinner of Beans, Ricotta, and Broccolini is actually three recipes in one, because when you use your Instant Pot to cook both the beans and the ricotta, you’re left with some delicious byproducts: curds that can be strained and made into cheese, and whey that can be mixed with a bit of yeast and flour to make a loaf of bread. You’ll feel like a real homesteader assembling these meals for your family (or just for yourself), and you’ll only end up spending around $15 to do it. Will this be the recipe that turns you vegetarian for good? Get the recipe for Beans, Ricotta, And Broccolini here.

Advertisement

9 / 15

Easy Potato-Pea Curry

Easy Potato-Pea Curry

A white bowl of potato-pea curry on a wooden tabletop
Easy Potato-Pea Curry
Photo: Karl Gustafson

This Potato-Pea Curry is primarily based on two kitchen heavyweights: butter and potatoes. The heat is provided by the red pepper flakes, so you can adjust the spice level as you like, and peas lend sweetness and the ability to say you ate a green vegetable with dinner. While this meal is great on its own, you could also serve it over rice—technically it won’t be a one-pan meal that way, but a two-pan meal this good is still a wonder. Get the recipe for Easy Potato-Pea Curry here.

Advertisement

10 / 15

Mantou Panzanella

Mantou Panzanella

Bowl of panzanella on a wooden table near river rocks
Mantou Panzanella
Photo: Patricia Kelly Yeo

Best enjoyed slightly warm like the original Italian version, Mantou Panzanella is the perfect late summer salad that’s not really a salad but an excuse to eat more carbs. Although this version uses homemade mantou, packages of plain, unfilled frozen Chinese mantou are available in most major Asian supermarkets if you’re looking for a less time-intensive substitute. Let this dish become your summer picnic favorite. Get the recipe for Mantou Panzanella here.

Advertisement

11 / 15

Mushroom Fajitas

Mushroom Fajitas

Table set with mushroom fajita filling, tortillas, limes, cheese, pico de gallo, etc.
Mushroom Fajitas
Photo: Allison Robicelli

While this recipe for Mushroom Fajitas provides exact measurements, they’re more of a guideline than a hard quantity. If you like things a bit spicier add more jalapeños, or use any kind of chili pepper you want. If you’re one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap, you can swap it for chopped parsley tossed with some fresh lemon juice as zest. No matter what you choose to tweak, this spread will amount to a meatless fajita buffet that feeds the whole family. Get the recipe for Mushroom Fajitas here.

Advertisement

12 / 15

Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes and Egg Yolk

Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes and Egg Yolk

Egg yolk being spooned onto a bowl of pappardelle and tomatoes
Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes and Egg Yolk
Photo: A. E. Dwyer

This pappardelle recipe is for when you’re missing summer tomatoes, and the key to evoking summer tomato flavor is your broiler—it’ll turn them bold and sweet. Use a very fresh egg yolk, as it will be mixed raw into your pasta right before you eat it. The yolk alone makes this feel like a luxurious restaurant dish. Swirled with the jammy tomatoes, it will remind you of everything you love about summer. Get the recipe for Pasta With Blistered Tomatoes and Egg Yolk here.

Advertisement

13 / 15

Garlicky Great Northern Beans and Broccoli Rabe Over Toast

Garlicky Great Northern Beans and Broccoli Rabe Over Toast

Cookbook shot of beans and broccoli on toast
Garlicky Great Northern Beans and Broccoli Rabe Over Toast
Photo: Aubrey Pick (Ten Speed Press)

A good bean recipe often finds itself living in comfort food territory, which is great, because beans aren’t very fussy (especially if you opt for the canned ones, which you’re more than welcome to do). According to Joe Yonan, author of the Cool Beans cookbook, this wonderfully satisfying bowl of beans and bitter greens uses lots of garlic and swaps in rich bean cooking liquid instead of stock. To make it a hearty meal, serve them up with toast. Get the recipe for Garlicky Great Northern Beans here.

Advertisement

14 / 15

Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine

Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine

White bowl filled with cabbage pasta, topped with cheese crumbles
Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Green cabbage is nothing short of a pantry miracle. It’s cheap, versatile, and has a long shelf life—all of which make this Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine the perfect “pantry pasta” recipe to keep in your back pocket. An entire stick of butter is thrown into the pot with the vegetables, if that helps convince any skeptics. By the time you taste this pasta, you certainly won’t count yourself among them. Get the recipe for Butter Braised Cabbage Fettuccine here.

Advertisement

15 / 15

DISCUSSION