Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Gado Images (Getty Images)

It’s the 21st century. We’re well past the era of bland, boring vegetarian food—or rather, the widespread assumption that all vegetarian food must be bland and boring. Gone are the days of herbivores being forced to subsist on wet, lifeless iceberg house salads at restaurants and struggling to find items like lentils and tofu at the grocery store. We’re living in an enlightened age in which flexitarians, vegetarians, and vegans are all invited to the party, and the spread is colorful, flavorful, and satisfying. It’s a good time to eat plants.

The following are some of The Takeout’s best vegetarian recipes, from salads to sides to entrees. Of course, you don’t have to observe a plant-based diet to find them hearty and delicious, and you can add meat directly to these dishes or serve them alongside a nicely grilled chicken thigh, if that’s your thing. In any case, they’re a solid body of evidence that “vegetarian food” doesn’t have to be a category unto itself. It can simply be the very best stuff you cook and eat.

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Have an air fryer? We have ideas

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Cooking vegetables in an air fryer is a truly transformative experience, one that will put an end to your struggles of figuring out what to do with your produce at dinnertime. Even when your veggies are simply prepared, the air fryer turns them into something worth eating. Get our recipe for Sichuan Cumin Asparagus here.

But wait, there’s more! You can 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 “evolves 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 & Raw Tomato Sauce here.

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Endive will always love you

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Allison Robicelli

If you’re familiar with endive, you might know it for its strong bitter flavors. But endive can be tamed! The flavor softens quite nicely when grilled—sometimes almost too much. If you want to preserve some of its vegetal bite, this salad balances the equation: sweeten the inner layers of the endive by searing them, while keeping the outermost layer raw. Top the salad with some sweet and jammy cooked grapefruit, and you’ve got a salad that only tastes better and better the longer it sits around. Make this as a work-from-home lunch, then save the leftovers for dinner. Get the recipe for Seared Endive & Grapefruit Salad here.

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Lentils are the imagination’s playground

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Allison Robicelli

This recipe, 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.

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No, this Honeydew Salad is not a fruit salad—we’ll explain

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Did you know that honeydew is maybe the most divisive fruit in the supermarket? People either love or hate this melon, which has often been dismissed as the saddest part of any fruit salad. Well, no longer. It’s time to showcase honeydew’s best qualities with a stunning and flavorful salad. This recipe combines quick-pickled diced honeydew and thin ribbons of fresh honeydew with lettuce, cheese, and a sweet vinaigrette, and the whole thing is topped with crunchy roasted honeydew seeds (although you can sub in roasted almonds if you prefer). Get the recipe for Honeydew Salad here.

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A vegetarian smorgasboard that’ll last all week

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Who doesn’t love saving money? This bang-for-your-buck vegetarian dinner 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.

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Go ahead, let eggplant steal the show

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Allison Robicelli

The recipe originates in the country of Georgia, and it’s one that everyone seems to put their own personal spin on. There are all sorts of reasons to make it a staple in your household: It’s affordable, it’s easy, it’s on the table within an hour, and it begs to be made in bulk, because even though it’s a showstopper straight out of the oven, it somehow gets better and better the longer it sits. This eggplant will make you excited to eat your vegetables, and make it much, much easier to resist the call of all the naughtier foods that live inside your fridge. Get the recipe for Georgian Walnut-Stuffed Eggplant here.

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A root vegetable dish for any time of year

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Turnips get a bad rap. They’ve enjoyed none of the newfound popularity of their fellow cruciferous vegetable, the Brussels sprout. Why not? They’re every bit as tasty, or at least, they can be if you show them some love. This turnip recipe is as simple as they come, and it plays up the very best characteristics of turnips to help you fall in love fast. Acidic balsamic vinegar and sweet honey temper the turnips’ natural bitterness, which is also mellowed by roasting. Every bad turnip-related memory stubbornly lodged in your brain will be jostled free and swept away. Get the recipe for Melting Glazed Turnips here.

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Char will change the way you think about cucumbers

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Kevin Pang

Consider charring your cucumbers, like chef Abra Berens. The advantage of this method—which Berens cites as the most surprising technique in her cookbook, Ruffage: A Practical Guide To Vegetables—is that the cucumbers develop a caramelized “crust” on the outside while the inside stays juicy and cool, a contrast not typically associated with the watery vegetable. Combine the smoky and subtly sweet flavors of the charred cucumber with with shallots, parsley, and a sauce of yogurt and cumin, and you’ll be amazed at what this heretofore plain veggie can really bring to the table. Get the recipe for Berens’ Blistered Cucumbers with Cumin Yogurt and Parsley here.

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A one-pan wonder curry for Meatless Mondays

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Karl Gustafson

This dish is primarily based on two kitchen heavyweights: butter and potatoes. The heat is primarily provided by the red pepper flakes, so you can adjust the spice level at will, 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.

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Did you think we’d forget to include cauliflower?

Illustration for article titled Vegetarian recipes that don’t assume you’re a rabbit
Photo: Stacey Ballis

Riced cauliflower is a magical ingredient. It provides a heartiness and mild flavor that allow you to replace the carbs in a dish with zero loss of enjoyment. This recipe uses riced cauliflower to its advantage in an adaptation of that down-home comfort food of the American South, cheese grits. Using riced cauliflower and the technique of cheese grits, this dish comes together in about 15 minutes in one pan with little fuss. You won’t think it’s grits, but you will think it is delicious. Get the recipe for Cauliflower Cheese “Grits” here.

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