May 10, 2021

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Is Food In You

32 vegetarian and vegan recipes to cook for Earth Day

8 min read

More and more people are embracing the plant-based life — and for good reason.

Scientists and nutritionists alike find that eating habits in the Mediterranean diet and Planetary Health Diet have optimal benefits for both the body and the earth. Both styles of eating include hefty portions of vegetables, fruits and plant-based proteins like legumes and ancient grains, and little to no meat.

Whether you’ve been fully vegan for years and are looking for some new dishes to add to repertoire, eat vegetarian most days or eat meat every night and have no idea where to start, these straightforward yet flavorful recipes will be welcome additions to your weekly meal plan.

Vegetarian recipes

Courtesy Adam Friedlander

This recipe tackles the high-moisture of eggplant in a new way by treating them how one would cook mushrooms — without any oil or fat added — so that you can skip that step entirely and still end up with browned, creamy eggplant tossed in an Italian-style vinaigrette and other veggies.

Vegetarian Samosa-Style Potpies

Mark Weinberg

The filling for these mini potpies is inspired by potato samosas, those delicious spiced dumplings that come fried in little triangular packets. Here, you bake the filling in ramekins with a puff pastry topper to create a simple and warming everyday meal.

Tsion's Shakshuka

Beejhy Barhany

Shakshuka is versatile and easy to make for brunch or dinner, it is packed with vitamins and proteins and is very flavorful. It’s a delicious comfort food. Traditional shakshuka is usually made with tomatoes, but this 15-minute recipe from Tsion Cafe takes it to a different level with a sauce that includes Ethiopian-spiced vegetables.

Sautéed Baby Artichokes with Buttery Pan Sauce

Vidya Rao

Once you learn how to trim and cook this delicious spring vegetable, you’ll see how quick they are to prepare. Baby artichokes are much smaller and cook faster, making them perfect for sautéing into caramelized goodness. Here, they are served with a buttery pan sauce, but you can also serve them with aioli, garlic butter or hollandaise.

Eggplant with Tomato, Broccolini and Mozzarella

Courtesy Adam Friedlander

There’s something very satisfying about digging out thick, funky-shaped, sauce-coated noodles, especially when they’re coated in melted cheese. The dish calls for spinach but will taste wonderful with any leftover cooked veggies mixed in during the second half of the one-pot baked dish.

Katie Lee's Creamy Spinach and Artichoke Pasta

Lucy Schaeffer

Anyone who loves a good, melted spinach artichoke dip, will love this Italian spin on the dish. The 20-minute meal is basically the same recipe as the classic dip but with pasta. What could be better?

Indian-Spiced Khichdi

Courtesy Kanchan Koya

“When we had the tummy troubles, my mom would whip up a simple khichdi of rice and lentils with minimal spices and then up the spice ante for a dinner party-approved masala khichdi served with plain yogurt and a tangy spicy mango pickle,” says Kanchan Koya.

This recipe is somewhere in the middle, perfect when you are looking for a quick comforting weeknight dinner that’s light on effort, easy on your digestive system and big on flavor. It’s topped with yogurt, but that can be skipped to make it completely vegan.

Veggie Chili Pizza

Nathan Congleton/TODAY

Chili in the winter fulfills me in the comfort food department. Veggie chili is an even bigger win as there is no meat at all, yet it is perfectly chunky, rich and filling. This recipe is great for big families like Lazarus Lynch’s. The cornbread crust is light on carbs and provides a nice base for the chili.

Al Roker's Vegetable Lasagna

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

This vegetarian lasagna, which is bubbling with gooey cheese, is Al’s genius (and delicious) way to pack lots of vegetable servings into dinner.

Carrot and Ginger Soup with Carrot-Top Pesto

Courtesy Matt Abdoo

This soup is super bright and flavorful. The fresh ginger adds a touch of heat while the coconut cream keeps the dish cool and velvety. All you have to do is take out the Parm to make it vegan.

Sheet Pan Kimchi Fried Rice with Baked Eggs

Hetty McKinnon

“Frying” rice in the oven, on a sheet pan, is not only possible, it actually produces the perfect amount of crisping. As with all sheet pan recipes, it’s the perfect throw-it-in-the-oven dish — simply toss your cold rice with veggies, kimchi and seasonings, spread it all onto a sheet pan and let a hot oven do the “frying” for you.

Spicy Miso Ramen

Candice Kumai / Kintsugi Wellness

This super oishii spicy ramen is made with basic pantry staples, such as miso paste and tahini. Candice Kumai loves adding extra Sriracha for heat and topping it all off with a slightly runny, soft-boiled egg.

Simple Italian Vegetable and Chickpea Stew

Laura Vitale

Laura Vitale loves this recipe because it is so versatile. She never makes this stew the same twice — it’s always changing based on what she has on hand, and it always comes out delicious! It’s comforting and filling but also light, and can easily be made vegan without the cheese.

Baked Lemony Broccoli and Mushroom Pasta

Courtesy Adam Friedlander

This deeply flavorful, silky pasta studded with broccoli, mushrooms and garlic is finished off with some breadcrumbs for crunch, soft dollops of creamy ricotta and quick-pickled peppers for a tiny bit of heat to balance it out.

Vegan recipes

Best-Ever Cauliflower Bolognese Spaghetti

Coco & Lala

A simple 30-minute meal, this Bolognese uses chopped cauliflower (or store-bought riced cauliflower) in lieu of meat. With rich seasonings and pasta sauce, it tastes just like the real thing, is kid-approved and very affordable. For extra protein, try a chickpea or lentil pasta instead of semolina.

Charred Cauliflower

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

This cauliflower puts all other preparations to shame. The spicy coconut syrup in this dish transports you to the islands while the romesco sauce is reminiscent of classic European cuisine. It’s a truly globally inspired dish that will keep you going back for more.

Vegan Taco Mac and Cheese

Mike Smith / TODAY

This vegan main is Hearty with a capital H! It’s kind of like a cross between tacos and mac and cheese — so definitely make it for your hungriest of friends and family members and just dare them to say vegan food isn’t filling.

Spicy Chinese Tofu with Scallions and Peanuts

Maggie Shi / TODAY

Tofu skeptics, prepare to be converted: Pressing the tofu to expel the water, then marinating it in soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and ginger, gives it an incredible amount of flavor.

Sheet Pan Masala-Spiced Veggie Bowl

Samah Dada

“Growing up with dishes like chana masala, masala green beans or aloo gobi on rotation adjusted my lens on vegetarian cooking, and I now feel obligated by my soul to add a variety of delicious masala spices to any veggie dish I’m cooking,” says Samah Dada. “When I cook for myself, I thrive on seasoning my veggies with cumin, turmeric and cayenne — heightening the flavor profiles and reminding me of the tastes of home.”

Sunny's Black Bean Burgers

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

What’s a Meatless Monday without a solid burger substitute sitting at the table? Sunny Anderson’s black bean burgers are so hearty and satisfying, it’s easy to forget they’re not made out of beef. Oatmeal helps bind the burger and also adds bulk to the patties.

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls

TODAY

“These are sweet enough to make you remember what a mess you’d make with the icing from a cinnamon roll as a little kid,” writes Jenné Clairborne. “They’re also delicious enough to put your ‘healthy diet’ rules on suspension for a few minutes, and then reject any bit of regret.”

Thai Coconut Red Curry

Plantable

Coconut milk is a traditional ingredient in many Thai-style curries — it gives them their signature creaminess without actual dairy cream. A variety of vegetables and firm tofu make this dish filling while keeping it light enough for a summer supper.

Sweet Soy Tempeh (Tempeh Manis)

LOUISE HAGGER / CREDITS:PHOTOGRAPHY: LOUISE HAGGERFOOD STYLING: EMILY KYDDAD & PROP STYLING: ALEXANDER BREEZE

The sweetness of this dish is a trademark of central Java, a province of Indonesia. It’s sticky with caramelized kecap manis and palm sugar, and perfectly balanced by the nutty flavor of crispy tempeh, the crunch of roasted peanuts and the gentle heat of the chile.

Vegan Lentil Chili

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Hearty lentils and meaty mushroom take the place of animal protein in this rich chili. This healthy swap makes the dish so much better for you without leaving out any of the satisfying flavor or comforting texture from this cold-weather classic.

Sumac-Dusted Chana Masala

Mike Smith / TODAY

Chickpeas and other legumes are packed with fiber and plant-based protein and therefore deeply satisfying and healthy. In fact, their regular consumption is associated with enhanced health and longevity! The spices in this recipe are not just belly-warming and flavor-enhancing but also help the digestibility of the legumes, which can be challenging for some. This dish improves over time so make extras and freeze for a quick and delicious weeknight dinner.

Kelewele (Fried Spicy Plantains)

Nassima Rothacker / Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen

Kelewele is a simple and quick side dish of spiced and fried plantain, and a common snack available from roadside chop bars and street-food vendors across Ghana. There are several variations across West Africa but it can be as simple as marinating the plantain in a mix of very finely chopped onion, grated fresh root ginger, chile flakes and salt.

Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

Samah Dada

This 25-minute meal is flavorful, light and balanced while remaining a plant-based, veggie-packed dinner or lunch that everyone will love. The roasted red peppers and garlic add a sweetness to the sauce that is undercut by the acidic tomatoes, lemon juice and spices.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Amber St. Peter / Homestyle Vegan

These bars are freaky good. Packed with protein from the peanut butter, they’re basically a workout food … that’s how that works, right? They’re sweet, chewy, ooey-gooey and very worthy of your next Netflix marathon.

Sheet Pan Vegetable Coconut Curry Rice

Jerrelle Guy

You’re going to love this versatile rice medley. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal because everything is conveniently mixed together, dumped right onto a sheet pan and ready to eat in 30 minutes.

Vegan Meatball Pizza

Nathan Congleton / TODAY

This vegan-friendly pizza is a perfect weeknight fix and is quite the crowd-pleaser. It’s an easy base to add to, as well, in case you’re one of those people who eat pineapple on pizza and want to see how it goes with veggie meatballs. And don’t get saucy, that’s cashew cheese … not real mozzarella!

Sheet Pan Aloo Gobi

Kara Birnbaum / TODAY

Aloo gobi — potatoes and cauliflower sautéed in spices — was a staple of Priya Krishna’s upbringing. It’s simple to put together, pretty hands off, and its flavor to ease ratio is off the charts. Also, potatoes and cauliflower are truly exceptional at absorbing and enhancing seasonings.

Vegan Matcha-Dark Chocolate Cake

Mike Smith / TODAY

Mashed ripe banana and Japanese ceremonial matcha powder make this cake this cake is one of the most beloved in Kumai’s cookbooks. The banana adds sweetness and moisture and the matcha is packed with antioxidants and vitamins.

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