Most people can agree that eating less meat is good for us and an occasional vegetarian meal is always welcome at our house. Consider going meatless a few days a week or even just plan on a “Meatless Monday.” 

Skipping the meat does not have to be something to dread, and vegetarian meals have come a long way. It is not just about removing meat or substituting “real meat” with a plant-based product. Vegetarian meals can be delicious, flavorful, and so filling that you won’t even miss the meat. 

There are vegetarian options from all over the world. These are a few of our favorites. You might need to buy a few new ingredients or spices, but I think you will love the change.

Korean Kimchi Cabbage Cakes

My brother-in-law sent me this recipe and it totally inspired the entire article. These are delicious. Kimchi is a traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables, mainly cabbage, garlic and spices. It is kind of like a highly flavored Asian sauerkraut.

6 eggs 

3 tablespoons soy sauce 

6 cups shredded cabbage 

1 cup chopped kimchi, this can often be found in the refrigerator produce section of most grocery stores or in a Chinese market 

4 green onions, chopped 

1 cup flour 

Vegetable oil for cooking

Chopped cilantro for serving

Spicy mayo for serving*

Whisk eggs and soy sauce in a large bowl. Add shredded cabbage, chopped kimchi, and green onions. Toss to combine, stir in flour. 

When ready to eat, heat about 1 tablespoon oil in a very large skillet. Working in batches, drop about 3/4 cup batter for each patty into the oil. Cook until golden brown, about four minutes. Flip and continue to cook until browned on the other side. 

Transfer cabbage cakes to a cookie sheet lined with plenty of paper towels. Repeat with remaining cabbage mixture and serve with spicy mayo and a little chopped fresh cilantro.

*Spicy mayonnaise is a mixture of 1/2 cup mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon Sriracha or red chili paste. Combine and store in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.

Mexican Rice and Red Lentil Taco Meat

I have submitted this recipe several times and it really is as good as a regular taco filling. Simply use this in place of taco meat in burritos, enchiladas, or tacos.

1 cup dried red lentils 

1/2 cup brown rice 

1 onion, diced

6 cloves of fresh garlic, minced 

4 1/2 cups water 

2 tablespoons of chili powder 

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 

1/2 teaspoon paprika, I use smoked paprika 

2 teaspoons ground cumin 

1 1/2 teaspoons salt 

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

Put all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for three to four hours. Stir a few times during the last hour of cooking. Occasionally, I have added about 10 chopped sun-dried tomatoes during the last hour for additional flavor.

Indian Dal Tadka 

This is a recipe that my daughter brought home from college. The combination of spices is a flavor explosion. Feel free to adjust the heat level to your tolerance. 

To cook lentils:

1 cup red lentils 

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 

1/2 teaspoon red chili powder 

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

4 1/2 cups water 

Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for an hour until lentils are tender. 

For the curry mixture: 

1 onion, chopped 

3-4 garlic cloves, chopped 

1 inch piece of fresh ginger root peeled and chopped 

1 – 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes, undrained 

2 teaspoons curry powder 

1/2 to 1 teaspoon red chili powder or cayenne pepper, more or less to taste

1 teaspoon ground cumin 

1 teaspoon ground coriander 

2 to 3 tablespoons oil 

salt and pepper to taste

Cook onion, garlic, and ginger in the oil until soft. Add the spices and sauté for about three minutes. Add tomatoes and sauté for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add curry mixture to the lentils and cook for about an additional 20 minutes. 

Serve with rice, Naan, or pita bread and a fresh cucumber salad.*

*This can be as simple as freshly sliced cucumbers marinated briefly in rice wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar or you can make an Indian yogurt dressing. The fresh “cool” vegetable is a great compliment to this spicy and hearty vegetable dish.

Thai Style Spicy Coconut Noodles

8 ounces rice noodles or fettuccine 

1 – 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk 

3 tablespoons tomato paste 

1 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 tablespoon chili paste or 1/2 teaspoon green curry paste

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 green onions, chopped 

8 ounces bean sprouts 

12 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped

1/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted 

Cook the noodles according to the package directions and drain and set aside. 

Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan over medium heat, combine coconut milk, tomato paste, salt, chili paste or green curry paste, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil and reduce heat and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir the drained noodles into the sauce. Top with chopped green onions, sprouts, basil, and coconut, if desired.

Swiss Cheese Fondue

This is one of our family‘s favorite meals and traditionally our New Year’s Eve dinner.

1 clove of garlic, peeled and cut in half 

1 1/2 cups dry white wine 

1 tablespoon cornstarch 

2 cups or 1/2 pound Emmental cheese, grated

2 cups or 1/2 pound Gruyere cheese, grated

Serve for dipping: Cubes of French bread, slices of apple or pear, small roasted potatoes or blanched broccoli florets.

Rub the inside of a 4-quart heavy pot or fondue pot with the cut side of the garlic and then discard garlic. Add 1 1/4 cups wine to the pot and bring just to a simmer over moderate heat. Stir together cornstarch and ¼ cup of the wine in a separate cup. 

Gradually add cheese to the pot and cook stirring constantly in a zigzag pattern to prevent cheese from balling up. Do not allow cheese to boil. Stir cornstarch mixture again and then add to fondue. Bring fondue to a simmer and cook stirring until thickened, about five minutes. Keep warm and serve with various options for dipping. 

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Argentinian Chimichurri

This one dish meal is out of this world.

1 head cauliflower trimmed and broken into bite-size florets

2 – 15-ounce canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained 

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus ¼ cup 

Salt, to taste 

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 

1 cup packed flat leaf parsley 

1/2 cup packed cilantro 

1 shallot or 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped 

1 lime, zested and juiced 

Pita bread 

3 green onions, chopped

Preheat oven to 450°. In a 15 x 10” rimmed baking pan, combine the cauliflower, chickpeas, 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper flakes. Toss to coat and spread evenly on the baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes until browned and tender, stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, to make the chimichurri sauce. In a food processor or blender, combined the parsley, cilantro, garlic or shallot, 1/4 cup olive oil, the lime juice, zest, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes. Process until well-chopped. 

Spread about 1 tablespoon of the mixture on each pita and top with cauliflower mixture and drizzle with remaining chimichurri sauce. Top with green onions.

Crispy Tofu Bowl

Slice 14 ounces of extra firm tofu into ¼ inch thick slices. Place the sliced tofu on a tray between paper towels and top with a baking sheet. Put a few large cans or a brick on top to weigh it down and allow to drain in for 10 minutes. 

Whisk 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt to make a quick vinaigrette. Toss vinaigrette with 1/2 of a thinly sliced red onion and 1 seedless cucumber, chopped.

Once tofu has drained, sprinkle both sides with about 3 tablespoons cornstarch. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a medium skillet and cook tofu a medium high until deep golden brown, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels.

To make bowls: Divide 1 cup cooked quinoa among four bowls and top with the salad vinaigrette mixture. Add about 2 tablespoons of roasted cashews, a few cilantro leaves, and 2 slices of the crispy tofu. Serve immediately.

Danelle‘s Mushroom Risotto with Vegetable Broth 

The Italians really know how to do food and this is hearty, stick-to-your-ribs meatless dish. 

4 cups vegetable broth, or more as needed 

2 tablespoons butter, divided 

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 finely chopped onion 

1 package of baby bella mushrooms, sliced or chopped

1 1/2 cups Arborio rice

1/2 cup Vermouth 

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated black pepper 

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley 

1/4 cup mascarpone cheese

In a large sauce pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until tender, about three minutes. Add the rice, stir to coat. Add the vermouth and simmer until it is almost completely evaporated. Add mushrooms and 1/2 cup of broth. Stir until almost completely absorbed, about two minutes. Continue cooking rice, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time and stirring constantly. Allow each addition of to be absorbed until you add the next. 

Once rice is tender but still firm (about 20 minutes.) remove from heat and add the additional tablespoon of butter, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, parsley, and mascarpone cheese. Serve immediately.

Caccio e Pepe or Cheese

and Pepper Pasta

This is one of my son‘s absolute favorite meals, and although he always claimed that he does not like anything spicy, the large amount of black pepper has never seemed to bother him.

2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper 

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese

2 sticks butter, at room temperature 

1 pound fettuccine or other wide pasta 

About 1/4 cup kosher salt

Bring a large pot of water to rolling boil and add the salt. Cook the pasta until al dente and drain being sure to reserve at least one cup of the cooking pasta water. 

In a large bowl combine the butter, cheese, black pepper and about 2 to 4 tablespoons of the reserve pasta cooking water. Mix well, then toss in the hot drained pasta. Combine thoroughly and toss util butter is completely melted. Serve immediately.

Nora’s Lebanese Tabouli

1 cup cracked bulgur wheat (#1, if you can find it)

6 green onions, chopped or finely sliced

1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped, or 3 tablespoons dried mint

4-5 tomatoes, chopped

1 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste 

Allspice to taste

In a large bowl with a fine colander. Rinse wheat and soak in warm water for about 20 minutes. Drain well and squeeze out as much water as possible.

Combine all the ingredients and mix well. Chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Toss and correct seasonings before serving.

Salad may be served on a bed of a crisp lettuce leaves.

Air Fried Falafel

2 cups dried chickpeas (Do not use canned for this recipe) 

1/2 teaspoon baking soda 

1 cup fresh parsley leaves

3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves 

1 small onion, quartered

5 to 6 garlic cloves, peeled

1 teaspoon salt 

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper 

1 tablespoon ground cumin 

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

1 teaspoon baking powder 

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds 

At least one day in advance, place the dried chickpeas and baking soda in a large bowl filled with water by at least 2 inches over the chickpeas. Allow to soak overnight or 24 hours until the chickpeas are not hard. 

When chickpeas are ready, drain and pat them dry. Add the chickpeas, herbs, onion, garlic, and spices to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until all is thoroughly chopped and well-combined. I needed to process mine in 2 batches. 

Transfer the falafel mixture to a bowl and cover tightly. Allow to rest for at least one hour or overnight until ready to cook. 

Just before ready to air fry, add the baking powder and sesame seeds and stir to combine. Scoop tablespoons (I used an ice cream scoop) of falafel mixture to form patties about 1/2 inch thick and 1 inch wide. Please falafel patties in the basket of the air fryer and turn on for about 10 minutes. It may be more less depending on your air fryer. 

Served warm with toasted pita bread, tahini sauce or hummus.

You can also bake falafel at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes or deep fry for about two to three minutes.

Vegetarian Southern Greens

In the south, we may be known for our “Meat and Three Lunches,” but many times I will forgo the meat and add an extra vegetable. Good southern vegetables are often cooked with a ham hock or bacon grease, but adding a little extra garlic, onion, a dash of liquid smoke, and a rich vegetable broth can add extra flavor. 

1 bag or bunch turnip greens, mustard greens, kale, spinach or other greens; well cleaned and chopped

1 onion, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1-2 teaspoons oil

1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke

1/2 – 1 cup water or vegetable broth

In a large pot, heat oil and sauté onions and garlic until lightly browned. Add greens and stir until greens have wilted. Add broth and liquid smoke and cook for additional 15-20 minutes until greens are tender. Depending on the type of greens you use, will determine the length of cooking time. 

Add hot sauce or pepper vinegar, if desired. 

La’s Mac and Cheese

4 tablespoons butter

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ cup milk, heated

16 oz. container of sour cream

4 Tbs. flour

1 tsp pepper

16 oz. shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups UNCOOKED macaroni noodles

Cook macaroni according to package directions. While macaroni is boiling, melt butter in a large saucepan; blend in salt, pepper, and flour. Cook for about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in warm milk to prevent clumps. 

Once it is smooth, add in 3 ½ cups of the cheese and cook on low until cheese melts. Stir in sour cream and then cooked macaroni. Put in a well-greased 9×12 casserole dish and top with remaining cheese. 

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until cheese melts. You can make ahead and refrigerate overnight but be sure to allow to come to room temperature before baking.

Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

2 pounds fresh okra 

3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

3 cups chopped onions 

2 cups chopped celery

3 cups chopped tomatoes or 3 cups canned tomatoes including their liquid 

2 bay leaves 

2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper 

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 

1 teaspoon dried thyme 

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

Preheat oven to 300°. Rinse okra under cool water. Cut off stems and slice each pod into rounds. 

Meanwhile, in a large oven proof pot, coat edges with vegetable oil. Add the okra and all the other ingredients to the pot. Mix well and cover pot with an oven proof lid. Bake in oven, stirring occasionally, for 1- 1 ½ hours until all of the “okra slime” has disappeared. 

Remove lid and bake uncovered for the last 15 minutes or until okra is tender. Remove the bay leaves, adjust seasonings (add hot sauce if you like) and serve immediately

Turnip Green Casserole

2 cans slightly drained greens, any variety will work 

1 can cream of celery soup 

1/2 cup mayo 

1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish 

2 Tablespoon pepper vinegar sauce 

2 eggs beaten 

Mix all ingredients and put in a greased casserole. Top with crumbled cornbread. Bake 350 for 30 minutes.