One of my goals for 2020 was to eat more plant-based meals, and less meat and dairy. Eating fewer animal products is one of the most effective actions we can take as individuals to make the world a better place. Unlike most of my other goals for 2020, this one was actually made more achievable due to Covid-19. Since I no longer had to commute to work, I’ve had more time to try new recipes.
At first, I thought limiting my meat and dairy intake was going to be a major challenge. I’m already gluten-free for health reasons, so the idea of restricting my diet even further was pretty daunting. Honestly though, once I learned what staples to keep on hand (lots of chickpeas and black beans) and how to cook them in a way that actually tastes good, I hardly missed the meat and dairy. I’m still by no means 100% vegan, but I eat way fewer animal products than I used to. In making this transition, Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking: 101 Entirely Plant-Based, Mostly Gluten-Free, Easy and Delicious Recipes, by Dana Shultz, was an invaluable tool.
When I first got this book, I thought I would try out a few recipes here and there, mainly focusing on the “one bowl or pot” and “30 minutes or less” meals. After I started working from home and had more time to cook, however, I ended up trying almost every main dish in the book, and quite a few of the side dishes as well. Several of these recipes, like the Spicy Tofu Vegetable Stir-Fry and the Simple Tomato + Lentil Ragu, have become staples in our home. Even my meat-loving boyfriend will eat these without asking, “where’s the meat?” or commenting, “this would go good with pork,” like he used to after my vegan cooking attempts.
And believe me, there have been many, many attempts, some better than others. After all this practice, I decided to compile a list of the plant-based recipes that are so good I keep coming back to them. So if you’re looking for a satisfying vegan meal, this list is for you.
Most of the recipes in this list are from the book, Everyday Cooking, which I highly recommend checking out, but I’ve included the links to recipes that are available online. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. Spicy Braised Tofu Tostadas
My go-to method for making tacos vegan is to simply fill them with black beans instead of meat or fish, but this recipe puts a whole new spin on plant-based, Mexican-inspired meals. The toasted tortillas add the perfect amount of crunch to balance out the tofu-based filling.
I’ve tried a lot of curry recipes, but I keep going back to this one by BBC Good Food. I love that it has spinach and tomatoes, so I don’t feel the need to add a side in order to get in my daily recommended servings of veggies.
3. Thai Baked Sweet Potatoes
The first time I tried this recipe from Everyday Cooking, I thought I was going to have plenty of leftovers for the next day, but these flavor-packed sweet potatoes disappeared in a flash. The Minimalist Baker website also has a Mediterranean version, which I haven’t tried yet, but it has rave reviews.
4. Simple Tomato + Lentil Ragu
Growing up, spaghetti with meat sauce was a staple in our house. This vegan version, served with gluten-free pasta reminds me of those days while being healthier and better for the planet.
I have yet to try any other tempeh recipe because every time I buy tempeh, I only want to make this! It’s so satisfying you’d never guess you were eating fermented soybeans. I like to eat it on top of rice along with a side of broccoli or some other green vegetable.
6. Smashed Black Bean Green Chili Taquitos
These might technically be considered a snack or appetizer, but when served with salsa or guacamole, I find them satisfying enough to stand alone.
Whenever I’m craving a salad, this recipe from Oh She Glows is my go-to. I just can’t get enough of the vegan Caesar dressing and crispy chickpeas.
8. Carrot, Potato + Chickpea Red Curry
Curries are the perfect one-pot meal that really fills me up, so I couldn’t help but include two on this list. I also love the hearty addition of potatoes to this recipe that makes it the perfect hot meal on a rainy day.
9. Spicy Tofu Vegetable Stir-Fry
I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made this recipe, but it’s safe to say it’s a lot. Marinating and baking the tofu makes it taste amazing! This recipe is from Everyday Cooking, but there is a similar version on the Minimalist Baker website.
This tasty dish by Vegan Richa reminds me of Pad Thai, but with more vegetables, fewer hard-to-find ingredients, and more peanut-y goodness. All of these things make it a winner in my book!
11. Cashew Soba Noodle Salad
This was one of the first recipes I made from Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking. Just reading the list of ingredients made my mouth water. Cashews? Check. Mango? Check. Edamame? Noodles? Chili garlic sauce? Check, check, check. It was also pretty easy to make this recipe gluten-free by substituting the soba noodles for gluten-free spaghetti noodles. Technically, soba noodles should be gluten-free if they are made from 100% buckwheat, but I have yet to find any that don’t contain wheat.
12. Thai Quinoa Meatballs
Last but not least, I love eating these nutty “meatballs” on top of a salad, as pictured below. They are the perfect flavor and protein-packed addition for when you’re tired of the usual vegan protein options!
There you have it–the 12 plant-based recipes I’ve been making on repeat. What’s your favorite meatless meal lately?
If you want to learn more about why you should eat less meat and dairy, as well as other ways to eat ethically, be sure to check out this post!