Sharing the joys of a plant based recipe can be hard with incredibly dubious family members. While it’s difficult enough getting everyone to believe “plant based” doesn’t equate to eating grass, it’s an even further stretch to get them to share a dish with you. After following a plant based lifestyle for the last seven years, going through multiple meals and holidays with family, and conducting hours of trial and error in the kitchen- I’ve come up with this incredible list of 10 plant based recipes that even your most carnivorous family members will fawn over. Some are on the lighter side, some will leave you in a blissful food coma. But all of them are incredibly healthy, delicious, and most importantly- satisfying.
1. Mushroom Risotto
This dreamy, creamy mushroom risotto will have everyone at the table drooling. It’s decadent enough to make for entertaining, but easy enough to make all for yourself if you want to (and trust me, you’ll want to).
The nutritional yeast and coconut oil make it rich and cheesy, and the balsamic mushrooms deliver a wonderful umami kick. Also, because I’m a cheese freak, I love grating my favorite vegan parmesan on top. Because you know, Italian food can’t possibly be too cheesy.
As you make it, be sure you’re stirring it often. That’s the key to getting the arborio rice really fluffy and the whole risotto as creamy as it should be. Get ready to drool and make this a part of your weekly rotation!
2. Cauliflower Orange Chicken
This fabulous plant based recipe is perfect for those Friday nights where all you want to do is grub on some Chinese take out. The cauliflower comes out so crispy and the orange sauce is so juicy and flavorful. Serve it with fluffy, white rice and it makes it the most satisfying dinner! I’ve found everyone from my carnivorous husband to my super picky friends all adore this plant based recipe. I love pairing it with #8 on this list (eggroll in a bowl) for a complete spread!
3. Roasted Delicata Squash
Simply put, this recipe is absolutely mind blowing. I’m not obsessed with squash, so I was a little trepidatious to try it out this past Thanksgiving. But it looked good, so I figured it would be a nice side dish with everything else. Little did I know I would end up gorging myself on this dish alone and making it for dinner every subsequent week through New Years.
This plant based recipe is perfect for any fall or holiday meal. It is so incredibly fresh, savory, and just sweet enough. The delicata squash gives it a buttery creaminess, and the apple delivers a juicy bite. The toasted pumpkin seeds bring the perfect, salty crunch, and the roasted kale and onion round the dish out wonderfully. Complete with the freshest fall herbs, you’ll end up making this recipe every week until you can’t find delicata squash in stores anymore (only downside of a seasonal dish). I added rosemary and more olive oil than called for, but other than that I followed it to a T.
My only tip with this recipe is to follow every step. The first time I made it I just wanted to throw it all in a pan and bake it together in one go. But I’m so glad I made it properly because it was easy enough and ended up being my new autumn, go-to meal!
4. Mindblowing Mac N Cheese
There is literally nothing better than a big, creamy pot of fresh, hot, mac-n-cheese. And because I’m a cheese freak (as we know) making the best vegan mac-n-cheese was my first stop when I adopted a plant based lifestyle. Below is the recipe I base mine off of, but I make a few changes:
Because you can never have enough cheese, I add a full block of my favorite plant based cheese, Miyoko’s Mozzarella or Miyoko’s Organic Aged English Farmhouse Cheese. I do the mozzarella when I’m wanting a simple, milder, mac-n-cheese. It’s perfect for rainy nights, sick days, or that time of the month. I do the aged English cheese when I’m wanting a deep, smoky flavor- perfect for a robust dinner accompanied by a zesty glass of red wine. I’ll literally just blend these blocks into the blender with the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients. I also like to add a dab of white or yellow miso into the sauce for a savory, umami flavor that really rounds out the whole recipe.
I love topping my mac with vegan bacon bits, because hello there’s nothing better than those salty, crunchy bits contrasting with the creamy mac. The only challenge with this recipe? Waiting to bowl it up. My hubby and I will literally grab the pot and two spoons and devour our way into cheesy oblivion.
Another mac n cheese recipe I haven’t tried yet that looks amazing is this baked mac n cheese. While the recipe below is your classic mac, this baked one looks like the decadent one you’d serve at a fancy dinner party. Let me know which one you try in the comments!
5. Creamy Chickpea Verde Chile
This fabulous chile is not like a traditional chile at all. It’s really more like the love child of tortilla soup and enchiladas verde. It’s spicy, creamy, and oh, so satisfying. It’s the perfect balance of being rich and filling (with the coconut cream, chickpeas, and pinto beans) and light (with all the veggies, spices, and soup-like nature). It’s easy to make and is the perfect 30 minute, weeknight dinner!
I topped it with tortilla strips and plant-based sour cream, which is the only way to eat it in my opinion. There are so many plant-based sour creams on the market now, the only one I’ve tried so far is Kite Hill’s Sour Cream. I wouldn’t eat out of the tub, but in this soup- it’s absolutely divine. Also if you don’t feel like making up the tortilla strips from scratch, it works just as well to crumble up tortilla chips into your bowl. Between that and the sour cream, it makes this dish one of my absolute favorites.
My only tip- wear gloves when you de-seed the jalepeño so you’re not icing your fingers all night like me.
6. Roasted Garlic & Kale Spaghetti Squash with Sundried Tomatoes
Alright I’m gonna say straight up, this recipe is not for your most doubtful family members. They will probably wrinkle their nose at the kale (“So you do eat grass”) and spaghetti squash (“is that supposed to be pasta?”). But for your family members who appreciate a lighter, low carb dish filled with fresh produce and incredible flavor, this plant based recipe will blow them away.
While I love that there are endless, plant based recipes as rich and creamy as “regular” dishes, I’m always on the hunt for lighter fare. It can be so easy to fill up on vegan mac or creamy enchiladas, and while those items certainly have their place at the table, it’s nice to have a lighter meal that’s still satisfying and 100% plant based.
This recipe is just that. You can really taste each and every ingredient- namely the vibrant sun-dried tomatoes and the roasted garlic, which come through in the most delightfully, aromatic way. For an added protein boost you can top it with crispy, garlic-roasted chickpeas, but personally I like to add a dusting of my favorite vegan parmesan cheese (same one I add to the mushroom risotto). Since this dish is so contingent on the flavor of each and every ingredient, it’s extra special if you can get all the ingredients locally!
7. Mushroom Pot Pie
I’ve been obsessed with pot pies since middle school when I discovered Marie Calendar’s chicken pot pies. It was my favorite after-school treat, and to date I’m always looking for an excuse to bake a pot pie (you should see our kitchen on Pi Day). Needless to say, I have tried countless pot pie recipes and this one is easily my favorite for a very simple reason- it’s sharp with deep, savory flavors in a way that I have yet to find in another recipe. Most vegan pot pie recipes call for coconut cream to make the gravy thick. I’ve tried this in multiple ways and amounts, and while it’s definitely delicious, it’s just a little too sweet. I missed that deep umami flavor that is so inherent to this dish. My husband, now a firm believer in pot pie as well, agreed. We got tired of our savory little pies tasting sweet!
After an extensive recipe hunt, I found this gem. This pot pie recipe does everything right. Instead of using coconut milk, it uses cashew paste. Instead of only using cremini mushrooms, it adds dried shitake mushrooms as well (which ends up giving the broth of the gravy and tastes absolutely divine). And finally instead of brushing the top of the crusts with maple syrup (why?), this one brushes them with olive oil and almond milk- ensuring a much crispier crust with more depth in flavor.
Perfect for entertaining, the holidays, or really any day in my opinion- this mushroom pot pie will blow you and your family away.
8. Eggroll In A Bowl
This plant based recipe fills that greasy take out craving, but it’s so much better for you, lighter, easy to make, and even more delicious (this is big for me to say, I love me some greasy take out). I also love that this recipe skips the need to order vegan wrappers, use a deep fryer, etc. It’s fit for what I have on hand and literally tastes like an egg roll minus the wrapper. This is another easy weeknight dinner. If you want to make a full spread, it pairs perfectly with white rice and #3’s cauliflower orange chicken!
9. Creamy enchiladas
Get ready for the creamiest of enchiladas. This recipe takes vegan Mexican food to the next level. It’s incredibly satisfying- complete with a sharp, creamy, cashew cheese and a juicy, homemade, taco meat (made from a walnut, mushroom, cauliflower base). It’s spicy (like all good Mexican food should be in my opinion), extra satisfying with the beans, and topped with fresh cilantro on top. It’s so good you guys. The only con is it’s certainly not the quickest recipe to whip up. But still, it’s easy enough. And with the platter of dreamy enchiladas that you get at the end? Worth it.
Tip to make this recipe go faster- For those weeknights that you’re dying to have creamy enchiladas but don’t have a lot of extra time to cook, here’s what I do: Make a quick cashew cheese paste (soak 1/2 cup cashews for 15 mins in boiling water. Blend cashews with 1/2 cup water, more if it isn’t blending smoothly). Then blend the cashew paste with your favorite jar of enchilada sauce. Season with a little salt/garlic powder to taste. That’s your sauce. Make the enchiladas as this recipe states. Pour the sauce you made on top of it all, and top with your favorite shredded vegan cheese (I absolutely love this one). This quick version isn’t as dynamic in flavor as the recipe below, but it’s still a yummy version to make in a pinch.
10. Vegetable Korma
If you like Indian food, get ready for this rich, spicy, dream of a dish. It’s filled with so many delicious vegetables, and you can make it as spicy as you can stand (I’m Indian, so I love a good kick to it). It gets its creaminess from the cashew milk and coconut cream, but with all the intense spices it balances out just perfectly. Paired with fluffy basmati rice, you’ll be in heaven.
Also- this recipe comes from one of my most favorite plant-based blogs. Poke around her site for even more ideas- I get about 80% of my meals from her and every single one has been absolutely delicious!
Which recipe are you going to try first? We can’t wait to hear which one you and your loved ones enjoy the most!
Featured Source Image: https://unsplash.com/photos/GFW3dJRiMsQ
Writer, bibliophile, podcast enthusiast, self-admitted coffee addict, proud cat/puppy mom, vegetarian foodie, wine appreciator, pilates junkie, wifey to the most darling man there ever was. Avid NPR & NYT fan. Lifelong storyteller & optimist. LA-based. Writer for Society19 & Thrive Global. In all my writing I like to both challenge and validate the reader. You can check out my stuff at ashawrites.me. Sign up for my mailing list: https://tinyletter.com/ashanoeliyer