Double Duty: Vegetarian Meals That Are Also Awesome Sides
For some, the announcement of a vegetarian joining for dinner might raise some worries about whether what you’re serving will be sufficient. Luckily the centerpiece of a meal in-no-way needs to be meat or animal product related! In fact, making one or more meals a week vegetarian is a great way to incorporate more plant-based vitamins and nutrients into your diet!
Whether you choose to serve your meal with meat or not, these dishes work perfectly as a hearty vegetarian meal while also being a satisfying, nutritional and delicious side!
Pasta/Rice/Grains & Veggies
We love this combo because all it involves is roasting off veggies, boiling pasta and mixing it together with just-about any sauce! There are so many ways to take this combo including but not limited to:
- Italian: summer squash, tomatoes and pasta with a pesto or tomato sauce
- Asian: broccoli, carrots & snap peas with noodles and soy-based sauce
- Mexican: bell peppers and onion with rice and taco seasonings
- Cajun: mushroom, bell pepper and tomato with pasta over rice or pasta with Cajun seasonings
- Thai: kale, carrot, bell pepper, broccoli and onion over noodles or rice with red curry sauce
Cook your veggies in the oven or stove top, make your rice or pasta, mix and voila! A hearty meal for your vegetarian guest that you could easily add your chicken, steak, sausage, pork, fish, shrimp, etc. to!
Stuff It Up!
Mushrooms! Bell peppers! Pasta Shells! Zucchini! Potatoes! Cabbage! Squash! Eggplant! Bread! Onions! Avocados! Tomatoes!
When it comes to foods you can flavorfully stuff with just about anything, the list goes on! Some interesting stuffings we’ve seen are:
- Bread-based classic stuffing
- Roasted vegetables
- Mac & Cheese
- Beans / Lentils / Chili
- Sautéed Greens like Spinach or Kale
You can stick with one stuffing or mix and match! It all involves cooking your stuffing, stuffing your mushroom, pepper, shells, etc. and baking it all together. This is great because you can easily add meat to a different tray of your peppers! These serve excellent with a big salad that’s good for everybody as well.
Take some cooked mushroom, eggplant parmesan, veggie burgers, tofu or even grilled veggies and serve it up on some slider buns! Give your guests a choice of additional toppings or sauces and your meal is now completely accommodating and family-friendly. Serve these on the side in addition to your animal protein or serve your meat, chicken, fish etc. on slider buns too!
On a pre-made flatbread, simply layer on veggies, cheese, herbs, sauce & anything else you’d like and bake to perfection. Some possible flatbread combos to choose from:
- Roasted Tomato, Garlic, Spinach & Mozzarella
- Balsamic Roasted Veggies
- Sweet Potato, Caramelized Onion & Mozzarella
- Spinach Pesto, Mozzarella, & Tomato
- Mushroom & Goat Cheese
- Hummus, Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach
- Roasted Chickpeas and Red Onion
Simply choose your flatbread based on what goes best with the rest of your meal and you’ve got a vegetarian side that anyone could love!
While casseroles do take some ahead-of-time preparation and quite-some time in the oven, if you have the notice and the time they are an excellent vehicle for a fully-loaded vegetarian meal and side dish. Their preparation is also relatively simple.
Step 1: Get ingredients & prep to recipe specifications
Step 2: Layer or mix ingredients together
Step 3: Bake it up.
Use an array of veggies to make delectable nuggets of joy that bring the same satisfaction as a classic 4-piece! Luckily these nuggets are fairly versatile – you can mix practically any combo of veggies, cheese, breadcrumbs, beans, quinoa, etc. and use either a food processor or old fashion grate-and-mix method before shaping into tots, nuggets, patties and baking it all together. Follow a recipe right and you can count on a side dish vegetarians and meat eaters alike can enjoy! Serving with your favorite dipping sauce and you might even forget you’re eating veggies (perfect for picky eaters)!
Here’s an idea: pack some veggies into some wonton wrappers and fry (or bake!) away! This delicious idea really makes you forget the meat and allows for an endless variety of flavors and ingredients like:
- Avocado, Tomato & Red Onion
- Black Beans, Corn & Rice
- Jalapeño, Cheddar & Cream Cheese
- Potato, Cheddar and Chive
- 3-Bean Chili & Cheese
- Asian Mix: sautéed red pepper, carrot, cabbage, onion & fried egg
- Feta, Ricotta & Spinach
What are your vegetarian “go-to”s? Tag us with #BestMarket, we’d love to see!
April 25, 2018