Favorite Vegetarian recipes from a Non-Vegetarian

Over a year ago, my then fiancé (now husband) came home one night and declared that in his efforts to lose weight he’d like to go vegetarian, at least to some extent. At first I was shocked, he is the definition of a meat and potatoes man. When I got over that I was excited by the idea- I went vegetarian for a period of time in high school and since then have always favored vegetables to meats when picking my meals. It never occurred to me to make a vegetarian meal for my meat-loving guy so I took on the task with gusto. Our loose plan was to make vegetarian meals during the week but eat meat on the weekends, particularly when dining out. Now after about a year and a half of making yummy vegetarian meals I present to you our top picks.

  1. Stacked, Roasted Vegetable Enchilada Casserole (found on Pinterest) – The major reason I like this recipe is because it made me think of sweet potato and cauliflower in a new way. Honestly before this whole vegetarian experiment started I didn’t think I liked either of the two, but the way they are prepared-the vegetables are roasted in the oven- and the spice used-Cumin- really makes these veggies shine. With vegetarian dishes there is often a lot of prep work with chopping up the veggies and that is true with this one, but once they are in the oven the first go around it is smooth sailing. After the veggies are roasted you assemble the layers- salsa, roasted veggies, spinach, cheese, corn (or flour) tortilla- then throw it back it the oven. A dollop of sour cream and/or guacamole is good but not necessary. I use a full head of cauliflower, while the recipe calls for less. The only other amendment to this recipe I would add is that to make it more of a meal sometimes I make Lipton’s Spanish rice as a companion. This is such a pretty dish, it’d be a nice one to serve to guests, the orange of the sweet potato, the green of the spinach, and the red salsa make for a vibrant, visually enticing meal.

Ingredients for the enchiladas minus the poblano chili since the supermarket didn't have any. I threw in some regular green pepper instead.
Ingredients for the enchiladas minus the poblano chili since the supermarket didn't have any. I threw in some regular green pepper instead.
Vegetables going in the oven to roast, drizzled with olive oil, cumin, and garlic powder.
Vegetables going in the oven to roast, drizzled with olive oil, cumin, and garlic powder.
After the majority of the vegetables are roasted, the casserole is assembled in a second dish, here the spinach is added to the veggie layer.
After the majority of the vegetables are roasted, the casserole is assembled in a second dish, here the spinach is added to the veggie layer.
  1. Vegetarian Green Chili (from Better Homes and Gardens)- now unlike the first recipe, this recipe when prepared does not look like anything special-at all. But wow can looks be deceiving because it is so yummy. Also unlike the suggestion to add a dollop of sour cream to the first recipe, I insist you add a little sour cream, as well as layering this chili on a bed of white rice. You don’t need much of the rice and the sour cream but they really make the whole chili come together as a meal. Also the fresh avocado chunks are great, I always add it to mine but leave it off my husband’s since he doesn’t like them. The recipe calls for one jar, 16 ounces, of green salsa. The green salsa at my grocery store only comes in one variety HOT so I add it cautiously, approximately 1/3 of the jar, but it definitely elevates the chili so I recommend adding at least a few tablespoons. As far as add-ons to the recipe, each time I make it I add a different additional green veggie- Brussels sprout, broccoli, sugar snap peas. This is one of those meals that I make a large amount of and then we enjoy as leftovers for weeks afterwards.

Seriously the look of this meal doesn't do it justice, it is so yummy!
Seriously the look of this meal doesn't do it justice, it is so yummy!
Always lots of chopping for vegetarian recipes.
Always lots of chopping for vegetarian recipes.
  1. Carrot, Potato, Zucchini Pancakes (from Better Homes & Gardens)- Ok I don’t know how healthy this vegetarian dish is seeing as the veggies are cooked in oil but still when a dish features three veggies how bad can it really be for you? This one is high on the prep work- you need to matchstick each of the three veggies but I cheat a little. I recommend using a peeler for the carrot and making long thin slices instead of making matchsticks of it. It changes up the prep and I find it’s easier to peel the carrot. The zucchini and potato are pretty easy to matchstick and take it from this amateur chef- they do not need to be perfect. Throw them all together in a bowl with the one of the eggs, the flour, and spices and cook them in the oil in a skillet. Now it’s a little tricky to actually make a pancake out of this especially if your cutting skills aren’t perfect (as mine are not). You can put all the ‘batter’ into the skillet at the same time and then form the pancakes on the sheet pan. Ultimately the egg will cook on top of each individual pancake and that will help hold it together. My husband and I make enough for two pancakes since leftovers don’t really work that well for this meal and one pancake per person is filling enough for a meal. We use one full zucchini, one potato and one carrot which gives us enough for two large pancakes. (This way you only need three eggs-one for the batter and then one for the top of each pancake).

This particularly batch my husband decided to put the egg on, then add some additional 'pancake' on top of it to make more of a sandwich.
This particularly batch my husband decided to put the egg on, then add some additional 'pancake' on top of it to make more of a sandwich.

This vegetarian experiment has really become a lifestyle for us, however we continue to eat meat and now we have re-incorporated meat recipes among our vegetarian recipes. Generally I try to do a meat recipe and a vegetarian recipe each week (it is just the two of us so leftovers and non-recipe meals get us through the rest of the week). But I think this process has allowed us to make vegetables the star of most of our meals. Even when I find a meat-centered dish, I often add a second vegetable to it to make it more veggie-centric. It can be a bit of a challenge to find filling vegetarian meals but overall we've had fun trying out new recipes and incorporating more vegetables to our diet.

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AliciaC 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

These sound like interesting and tasty recipes. I enjoy finding new ways to cook vegetables. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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