Try This Instead of That: Hearty Vegetarian Meals for Meat Eaters

Lots of vegetarian dishes are characterized as bland and blah by meat lovers; rightfully so, in some cases. The recipes you’ll find in this entry, however, are a far cry from tofu and cardboard. They pack protein and flavor, and you won’t even miss the fact that there’s no meat in any of them.

Ingredient Focus: Lentils

The lentil comes from the legume family (beans and peanuts also fall into this category). They’re pretty awesome because they’re low in calories, low in fat, and high in protein and fiber – and they’re cheap. A 1 lb bag costs 99 cents at my local supermarket, and I’ve gotten a bunch of meals out of it.

Typically before cooking them you need to rinse them with cold water. Then all you need to do is boil and wait. Depending on how long you cook them for, the texture can be very mushy to mushy on the inside with a slightly harder outer layer. Their shape and size makes them actually kind of fun to eat, and definitely a refreshing change.

Lentil & Veggie Recipes

Zucchini Herb Casserole

(slightly modified version of this Allrecipes submission)

I added lentils to this already delicious dish because I felt like it needed a protein boost.

Servings: 6 (Normally I scale everything for 2-3 people, but for this casserole I prefer to make 6 and save the leftovers)

  • 1/3 cup uncooked long grain white rice
  • 1/2 cup uncooked lentils, rinsed
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds zucchini (green squash), cubed
  • 1 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
  1. Combine the rice and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes, until rice is tender. You can add the lentils in with the rice, or cook them in a separate pot – just following the package instructions.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a shallow 1 1/2 quart casserole dish.
  3. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and cook the zucchini, green onions, and garlic 5 minutes, or until tender. Season with garlic salt, basil, paprika, and oregano. Mix in the cooked rice, lentils, tomatoes, and 1 cup cheese. Continue to cook and stir until heated through. Transfer to the prepared casserole dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  4. Bake uncovered 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Lentil Tacos – Good. So good. The recipe is for 6. I contemplated scaling it to 3, but what a mistake that would have been – the two of us devoured these things. We used fajita-size soft shell tortillas.

Black Bean Burgers – Lots of people balk at the concept of the veggie burger, but seriously, TRY THESE. You will not regret it. These guys are a far cry from their soggy, frozen counterparts. Be sure to keep everything as dry as possible – I press the mashed beans and the chopped vegetables between paper towel sheets to dry up the excess. You can also add more bread crumbs if you’re still having trouble keeping the patties together.

If you know of any more lentil or meat-replacement recipes we should try, leave a link in the comments and I’ll add it to this post!


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Categories: leftovers, Low Calorie Lunches, recipes, vegetarian recipes


I'm a writer of web content and advertising copy in the interactive space. I'm kind of a geek, but I like other stuff, too. My passions and loves include cooking and food, travel, music, and reading; my husband & favorite architect Jonathan; my wonderful family and friends; and my loyal, quirky dog.

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One Comment on “Try This Instead of That: Hearty Vegetarian Meals for Meat Eaters”

  1. April 1, 2010 at 5:06 pm #

    healthy post

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