4 Vegetarian Dinners (and 1 Dessert) for Your Cast Iron Skillet

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

A cast iron skillet is a beautiful tool for any kitchen. While cast iron is often associated with rendering bacon and making meat-heavy dishes, this week I want to show you its vegetarian possibilities.

From a simple egg-bake to decadent crowd-pleasing brownies, this meal plan is sure to add a whole new element to your cast iron cooking. It includes four weeknight dinners to fill out your meal rotation, plus one very serious dessert!

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

For this vegetarian meal plan, I have compiled four veggie-packed dishes, plus one dessert! All of the recipes can be made right in the skillet, and if you happen to have two skillets, you can get a main dish and a side going at once.

A handy tip for when cooking and baking with cast iron: after you’ve removed the skillet the oven, always drape an oven mitt or kitchen towel over the handle. That handle is extremely hot, and this helps you remember not to grab it with bare hands!

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

The Meals

All recipes in this meal plan are intended to serve a family of four. The Broccolini with Butterbeans serves 2 as a main course (can be doubled) or 4 as a side dish.

Dessert for the Week: Speculoos-Swirl Skillet Brownies

(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

The Recipes

Your Meal Prep Plan

What To Do on Saturday or Sunday

Most of these recipes come together very quickly on a weeknight, prep and all. However, if you’d like to get a little ahead of the game, here are a few things you can do:

  • Make the Speculoos-Swirled Brownies so that you have them for dessert all week.
  • Slice the onions, mushrooms, and asparagus for the frittata.
  • Grate the cheese for the biscuits.
  • Par-boil the rice and slice the onion, garlic, bell peppers, and green beans for the paella. (Rice will keep for 1 week)
  • Slice the sweet potatoes for the gnocchi. If you have time, you can also roast the sweet potatoes and refrigerate them.
  • Slice the kale for the gnocchi.

Weeknight Task List

Meal 1: Mushroom Asparagus Frittata with Cheesy Whole-Grain Biscuits

Note: This meal plan requires two skillets, a 10-inch skillet and an 8-inch skillet. If you do not have two skillets, bake the biscuits on a greased baking sheet or in an 8×8-inch baking dish.

  • Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  • Prep the onions, mushrooms, and asparagus, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Make the biscuit dough and begin baking the biscuits. Set a timer so you don’t forget about the biscuits in the oven!
  • Make the frittata, cooking it on a separate rack in the oven if the biscuits aren’t done yet.
  • Keep the biscuits warm on top of the stove until ready to serve.

Meal 2: Vegetarian Paella with Red Peppers & Chickpeas

  • If you haven’t already par-boiled the rice, do this first.
  • If you already par-boiled the rice, remove it from the fridge while you prep the rest of the meal to take the chill off.
  • Prep all the vegetables for the paella if you haven’t already done so.
  • Make the paella.

Meal 3: Gnocchi Skillet with Sweet Potatoes, Greens & Goat Cheese

  • If you already roasted the sweet potatoes, remove them from the fridge, scatter them in an even layer in your cast iron skillet, and warm them in the oven while the oven preheats and you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  • If you did not already roast the sweet potatoes, get these going in the oven first so that they roast while you’re making the rest of the meal
  • Boil the gnocchi
  • Toss the all the ingredients together and bake in the oven until warmed through.

Meal 4: Broccolini with Butter Beans over Brown Rice

  • Cook the brown rice to serve with the broccolini.
  • A few minutes before the rice is done cooking, prepare the broccolini with white beans on the stovetop.
  • Serve the broccolini on top of the rice.
(Image credit: Karen Biton-Cohen)

Your Shopping List

To buy at the store:

  • Red onion (1)
  • Yellow onion (1)
  • Garlic (1 head)
  • Lemon (1)
  • Red bell pepper (1)
  • Yellow bell pepper (1)
  • Kale (1 bunch)
  • Broccolini (1 bunch)
  • White button, cremini, or baby bella mushrooms (8 ounces)
  • Asparagus (1 bunch or about 10 spears)
  • Green beans (large handful to make 1 cup prepped)
  • Sweet potato (1 large)
  • Fresh thyme (1 bunch)
  • Chives (1 bunch)
  • Parsley (1 bunch, for garnish, optional)
  • Large eggs (8)
  • Butter (8 ounces)
  • Buttermilk (1 cup)
  • Sharp cheddar (1 cup grated)
  • Feta cheese (1/2 cup cubed)
  • Goat cheese (4 ounces)
  • Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup shredded)
  • Peas (1 cup, frozen or fresh)
  • Chickpeas (1 15.5-ounce can)
  • Butterbeans or lima beans (1 15-ounce can)
  • Crushed tomatoes (1 15-ounce can)
  • Tomato paste (2 tablespoons)
  • Artichoke hearts (3 whole, canned or frozen)
  • Saffron threads (8 strands)
  • Hot paprika (1/2 tablespoon)
  • Gnocchi (1-pound package)
  • Spelt flour (2 cups)
  • Almond flour (1/2 cup)
  • Slivered almonds (1/4 cup)
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder (1/4 cup)
  • Semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup)
  • Speculoos cookie spread (2 tablespoons)
  • Short-grain brown rice (2 cups)
  • Vegetable broth (6 cups)
  • Instant coffee (2 teaspoons)

Pantry Staples (double check to make sure you have these on hand):

  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Chili flakes
  • Baking powder
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • White wine vinegar