Next Week's Meal Plan

5 Easy and Delicious Vegetarian Dinners to Make This Spring

published Apr 9, 2022
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Credit: Left to Right, Top to Bottom: Mark Weinberg; Joe Lingeman/Kitchn, Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn; Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Cooking vegetarian is such an enjoyable approach to weeknight dinners, even if you eat meat. In my cookbook, I Dream of Dinner (so You Don’t Have To), half of the 150 recipes are happily meat-free. They all pair readily available ingredients like grains, beans, vegetables, noodles, and tofu with big-flavor pantry staples like olives, harissa, and pickled peppers for dinners that are delicious — and quick. None of the recipes in this Next Week’s Meal Plan will take you more than 45 minutes, but speed is just one of the many benefits to eating vegetarian on nights when you’re hungry and/or hurried.

Other perks: No need to get out your meat thermometer, or guess or hope that the meat is cooked all the way through. Most vegetarian ingredients keep in the fridge for longer than chicken or fish, which means you could very well wing dinner any night of the week. And your dinners can be varied, colorful, comforting, and taste so good. See for yourself in the recipes that follow. 

Credit: Mark Weinberg

Monday: Springy Noodle Stir-Fry

This stir-fry from I Dream of Dinner is a happy home for any skinny, bright-green vegetables that spring to markets this time of year. Because these ingredients — talking about string beans, asparagus, snap peas, snow peas — all cook in the same amount of time, you can use any mix of them here. And because they’re all good both raw and cooked, the stir-fry uses them in both forms to add a variety of flavor and texture without additional ingredients. 

Get the recipe: Springy Noodle Stir-Fry

Credit: Mark Weinberg

Tuesday: Spicy Seared Tofu and Broccoli

The inspiration behind this recipe from my cookbook was Buffalo wings and ranch dressing. I dreamt of a dinner I could eat with my hands — because it’s fun! — and that had that appealing mix of crispy-spicy and creamy-cool. This is what came from that daydream: crisp tofu and charred broccoli in a nose-tickling sauce of harissa and raw ginger, plus a bowl of seasoned Greek yogurt to tame bites. 

Credit: Mark Weinberg

Wednesday: Sloppy Lennys

Perhaps my favorite recipe in the book, for this vegetarian spin on sloppy Joes, I season red lentils with assertive ingredients like pickled peppers, mustard, soy sauce, chili powder, and ketchup. The result is excellent between buns but also by the bowlful. Either way, don’t miss my boyfriend’s family’s ingenious topping: Frito’s!

Get the recipe:  Sloppy Lennys

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Thursday: Shaved Cucumber and Fennel Salad with Olives and Feta 

Persian or mini seedless cucumbers at the supermarket are consistently crisp and juicy, but the varieties this time of year at farmers markets are especially wonderful (I can’t not buy a lemon cucumber if I see one). This salad pairs two of my veg-drawer mainstays — cucumbers and fennel — with salty feta and olives. It’s a great mix of bright and briny, but to bulk it out for dinner, add white beans, whole grains like farro or quinoa, and/or pasta for a pasta salad.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Friday: Creamed Spinach Scrambled Eggs 

With some rejiggering of ingredients, your go-to breakfast scramble can become more than a hasty last-resort dinner. Just look at these creamed spinach scrambled eggs, which is like two super cozy foods in one — exactly what Friday necessitates. Instead of adding a few drops of heavy cream to the bowl of whisked eggs as you might do for scrambled eggs, pour a full 1/2 cup of cream into the skillet of garlicky spinach and soft scrambled eggs. As the cream warms, it takes on the shallot and garlic flavor, while the eggs can’t not get creamy and fluffy from all the cream around.

Get the recipe: Creamed Spinach Scrambled Eggs