15 Delicious Vegan Dinners
Vegan cuisine has a way of being totally ingenius with its creative use of ingredients and substitutes to take place of the typical fare, or for what normal carnivores might ordinarily consume. If you're already following a vegan lifestyle or you're just looking to branch out and try new things, vegan fare is simply a great cuisine to dive into. Look no further for your next favorite dinner option with these absolutely stellar plant-based meals.
Tofu Bánh Mì
The vegan bánh mì at Tiger!Tiger!, a San Diego pub specializing in sandwiches, is every bit as hearty as its meaty cousins. The original recipe is complicated, but you can create a delicious version fairly quickly with a few shortcuts. Toss shredded daikon and carrots with seasoned rice vinegar; season mayo with minced chipotle chile; and season hoisin with minced ginger and lemongrass. Layer into a baguette with sprigs of cilantro and this super-flavorful tofu. Short skewers help hold the sandwich together.
Barbecue Slawpy Jacks
This hearty vegan entrée is essentially a cross between a sloppy Joe and a barbecue sandwich and a creative way for vegans to enjoy a traditionally meat-based classic. Be sure to use jackfruit canned in brine, not syrup. Jackfruit can be found at Asian markets and on Amazon. Serve with potato chips for crunch.
The Best "Beefy" Vegan Burgers
This umami-rich burger is unabashedly attempting to imitate a beef burger in flavor, texture, and appearance. Mushrooms and grains form the bulk of the burger--the mushrooms are tender, and the grains stay firm to give the impression of protein which has been cooked. The fat helps coat the separate elements so that it holds together nicely and isn't piecey like most veggie burgers. The patty absorbs lots of grill flavor to deliver a charred, smokey patty just like a traditional beefy backyard burger.
Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos
This flavorful fiesta-on-a-plate involves an unlikely main ingredient: fruit! Jackfruit is an extremely versatile ingredient because it absorbs and takes on the flavors of spices and other ingredients incredibly well, which helps lend these tacos their authentic flair. The fruit itself is pale in color and has a flaky, meaty texture, which makes it the perfect meat substitute for a vegetarian or vegan dinner option so everyone can enjoy it.
Mixed Vegetable and Farro Soup
Eataly's vegetable counter specializes in vegan dishes—specifically, vegan dishes that people might not suspect are vegan. One is this thick, hearty soup made with a colorful mix of carrots, peas, leek and onion. Mario Batali also adds borlotti beans and farro, which make the soup hearty enough to be a main course. The crunchy grissini on the side aren't vegan; they're sweetened with honey.
This spin on the bistro staple steak frites offers plenty of umami satisfaction in the form of juicy, meaty portobello mushrooms and a savory wine sauce. Finishing the sauce with a touch of vegan butter gives it luxurious and velvety consistency.
White Bean and Jackfruit Chili
In the vegan and vegetarian world, jackfruit is a blessing when it comes to adding a hearty touch to typically meaty dishes such as chili. Jackfruit has a mild flavor that is a lot like a blank canvas that easily takes on the flavors of sauces or spices used with it. In the case of this flavorful and cozy dish, spices like coriander, paprika, oregano, and cumin add a warm and toasty edge to this can't-believe-it's-vegan chili. The jackfruit has a shockingly good meaty texture while the supporting flavors lend it an unforgettable quality that simply proves that a meatless chili can actually be very meaty and satisfying.
Steamed Jackfruit Buns
These vegan buns are just like Char Siu Pork Bao (barbecue pork-filled buns) that you find at dim sum. Not only is this an amazing vegan version of the dish, it’s an amazing version of the dish period. The filling for the bao is sweet and tangy, and the dough is pillowy and soft. Jackfruit can be found at any Asian market. Purchase the “canned in brine” rather than the “canned in syrup” for this recipe. Since it is brined, it should be thoroughly rinsed and patted dry before use.
This dish is sure to make it into your regular rotation: completely satisfying chili that cooks in a fraction of the time it takes to make traditional meat chili. This recipe makes plenty; freeze leftovers for up to three months. Vegan sausage varies widely in taste and texture; we liked the meatiness and mild heat of the Field Roast brand, Mexican Chipotle flavor.
Eggplant Involtini with Grilled Ratatouille
Faux cheeses made with nuts are key to vegan cooking. To stuff these involtini, chef Sean Baker of Gather in Berkeley re-creates the flavor of ricotta by combining pureed raw cashews with nutritional yeast, which has a very savory, almost cheese-like flavor and is available at well-stocked specialty and natural food stores.
Chilled Corn Soup
This recipe for chilled corn soup yields an incredibly sumptuous, velvety concoction—but it’s vegan—and nearly fat-free—and uses one of summer's best and cheapest vegetables. Use corn at the peak of freshness as this simple preparation will highlight corn’s natural sweetness.
Vegan Buffalo Tofu Tot Skillet
This fantastic tater tot dish is slathered in some delicious meatless toppings making this one vegan dish that packs a powerful flavor punch. Reminicient of totchos, this skillet dish is a comfort food item to be reckoned with. This is a big skillet with enough to serve a lot of people alongside your favorite tailgating or appetizer dishes. This dish features a layer of homemade buffalo sauce as well as a rich and creamy dairy-free avocado ranch.
Quinoa and Brown Rice Bowl with Vegetables and Tahini
"While in Los Angeles filming the second season of Top Chef Just Desserts last year, I discovered Café Gratitude, a vegan café with a cult following," Gail Simmons says. "For me, its fresh, simple food was the perfect antidote to all that sugar. I became addicted to aptly named dishes like I Am Fortified—a bowl of whole grains with lots of cooked vegetables. When I got back to New York, I developed my own version."
Spinach Fettuccine with Tangy Grilled Summer Squash
At her restaurant, Amanda Cohen tosses herb fettuccine with pickled squash blossoms and grilled zucchini. This simplified recipe features squash that's pickled and then grilled, plus freshly sautéed squash.
Grilled Broccoli and Bread Salad with Pickled Shallots
"Grilling over an open flame is my favorite way of cooking," says Charlie Parker. "It gives food so much flavor without the need for butter." Here, he serves lightly charred broccoli and ciabatta cubes in a twist on an Italian bread-and-tomato salad.