Plant-Based Meals That Are Seriously Delicious

The plant-based way of life is alive and well. With it come hearty, delicious plant-based recipes that are wholly distinct from the crunchy-granola vegan food of times past. Vegetarian and vegan diets have recently grown in popularity for a number of reasons. Not only is plant-based cooking better for the environment, but it's also better for your health! 

A departure from some of the vegetarian and vegan trends of yore, plant-based cooking centers not on what's not on your plate, but what is. With a focus on whole foods that are delicious as they are good for you, a plant-based diet typically eschews meat, dairy, and eggs, but frankly, with food this good, you won't miss them.

For a plant-based meal to be satisfying, it requires a few things. First off, it usually requires some protein. This might come from beans, but it could just as easily come from quinoa, peas, or even rice. A plant-based meal also needs fiber, which enters thanks to whole fruits, veggies, and whole grains. Finally, plant-based meals require healthy fats like coconut milk, avocado, or olive oil, which lend a satisfying texture and sustain feelings of satiety after eating.

Oh, and of course plant-based meals have to taste good! But with these recipes, that really won't be a problem. These are plant-based meals that are seriously delicious

Easy chickpea curry with creamy coconut

Protein-rich chickpeas form the bulk of this creamy chickpea curry recipe boasting just a hint of heat. Mild curry powder, chili powder, and turmeric add flavor and a lovely golden color without making it overly spicy. That's perfect for palates that prefer milder fare. Clocking in at just a half-hour from start to finish and relying heavily on pantry staples, this heavenly curry is sure to become a weeknight mainstay. Serve garnished with freshly chopped cilantro for freshness and a pop of color.

Hungarian goulash – hold the beef

Hungarian goulash is traditionally a rich, beefy stew simmered in a red wine sauce. Contrary to what you might think at first glance, this hearty dish is well within your reach if you're reducing your reliance on meat. And since beef, in particular, is one of the food sources with the most devastating environmental impacts, according to The New York Times, this is an excellent place to seek out healthier, more ecologically conscious swaps.

In this plant-based Hungarian goulash recipe, meaty mushrooms stand in for the beef. Joined by carrots and potatoes and, of course, a hearty helping of Hungarian paprika, this stew proves to be just as rich and comforting as its beef-based inspiration.

A hearty vegetarian chili

Thick and hearty, this vegetarian chili is a make-ahead main the whole family will love. Made with a triumvirate of beans — kidney, black, and pinto, to be exact — it's seasoned simply with jarred salsa and chili powder. 

For a truly plant-based chili, you'll want to steer clear of the traditional shredded cheddar cheese topping. Luckily, the ever-increasing popularity of a plant-based diet means that you know you likely have a plethora of plant-based cheese shreds to choose from at your local supermarket. A few drops of Tabasco and some thinly sliced scallions for garnish are the perfect finishing touches here, too.

Split pea soup is a warming comfort food classic

If you think this split pea soup recipe needs bacon or ham to have flavor, think again: this vegan version is rich, creamy, and positively delicious, all without meat.

The base of this soup begins, as so many do, with aromatics: garlic, onion, carrot, and celery add sweetness and depth to the vegetable broth in which simmer the split peas. A touch of apple cider vinegar makes the flavors truly pop. And if you're missing that smokiness from the bacon, try adding a sprinkle of smoked paprika for those same warming aromas.

An easy make-ahead breakfast with just 3 ingredients

Chia puddings are a phenomenal plant-based breakfast option for more reasons than one. Not only do chia seeds boast nearly five grams of protein per one-ounce serving, but these puddings can easily be made in advance for an easy breakfast to enjoy at home or take on the go.

This chia pudding recipe can be made with any plant-based milk you like, from slightly sweet almond to creamy oat to rich coconut to relatively neutral rice. It uses honey as a sweetener – something that strict vegans eschew – but if you want to make it wholly plant-based, it's easy enough to swap in agave or maple syrup. Top with your favorite fresh fruit, and dig in!

Cabbage steaks are a yummy plant-based main

We're not going to try to convince you that a cabbage steak replicates the flavors of a beefy one. But cabbage steaks are indeed a delicious plant-based main, and you can doll them up much as you would meat for a satisfying dinner.

These thick-sliced cabbage steaks are seasoned with salt, pepper, and a touch of garlic before roasting in the oven. They emerge crisp and caramelized on the outside and tender within. Top with chimichurri sauce and serve with a side of vegan mashed potatoes, and you'll be in business!

Veggie tempura fit for a king

Strictly speaking, this tempura recipe isn't plant-based, but ditch the shrimp and you've got yourself a vegan feast! 

A host of vegetables like broccoli, sweet potato, kabocha squash, and mushrooms are dipped into a light tempura batter before being deep-fried until golden. A homemade dipping sauce uniting umami-rich soy and sweet mirin is the perfect way to enjoy this Japanese staple. Choose kombu dashi — a vegan version of the fish-based seasoning flakes — and this sauce will soon become a plant-based staple in your kitchen.

A sweet and savory caponata to dress salads, sandwiches, and more

Hailing from southern Italy, caponata is a jammy combo of fried eggplant, peppers, and tomato jazzed up with a symphony of sour, briny, and sweet notes. Capers, olives, red wine vinegar, and a touch of sugar all come together to help season this rich concoction, which can be enjoyed on a bed of greens, as a dipping sauce for steamed vegetables, or simply spread on crusty bread. Buon appetito!

A creamy risotto – no cream required

Think your risotto needs butter and cheese to achieve that oh-so-luxurious consistency? Think again! This vegan risotto takes advantage of the natural starchiness of arborio rice for a risotto as simple as it is flavorful. 

To make this plant-based dish, shallots and garlic are first sautéed in olive oil until tender and slightly sweet. Next, the arborio rice is added to the party to be lightly toasted before being deglazed with a squeeze of lemon. Slowly cooked with ladlefuls of vegetable broth, the finished rice is simply delightful when it's topped with roasted veggies or simply seasoned with freshly cracked black pepper and your favorite herbs.