It has been one heck of a year in terms of food. We saw the rise of cauliflower with recipes like these must-make Crispy Cauliflower Wings and these Spicy Lime Cauliflower Steaks. 2016 was the year that we saw vegetables gravitate to the center of peoples’ plates — no more boring sides, thrown together without a second thought. Now, more people are choosing to leave meat off their plates in favor of vegetables.
Creative, whole foods plant-base recipes are on the rise as we see this change in the way we think about vegetables. Of course, if we were to cook things the true whole foods plant-based way, this would mean using no oil at all because it is processed and contains few nutrients, however, most of us still use oil in our cooking. If you’re looking to cook without oil, whether you are sautéeung or baking, we have tips and tricks to help you get the job done without sacrificing flavor.
The recipes below were the most popular vegetable-based entrées of 2016. To see what else what was popular with Green Monsters this year, check out The 30 Most Popular Vegan Desserts of 2016 and The 30 Most Viral Vegan Recipes of 2016 and then come on back for the 15 best recipes where veggies take center stage!
1. Zucchini Gratin
This Zucchini Gratin is for those times when you crave something warm, rich, and nutritious but you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen. The creamy cashew sauce transforms this dish so nicely that you might just discover a new kind of love for zucchini. It’s a simple recipe that takes little time to prep for a flavorful and filling meal.
2. Seared Mushroom Scallops With Mint Pea Purée
While these scallops may look like conventional sea scallops, they’re actually made from King Oyster mushrooms! Liquid aminos or tamari help to bring that savory umami taste to these Seared Mushroom Scallops that complements the minty pea purée. This is an appetizer fit for warmer weather and fancy parties.
3. Spice-Rubbed Roasted Cauliflower Steak With Spinach Tahini Sauce
In this recipe for Spice-Rubbed Roasted Cauliflower Steak With Spinach Tahini Sauce, sliced cauliflower is rubbed with a special spice blend before being roasted in the oven until tender and juicy. It’s then paired with creamy spinach tahini sauce that complements the heat of the spices. If you’ve never had cauliflower steak before, it’s a dish that you must experience at least once.
4. Baked Eggplant Stacks With Cashew Ricotta
A twist on a classic Italian meal, these Baked Eggplant Stacks With Cashew Ricotta are paired with balsamic-infused baby spinach, and a marinara sauce. This recipe is perfect who loves new spins on old classics, or any lover of good Italian food.
5. How to Make Perfect Ratatouille
This is it! Finally, you can learn How to Make Perfect Ratatouille, a traditional dish hailing from the French countryside. The way that the vegetables are arranged gives this savory dish a colorful appearance, but it also ensures that you’ll find different flavors in every bite. It’s best served on its own, or with a side of bread to get every last bit of sauce.
6. Moroccan Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
These Moroccan Quinoa Stuffed Sweet Potatoes have a lot of delicious flavors going on. From Moroccan-spiced quinoa and hearty vegetable curry to the final sprinkle of crunchy pumpkin seeds on top, this dish will keep your taste buds entertained the whole time. This entrée even has peanut butter! So next time you want a unique and filling dish, try these sweet potatoes out. You won’t be disappointed.
7. ‘Tuna’ Stuffed Avocados
Who says you need fish to make tuna? In this recipe for “Tuna” Stuffed Avocados, white beans are pulsed into a crumbly, tuna-like consistency, slathered with vegan mayo, and given some seafood essence with dill and dulse flakes. From here, you can either pack this tuna in a sandwich or follow the recipe and stuff them into avocados for a visually-pleasing appetizer. Either way is delicious!
8. Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce
This Whole Roasted Cauliflower With Calabrian Chili Tahini Sauce, served in a spicy, savory sauce, is the perfect entrée. A gorgeous blend of tahini, olive oil, parsley, curry, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds, make for a creamy, full-bodied dish that is chock full of flavor. This centerpiece-worthy entrée is best served alongside dark, leafy greens, and plenty of bread.
9. Stuffed Italian Portobello Mushrooms
These Stuffed Italian Portobello Mushrooms are piled high with herbed and sautéed vegetables. All of the savory flavors of these meaty stuffed mushrooms work in harmony together. Italian herbs and spices, combined with black olives and tomatoes, and a drizzle of black truffle oil makes this recipe extra special. Serve these mushrooms as an appetizer to an Italian dinner.
10. Sesame Orange Sweet Potato
Who says budget-friendly means boring? This Sesame Orange Sweet Potato bowl is possibly the best easy meal idea you’ve stumbled upon. Tender, roasted sweet potato is coated with a sticky-sweet orange sauce and paired with steamed broccoli. If you’re looking for a little more substance in you meal, you can easily pair it with grains, greens, or any other vegetable you’re craving.
11. Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms With Lemon Pesto Polenta
How gorgeous does this Grilled King Oyster Mushrooms With Lemon Pesto Polenta look? Grilled Oyster mushroom steaks sits atop a bed of lemony pesto polenta in this creative dish. The “steaks” are plump and juicy and the roasted tomatoes and dash of balsamic vinegar bring the whole dish together. Delicious!
12. Herb-Infused White Sesame Curry With Red Potatoes and Mushrooms
You’ll never taste anything like this Herb-Infused White Sesame Curry With Red Potatoes and Mushrooms. In this recipe, roasted red tomatoes and sautéed mushrooms are served with an herb-infused white sesame and potato curry. Using tomato paste instead of whole tomatoes adds both a tangy flavor and texture that’s thicker than usual. Lastly, creamy coconut milk adds a smooth, silky taste. Serve this curry warm with steamed rice and a side of naan.
13. Grilled Eggplant With Lemon Basil Drizzle
This Grilled Eggplant With Lemon Basil Drizzle makes a delicious light option for lunch, dinner, or side dish. Eggplant slices are seasoned with only salt and then grilled until tender — the real flavor comes from the easy lemon basil dressing. The flavors compliment each other superbly. Open to other possibilities such as being wrapped up and stuffed with your favorite fillings, like cashew ricotta.
14. Chickpea Flour Omelet With Spinach and Kale
Omelets are a great go-to option for breakfast or even dinner because they’re easy to make, they cook fast, and there are endless opportunities for toppings, like this Chickpea Flour Omelet With Spinach and Kale. Mixing chickpea flour together with flax, water, and a little bit of seasoning creates a batter you can use to make egg-free omelets. This recipe loads up on leafy greens, fresh tomatoes, and avocado, but try mixing up the filling with ingredients like mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, and peppers.
15. Black Bean Manchurian in Savory Gravy Sauce
Vegetables Manchurian is a classic Indo-Chinese recipe of grated and shredded vegetables combined with flour to make veggie meatballs. This recipe for Black Bean Manchurian in Savory Gravy Sauce calls for a mixture of lightly seasoned black beans, carrot, and crunchy cabbage. Instead of wheat flour, it uses chickpeas flour, making it a gluten-friendly recipe. They’re served in a savory sauce that’s made by sautéing a mixture of fresh and flavor vegetables with ginger, garlic, and freshly ground black pepper to uplift the flavor. This simple dish is perfect for families, where it’s sure to be a hit with everyone, especially when served with a side of fresh brown rice.
2016 was only the beginning: vegetable-based entrées will be gracing our plates for years to come.
Lead image source: Grilled Eggplant With Lemon Tahini Drizzle