There are so many different comfort foods that many of us grew up with: steak, sloppy joes, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, meatloaf, and more. We look at them through a lens of nostalgia and no matter what, nothing beats coming home to or preparing our favorite, soul-satisfying meals for dinner. Well, guess what? Even if you’re leaving more meat and dairy off your plate, you can still have your favorite comfort foods! In fact, there are even more ways to recreate your favorite meals because the possibilities of plants are practically endless!
We can use lentils, quinoa, tofu, and more to make sloppy joes. Legumes are the perfect base for veggie loafs that taste just the way you like and there are nearly countless ways to combine vegetables into flavorful veggie burgers. Jackfruit can be used to replicate the flavors and texture of pulled pork and mushrooms are so versatile that we can use them to replace both meat and our favorite seafood dishes.
It’s a big, bright, and beautiful world of plant-based deliciousness and we know it’s a lot to take in, so we’re here to help. Here are 20 essential plant-based comfort foods that every cook should know.
1. Tempeh Sloppy Joes
Many of us can remember those weeknights during our childhood where sloppy joes were on the dinner menu. These Tempeh Sloppy Joes recreate them with sautéed tempeh and vegetables, covered in a lightly seasoned tomato sauce. Just like the original recipe, these sloppy joes are easy to make and most importantly, amazingly satisfying!
2. Crispy Cauliflower Nuggets
These oven-fried Crispy Cauliflower Nuggets are guaranteed to be the star of your dinner night, parties … everything! The secret is to cook flour covered cauliflower slowly in coconut oil. The slow oven baking helps to crisp up the outside without having undercooked cauliflower.
3. Portobello Mushroom Steak
This juicy Portobello Mushroom Steak will satisfy your craving for a meaty entrée and fill you up. Sautéed with onions, balsamic vinegar, mirin, and herbs it’s a dinner that’ll leave everyone wanting seconds. It’s delicious when served with practically any veggie — the perfect “main” to any meal.
4. Carrot Hot Dogs
When it comes to recreating your favorite childhood meals, it’s all about the seasoning and these Carrot Hot Dogs got it right. They’re made by boiling carrots until soft and then marinating them in a savory sauce. After that, you just fry them to make them a little crispy and … ta-dah! You have yourself a and budget-friendly meal that’s a childhood favorite.
5. Easy Macaroni and Veggies
This Easy Macaroni and Veggies couldn’t be any simpler. This creamy macaroni sauce is made from roasted sweet potato and butternut squash and it has that same smooth, creamy consistency that you loved about the boxed stuff. The possibilities of plants are endless!
6. Tempeh Bacon
Absolutely delicious, smoky, and crisp, this Tempeh Bacon is a cinch to prepare. Once it’s ready, simply stack it in sandwiches along with your favorite fillings. If you have tempeh bacon left over, use it atop a fresh garden salad or even in soup!
7. Cauliflower and Walnut Ground ‘Meat’
This is a 100 percent plant-based Cauliflower and Walnut Ground “Meat” that you can use for tacos, pizza topping, in Bolognese sauce, in lasagna, and many more recipes. If you are looking for a great mince meat alternative that doesn’t rely on vital wheat gluten or soy crumbles, then this tasty cauliflower and walnut mixture is perfect. Because it’s vegan, it’s also cholesterol free — this is the ultimate in healthy cooking that tastes amazing!
8. Beet and Black Bean Burgers
Get to find your new favorite in these hearty Beet and Black Bean Burgers! Beets give them their gorgeous pink color and earthy flavor while freshly cooked black beans add a meaty texture. Serve these topped with sprouts, fried onion, and mushrooms with sweet potato fries on the side.
9. 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.
10. ‘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!
11. Broccoli ‘Wings’
Similar to cauliflower “wings,” but a little more flavorful, these crispy Broccoli “Wings” will be the star appetizer of any party. Broccoli florets are coated in a gluten-free batter and then baked to crispy perfection. Leave them plain, or toss them in any kind of sauce you like — we recommend Buffalo.
12. Moxarella Cheese
This Moxarella Cheese comes together in an instant and is made without any artificial anything. It browns and stretches. In short: it’s the plant-based cheese of our dreams. It’s not intended to be eaten plain, but this cheese stays in a “melted” type form until baked, and then it forms a nice crust, like dairy cheese does. Use it for pizzas, paninis, lasagna, and more!
13. Baked Mushroom Po’ Boys
These Baked Mushroom Po’ Boys are delicious sandwiches with crunchy, well-seasoned mushrooms and a tangy, creamy sauce. This reinvented Louisiana classic swaps out the oysters for White Button mushrooms that emulate the texture of the original recipe. The mushrooms are baked instead of fried and the sandwich is loaded with creamy remoulade sauce spread on toasty, buttery hoagie rolls and served with crunchy lettuce.
14. Green Goddess Griller
You’ll feel like a green goddess (or god) when you treat yourself to one of these amazing Green Goddess Grillers! … Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but they still taste unbelievably good. Nutty pesto, creamy avocado, and melty vegan cheese come together between two pieces of bread to create a grilled sandwich that’ll become a new household favorite.
15. Seitan Steak in Beurre Blanc Sauce With Fries
This Seitan Steak in Buerre Blanc Sauce With Fries will please any crowd. The beurre blanc sauce ladled over the “steak” uses a combination of fresh parsley and fennel fronds mixed with white wine and white wine vinegar. And the fries are oven-baked to crispy perfection. Parboiling them before baking helps them get that crisp texture we all want from fries.
16. Artichoke ‘Lobster’ Roll
A lobster roll is a popular sandwich in New England that consists of a mayo-based filling in a soft, toasted, and buttered bun. This Artichoke “Lobster” Roll makes veganizing it simple by using artichoke hearts, vegan mayonnaise, and a touch of dulse seaweed flakes. Transport yourself to Maine with this delicious comfort food sammie!
17. Crispy Breaded Chickpea Cutlets in Mushroom Gravy
Who doesn’t love the sound of Crispy Breaded Chickpea Cutlets in Mushroom Gravy — and did we mention the “breading” is gluten-free! Chickpeas have the perfect flavor and texture for this meal that’ll win over anybody. Serve this alongside some fresh greens or any vegetable of your choosing.
18. Fooled Pork Sandwich With Fries
This Fooled Pork Sandwich With Fries is an experience that needs to be had. Young jackfruit is simmered until tender and then broiled in sticky barbecue sauce, allowing it to absorb the flavor. This sandwich is topped with a creamy, crunchy coleslaw that’s a nice contract to the tender barbecue sauce-covered jackfruit. It all comes with a side of crispy oven-baked fries — why not try piling those on the sandwich, too?
19. Battered Hearts of Palm ‘Crab’ Cakes With Tartar Sauce
These Battered Hearts of Palm ‘Crab’ Cakes With Tartar Sauce are made by mashing hearts of palm into a meaty texture and seasoned in a way that perfectly mimics the taste and texture of the Maryland classic. These battered hearts of palm cakes are fried until crispy, then served with a dollop of creamy tangy homemade tartar sauce. These are best served on a bed of lettuce with fresh tomatoes.
20. Lentil Veggie Loaf
If you’re looking for an effortless meal that doesn’t disappoint, then you have to make this Lentil Veggie Loaf. What makes this meaty dish so wonderful is not only its heartiness but also its versatility. You can pack it with whatever vegetables you want and still achieve something delicious. It’s topped with a spicy homemade barbecue sauce for extra flavor.
Don’t you get hungry just looking at this list? Have fun cooking! Let us know which recipe (or recipes because you can never like too many) you like best in the comments below.
Lead image source: Tempeh Sloppy Joes