Watching cooking shows on TV is one of my favorite things to do, especially the competition shows. It’s how I learned to cook for the most part and I love seeing new recipes that I will go veganize in my own kitchen. One of the things that irks me, however, is when they only refer to meat – beef, chicken, pork, fish – as the “proteins” for the main dishes. The vegetables are simply garnishes (seriously, they are called that) for the meat which gets top billing.
Vegetables are so much more than just the makings of a side dish or the colorful accents on a plate. Vegetables can be the main attraction and the star of the show. After all, veggies are filling, packed with protein and everything our bodies need and when cooked well, are flavorful and delicious. It’s time for veggies to step out of the shadows and into the spotlight. Here are 10 vegetables that make perfect entrees.
When you want that meaty taste, that umami, mushrooms are the way to go. Their flavor is rich, earthy, and meaty. Mushrooms are healthy, filling and versatile. They can replace meat in any recipe and while they can be used to make delicious appetizers, sauces, gravies and side dishes, mushrooms can definitely be the main course. My favorite way to eat mushrooms as an entrée is sauteed Portobello Mushrooms with Artichoke Hearts and Sundried Tomatoes and a big Portobello Mushroom Philly Cheesesteak.
Check out 10 Delicious Ways to Cook with Mushrooms and then try amazing entrees such as this Portobello Florentine with Lemony Hollandaise Sauce, Hefty, Hearty Mushroom Burgers, Mushroom and Leek Flatbread Pizza, Vegan Mushroom Bourguignon, Three Mushroom Tagliatelle With Garlic Sauce, and these thick and juicy Portobello Mushroom Steaks. For even more ideas, check out 30 Cool Vegan Recipes Made With Mushrooms.
Lentils have been a main dish since the beginning of time. Lentils are hearty, beefy and satisfying. They come in a variety of colors such as green, red, brown, and black. They cook up quickly, are inexpensive, and a small amount goes a long way. Plus, lentils don’t need to be soaked like beans. For recipes, ideas and how to cook lentils, see Lentils Are More Than Just for Soup- Here’s How to Use Them Best.
Entrees made with lentils include Masala Lentils (Sabut Masoor), Foolproof Mega Lentil Burgers, Hearty Black Beluga Lentil Stew, Rainbow Veggie Lentil Fried Rice, Mujaddara, Chili Lime Lentil Tacos With Spicy Grilled Pineapple Salsa, and Lentil Meatloaf with Red Paprika Glaze.
Technically, jackfruit is a fruit, not a vegetable, but when it’s unripe, it has an incredibly savory, slightly sweet flavor that can stand in for meat in so many dishes. Jackfruit is perfect for barbecue sandwiches, stir-fries, or any dish that traditionally uses beef, chicken, or pork. If jackfruit is new to you, get all the tips and tricks in Have You Tried Cooking With Jackfruit Yet? Get Started With These Recipes! Then try these Jackfruit Satay Skewers with Peanut Sauce, BBQ Jackfruit, Jackfruit Philly Cheesesteak and Jackfruit Ropa Vieja.
Eggplant is a favorite vegetable all over the world. It’s no surprise since eggplant is healthy, filling and so good. It has a creamy texture and rich, savory flavor. Check out 10 Ways to Cook with Eggplant and if you want exotic, ethnic flavors, see 10 Ways to Cook Eggplant with Global Flavor.
Incredible entrees with eggplant include Stuffed Baby Eggplant Curry, Miso Roasted Eggplant and Zucchini, Rainbow Eggplant Stacks, Eggplant Cannelloni, Vegan Eggplant Noodles, and Eggplant Crunchburgers.
Remember when we all thought cauliflower was bland and boring? Then we figured out that the mild flavor made it receptive to being cooked with a variety of flavors and spices. Now cauliflower is everyone’s favorite veggie. Read Cauliflower is the New Kale. Try These Recipes for amazing ideas and then for even more, see Cauliflower is Hot! Try These 15 Cauliflower Recipes This Summer.
Entrees, where cauliflower is the main ingredient, include Cauliflower Cacciatore, Cauliflower Parmesan, Spicy Cauliflower Chickpea Burger, Pasta-Free Baked Cauliflower and Cheese with Peas, Cauliflower with Purple Sweet Potatoes, and Sweet and Sour Cauliflower.
Beets are nature’s candy. They are sweet, earthy and super-healthy. Beets are beautiful to look at in a wide range of colors, from deep red to bright gold to candy cane red and white stripes. Even though beets are sweet, they can also work perfectly in savory dishes. Beets are extremely versatile and can be cooked in multiple ways – just look at these 10 Ways to Cook with Beets.
Everyone will love these Beet and Quinoa Veggie Burgers, Teriyaki Romanesco and Beet Bowl, Grand Budapest Beet Risotto, Red Beet and Zucchini Pancakes With Ruccola Tarragon Salad, and Raw Beet Ravioli With Cilantro Cream.
7. Beans and Legumes
Beans and legumes are amazing. They are inexpensive, healthy, filling, and there are so many to choose from: black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, aduki beans, chickpeas and black-eyed peas, to name just a few. If you think beans are boring, check out 7 Ways to Cook Beans to Make Them More Exciting, 10 Ways to Cook Beans with Global Flavor and Eat Chickpeas All Summer With These Creative and Easy Recipes. The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Perfect Beans will help you make the best beans for any dish.
Bean-centric dishes include Black Bean Burgers with Cilantro Lime Sauce, Black Bean Loaf, Kidney Bean and Kale BBQ Burger, Eggplant Garbanzo Stew with Polenta, Chickpea Butternut Tagine, and Three Bean and Sweet Potato Chili.
Potatoes are not just for side dishes. White potatoes and sweet potatoes can be the main ingredient in entrees. Whether you roast them, boil them, bake them, mash them, or fry them, potatoes are always a favorite. Take a look at Got Sweet Potatoes? Here are 10 Ways to Cook With Them, How to Use 10 Different Kinds of Potatoes to Make Simple Meals and 10 Global Ways to Cook with Potatoes.
Potatoes are the stars in this Greek Scalloped Potato Gratin, Vegan Malai Kofta, Asparagus Potato Pizza with Kale Pesto, Sweet Potato Chickpea Burger with Apricot Mustard and Rosemary Fries, and Insanely Good Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Cauliflower Cream.
9. Squash and Pumpkin
There are so many kinds of squash, the possible recipes are endless. There are summer squash like yellow squash and zucchini, winter squash like acorn, butternut, kabocha and delicata. And of course, let’s not forget pumpkin. Take a look at How to Cook Comforting Fall Foods with Winter Squash, 10 Delicious Ways to Use All That Summer Zucchini, and 10 Ways to Cook with Pumpkin.
Delicious squash-tastic entrees include Pumpkin Enchiladas, Roasted Summer Veggie Gratin, No-Noodle Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Lasagna, Zucchini Chickpea Burgers, Clean-Eating Zucchini Boats with Creamy Garlic Sauce, BBQ Pulled Zucchini and Vegan Creamy Ginger-Coconut Kale Zucchini Spaghetti.
10. Root Veggies
Root veggies are often overlooked, underappreciated and pushed off to the side of dishes. That’s unfortunate because root vegetables are versatile, healthy and make amazing entrees. There are so many kinds of root veggies – beets, carrots, celery root, daikon, garlic, ginger, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, kohlrabi, onions, parsnips, radishes, rutabagas, turmeric, turnips, yams and yucca. Wow! How could you ever get bored when there is so much variety! If you’re not sure what to do with root veggies, see How to Cook with Delicious Root Veggies – 10 Different Ways.
Entrees made with root veggies include this Root Veggies au Gratin, Root Vegetable Hash with Avocado Crème, Mung Beans and Root Vegetable Curry, The Best No Noodle Pad Thai, Winter Kale Vegetable Stew with Rutabaga Noodles, Roasted Root Vegetables on Quinoa with Yogurt Sauce, and Kohlrabi Spaghetti alla Foriana.
These are just 10 examples of vegetables that can be used for entrees. There are even more including broccoli, greens, Brussels sprouts and asparagus. So let your veggies come out from the sidelines and take center stage with a culinary performance you’ll definitely want an encore of.
Lead image source: Root Vegetable Hash With Avocado Creme