Hearty, Healthy Plant-Based Recipes That Satisfy

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Winter is upon us and sometimes we all just need a hearty, comforting (yet nutritious) dish. Plant-based recipes are all the trend right now—and even if you don’t identify as a vegetarian or vegan, going meatless for a meal once or twice a week can still be a delicious option while reducing your overall meat intake and upping that vegetable quota. Dig into these five hearty, flavorful plant-based recipes; they’ll be in rotation all year long.

Bowl with greens, falafel, tomato. and tahini
Breslavtsev Oleg / Shutterstock

1. Black Bean and Quinoa Falafel Bowl

Servings: 2 bowls (6 falafels each)
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled
  • 1 15oz can black beans, rinsed, drained, dried
  • ¼ cup, raw or roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 5 cloves garlic skin removed, crushed
  • ½ tsp sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp cumin, ground
  • ½ tsp coriander, ground
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (or omit for less spice)
  • 3-4 cups chopped greens (kale, romaine, red cabbage) per bowl

Toppings (suggested):

  • Hummus
  • Tahini sauce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Red onion
  • Fresh parsley
  • Kalamata olive

How to make it: 

  1. Prepare quinoa by following directions on the package to yield 1 cup cooked, and allow to cool. To cool quickly, pour and spread cooked quinoa onto a baking sheet and refrigerate.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Add rinsed, drained, dried black beans to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until beans appear cracked and feel dry to the touch. Remove beans from the oven and increase oven temperature to 375°F.
  3. While beans are baking and quinoa is cooling, prepare desired toppings. Slice cherry tomatoes in half, dice red onion, chop parsley, slice Kalamata olives and set aside.
  4. Add beans, pumpkin seeds, and garlic to a food processor and pulse into a loose meal. Then add cooked/cooled quinoa, salt, cumin, coriander, tomato paste, chipotle pepper. Blend until a textured dough forms.
  5. Taste and adjust flavor as needed
  6. Scoop out 1 ½ Tbsp and gently form into a small sphere using your hands. Add formed falafel to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes. Then flip to ensure even baking and bake for 10-15 minutes more or until golden brown and crispy.
  8. To serve, fill the bottom of a bowl with chopped greens, add baked falafels, and finish by adding all desired toppings.

Vegetarian chili
VICUSCHKA / Shutterstock

2. Hearty Plant-Based Chili

Servings: 3-5
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 4oz can mild green chiles
  • 1 large sweet potato cut into ½ inch cubes
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • ¾ cups water | 3/4 cups
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 cups squash and zucchini, diced
  • 1 ½ cups sweet corn, frozen

For the garnish (optional):

  • Lime wedges
  • Cheese
  • Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • Sour cream or Greek yogurt

How to make it:

  1. Place oil in a large pot and place over medium high heat. Add in garlic, onion, diced carrot, red bell pepper, cubed sweet potatoes and green chiles. Sauté for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. (You can also put ingredients into a crockpot in the morning, cooking at low/medium heat, and having it ready in the afternoon or evening.)
  2. Next add chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt and black pepper. Stir for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, water, black beans, chickpeas, beans and corn. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until chili thickens
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings and salt as necessary.
  5. Add garnish as desired.
Cauliflower Curry
Cauliflower Curry Nina Firsova / Shutterstock

3. Cauliflower Curry

Servings: 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 cups chopped sweet potato (1 pound)
  • 5 cups chopped cauliflower (1 medium head)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • I teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric, ground
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coriander
  • 1 28oz can diced San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can coconut milk, full fat
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas
  • 4 cups raw spinach
  • Cilantro to garnish
  • Brown rice to serve

How to make it:

  1. Cook the rice as per directions on the package.
  2. Dice the onion. Chop the sweet potato into bite-sized chunks (do not peel). Chop the cauliflower into florets.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 2 minutes. Add the sweet potato and sauté for an additional 3 minutes. Add cauliflower and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and sauté for another 5 minutes. Stir in curry paste, garam masala, cumin, turmeric, coriander. Add tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower and sweet potato are tender.
  4. Drain and rinse chickpeas. When the vegetables are tender, add the chickpeas and spinach. Stir for 2 minutes until the spinach becomes wilted. Add another ½ tsp of kosher salt to taste. Add more salt if desired.
  5. Serve with brown rice and garnish with chopped cilantro.
Mexican enchilada in a casserole dish
Quinoa Enchilada Casserole Lando Aviles / Shutterstock

4. Quinoa Enchilada Casserole

Servings: 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 10oz can mild enchilada sauce
  • 1 4.5oz can chopped green chiles, drained
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels, canned or roasted
  • ½ cup black beans, canned, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 minced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • ¾ shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced

How to make it:

  1. In a large saucepan with 2 cups of water, cook quinoa according to package instructions, and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil (or coat with nonstick spray) an 8×8 or 2 quart baking dish.
  3. In a large bowl, combine quinoa, enchilada sauce, green chiles, corn, black beans, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, cumin and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 1/2 cup cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese.
  4. Spread quinoa mixture into the prepared baking dish. Top with remaining cheeses. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly and cheeses have melted (about 15 minutes).
  5. Serve immediately and garnish with avocado and tomato, if desired.

Black beans and rice in bowl
AS Food studio / Shutterstock

5. Simple Black Beans and Rice

Servings: 6 (about 1 ½ cups each)
Prep time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeño peppers (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 15oz cans black beans
  • 2 15oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 bunch green onion or cilantro (garnish and topping)
  • Salt to taste

How to make it:

  1. Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeño. Then dice the remaining jalapeño flesh. (For a milder dish, skip the jalapeño and use smoked paprika. For a spicier soup, include the jalapeño seeds.) Thinly slice the green onion, separating the white and green parts. Set the green parts aside for garnish. (You can also use fresh cilantro.)
  2. Add the onion, jalapeño, white parts of the green onion and olive oil to a large soup pot and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
  3. While the onion, garlic, and jalapeño are sautéing, use a blender to purée 3 of the 4 cans of black beans, including liquid from the can. If the beans are too thick to purée, add just enough water to make them blend. If you don’t have a blender, you can mash by hand.
  4. Add all 4 cans of black beans to the soup pot—one can of whole beans with liquid, 3 puréed—along with the can of fire roasted diced tomatoes (with juices), tomato paste, the cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika, and salt. Stir to combine.
  5. Place a lid on the pot and allow the soup to come up to a simmer, stirring often, for about 15 minutes. Add salt to taste. Serve hot with your choice of toppings or over rice (see instructions below)

Preparing the rice:

Servings: 3 cups cooked rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter or oil (optional)

How to make it:

  1. Place the rice in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cool, running water until the water runs clear. This removes dusty starch that can lead to gummy rice.
  2. Bring 2 cups water, salt and butter or oil to a boil in a covered small saucepan over high heat.
    Add the rice and stir.
  3. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the water is absorbed (18 to 20 minutes).
  4. Rest the rice off the heat for 10 minutes covered. Fluff with a fork, and serve.

Jordan Mazur, M.S., R.D., is the Director of Nutrition for the San Francisco 49ers

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