It’s no secret that going vegetarian has certain health benefits. Eliminating meat from your diet means that you consume less saturated fat and cholesterol and more vitamins, potassium, and fiber. And this leads to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and a lower BMI. And all of these positive things can lead to longevity and a reduced risk for many chronic diseases, like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
But you don’t need to go full vegetarian or get rid of meat totally to experience some of these benefits! A Mediterranean diet – sparing use of red meat and emphasis on vegetables, fish, olive oil, fruits, and nuts – has been proven to lead to a longer life! Eating meat-free occasionally, even just one day a week, is a great start.
A lot of people shy away from vegetarian recipes because they’re afraid they won’t be as delicious or filling as their meaty counterparts. But as long as your dishes are seasoned properly and contain some type of protein, you won’t miss the meat. We promise. Zest & Zing is here to give you some inspiration to get you started!
Hint: Adding quality spices and herbs to your dishes will create such delicious flavours that you’ll forget they’re vegetarian!
Even better, adding spices and herbs to food doesn’t add any extra calories, sugar, or fat! (Certain ones can even help boost your metabolism.) Plus, spices help create great-tasting and flavourful food that helps us feel more satiated and satisfied with our meals! Here are some of our favorite easy vegetarian recipes.
It’s not surprising that there’s a huge array of Indian food that’ll get you excited about cooking vegetarian food. Almost 40% of India’s population eats meat-free or close to it. Almost any curry that you can make with chicken, fish, or pork, you can also make with protein-packed vegetables like chickpeas and lentils. This Easy Chickpea Tikka Masala is packed with spices like Garam Masala, paprika, coriander, cumin, and turmeric. Make it as spicy as you like! Or throw in some potatoes for some added heft with this Easy Chickpea and Potato Curry which adds depth of flavour with thyme and white pepper.
To get your greens, try this Spinach and Pea Pilau with green cardamom and cinnamon. Or enjoy some simple lentils served with rice or naan with this quick Spicy Dahl recipe. Or even experiment with the delicious, firm Indian paneer cheese to make this Paneer Masala. Throw some peas in there and you’ll have the traditional Northern Indian dish of Mutter Paneer.
Don’t be afraid to play around with any of these recipes – you can use their flavourful spice blend base as a start and just add whatever vegetables you have lying around. Like this Vegetable Curry that includes nontraditional ingredients like sweet potato and broccoli. Serve any of these up with rice and you’ve got yourself a filling, delicious, and healthy meal.
Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients in some of these recipes. Most of them are spices and herbs that you can get right here at Zest & Zing, and after you’ve got those in your pantry, the cooking itself is really simple!
Because who doesn’t love pasta? Even without meat, it’s always a filling dish.
Keep it simple but tasty with this breadcrumb-filled Linguini with Burst Tomatoes and Chiles. If you can’t find the oil-packed Calabrian chilies, use Z&Z’s Calabrian chili flakes. There are lots of variations on this simple pasta, including this Calabrian Chile Pasta with lemon and cherry tomatoes, but they’re all super easy and vibrant. Or try your hand at the most minimalist yet magnificent Italian dish, Cacio e Pepe, with its creamy blend of fresh black pepper and salty cheeses.
For a veggie alternative to a classic favorite, try this easy Vegetarian Lasagna. It only has 11 ingredients and it’s packed with healthy stuff. Or if you’re in a hurry, check out this One Pot Zucchini Mushroom Pasta, filled with flavour in the form of garlic and thyme. We’d recommend a dash of our Ground Porcini Mushroom to really bring out the intensity of the mushrooms in this dish.
If you’re still missing the meat, keep adding mushrooms to your pasta! This Mushroom and Walnut Spicy “Bolognese” will give you that perfect texture in its sauce that’s filled with the flavours of cumin, paprika, dried basil, oregano. Or you can even create Mushroom Meatballs without the beef! For a more traditional pasta dish, try this Mushroom Stroganoff, which we’d finish off with our Garlic & Parsley Sea Salt.
Again, just like those curry recipes, pasta is the perfect vehicle for veggies and there’s really no need to follow a recipe exactly when you’ve got a flavourful sauce and well-cooked pasta as your base.
Chili is always a crowd-pleaser, and this Vegetarian Chili contains flavours from dried oregano, cumin, and smoked paprika. It’s a super easy meal to make, but you can make it even easier by putting it in the slow cooker – we love the touch of sweetness that corn adds to that recipe. Give either of these chilies a real kick with our unique ground jalapeño pepper.
Vegetable soup is another one of those comfort foods with a ton of variations. Try this Hearty White Bean Vegetable Soup with kale, spinach, or chard, or this Lentil Vegetable Soup that features the unexpected addition of red wine. Finish them with grated Parmesan to make these soups even more tasty.
Another naturally veggie-friendly food is the falafel. Always delicious, here’s a simple spice-filled recipe for Falafel with Tahini. The coriander, cumin and garlic really give it those traditional Middle Eastern flavours.
You won’t miss the chicken or pork in your typical Chinese take-away. This Easy Vegetable Fried Rice is another way to substitute vegetables to create a meat-free meal. You can keep the seasoning light with a little white pepper, or throw in a pinch of Chinese Five Spice to give it a potent twist. Eggs give you the protein you need to fill full, and you can even throw in frozen peas. To make it even simpler, whip this up with leftover rice.
Another easy vegetarian recipe that you can create with whatever you have in your pantry right now: The frittata! Try out this Simple Spinach Frittata with parmesan, garlic, red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. Scallions and sun-dried tomatoes give it a real punch if you’ve got ’em. Or add that extra step and roast your veggies first with herbs and spices to create this Roasted Vegetable Frittata.
Finally, you should probably learn to make what used to be the go-to dish on vegetarian menus: The Veggie Burger. We love this guide on how to cook them up without a recipe! Of course there are some basic guidelines, but all you’ll really need are beans, grains, breadcrumbs, an egg, and some spices like paprika and cumin.
But if you’re the kind of person who needs a recipe to follow, try these Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers or these Easy Grillable Veggie Burgers that you can even throw on the barbecue. Just start experimenting!
Shop Zest & Zing’s wide range of herbs and spices now and you’ll be well on your way to cooking vegetarian dishes that are packed with flavour! Like what you see? Want to keep in touch? Sign up for Zest & Zing’s newsletter below!
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Founder of Zest & Zing, Taha Fezzani, shared the story of how he created his brand and launched his spice company on an episode of The Entrepreneurs, a weekly business podcast by Monocle Radio. Read more below and click here to listen!
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