Whether you are a full-time vegetarian or simply want to cut down on meat consumption, vegetarian dinners are a healthy option for the whole family. The options extend beyond a plate of lettuce to include a variety of delicious foods. Keeping the vegetarian meals simple means less time in the kitchen and more time with your family after a busy day.
A taco bar gives all family members a chance to customize the meal based on personal vegetarian preferences. Black or kidney beans work well as the protein base for the tacos. Mix green chilies or salsa in with the beans as you heat them for more flavor. Veggie burgers or meat alternative crumbles are also an option to stick with the vegetarian theme. Chop up various vegetables that you have on hand, such as onions, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce to fill the tacos. Taco sauce, salsa and sour cream round out the taco toppings.
A homemade stir fry is simple to prepare with the option to customize the ingredients based on personal preference. Options that work well for a vegetarian stir fry include pea pods, asparagus, peppers, red potatoes, onions, carrots, broccoli and celery. For a faster meal, use frozen vegetables that are already cut for you. Stir fry all the chopped vegetables in a wok or large saucepan. Tofu also works well in a stir fry for added protein and substance. Add your choice of stir fry sauces, which are available in the Asian food section of most grocery stores. A bed of brown rice works well with the vegetarian stir fry.
Pizza is a classic dish that is easy to make vegetarian. Make your own crust or buy a premade crust at the store for the pizza base. Tomato, pesto or white sauce all work well on a vegetarian pizza. Top with your favorite chopped vegetables and cheeses. For a more gourmet pizza, use chunks of fresh mozzarella instead of shredded cheese.
Large portobello mushrooms make a vegetarian alternative for burgers. The mushrooms work well on the grill to get the flavor of a grilled burger without the meat. Brush both sides of the mushrooms with oil and grill until soft. Watch for grill marks as an indicator. Approximately 10 minutes on each side should be enough to cook the portobellos. Place the grilled mushrooms on buns along with other grilled and fresh vegetables.
Pasta is another vegetarian dish that is easy to customize, based on the ingredients in your refrigerator. The main components are the pasta itself, the sauce and the extra ingredients. Pasta comes in many sizes and shapes, along with the option of cheese-filled ravioli or tortellini for more variety. Common sauces include marinara, white cause or pesto. Top the pasta with fresh or sauteed vegetables, such as tomatoes, mushrooms, onion and garlic. A side of garlic bread rounds out the vegetarian dinner.