Top 5 Go-To Weeknight Dinner Recipes/Ideas – Vegan Friendly

A friend of mine recently asked me if I would put together my top 5 go-to dinner recipes, and since I don’t really have any of them written down, I figured this would be a good space to share – both with my friend and all of you lovelies.

These are some very easy, relatively quick, vegan-friendly recipes that I make on a regular basis. I try to make them vegan, but the recipes are flexible to your diet preferences. They also vary depending on what’s in my pantry or fridge, or what mood I’m in. However they use a lot of the same ingredients, for the most part, which makes shopping pretty simple. You can make a large batch and have leftovers, or limit the size if that’s not something you’re after. I’m terrible at portioning and can’t seem to cook a meal for less than 4 people, so the measurements below are for 3-4 servings. 

These recipes use ingredients I almost always have on hand, including select veggies, canned beans, canned diced tomatoes, pasta, and rice. All of these ingredients can be found cheaply and in all grocery stores. The more expensive ingredients are things like hemp hearts, nutritional yeast, and vegan alternatives, and these are optional if you are on a budget. And all but one utilize the usual pantry staples of onion, garlic, olive oil, and a well stocked spice rack. 

*Indicates a pro tip. 🙂 

Alright, let’s get to the recipes.

1.Easy Veggie Pasta 

Ingredients:

1/4 onion, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

drizzle of olive oil

2 cups diced bell peppers (I usually use half of each green, yellow or orange, and red)

1/2 a zucchini, diced

1/2 cup cubed eggplant

1 15oz can diced seasoned tomatoes

1 15oz can beans, drained and rinsed (your choice, they all work equally well)

Pasta of choice, cooked per instructions

salt and pepper to taste

Italian herb blend to taste

*Optional – splash of red wine

Instructions:

  1. Saute onions and garlic in oil for a few minutes on medium heat. Once fragrant, add remaining vegetables and cook to desired doneness. Season with salt, pepper, and herb blend.
  2. If using red wine, add to deglaze pan.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and beans. Cook until heated through and incorporated. *If you think of it, add a ladle of the pasta water to the sauce before draining the pasta. It helps the sauce stick to the noodles. 
  4. Remove veggie sauce from heat and add pasta. Toss to combine. 
  5. Serve hot topped with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast and/or cheese. *Always good with some garlic french bread and a glass of wine.

 

2.Asian Veggie and Rice Bowl 

Ingredients:

1/4 onion, diced

2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 thumb of ginger root, peeled and finely diced

drizzle of sesame oil

1-2 cups diced veggies of choice – I usually use a variety of bell peppers, zucchini or other soft squash, eggplant, green beans, etc. You could also use a frozen stir fry mix.

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup rice, cooked

Soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, or other Asian condiment/sauce

Garnish – Peanuts or cashews, sesame seeds, etc. 

Instructions:

  1. Saute the onions, garlic, and ginger in oil on medium heat for a few minutes, until fragrant.
  2. Increase heat to medium high and add all remaining veggies. Saute until crisp-tender. 
  3. Serve over cooked rice, garnished with sauce and garnishes of choice. 

 

3.Taco Bowl

Ingredients:

1/4 onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, crushed

drizzle of olive oil

1 cup bell peppers, sliced – I usually use red and green

1 cup corn – canned, frozen, or fresh

1 15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 cup cooked rice, with fresh lime juice and cilantro added once done cooking

1 avocado

Salsa

Optional – nutritional yeast, vegan or regular cheese, plant-based plain yogurt or regular sour cream, fresh cilantro, etc. 

Instructions:

  1. Saute onions, garlic, and bell peppers in oil on medium heat until tender.
  2. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. 
  3. Add corn and beans, continuing to cook until everything is hot. 
  4. Serve over rice, topped with diced avocado, salsa, and any additional toppings. 

 

4.Risotto

I’m going to link you here to my other risotto recipe. Since it isn’t fall I haven’t been making the pumpkin version, but instead adding eggplant in addition to or in replacement of the mushrooms. I usually add a splash of red wine before starting to add the other liquid. And I top it with nutritional yeast. I’ve also been sauteing veggies and serving the risotto with the veg on top. It’s really good. 

5.Pizza

Pat is perfecting the art of pizza making at home, and it’s one of the few things we make together anymore. He makes the dough, usually a few days in advance so it has lots of time to proof. We just keep it covered in the fridge. Below is a video to get started on homemade pizza, but it takes a lot of practice.

Fully Homemade Pizza – *watch this video for instructions and tips*

However, there are much simpler and easier ways to have pizza at home that I’ve used before. You can buy Naan bread (or other flatbread) at the grocery store and just top it with your favorite pizza toppings. It only takes a few minutes in the oven (350° would do it) to warm up the bread, toppings, and melt any cheese. And the Naan is the perfect size for a personal pizza. 

BONUS

6.Smoothie Bowl

Sometimes I’m not super hungry in the evenings, so instead of a full blown meal, I blend up a smoothie or smoothie bowl of some sort. I’ve been trying Daily Harvest recently, but you can also throw something together with mixed frozen fruit, yogurt or plant milk, kale or spinach (I keep both in the freezer), and some varied toppings. In addition to fruit (usually mixed berries and a banana) and milk, I add a splash of maple syrup, cinnamon, ginger, and turmeric. I usually top a bowl with hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, nuts, shredded coconut, chia seeds, etc. This is good for any meal of the day really. 

 

I hope these ideas and recipes helped inspire you. They really are my go-to’s throughout the week, in some variation. If I feel in a rut with food, I usually head over to Madeleine Olivia’s blog or Youtube channel. She has a ton of easy and cheap vegan meal ideas, and some of her tips and hacks have blown me away. I also like to browse the Forks Over Knives magazine or website, as they have a lot of fun inspiration when it comes to cooking. 

Cheers!

Whitney

Currently eating: A smoothie bowl for lunch.

Currently drinking: All of the water (with a slice of lime or lemon), because coffee has taken over my life again. 

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Whitney View All →

Hello! I’m Whitney and this is my home for all things food and life.

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