Beginning a plant-based diet can be intimidating. But if you’re interested in giving it a shot, we recommend starting small and simple. Here are a few of our favorite beginner plant-based recipes to kick-start your journey.
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad
Main dish or side dish, either way you serve this Mediterranean chickpea salad from From My Bowl, we think it will rock your world.
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (or sub tahini for oil-free)
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Black pepper to taste
- 4 cups cooked and unsalted chickpeas
- 1 pint fresh tomatoes, diced
- 1 large cucumber, diced (about 2 cups)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- ½ red onion, diced
- ½ cup kalamata olives, cut in half
- ½ bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- Make the Dressing: Add oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, and black pepper to the base of a large bowl. Whisk until emulsified.
- Add the Veggies: Toss the chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, onion, olives, parsley, and mint into bowl and mix until everything is evenly coated in dressing. Season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary.
- This salad can be served immediately, but is best if you let it sit for 4 hours, preferably overnight. This gives the flavors a chance to mix! Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 6 days.
Bruschetta is typically served as an appetizer, but we wouldn’t blame you for turning this eggplant version from Plant Based School into a whole meal.
- 12 slices bread, cut ½-inch thick (sourdough or rustic Italian bread is best)
- 1 clove garlic to rub on the bread after toasting it.
- 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil to drizzle on bread after toasting it.
For the eggplant topping:
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 15 leaves basil
- Chop tomatoes and add to a large pan with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
- Sauté on medium-high heat for 5 minutes, then crush them with a fork.
- Wash and dry eggplant, cut off the stem, slice into 1-inch slices, then cubes. Add eggplant to pan with 1 cup water.
- Stir well, cover with a lid, and gently simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Take off lid and cook 5-10 minutes until sauce gets thick and water evaporates. Add fresh basil leaves, stir, and set aside.
- Toast the Bread:
- Turn on the broiler function of your oven. Slice the bread into ½-inch thick slices.
- Arrange bread on a baking sheet in a single layer and broil in oven until golden brown on top.
- If you have a charcoal grill, toast your bread there. Your bruschetta will be even tastier and look nicer with charred grill marks. Alternatively, you can use a grill pan.
- Apply Bruschetta Topping
- As soon as the bread is toasted, rub with a peeled clove of garlic, and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.
- Apply eggplant topping and sprinkle with extra fresh herbs.
Just because you’re opting for a plant-based diet doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort meals like spaghetti and meatballs. Check out this vegan recipe from Mindful Avocado.
- 1 package tofu, extra firm
- 8 oz package baby bella mushrooms
- 1 small yellow onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1½ cups whole wheat breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup nutritional yeast
- ¼ cup parsley
- 2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
- 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ Tbsp red chili flakes (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Remove tofu from packaging and wrap in paper towels. Place on a plate and add another plate on top of tofu. Place a heavy object on top and let sit 15-20 mins.
- Add onion, mushrooms, and garlic to food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
- Place pan on medium heat and add olive oil. Pour onion, mushroom, and garlic combo into pan and cook until most of the liquid is absorbed.
- Remove vegetables from heat and pour into a medium-sized mixing bowl.
- Unwrap tofu and add to mixing bowl along with remaining ingredients.
- Using hands, mix ingredients and form 1-inch balls. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet
- Bake 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Name a better combination than Brussels sprouts, soy sauce, and maple syrup. In the meantime, check out this six-ingredient recipe from The Vegan 8.
- Two 12 oz bags Brussels sprouts
- 4 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Preheat oven to 400°F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Trim bottoms of each Brussels sprout and pull off any outer leaves. Cut in half.
- Make sauce by combining soy sauce, maple syrup, chili powder, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Stir until smooth.
- Add trimmed Brussels sprouts to a large ziplock bag and pour the sauce over them.
- Scoop out the Brussels sprouts and place them on the lined pan. (You don’t want extra sauce on the pan.)
- Spread out Brussels sprouts evenly so they are not overlapping. Sprinkle salt over top.
- Bake 15-20 minutes until just charred and fork-tender.
- Remove and enjoy!
Garlic and Oil Pasta
All you need for this dish from The Plant Based School is a few simple ingredients and about 15 minutes.
- 11 oz spaghetti
- 3 cloves garlic
- ½ Tbsp red pepper flakes
- ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 handfuls flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
- 1 gallon water (to cook the pasta)
- 2 Tbsp coarse sea salt for the pasta water
- In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add salt and pasta.
- Cook per package instructions, minus 1 minute.
- While the pasta cooks, finely chop garlic and parsley.
- In a large skillet, add olive oil and warm on medium-low heat. Add garlic and red chili. Fry 30-60 seconds. Turn heat off and set aside.
- When the pasta is almost cooked, turn on heat again until the garlic starts to fry, then add finely chopped parsley and turn off heat again. Move pan around to disperse parsley in oil. Let fry with residual heat of the pan.
- Reserve one cup of pasta water. Drain pasta. Toss in pan with sauce.
- Turn heat on medium. Add reserved pasta water. Finish cooking while mixing pasta for 1 minute, then serve immediately.