3 best vegetarian dinner recipes for healthy, cozy meals

Amanda M. Rye

As someone who loves vegetables, low-maintenance cooking and pasta, I’m always trying to combine these three things in new, unfussy ways. For example, while I love eggplant, I am not a fan of the salting step, though it is usually necessary, so I sometimes find myself skipping eggplant dishes out of laziness — until now. Enter my new favorite broiler method that leaves out that salting step. As you’ll see below, each dish has its own little spin to keep things easy, a tad healthier and, most importantly, delicious. Here, you’ll find three vegetarian recipes that hit the cozy, comforting mark — without a ton of effort.

Baked Lemony Broccoli and Mushroom Pasta

Courtesy Adam Friedlander

This deeply flavorful, silky pasta studded with broccoli, mushrooms and garlic is finished off with some breadcrumbs for crunch, soft dollops of creamy ricotta and quick-pickled peppers for a tiny bit of heat to balance it out. For a lighter sauce, this recipe borrows a step from the much-loved Italian dish carbonara where eggs are mixed with hot pasta to create a smooth, velvety sauce. The fear with carbonara, especially for first-timers, is that the eggs will curdle, so, to avoid this, you can whisk in some hot pasta water to temper the eggs. This pasta follows a similar step where eggs are mixed with grated Parmesan and hot pasta water, then added to the pasta and vegetables to create a cheesy sauce that finishes baking in the oven — rich and creamy, yet light-feeling.

Eggplant with Tomato, Broccolini and Mozzarella

Courtesy Adam Friedlander

Eggplants are delicious, creamy and very versatile, the downside being when they aren’t cooked properly and end up rubbery, leaving you with an unpleasant texture and mouthfeel. This recipe tackles the high-moisture ingredient in a new way by treating them how I like to cook mushrooms — without any oil or fat added — so that we can skip that step entirely and still end up with browned, creamy eggplant. Rather than salting pre-cooking, the eggplants are cooked under the broiler to suck the moisture out of them. Then they are tossed in an Italian-style vinaigrette and broiled with a slew of other vegetables. You can use this method and finish cooking them in a tomato sauce or coat with pesto, as they are great for absorbing whatever you put them in post broiling. This dish can be eaten on its own or served on the side of one of the pastas.

Baked Broken Lasagna Pasta with Spinach

Courtesy Adam Friedlander

This is a low-effort, Italian-inspired one-pot pasta for when you don’t want to watch over the stove — a true set-it-and-kind-of-forget-it dish. (Setting a timer is helpful so you don’t actually forget about it.) The crushed tomatoes are seasoned with dried herbs, garlic in the pan, and then mixed with no-boil broken lasagna noodles to bake in the oven. During the second half of cooking, spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan are mixed in until they become bubbly and melted, but you could also stir in cooked sausage or leftover cooked vegetables. There’s something very satisfying about digging out thick, funky-shaped, sauce-coated noodles, especially when they’re coated in melted cheese. I like breaking up the noodles, a few sheets at time, between a clean dish towel to avoid any flying pieces, and it’s a great way to get out any leftover aggression from the day.

If you liked those shortcut weeknight dinner recipes, you should probably give these a try, too:

Baked Chicken and Ricotta Meatballs with Broccolini

Patricia Niven

Speedy Skillet Ravioli Lasagna

Dylan James Ho and Jeni Afuso

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