5 Meatless Recipes That Will Appeal to Anyone

New report finds benefits in moving away from meat; here are the first steps to take.

July 8, 2009

You don't need meat for a truly enjoyable meal.

RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—A new position statement by the American Dietetic Association (ADA) underscores the benefits of a vegetarian diet, and comes on the heels of other reports linking plant-based diets to longer life and better health. In the statement, the ADA notes that vegetarian diets are often associated with health benefits such as lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower risks for heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. Vegetarians also have lower cancer rates. Studies reported on by Rodale.com in the past few months have linked meat-eating to a higher risk of vision loss and lung cancer, and found that eating large amounts of red meat raises overall risk of death. Other recent reports have identified meat production as an important contributor to global warming.


Whether you’re ready to take animal protein completely off the table, or just want to ease into a less meat-centric way of eating, here are some of meatless recipes from some of our favorite Rodale foodies. You can try each on its own for a lunch or light dinner, pair with salads and bread, or mix and match some of the selections to create a larger meal.

#1: Grilled Ratatouille with Goat Cheese
Now that grilling season is in full swing, Matt Goulding, food and nutrition editor at Men’s Health magazine, suggests this tasty and seasonal side dish.

Makes 4 servings

2 medium zucchini, sliced on the diagonal into ¼-inch planks
1 large red onion, sliced into ¼-inch rings
1 red or yellow bell pepper, top and seeds removed, quartered lengthwise
1 large eggplant, sliced widthwise into ¼-inch planks
½ Tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup crumbled goat cheese or feta
¼ cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat a grill over medium-high heat. Place the vegetables on a baking sheet and season with half of the vinegar and olive oil, plus salt and pepper.

2. Arrange the vegetables on the grill and cook each until lightly charred, then flip and repeat. Each of these vegetables should cook in roughly the same amount of time, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.

3. Return the grilled vegetables to the baking sheet, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and vinegar, and top with the torn basil and the goat cheese.

#2: Linguine with Escarole, Jalapeno, and Tomatoes
When you’re in the mood for some pasta, but not the same old sauce, try this recipe suggested by Prevention magazine food director Judy Hill. Fresh tomatoes give it a seasonal zing you’re remember for months. Pair with some crusty bread to sop up every last drop.

Serves 4

1/2 lb linguine
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 head escarole, shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 tsp salt
3 tomatoes or 1 pt cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Boil linguine in salted water. Remove and reserve 1/2 cup of water from the pot, drain the linguine, and return to the warm pot over the lowest possible heat. Add the oil, escarole, garlic, jalapeno, salt, and tomatoes to the linguine and toss until escarole wilts. Stir in the reserved cooking water. Add the cheese and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

# 3: Creamy Potato, Kale, and Leek Soup
From Women’s Health magazine senior editor, nutrition, Bridget Doherty comes a soup bound to satisfy. “I made it for a Soup Group that I’m in—we get together once a month to have soup,” she says. “I loved it, and so did everyone else. It’s really rich and creamy but still healthy.” Add an extra half-cup of milk if you prefer a thinner soup.

Serves 4

1 pound red potatoes, unpeeled
1 Tablespoon canola oil
3 cups (6 ounces) kale, chopped and tightly packed
3 cups leek, white and pale green parts, chopped (2 medium leeks)
½ teaspoon salt
3 cups 1 percent milk
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Ground black pepper to taste

1. Cut the potatoes into golf ball–size pieces and place on a microwavable plate. Cover with waxed paper. Cook on high, rotating occasionally, until tender, about 6 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a pot, heat the oil for 1 minute over medium heat. Add the kale, leek, and salt. Stir. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the milk, potatoes, and nutmeg. Reduce the heat to medium low. With a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, smash the potatoes into small chunks. Simmer until the flavors blend, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle each serving with pepper.

#4: Maria’s Fried Chickpeas
Here’s a great appetizer or side dish that couldn’t be easier to make. “I first tasted this delicious treat at a hip Lower East Side Manhattan restaurant,” says Rodale.com editor-in-chief Maria Rodale. “When I tried making them at home, my kids ate them like candy.”

Serves 5

1 can organic chickpeas
1 cup olive oil
Salt to taste

1. Pour a cup of olive oil into a saucepan.
2. Open a can of chickpeas, drain the liquid, and pour into the oil.
3. Cook on high heat until brown and crispy.
4. Take the chickpeas out and put them into a bowl lined with paper towels to absorb the oil.
5. Salt to taste.

#5: Maria’s Slow and Crispy Mac and Cheese
Another suggestion from Maria Rodale, who’s happy to share her thoughts about cooking with lard if you’ve had enough vegetarian options by now. As for this recipe, it’s comfort food at its finest, featuring a crispy topping that’s optional—but do yourself a favor and try it at least once.

Serves 4

1 bag whole wheat organic elbow or rotini pasta
8 ounces Cheddar cheese
4 ounces Colby cheese
1 cup milk
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt to taste

½ cup whole wheat bread crumbs
3 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup pine nuts

1. Put a large pot of water on the stove to boil.
2. When it’s boiling, add the pasta.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
4. Grate the cheese.
5. When the pasta is done, drain it, and put it into a casserole dish.
6. Add the cheese, milk, butter, and salt and mix it up a bit.
7. If you want to add a crispy topping, mix the breadcrumbs, olive oil, and pine nuts in a bowl and then sprinkle over the pasta and cheese. If you don’t like pine nuts, leave them out.
8. Bake for about 40 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

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