Easy 30-Minute Vegetarian Meals for When You Need Something Quick & Healthy

Jul 2, 2018 at 12:25 p.m. ET
Spinach gnocchi with ricotta, zucchinis and parmesan flakes
Image: Enrique Díaz/7cero/Getty Images.

When my life is absolutely crazy, 30 minutes is all I want to spend making any meal — especially if those meals don't contain any meat. That's why on my extra-busy days, I like to keep my meals vegetarian — because they're so delicious and quick to throw together. 

Now, I'm a carnivore through and through, but sometimes all I need after a weekend of binge-eating hamburgers and steaks is a week full of healthy, low-fat, vegetarian meals. What makes these meals even better is the fact that they take less than 30 minutes to prepare, start to finish. Because really, who wants to spend more than that cooking in this heat?

More: How to Stock a Low-Carb Vegetarian Kitchen

Brown butter zucchini & squash pasta recipe

Brown butter zucchini, squash and tomato pasta Image: SheKnows.

Recipe adapted from Eating Well

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound cooked spaghetti noodles
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. To a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, add the butter. Cook until the butter is browned and smells a bit nutty, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, zucchini and squash, and cook until just softened, about 4 to 6 minutes.
  2. Toss in the spaghetti, and cook until the noodles are fully coated, about 4 minutes.
  3. Serve the spaghetti with Parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper.

Creamy rice pilaf with coconut milk & sweet potatoes recipe

Creamy rice pilaf with coconut milk and sweet potatoes Image: SheKnows.

Serves 6 – 8

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large sweet potato, baked, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups wild rice (uncooked)
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the rice, water, white wine and vegetable broth. Reduce the heat to low, and cover. Cook until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is fully cooked, about 15 minutes.
  2. When the rice is cooked, fluff it. Mix in the coconut milk, sweet potatoes, honey, salt and pepper. Cook for another 2 to 4 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Add more salt and pepper, to taste.

More: Skip the Meat With These 51 Vegetarian Recipes

Quinoa salad with chickpeas, asparagus & roasted beets recipe

Quinoa salad with chick peas, asparagus and roasted beets Image: SheKnows.

Recipe adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess

Serves 4

Ingredients: 

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 3 medium beets, roasted and chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons distilled vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup chickpeas, drained
  • 3/4 bunch asparagus, roasted and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced

Directions: 

  1. In a large bowl, carefully mix together the quinoa, beets, asparagus, chickpeas and cherry tomatoes.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, orange juice, honey, salt and pepper. Pour the liquid mixture over the quinoa mixture, and stir to combine.
  3. Mix the quinoa and vegetables with salt, pepper and cheese.

Crispy tofu noodles recipe

Crispy tofu noodles Image: SheKnows.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 – 6 sweet peppers, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups rice noodles
  • 2-1/2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons hot pepper paste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Remove the rice noodles from the package and place them in hot water. This will loosen them up. Set them aside.
  2. In a large, nonstick wok on medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Once the olive oil is hot, add the onions, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, sweet peppers and tofu. Cook until the tofu is browned and crispy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the crushed red pepper and pepper paste, and heat for another minute. Add the cooked rice noodles and soy sauce, and heat for another 2 minutes, tossing until the mixture is fully combined.
  4. Serve with additional crushed red pepper to taste, and enjoy.

A version of this article was originally published in August 2014.

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