Light Plant-Based Dinner Recipes

By Marni Wasserman

Supper in the plant-based world is manageable (and fun!) because you have so many different ways to prepare the same food. It’s all about simple creativity! Following are a few recipes that are on the lighter side (in case your goal is to drop a few pounds).

Hearty Vegetable Cacciatore

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 18–30 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced leeks or diced onions

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced celery

3 cups sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh basil, or 1 teaspoon dried basil

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

3 bay leaves

2 cups tomato sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup finely chopped parsley

1 to 2 cups cubed organic tofu

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the garlic and leeks over medium heat until soft.

  2. Add the remaining ingredients.

  3. Cook for 15 to 30 minutes until the moisture has evaporated and the dish is reduced and thickened. Remove the bay leaves.

  4. Serve with whole-grain or gluten-free pasta, brown rice, or quinoa, or enjoy it on its own.

Per serving: Calories 147 (From Fat 72); Fat 8g (Saturated 1.5g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 858mg; Carbohydrate 12g (Dietary Fiber 4g); Protein 9g.

Instead of organic tofu, opt for white beans, chickpeas, or fava beans for a hearty vegetarian source of protein. Or use this as a sauce to top the Mushroom and Chickpea Loaf (see later recipe).

Tangy Tempeh Teriyaki Stir-Fry

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Marinade (see the following recipe)

10.5-ounce package of organic tempeh or tofu

1 onion, chopped

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 head (about 2 cups) broccoli or cauliflower, cut into florets

1 head (about 2 cups) bok choy, chopped

1/4 cup sesame seeds

  1. Cut the tempeh or tofu into small cubes.

  2. In a medium saucepan or wok, combine the tempeh or tofu with 3/4 of the marinade, along with the onions, carrots, and celery. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Place the broccoli in the wok and cook until just tender.

  4. Combine the bok choy with the tempeh or tofu and stir with the remaining marinade until the bok choy softens a bit.

  5. Make sure everything is well coated. Top with sesame seeds and serve with brown rice, soba noodles, or quinoa.

Marinade

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

1/4 cup tamari

1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

juice of 1 orange

1 to 2 tablespoons brown-rice vinegar

1 tablespoon brown-rice syrup

  1. In a bowl, combine the marinade ingredients and set aside.

Per serving: Calories 129 (From Fat 63); Fat 7g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 551mg; Carbohydrate 11g (Dietary Fiber 3g); Protein 6g.

For extra flavor, marinate the tempeh cubes in half of the marinade for up to an hour before making this dish to allow the flavors to absorb.

Be sure not to overcook your green veggies — you want them to remain green. The goal is to keep them crisp and tender. Add them at the end and let them cook down with the warmth of the stir-fry.

Try this stir-fry with different veggies that are in season. Peppers, asparagus, and Japanese eggplant can all be swapped in to make different variations.

Mushroom and Chickpea Loaf

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus bean soaking and cooking time

Cook time: 55 minutes

Yield: 6–8 servings

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 cup chopped onions

2 medium carrots, chopped

1/2 cup chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped mushrooms

1-1/2 cups chickpeas (soaked overnight and cooked), or one 14-ounce can of organic chickpeas

1-1/2 cups cooked white beans

1⁄3 cup dried wheat-free bread crumbs

1/4 cup organic tomato sauce

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon arrowroot powder

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/2 cup whole rolled oats

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1/4 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon tamari

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. In a large sauté pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

  3. Add the garlic, onions, and carrots; cook for 4 minutes.

  4. Stir in the zucchini and mushrooms and sauté for 8 minutes, or until softened.

  5. In a food processor, combine the zucchini mixture and the remaining ingredients.

  6. Pulse on and off until the mixture is finely chopped and well combined. Press into a loaf pan greased with grapeseed oil.

  7. Bake uncovered for about 40 minutes.

  8. Allow the loaf to set for approximately 20 minutes to cool. Remove from the pan and slice into 8–10 slices.

  9. Serve with the Hearty Vegetable Cacciatore (see the earlier recipe), Tahini-Miso Gravy in Chapter 15, or extra tomato sauce.

Per serving: Calories 174 (From Fat 54); Fat 6g (Saturated 0.5g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 414mg; Carbohydrate 25g (Dietary Fiber 6g); Protein 7g.

Dried chickpeas need to cook for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, and dried white beans need to cook for 45 to 60 minutes.

Tahini-Miso Gravy

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 5 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

1/4 cup tahini

2 tablespoons brown-rice miso

1 tablespoon tamari

2 tablespoons brown-rice vinegar

2 to 4 tablespoons water

  1. Place all the ingredients in a small blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Or place the ingredients in a glass bowl and use a fork or whisk to combine.

  2. Serve alongside steamed greens, on a fresh salad, or with any grain, such as brown rice, quinoa, or millet.

Per serving: Calories 110 (From Fat 72); Fat 8g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 632mg; Carbohydrate 5g (Dietary Fiber 1g); Protein 4g.

For a tangy variation, swap out the brown-rice vinegar for fresh orange juice or apple-cider vinegar.