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Vegetarian Christmas Mains

Vegetarian Christmas Mains

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If you're leaving a honey-baked ham or a roasted turkey off of this year's Christmas dinner menu to accommodate vegetarian guests, that doesn't mean that your meal needs to be without its stellar main dish. Whether it's a vegetable lasagna, a savory soufflé, or a hearty pasta dish, we have plenty of delicious options that you can serve in place of a meat dish. And the best thing about featuring a vegetarian main at your Christmas table? You might save a couple bucks this year.

Vegetable Lasagna with Butternut Béchamel

For a lighter take on this classic, we substitute hearty butternut squash for butter, which becomes velvety and creamy when blended with garlic and milk. Our saucy lasagna packs more than 2 cups of vegetables into each slice, is overflowing with melty cheese, and has half the calories of the original.

Spinach and Feta Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levine

The simple, scalloped shell made from thinly sliced rounds of sweet potatoes makes this version of a popular brunch (or supper) dish gluten-free. Choose potatoes with comparable diameters to create uniform slices for the easy-to-make crust. A mandoline makes slicing quick and precise, but a sharp chef's knife will work too. You can also slice the potatoes in the food processor using the slicing blade.

Eggplant Parmesan

Traditional versions of this dish can tip the scales at nearly 1,000 calories and 30g sat fat per serving. This makeover cuts that by more than two-thirds and still has plenty of marinara, melty cheese, and crispy baked eggplant.

Vegetable “Meat” Loaf

This umami-rich recipe received our Test Kitchen’s highest rating in March 2012 and continues to get raves from both vegetarians and meat lovers. Be sure to tightly pack the mushroom mixture into the pan so the slices hold their shape after baking.

Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard Tart with Olive Oil Crust

To speed up prep time, roast the squash and par-bake the crust simultaneously. Our no-roll, no-chill, heart-healthy dough presses right into the pie plate and adds 4 grams of filling fiber to every slice. This easy dish captures all the warm, seasonal flavor of the colder months without being overly heavy or rich.

Fettuccine Alfredo With Asparagus

Cut the heavy cream and save a day's worth of sat fat with this cheesy, veggie-packed pasta.

Mushroom and Root Vegetable Potpie

To make these pot pies ahead, prepare according to the recipe instructions, but wait to bake until you are ready to eat. If you freeze these, allow them to thaw before you pop them in the oven.

Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms, Chickpeas, and Olives

Look for stone-ground polenta or grits for this dish. Admittedly, they take a bit longer to cook, but the results are worth it, adding a creamier texture and hearty, nutty flavor to the dish.

Kale and Mushroom Lasagna

A small amount of pancetta adds richness and depth to the mushroom mixture; feel free to omit it—and swap in vegetable stock for beef—for a vegetarian version.

Penne with Ricotta and Greens

This saucy vegetarian pasta takes on a subtle peppery bite from the arugula and watercress, so feel free to leave out the red pepper if feeding heat-sensitive palates.

Potato, Turnip, and Spinach Baeckeoffe

Photo: Becky Luigart-Stayner

Translated from the Germanic Alsatian dialect, baeckeoffe means "baker's oven," as it was traditionally a dish that was brought to the local baker to cook in his oven. Classic versions are loaded with meat, but our vegetarian riff is equally hearty and rich.

Roasted Winter Fruits and Vegetables with Farro Porridge

This rustic dish serves as a tutorial for both steam- and dry-roasting. Serve the fruit and vegetables with the savory farro porridge and sweet-sour mostarda for brunch, a vegetarian main course, or a festive side dish.

Butternut-Kale Lasagna

Gruyere-spiked Bechamel drapes over the noodles and squash to give this dish velvety richness. Hearty, earthy kale perfectly balances the sweet squash, and crunchy, toasted pecans crown the top of this luscious lasagna.

Creamy Kale Caesar Salad with Soft-Boiled Eggs

We leave out the anchovies for a kid-friendly take on classic Caesar salad. Instead of romaine, we use dark, bumpy lacinato kale leaves; a quick massage makes them perfectly tender. And instead of adding raw egg to the dressing, we add a soft-boiled egg to each serving so the yolk can run over all. A grill pan is a worthy addition to your kitchen for getting quick, chargrilled flavor without having to cook outdoors. Use it to toast the baguette slices and mellow the fresh red onion wedges.

Risotto Primavera

Combine the leftover mascarpone cheese from this recipe with a little sugar, vanilla, and lemon for a fresh fruit dip, or swirl into pasta sauce for added richness.

Fall Vegetable Curry

You’ll use this staff fave from October 2010 in heavy rotation as the days turn cooler. Madras curry powder is a blend of several fragrant spices and has more depth than regular curry powder; it’s the only spice you need here (look for it in specialty stores or online).

Lentil Cakes With Mint Yogurt

Precooked lentils are a convenience item we love, saving nearly 30 minutes of simmering. Look for plain, steamed lentils (such as Melissa's), in the grain aisle. The food processor not only combines the patty ingredients; it coarsely chops the lentils so the finished cakes will hold their shape in the pan. While we love fat-free and reduced-fat Greek yogurt, go ahead and use full-fat here for a richer mouth feel and less tang in the sauce.


A simple Israeli meal of fried onion, lentils, and rice, mujadara is warm and comforting one-pot dinner that your whole family will love. To serve, stir pine nuts into the mujadara and garnish with fried onions. If you like, drizzle with additional olive oil and a dollop of plain yogurt, and top with mint.

Roasted Vegetable Plate with Herbed Dressing

Vegetables can be sparse in winter months when holiday braises, hearty stews, and centerpiece roasts tend to take over. This seasonal vegetable plate will help you stick to your calorie plan, and can be altered easily depending on what's available. Don't be scared of a hot oven—roasting the veggies at 500°F gets the job done quickly and gives the vegetables a nice golden color. Tarragon has an anise flavor similar to fennel; you can omit it or substitute sliced green onions or parsley for a fresh pop.

Ruthenian Mushroom Soup

A traditional Ruthenian dish, this soup starts with raw garlic and a bowl of dark brown mushrooms. It's often served on Christmas Eve, but can be enjoyed all winter long.

Watch the video: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls Vegetarian Christmas. This Morning (May 2022).