10 Meaty Meatless Meals

These hearty dishes are sure to appeal to vegetarians and meat lovers alike

Plant based sausage pizza
A veggie “sausage” pizza made with mock pork sausage.
Photo: Gregory Reid

The growing availability of mock meats like Impossible and Beyond burgers can help some people ease into a more plant-based diet. But there are other “meaty” vegetarian options, too.

Try these easy recipes, some with mock meats and some with ingredients that have a meaty texture and a deep, savory flavor called umami. “What you eat alongside plant-based meats can offset some of their nutritional downsides,” says Consumer Reports nutritionist Amy Keating. “Surround them with healthy ingredients, not a side of fries, and alternate them with other meatless dishes.”

All the recipes below that call for a faux meat mention products included in CR’s recent tests of 32 mock burgers, nuggets, fillets, and sausages.

Note: Each recipe makes two servings, except the pizza, which makes four.

Veggie 'Sausage' Pizza

(shown at top)
Slice 1 mock pork sausage, such as Beyond Meat’s Beyond Sausage Plant-Based Links Sweet Italian, into rounds. Sauté the sausage over medium heat in 1 tsp. olive oil. Spread a 12-inch prebaked whole-wheat pizza crust with 2⁄3 cup marinara. Drain and chop a 14-ounce can of artichoke hearts and place evenly on top of the pizza. Scatter the sausage around the artichokes. Sprinkle evenly with 1 cup shredded mozzarella and ¼ cup chopped basil. Bake at 375° F until the cheese melts and is golden, about 10 minutes.

Nutrition information per serving: 381 calories, 11 g fat, 5 g saturated fat, 42 g carbs, 6 g sugars (0 g added sugars), 9 g fiber, 21 g protein, 740 mg sodium

Thai-Style 'Chicken' Lettuce Cups

Sauté 2⁄3 cup chopped onion and 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger in 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Add 2 tsp. chopped garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 5 ounces thawed, chopped plant-based chicken pieces, such as MorningStar Farms Veggie Chik’n Strips. Sauté for about 3 minutes, until browned. Stir in 2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce, 2 tsp. fish sauce, 1 tsp. brown sugar, and 1 Tbsp. lime juice. Remove from heat, and stir in 2 Tbsp. each chopped scallions and chopped cashews, and 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro. Divide mixture among 6 butter or romaine lettuce leaves.

Nutrition information per serving: 243 calories, 11 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 17 g carbs, 5 g sugars (2 g added sugars), 7 g fiber, 17 g protein, 890 mg sodium

Plant based chicken lettuce cups

Photo: Gregory Reid Photo: Gregory Reid

'Chicken' Bowl & Orange-Soy Dressing

In a large bowl, top 1 cup cooked brown rice with ¼ cup shredded carrots, ½ cup each napa and red cabbage, ¼ cup mandarin oranges, and 2 Tbsp. toasted almonds. Whisk 2 Tbsp. orange juice, 1 tsp. lime juice, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and 2 tsp. soy sauce. Heat 5 breaded plant-based chicken nuggets (such as Impossible Foods’ Chicken Nuggets) per package directions; slice into strips and add to bowl. Toss with dressing and divide into 2 bowls.

Nutrition information per serving: 498 calories, 20 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 63 g carbs, 9 g sugars (0 g added sugars), 17 g protein, 646 mg sodium

plant based chicken and rice bowl

Photo: Gregory Reid Photo: Gregory Reid

Crispy 'Fish' Tacos

Heat 4 breaded mock fish fillets, such as Gardein’s Plant-Based F’sh Filets, per package directions, then slice. Whisk 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, ½ tsp. honey, and 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro. Toss 1½ cups tricolor cabbage/slaw mix with dressing. Heat six 6-inch corn tortillas until warm. Divide “fish” pieces evenly among tortillas, placing in the center. Top each with slaw and ¼ avocado, cubed.

Nutrition information per serving: 526 calories, 31 g fat, 3.6 g saturated fat, 51 g carbs, 3 g sugars (1 g added sugars), 10 g fiber, 14 g protein, 483 mg sodium

Plant based fish tacos

Photo: Gregory Reid Photo: Gregory Reid

Hearty 'Beef' and Roasted
Red Pepper-Tomato Soup

Heat 3 cups of boxed roasted red pepper and tomato soup in a medium saucepan. Slice one thawed plant-based “beef” burger, such as Beyond Meat’s Beyond Burger Plant-Based Patties, into small cubes and add to the soup. Add 1½ cups of chopped kale and simmer for about 5 minutes, or until kale is wilted. Remove from heat and divide soup into two bowls. Top each with 2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan and freshly ground pepper. Serve with a slice of whole-grain toast.

Nutrition information per serving: 331 calories, 7 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 39 g carbs, 19 g sugars (0 g added sugars), 6 g fiber, 22 g protein, 903 mg sodium

Plant Based Meat Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Photo: Gregory Reid Photo: Gregory Reid

Miso Portobello Burger

Combine 2 Tbsp. white miso paste, 2 Tbsp. water, 1 ½ tsp. sriracha sauce, 1 tsp. sesame oil, and 1 tsp. fresh ginger into a paste. Spread the paste evenly over the top and bottom of 2 cleaned and trimmed portobello caps. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 3 hours. Sauté ½ cup sliced onion in 2 tsp. olive oil on medium low heat until soft, about 15 minutes. Heat portobellos in a skillet for 2 minutes per side. Toast 2 whole-wheat buns. Put portobello cap, half the onions, ¼ cup baby spinach, and ¼ cup sliced bell pepper on bottom halves of the buns. Mix 1 Tbsp. mayo, 1 tsp. sriracha sauce, and ½ tsp. honey; spread on top half of buns.

Nutrition information per serving: 296 calories, 16 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 32 g carbs, 8 g sugars (0 g added sugars), 4 g fiber, 8 g protein, 590 mg sodium

Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Pasta

Cook 6 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti per package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water before draining. In a large skillet on medium-high heat, sauté 1⁄3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tsp. chopped garlic, and pinch red pepper in 1 Tbsp. olive oil until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1 Tbsp. white wine; cook 1 minute. Add 5 cups baby spinach; stir until wilted. Add pasta and ¼ cup pasta water; toss. Remove from heat, and add ¼ cup toasted pine nuts and ¼ cup grated Parmesan. Toss with 1 tsp. lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Nutrition information per serving: 567 calories, 23 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 75 g carbs, 4 g sugars (0 g added sugars), 3 g fiber, 23 g protein, 440 mg sodium

Veggie Cheese 'Steak'

Add 1 Tbsp. olive oil to a large skillet, and heat on medium high. Add 1½ cups of sliced shiitake or portobello mushrooms (or a mix of the two), ½ cup sliced green bell pepper, ½ cup sliced red bell pepper, and ½ cup sliced onions, and sauté until mushrooms are browned and peppers and onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Season with ½ tsp. fresh black pepper. Lower heat to medium and stir 1 Tbsp. flour into the veggie mixture, stirring to coat. Add 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce and 2 Tbsp. vegetable broth and cook for 1 minute more, stirring. Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle ½ cup of Italian-blend shredded cheese over the veggies. Split and toast two whole-grain submarine rolls and add half the mushroom-cheese mixture to one side. Spread the other half of each roll with a mixture of 1 tsp. mayo and ½ tsp. sriracha sauce.

Nutrition information per serving: 370 calories, 17 g fat, 3.5 g saturated fat, 43 g carbs, 8 g sugars (0 g added sugars), 5 g fiber, 12 g protein, 540 mg sodium

Smoky Chickpea 'Egg' Salad Wrap

Place 1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained in a bowl or the bowl of a food processor. Stir in 2 Tbsp. mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp. hummus, 3 Tbsp. diced celery, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, ¼ tsp. garlic powder, ¼ tsp. onion powder, ¼ tsp. smoked paprika, ¼ tsp. turmeric, and ¼ tsp. salt. Using an immersion blender or a food processor, pulse a few times until the mixture is well-combined and the chickpeas are broken up but not puréed. Stir in 2 Tbsp. panko breadcrumbs. Divide the mixture between two 8-inch whole-grain tortillas. Top each with crispy lettuce and chopped tomato. Roll up to close, then slice in half.

Nutrition information per serving: 337 calories, 13 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 47 g carbs, 1 g sugars (0 g added sugars), 8 g fiber, 9 g protein, 660 mg sodium

Roasted Cauliflower, Black Bean, and Tofu Burrito Bowl

Cut half of a medium head of cauliflower into florets. Mix together ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp cumin, ½ tsp smoked paprika, and ½ tsp garlic powder. Toss the florets in 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 tsp. of the spice mix. Spread the cauliflower evenly on a baking sheet and roast at 425° F, turning once during baking, until golden brown on each side, 20 to 25 minutes. Toss 1 cup drained and pressed extra-firm tofu cubes with the remaining spice mix. Add 2 tsp. cornstarch to the tofu and toss to coat. Sauté the tofu over medium high heat in 1 tsp. olive oil until crispy on each side. Toss 2 cups cooked quinoa with 1 tsp. lime juice, 1 tsp. olive oil, and 1 Tbsp. chopped cilantro. Fill two bowls equally with the quinoa, then top with the cauliflower; tofu; ½ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained; ¼ cup sliced grape tomatoes; 1 tsp. chopped cilantro; and ¼ cup cubed avocado.

Nutrition information per serving: 595 calories, 24 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 75 g carbs, 5 g sugars (0 g added sugars), 20 g fiber, 25 g protein, 750 mg sodium

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the June 2022 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Stephanie Clarke RD

Stephanie Clarke

Stephanie Clarke, RD, is the founder of C&J Nutrition, a nutrition consulting, communications, and workplace wellness company. She lives in the Washington, D.C., suburbs of Maryland with her husband and two young daughters.