10 Meaty Meatless Meals
These hearty dishes are sure to appeal to vegetarians and meat lovers alike
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
'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
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
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
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.