If you’re living the plant-based life or just cutting out meat for budget, health, or ecological reasons, these internationally-inspired vegetarian recipes will fit the bill. Plus, they’ll break up your normal meal planning routine with a little bit of spice.
Not in the mood for fake meat? Fear not. We’ve got plenty of other meal ideas for you that go beyond the mock meat burger. Here are 14 vegetarian recipes that draw inspiration from around the world, and celebrate veggies for all their best qualities (with some cheese and eggs sprinkled here and there).
This version of the traditional Colombian corn cakes, often stuffed with various delish fillings, was cooked up by senior video producer Guillermo Riveros and is gloriously heavy on the cheese. Just beware: The secret ingredient in the accompanying hogao sauce with tomatoes, garlic, and scallions is not vegetarian, but you can replace it with a veggie alternative.
Try this white corn cheese arepa recipe.
Pelau is a pilaf made with coconut milk that hails from Trinidad. It’s usually made with chicken but tastes just as good meatless when filled with the goodness of black-eyed peas and butternut squash.
This one-pot meal boasts all of the flavors of a traditional Thai red curry. But it only takes a little over an hour to make, thanks to the use of prepared curry paste.
Snag this Thai red curry with kabocha squash recipe.
Before America had jalapeño poppers, Pueblans had chiles rellenos: Roasted poblano peppers stuffed with melted cheese, coated with an egg batter, and fried until crispy.
Try this chiles rellenos recipe. (And if you don’t do eggs or dairy, try a vegan taco to pay homage.)
Japchae, translucent sweet potato noodles stir-fried with spinach, carrots, onion, and garlic in a sweet soy and sesame sauce, is Korean comfort food at its finest.
Get this japchae recipe.
India offers many vegetarian delights (aloo gobi is a favorite way to prepare potatoes). But this saucy, spiced chickpea dish is built on pantry staples, which gives it a leg up right now. It makes a lovely meal with yogurt and rice, and is easy and approachable even for people who are completely new to South Asian cooking.
Add this chole (chana) masala recipe to your meal plan.
This dish has North African origins, but it’s also become associated with Israel. This version combines the tomatoes with melting onions and fresh green chiles, and is served with feta and zhug, an herby Yemeni hot sauce.
Nab this shakshuka recipe. (Or try a verdant green shakshuka variation.) If you don’t have eggs or don’t eat them, try cooking large spoonfuls of silken tofu in the sauce to get that lovely, jiggly poached egg texture. And for something to soak up all that sauce, make this easy flatbread recipe on the stovetop.
The keys to this incredibly simple yet enchanting Persian stew are a whole lot of dill and well-cooked onions — plus the right type of dried beans.
Get the Persian butter bean stew recipe.
These slightly chewy steamed Chinese dumplings are made with a stuffing of spinach, carrot, mushrooms, and pressed tofu that’s stir-fried first before assembling.
Try these steamed vegetable dumplings.
If you have a box of pasta and Pecorino cheese at home, then you’re mere minutes away from tucking into a platter of cacio e pepe pasta, a dish that embodies Italian simplicity at its finest.
Get this cacio e pepe recipe.
These meaty-feeling yet meatless Polish dumplings are hard not to love, with their filling of cremini mushrooms, onion, and garlic wrapped in a tender sour cream dough. After boiling, we like to brown them in a pan with butter for a crisp contrast.
Snag the mushroom pierogies recipe.
This is not a strictly traditional Japanese dish, but it uses favorite Japanese ingredients like soba noodles and umami-rich red miso paste, plus a garnish of roasted nori (dried seaweed). This is an easy but delish dish you’ll come back to often.
Try these soba noodles with Swiss chard-miso pesto.
Instead of stewing all these iconic summer vegetables together, they’re cooked separately, so each retains a perfect texture. Twirl this mixture of veggies with pasta for a main course, or use it to top toast for a snack or appetizer. Or just eat it with a spoon. We won’t judge.
Get this ratatouille recipe.
We love us some spanakopita. But lately, we’re leaning toward this great grilled veggie dish instead — essentially a deconstructed Greek salad with firm halloumi cheese standing in for feta. And yes, even the lettuce is grilled. Serve with flatbread to make it a meal.
Get our grilled Greek salad recipe.
If you’re looking to diversify your dinner options that are heavy on the veg and zero on the meat, these vegetarian recipes will give you beaucoup ideas.
Pick a part of the world, find a traditional recipe made by someone who knows it well, dig in, and have a happy belly.