While we've already gone over how well-suited chicken is to making one-pot dinners, there's no reason for meat-eaters to have all the fun. I don't cook a lot of meat during the week, so when I'm putting together a quick weeknight dinner I typically turn to vegetables and grains to make healthy, cheap, and filling meals. If I can cook them in a single pot or pan, all the better. From Middle Eastern shakshuka and a vegan take on Turkish menemen to quinoa curry and easier-than-boxed mac and cheese, here are 15 of our favorite meat-free one-pot dinners for vegetarians and carnivores alike.
Shakshuka is one of my go-to weeknight dinners because of how quick, easy, and versatile it is. Beyond the tomatoes and eggs you can make it with just about whatever you have on hand—this version is made with onion, red bell pepper, chilies, and garlic and seasoned with paprika and cumin. Salty, briny toppings like olives or feta are optional, but highly recommended.
Spicy Tomato Sauce With Lentils and Baked Eggs
Case in point for how versatile shakshuka can be. This recipe uses the same basic technique, but we add lentils and kale to bulk it up. For the best flavor and texture we like to use whole canned tomatoes and break them up in the pan, but crushed tomatoes will work in a pinch.
Skillet Barley With Kale and Eggs
Hearty barley, with its soft-but-chewy texture, is a filling base for a one-pot meal. Adding kale and eggs helps round it out into a more complete dinner. Most of the cooking is done on the stovetop, but we do like to give the dish a couple minutes under the broiler to set the eggs—a drizzle of olive oil helps keep the barley from drying out in the oven.
Baked Eggs in Avocado Cups With Mint and Feta
This simple recipe uses avocados as cups for baked eggs. We hollow out the avocados slightly, crack an egg into each half, sprinkle with crunchy pepitas, and then bake on top of naan, which is perfect for catching the yolk that will spill out of the egg once you cut into it. Once it all comes out of the oven we garnish with salty feta and fresh mint.
Harissa Chickpeas With Fried Eggs
It takes less than 15 minutes to put together this dish of chickpeas cooked with shallots and harissa and topped with a fried egg. As with our avocado egg recipe, we like to serve this on toasted pita to soak up all the harissa sauce and egg yolk. A handful of baby arugula brightens up the chickpeas.
Stovetop Eggplant With Harissa, Chickpeas, and Cumin Yogurt
Here we prepare chickpeas and harissa with cherry tomatoes and Italian eggplants, which we cook whole before adding the rest of the ingredients. Partially peeling the eggplants makes them look pretty, but more importantly it lets them absorb olive oil while still retaining some of their tasty skin.
Turkish-Style Vegan Tofu Scramble (Vegan Menemen)
I'm not vegan, but I almost prefer this tofu-based menemen to our classic egg version. It's prepared basically the same way, with shishito peppers, onion, tomatoes, oregano, and smoky-sweet Urfa chilies. You really don't have to worry about overcooking the tofu, which makes this recipe nearly foolproof.
Vegan Quinoa, Broccoli, and Kale Curry
It used to be easy to hate on quinoa for being trendy, but now that trends have moved on, can we appreciate how easy, filling, and downright delicious it is? This nutrient-packed dinner pairs quinoa with caramelized broccoli and cauliflower and wilted kale, all flavored with cumin and plenty of curry powder.
Vegan Curry Butternut Squash Soup With Kale
This recipe returns to quinoa, kale, and curry powder, but this time we make them into a rustic soup with cubed butternut squash, which we brown before adding to the soup for extra flavor. The recipe doesn't call for an entire bunch of kale—use any leftovers to make a salad to serve on the side.
Cold Soba Noodles With Kale, Avocado, and Miso-Sesame Dressing
This refreshing salad is made by placing cold soba noodles on a base of kale dressed with miso paste, sesame oil, vinegar, ginger, and peanut oil and topping the soba with bean sprouts, avocado, cilantro, nori, and sesame seeds. Chopping the kale finely makes it plenty tender to eat raw.
Vegetarian Citrus Pasta With Swiss Chard
This pasta dish is filling but not heavy thanks to dense whole wheat pasta and sturdy Swiss chard. We cook those two ingredients with shallots, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and sumac—a tart, citrusy Middle Eastern spice. Top with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
3-Ingredient Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese
Not only is this macaroni and cheese recipe as fast as using a box of Kraft, but it actually requires fewer ingredients—the only things you need are equal parts elbow macaroni, evaporated milk, and cheese (and salt, of course). All of those ingredients are staples, and now you have an extra reason to keep them on hand at all times.
Spinach, Black Bean, and Chipotle Quesadillas
A simple cheese quesadilla feels more like a snack than a meal to me, but bring some more fillings to the party and that changes. This quesadilla starts with Swiss cheese, but it also gets filled with sautéed spinach, canned black beans, and a minced chipotle in adobo. Mixing the fillings up with the cheese before stuffing ensures proper distribution and better structural integrity.
Corn and Zucchini Quesadillas
This Jack cheese quesadilla is made with diced zucchini and fresh corn, which we sauté in a smoking-hot skillet so that they brown before overcooking. Be sure to fry the quesadillas in plenty of olive oil so that the tortillas puff up and turn flaky.
Phat Phrik Khing With Tofu and Long Beans (Thai Dry-Curry Stir-Fry)
Phat phrik khing is a dry Thai curry frequently made with tofu and long beans. Some recipes start with store-bought red curry paste, but you can improve the dish immensely by making your own. All you have to do is pound down garlic, shallots, makrut lime leaves, lemongrass, Thai bird chilies, cilantro stems, galangal, and rehydrated dried red chilies with a mortar and pestle.