Your favorite cheap & easy vegetarian/vegan recipes

Looking for some good vegetarian or vegan recipes. Both time and money are tight, so I’m looking for easy to prepare dishes that don’t require me to buy a lot of exotic ingredients. Stuff like black beans and rice, lentil soup, anything with pasta, etc.

I’m not personally vegetarian or vegan, but I have a lot of friends who are. I myself like a lot of veggie dishes, and just looking for some recipes. We have a lot of barbeques and potlucks, and I’m sure my vegetarian friends would appreciate a greater variety of dishes they can eat. Plus I need to start cooking more myself anyway, and would like to balance out the cheap, easy stuff like meatloaf with some lighter, healthier, veggie dishes.

Easy yummy corn & bean salad:

  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
    any combo of the following:
    diced red onion, bell pepper (any color), jalepeno, or pretty much any other veggy you have lying around
    ~1 T. cumin
    ~1 T. red wine vinegar. Or white wine vinegar. Or any nice vinegar you have
    ~1 T. olive oil. Or you can leave it out if you want to
    salt & pepper to taste
    Tabasco or other hot sauce, if you like such things

Mix it all together in a bowl. Eat. Yummy. You can change the seasoning to just about anything if you want. Like, use Italian Dressing instead of the red wine vinegar and oil, don’t use cumin, and add oregano & basil for a Mediterranean flair.

The problem with vegan, it’s never really that easy. But here goes.

Tabouli (tabbouleh; tabuli; various other spellings)

Measure 1 cup bulgur wheat into a medium bolw and pour over 1 cup boiling water. Measure the juice of one lemon, then add the same amount of olive oil, and add it to the bowl. Mince one clove of garlic and add, stirring everything (if you like garlic, otherwise skip this one).

Let it sit at least 30 minutes. Then add: 5-6 mint leaves, minced, 1 tsp. dill weed, salt to taste, one small chopped tomato, 1/2 cucumber, chopped, and 2-3 scallions, chopped. Mix well.

Let it sit at least another 10 minutes to let the flavors blend, serve cold or at room temperature. Goes with lots of things.

Here’s a recipe that I just tried recently: Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

It did take about 30-40 minutes, so it’s not the quickest, but it was pretty easy. I’m not much of a cook, and I handled it well. As for cheap, it depends on what you’ve got on hand. If you’ve got most of the spices, it shouldn’t cost too much.

Pfft. I’ve been vegan for years and I’m not only a terrible cook, I’m one of the laziest chefs that ever lived.

“Chicken” fried tofu:

1 block extra firm tofu
2-3 TBS olive oil
2-3 TBS seasame seeds
tamari or soy sauce
1/2 c nutritional yeast

Drain and slice tofu. Heat oil in skillet and add seeds. When they start to sizzle. coat both sides of tofu in nutritional yeast and add to pan. Drizzle with tamari and fry until brown, flip and fry other side.

It’s my favorite new recipe. and everything’s pretty cheap. Sesame seeds are 2.50 for a whole jar, and you can buy nutritional yeast in bulk at the health food store. Not healthy, but yummy, especially the next day. Tastes like Shake N’ Bake.

Dirty Rice

1TBS olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper. seeded and chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
2 cups veggie crumbles (I use morningstar sausage style)
1 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
3 cups cooked white rice

Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and cook until softened. Add everything but rice and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until hot. I add jalapenos and more garlic and serve with tortilla chips or wrapped in tortillas with salsa on top. Everything but the crumbles are standard ingredients to have in the kitchen, and even those are like 4 bucks.

I have a killer lentil and barley stew recipe, but it does have lots of veggies in it, so it’s a little pricier to make, but it’s no $50 dish. Let me know if you want the recipe. Or any others, I have a a half dozen vegan cookbooks, plus a binder of stuff I’ve copied from magazines and websites.

Is couscous exotic in your area?

If you can find some plain instant couscous, it recommends to cover with boiling water, then once the water is absorbed to fork through some butter to separate the grains and add flavour.

For a vegan crowd, mix the boiling water with some vegetable stock powder/cube. Instead of butter, use extra virgin olive oil to fluff and separate.

Get a mixture of vegetables - courgettes, capsicums, onions, skinned & de-seeded tomatoes, carrots, garlic, whatever you like. Chop them all into small cubes and sautee until just tender (hardest veg first, tomatoes at the end for only a second). Toss the hot veg into the couscous, then tear over your herbs of choice. Basil is good with these flavours, coriander could also work though I’m personally not a fan. But the residual heat from the veg and the couscous should wilt the herbs once it’s sat for a while. Taste for seasoning, and dress with a bit more olive oil and some vinegar or lemon juice, if you like that kind of stuff.

It’s good warm, or cold. It transports well for friend’s dinners or for lunch at work. For non-vegans/itarians, it’s great as a side with grilled fish or lightly seasoned and grilled chicken breast.

A cheap way to add protein to this is throwing in a can of drained, rinsed chick peas. I also add tons of chopped parsley to this recipe; for me, it ain’t tabouli without it.

You just reminded me that chick peas are also good in the couscous salad recipe. Hummus can also be used as a kind of “dressing” for it if you’re so inclined, thinned down with a little water or lemon juice. If you do the chick peas, though, the hummus might be a bit overboard.

Fried tofu.

Get some firm tofu, cut into slices about 1 cm/3/8" thick

Marinate in something you like (I like Miso paste, lime and chrushed dried chilis)

Fry in hot peanut oil, flip when crispy brown, and repeat on uncooked side

serve hot with a dipping sauce (salty sweet is my pref, but you can get creative here)


Here is a recipe for African vegetable stew that I posted to the Usenet cookbook many years ago:

African Vegetable Stew

Yield: 4 Servings

* 1 Onion (very large) -chopped
* 1 bunch of Swiss chard
* 1 can Garbanzo beans -(known also as chickpeas, ceci, etc.)
* 1/2 c Raisins
* 1/2 c Rice, raw
* 2 Yams or sweet potatoes
* Several fresh tomatoes -(or large can)
* 1 Garlic clove -(or more to taste)
* Salt and pepper,-to taste
* Tabasco sauce, -to taste

Fry onion, garlic and white stems of chard until barely limp.
Add chopped greens and fry a bit.
Either peel the yams or scrub them well with a vegetable brush, then slice them into thick slices.
Add garbanzos, raisins, yams, tomatoes, salt and pepper.
Cook a couple of minutes.
Make a well in the center of the mixture in the pot.
Put the rice in the well and pat it down until it’s wet.
Cover and cook until rice is done, about 25 minutes.
Add Tabasco sauce to taste.

I have to recommend my favorite stupid-easy, low effort vegan dish, which can be used as a main dish or side dish. I’ll whip this up sometimes when I get home from work and am too lazy to do any real cooking. Best of all, it’s got a good protein content.

Boil water and make the pasta of your choice - go for something small and compact like rotini, fusilli, etc., not long noodles. (For even more protein, go for the Barilla Plus pasta which has a lot of protein and Omega 3.) I typically make half of a standard-sized box when cooking this dish. Drain pasta, and put the cooking pot back on the stove.

Drain a can of black beans, rinse them in a colander, and add the beans back into the pot over low-medium heat. Add a good-tasting salsa that wouldn’t be too hot for you to eat in quantity - it may take some experimentation to figure out the right amount. Try starting with a half cup, mix it into the beans, and stir until beans and salsa are just warm. Mix the pasta back in and taste; add more salsa slowly if needed. Ideally you’ll have just enough salsa to make everything a bit sticky and moist, but not dripping in it, and still be tasty and not overly spicy.

Thanks, guys, these sound really great. Couscous and the like isn’t too exotic here, even the local chain grocery stores carry it, so getting my hands on the ingredients isn’t hard.

I’ll have to give these a shot. :smiley:

I just made the beans/corn salad with Mexican flavoring, and it turned out very good. Thanks.


Here’s another one:

Easy beans & rice

Make rice. I use Basmati, but you can use whatever rice you like. I also like throwing some butter in and sauteing the grains before adding water, but I guess that’s not vegan. You could get a similar effect with olive oil. Anyway, you need rice, so make some!

Meanwhile, dice up half a small onion, or a couple shallots. Saute in a frying pan with some olive oil. Add in some garlic. When that’s all warm and saute-y, throw in a drained can of beans. I like black beans, hubby likes pinto. You can use anything you like. Add another cup to cup and a half of salsa from a jar. Or if you don’t have salsa, add a can of diced tomatoes. If you go the tomato route, spice it up with cumin & hot sauce. Cook until everything’s hot. Oh, sometimes I put red wine in there too, or half a bottle of beer. Depending on how much liquid you have, you might have to heat it longer. You’re looking to get beans & tomatoes in a gravy like substance.

To serve, put sauce over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if you like it. Or diced onions. Or if you’re not vegan, cheese. And more hot sauce. Yum Yum.

You can also serve it in a tortilla if you want a burrito kind of thing. Just cook it longer so it’s not so wet.

Mexican rice:

1 tbs vegetable or olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic ( 1 or 2 cloves)
1 c rice
1/2 c vegetable broth (or water)
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 sm can diced green chiles (the mild ones)
1 can corn, drained
1 can kidney beans (or any kind, really), rinsed and drained
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.
Saute the onions and peppers until translucent. Add in all the ingredients, stir to combine. Put into a greased baking dish, cover with foil, and bake for 30-40 minutes.

Yes, please!

This is really, really good.

**Chunky Chickpea Salad Sandwich **

4 15-oz cans garbanzo beans, drained
2 stalks celery chopped
2 scallions, sliced
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 small chopped green bell pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups lite silken tofu (firm), drained
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. liquid Fruitsource (honey will work)
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. capers, drained (optional)
1 tsp. garlic powder

Place garbanzo beans in a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Add the next 5 ingredients. Place the tofu in food processor, and blend. Add the next 4 ingredients, and process until smooth. Add the tofu mixture to the garbanzo mixture; add capers. Mix well, and chill 4 hours or until ready to make sandwich. This makes 8 really thick sandwiches.

Whole wheat sourdough really makes this sandwich. Pita bread also works well. Put soy mayo on on slice of bread and mustard on the other. Pile on the chunky salad, tomato, sprinkle some salt and pepper, romaine lettuce, and alfalfa sprouts.

This is always popular when I take it to parties or potlucks. In addition to serving with tortilla chips (the Lime Tostedos are particularly yum), you can roll this up in a soft tortilla and eat it like a burrito.

Don’t leave out the lime juice even though it says optional.

Texas Caviar

1 (15 oz) can blackeye peas, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, well rinsed and drained
1 (15-1/2 oz) can white hominy, drained
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced (I used 4)
1 medium-size onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (8-oz) jar hot picante sauce (I use salsa)
2 tablespoons lime juice (optional)

Combine first 9 ingredients, and, if desired, lime juice.

Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with tortilla chips, or wrap in flour tortillas.

Yield: 4 cups.

This recipe was in the “Gourmet Cooking” of our newspaper a couple of years ago, and has become a real fave. Now it’s standard summer quick supper dish.
Hot Corn & Tomato Salad

Cut off the kernels from about three large ears of fresh white core. (You can use canned corn, but it really isn’t the same.)

Heat 1 - 2 tbsps of good quality olive oil in a frying pan. When hot, add the corn kernels, and about a cup of small cherry tomatoes (I like the “Sweet 100” variety - they’re small and “pop” satisfactorily.) Stir-fry for about 4 minutes, or until tomatoes are cooked through - some will start to “pop.” Add a large handful of basil leaves, cook briefly, and season with salt, pepper, and judicious amounts of balsamic vinegar.

I think this is best hot, but it’s pretty good at room temperature also.

This is good for two people with other dishes, or for one alone.

Good stew recipe:

Lentil and Barley Stew

1/4c extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion
4 carrots
2 zucchini
2 ribs of celery
2 or more cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 tsp dried
1 c brown lentils, rinsed
1/2c pearl barley, rinsed
6-7 c strong vegetable broth
2 c diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 c fresh basil leaves, torn or chopped, or 2 Tbsp dried basil
salt and pepper
1/2 c chopped fresh parsley

Dice all veggies to stew size. I like mine pretty chunky. Heat oil oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, zucchini, celery, and garlic. Stir fry for about a minute, then turn heat to low and cook about 15 min, stirring frequently. Stir in the thyme and cook for another minute. Add lentils, barley and 6 cups of the broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the tomatoes and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and cook for another 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and heat through. add more broth if it seems dry or if you like a more soup-like consistancy.

Better stew recipe:

2-4 carrots
3-4 stalks of celery
1-2 onions
1lb mushrooms, sliced
6+cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 med potatoes
3-4 Tbsp flour
1-2 Tbsp oil or margarine
1tsp each parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme
1-2 tsp ground pepper
4-6c mushroom or veg broth
1/4- 1/2 soy sauce

optional: seitan or dried TVP, barley, 1/2c sherry, red wine or marsala

Chop all veggies to stew size. Saute onions and mushrooms in hot oil, along with herbs and garlic for about 5 minutes. Stir in flour, stirring constantly so clumps don’t form. Add oil or margarine to keep moist, cook for 3 minutes. Slowly add broth, stirring constantly. Add carrots, celery, and potatoes. Cook over med-high heat until potatoes are done. Don’t boil, potatoes will fall apart. Stir in soy sauce before serving.