Classic recipes minus the meat

  • By BBC Good Food team

Eating a vegetarian diet doesn't have to mean bland food or overly exotic fare. Simply make your favourite family recipes, without the meat, using our guide.

Aloo gobi curry with cauliflower and potatoes in a pot with bread

Whether you are following a strict vegetarian diet or just enjoy the odd meat-free meal, this shouldn't prevent you from tucking into the best comfort dishes out there. We've gathered a list of our favourite veggie makeovers of popular recipes, from pies and pasta bakes to curries and roasts. With a few simple ingredient swaps, ditching the meat never looked so tempting.

10 classic dishes without the meat…

1. Shepherd's pie

Lentil shepherds pie with crispy potato top in a blue casserole dish
Swap the mince for luscious lentils in our golden veggie shepherd's pie, or try a vegan version of this family classic with plenty of vegetables, herbs and a deliciously crispy potato topping. For a sweet potato alternative, these lightly spiced Indian sweet potato & dhal pies make a perfect midweek meal.  
 

2. Lasagne

Courgette lasagne in a square dish
Make this green and gorgeous Italian recipe for creamy spinach & courgette lasagne which the family will love.  We have another fabulous veggie lasagne that packs in five different vegetables making it high in vitamins and iron.


3. Spaghetti Bolognese

Two bowls of lentil ragu and spaghetti
Turn a family classic into a vitamin boost with this superhealthy lentil ragù that can be made in a batch and frozen to enjoy another day. For another meat-free Bolognese packed with veg, try this tagliatelle with vegetable ragù, delivering three of your five-a-day.


4. Pie

Filo pastry spinach and feta pies cut into squares

Pies don't have to be heavy – serve this traditional Greek spanakopita for a light lunch or dinner. It's made with flaky filo pastry, spinach, creamy feta and ricotta cheeses. Or for a more indulgent option, our melty cheese & potato pie is hearty and comforting, combining gooey cheese fondue with sliced potatoes and crisp puff pastry.

Discover our vegetarian pie collection for more pastry perfection.


5. Chilli

Vegetarian chilli with rice on a plate
Chilli without the carne can taste just as good, as proven by this veggie protein chilli – it makes an ideal post-workout meal. Swap the mince for chunky veg and mixed beans, or for a warming, smoky version, make our low-fat burnt aubergine veggie chilli.


6. Curry

Spinach, sweet potato and lentil dahl in a bowl with fork

Curries have long been a vegetarian staple with spices taking the main stage. Whether it's our healthy spinach, sweet potato & lentil dhal or more comforting pumpkin curry with chickpeas, we've got you covered. Our roasted aloo gobi vegan curry is also an aromatic delight, packed with roasted cauliflower and potatoes to leave you feeling satisfied. 

Master some more meat-free dishes with our selection of vegetarian curry recipes.
 

7. Burgers

Two miso chickpea burgers with salad slaw and cutlery
A burger doesn't have to mean beef. Give your barbecue a meat-free makeover with our popular falafel burger recipe. Or for something a bit more exotic, these healthy miso chickpea burgers are a flavour fusion in each mouthful, with refreshing mint and pomegranate slaw on the side.

Check out our veggie burger collection for more varieties, including sweet potato, mushroom, beetroot and quinoa burgers and follow our easy guide on how to make the perfect veggie burger.
 

8. Casserole

Chickpea, squash, kale and cavolo nero stew in a bowl

Few things are more warming than a bowl of casserole, but a substantial stew doesn't need meat. Maximise on leafy greens with this fragrant North African-style Moroccan chickpea, squash & cavolo nero stew. Potato and parsnip lovers can also revel in our popular spicy root & lentil casserole.

See more vegetarian casserole recipes
 

9. Pasta bake

Macaroni cheese in a round pot with handles

Serve up the ultimate veggie pasta bake with our indulgent next level mac 'n' cheese recipe. This irresistibly gooey dish is topped with a crunchy layer of parmesan breadcrumbs and can be enhanced with spicy mustard and Marmite for that salty tang. If you also need a satisfying and easy dish to feed a crowd, our cheesy broccoli pasta bake ticks all the boxes. It's cheap, quick, simple and scrumptious.
 

10. Roast dinner

Nut roast loaf on a white tray with tomato sauce and knife
Forget pigs in blankets and pork stuffing. Free your Sunday roast and Christmas dinner from their meaty manacles and try a veggie showpiece like our wholesome nut roast drizzled with a herby tomato sauce. It is packed with lentils, chestnut mushrooms, mixed nuts and cheese, creating a sophisticated array of tastes and textures. Alternatively, make cheese the star of the show with a simple roasted feta dish with roasted veg and pitta bread on the side, or a whole baked ricotta with lentils & roasted cherry tomatoes.

There's no need to skimp on trimmings, either. Have a go at making these veggie sides:

Burnt butter cabbage 
Herby slashed roasties 
Roasted carrots
Buttered Jerusalem artichokes
James Martin's Yorkshire puds  
Harissa & marmalade roasted roots
Cauliflower cheese
Vegetarian red wine gravy    

Like this? Take your veggie voyage even further... 

Vegetarian recipes
Vegetarian summer recipes
Vegetarian dinner recipes
Top 10 vegetarian main courses
Complete Christmas menu
Vegetarian Easter recipes

What are your favourite veggie dishes? Let us know in the comments below...

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