When recipes go meat-free, there's a tendency for them to be bulked up on the carbs—be it pasta, bread, or sweet potatoes. But just because you're cutting meat from the equation doesn't mean you have to fill the void with carbohydrates. To prove you can have a flavorful and filling meal (without the meat and carbs), we sifted through our favorite meat-free dishes to find 10 low-carb vegetarian recipes that deliver the good stuff, without compromising on the flavor. Consider this lineup of meat- and bread-free dishes carnivore-approved. Packed with nutritious ingredients, plenty of greens, and healthy proteins, these satisfying, low-carb vegetarian recipes are ready to address any appetite, whatever you're craving.
Eggplant Meatballs With Za'atar and Kale Pesto
These satisfying eggplant meatballs boast delicious flavor even before they're topped off with a generous dollop of kale pesto, roughly chopped parsley, sliced tomatoes, and lemon zest. Recipe creator Laura of The First Mess notes that they have "a crazy, meat-like texture, and they hold together with minimal fuss, thanks to the chickpea water and some almond meal."
Basil Curry Zucchini Noodle Bowls
Half Baked Harvest's Tieghan Gerard promises this satisfying recipe is "fast and easy, light and healthy, and loaded with great produce that you can find at the market, or even in your garden if you happen to have a green thumb." While the original recipe uses chicken, Tieghan offers another option for her vegetarian and vegan readers and suggests sautéing cooked chickpeas or lentils.
Kimchi Lunch Wrap
Give your gut a healthy dose of fermented foods with this tasty take on this Korean staple. "I know it might sound a little weird, but ingesting bacteria from fermented food is a beneficial thing for us," notes Stephanie of Hello Glow. Kimchi is a particularly tasty way to benefit from fermentation. "Its spicy, intense flavor makes it perfect to eat on its own as a salad, or you can combine it with less-flavorful foods like I did in this lunch wrap."
Beet Carpaccio With Burrata
This dish may taste indulgent, but it boasts an abundance of flavor without the carbs. "It's just as fitting as a light lunch, or as an appetizer at your next dinner party," says Aida of Salt & Wind. The best part is that it only takes 10 minutes to make.
Crispy Oven-Baked Honey Garlic Tofu Bites
If you're craving a light snack or an easy protein-packed addition to a salad or veggie dish, these crispy tofu bites do the trick. Stephanie of I Am a Food Blog promises they're super easy to prep. "Toss those suckers in a sweet and savory honey garlic sauce and you'll have the ultimate snack," she says.
Pile these tofu bites up on some fluffy rice or quinoa and make a hearty and healthy dinner or lunch bowl.
Vietnamese-Inspired Grilled Eggplant and Leek Salad
Claire of The Kitchy Kitchen promises that the results of this recipe will make it a standout dish. She loves the flavor fresh mint brings to the smokey salad. "When it came to the vinaigrette, a balance of salty, sweet, and spicy seemed like the way to go, so I mixed classic Vietnamese ingredients like fish sauce and sriracha with brown sugar, soy sauce, and rice wine vinegar for a little more body and flavor," she explains. If you don't consume fish sauce, you can switch out with a broth made of soy sauce and dried shiitake mushrooms for the same meaty flavor.
Thai-Style Spiralized Veggies With Tofu
"If you are looking to get started with veggie spiralizing, try taking your favorite noodle-based recipe and swapping out the noodles for a sturdy spiralized veggie," suggests Stephanie of Hello Glow. "The base of this noodle bowl is made up of spiralized fresh daikon radish, carrots, and an English cucumber. These are vegetables that often appear in Thai dishes, and they all work beautifully with a spiralizer." The daikon radishes are a favorite in Asian cuisine and not only "spiralize into noodle perfection," but they also bring a healthy dose of fiber and vitamins B6 and C to the dish.
Citrus Brussels Sprout Slaw With Rice Paper "Bacon" Bits and Almond "Parm"
Laura of The First Mess encourages cooks to not feel overwhelmed by this recipe. "I know this one looks like a ton of ingredients, but there's a lot of overlap with relatively simple steps," she says. "Plus, this recipe makes extra dressing and parm for a few extra-tasty meals." She knows the perk of having "a little plant-based cheesy goodness" in the fridge. If you're looking to add in even more nutritious elements, Laura notes that "you could easily mix this salad up with other hearty greens like kale, collards, mustards, or cabbage."
Spaghetti Squash Pasta With Basil Pesto
This deceivingly simple nine-ingredient recipe comes together with minimal effort in just an hour. "The texture of spaghetti squash is tender, and the flavor is subtle, lending itself extremely well to pasta sauce and pesto," explains recipe creator Dana of Minimalist Baker. "This pesto is full of flavor and distributes beautifully throughout the 'noodles,' for a light yet satisfying dish." She jokes that you know it's a success when you go in for a sample bite, and it's so good that you sit down and call it a meal. "This would make the perfect quick weeknight meal when you're craving something comforting but not too heavy," she says.
This would make the perfect quick weeknight meal when you're craving something comforting but not too heavy.
Crispy Brussels Sprout Salad With Sweet Chili Vinaigrette
Though Claire of The Kitchy Kitchen admits that fried salad is a bit of an oxymoron, this dish delivers up delicious flavor with a satisfying crunch. She assures that "though the main ingredient is fried, this salad is light and crisp with a bright and slightly spicy vinaigrette. I couldn't get enough of this one."