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 18 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.
Read on for 18 of our favorite low-carb vegetarian recipes to try tonight.
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 a 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.
Chickpea Bolognese with Carrot Noodles
This ultra-healthy option by Minimalist Baker mixes up the standard zoodles with carrot noodles topped with a tasty and filling chickpea bolognese sauce. Dana advises, "Keep this bolognese on hand for easy, weeknight meals when the family wants pasta but you want something light and healthy, yet hearty. It’s the perfect compromise." Ten ingredients and 40 minutes later, dinner is served.
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."
Spinach Mushroom Breakfast Skillet with Eggs
This scrumptious breakfast recipe from Joyful Healthy Eats hits all the right notes in less than 30 minutes. Not only is it delicious, it's high in fiber, low in carbs, and free of gluten. Simply combine runny eggs, avocados, mushrooms, spinach, and cherry tomatoes in a skillet. Leave out the pancetta for a meat-free version; you won't even miss it.
Cheese Zucchini Ravioli with Roasted Tomato
If you're looking for a fresh and light meal to end the day, this is the perfect thing. Joyful Healthy Eats shares this lovely recipe for an easy cheese zucchini ravioli loaded with fresh cherry tomatoes. Picture healthy zoodles wrapped around creamy garlic herb cheese swimming in a fragrant balsamic roasted tomato sauce.
Veggie Sheet Pan Fajitas
Get ready for a seriously satisfying meal from Hello Glow. To add some "meatiness" to this veggie sheet pan fajita dish, use thick strips of portobello mushrooms and butternut squash. For a lower carb count, try subbing tortillas for large lettuce leaves. The breakout star here is unquestionably the tangy cumin-lime crema that you'll want to devour by the spoonful. Don't say we didn't warn you.
Aglio e Olio Cauliflower Gnocchi
I Am a Food Blog makes all your low carb dreams come true in this simple, yet flavorful recipe for a pan fried cauliflower gnocchi. Surprisingly, the recipe calls for Trader Joe's store-bought gnocchi, which makes everything easier. "Aglio e Olio" is a classic Italian dish that translates to "garlic and oil". All you need is some olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and a pinch of crushed red peppers to complete the meal. Perfetto!
Mediterranean Chickpea Salad Stuffed Avocados
Foodie Crush shares this perfect low-carb, protein-packed meal that can also moonlight as a snack. It's super filling and packed with fibrous nutrients from chickpeas or white beans, red bell peppers, parsley, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. Light, fresh, filling, and ready in just 20 minutes.
Homemade Spicy Tuna Poke Bowl
Root + Revel shares another tasty recipe that's densely packed with all the goods–vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, and fiber–minus the carbs. For ease, this recipe calls for canned tuna mixed with leafy greens, edamame, pickled carrots, avocado, persian cucumbers, and sliced jalapenos. For the low carb version, skip the rice. This bowl is packed with so much goodness, you won't even miss it.
Spaghetti Squash Aglio e Olio
This Italian-inspired gem comes courtesy of Tieghan from Half Baked Harvest and is bound to satisfy that belly, whether you're a carnivore or herbivore. Using spaghetti squash as the base, she adds swiss chard, caramelized garlic, olive oil, parmesan, and fresh parsley.
Creamy Zucchini Noodles
Zoodles have become quite the rage since the slew of low-carb diets came on the scene. We think this particular dish by The First Mess takes the cake though. Spiralized zucchini noodles are paired with a creamy lentil-and-spring-onion-sauce, along with roasted asparagus and kale. Basil, lemon, and miso combine to create a unique umami flavor you'll crave again and again.
Mediterranean Broccoli Salad
Food Faith Fitness shares this super quick and easy Mediterranean low carb broccoli salad made with greek yogurt instead of mayo. Combining broccoli, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, sunflower seeds, and olives, the key to optimal flavor here is to let the salad sit and soak up all the delicious juices.
Baked Eggs in Stuffed Peppers
Foodie Crush shares this delectable dish that's oozing with flavor. Sweet peppers cradle butternut squash hash with thyme and a splash of brandy. Top it with rich ricotta and feta cheese and a sunny side up egg. Let it all swim in a bed of marinara sauce to complete the meal.