From a 20-minute black bean stir-fry to a creamy sweet potato pasta, here are some easy vegan dinner recipes you should try in 2021.
Home cooking exploded in 2020. So did veganism, more than ever before. With everyone confined to their homes the world over, people have increasingly put focus on the nutrition and health aspect of their food, started eating more vegan meals, and tried their hand at making versions of their favourite takeouts.
And as a result, recipe blogs and food websites saw a rise in readership, and the year saw a slew of cookbooks released. There’s a plant-based version of virtually every dish — for example, there’s the potential of jackfruit outside of just a pulled pork substitute, or the innovative use of sweet potatoes or butternut squash in katsu curry.
While we have been getting accustomed to working from home, most of us still prefer our weeknight vegan meals to be super easy, quick and delicious. With people cooking more regularly at home now, and a hope for better things to come in 2021, here are some of the best vegan dinner recipes to try this year.
Vegan Chickpea Tuna Jacket Potato
A British classic from a household vegan chef from the UK. Gaz Oakley, the man behind the phenomenon that is Avant Garde Vegan, is renowned for his grand vegan dishes that are also easy and delicious to make. This vegan jacket potato recipe uses chickpeas as a meat-free substitute to tuna, with a few dollops of dairy-free mayonnaise added for good measure.
Oakley, whose rise to vegan stardom is well-documented, is a YouTuber and cookbook author, with three books to his name, including 2020’s Plants Only Kitchen. He’s also helped curate recipes for the UK-based vegan burger chain The Vurger Co’s menu. Now, he’s aiming to launch his own restaurant.
This recipe is great for meal prep; you can make a full batch of the chickpea tuna mayo — which takes less than 10 minutes to make — and just add it over some baked potatoes. It’s a high-protein dish, and Oakley recommends serving it alongside a quick side salad.
Check out our list of 2020’s best vegan cookbooks.
Sweet Potato Pasta Sauce
This recipe is as delicious as it is unorthodox. While it isn’t exactly an Italian tradition, using sweet potatoes is an inventive way to amp up your vegan pasta dishes when you get bored of the same old tomato sauce or béchamel base and are looking for something creamy and dairy-free. Best of all, it comes together in 20 minutes.
This dish is by Bianca Zapatka, a food blogger and stylist who has made a name for herself with the attractive presentation of her vegan recipes. Her Instagram success has also led to her releasing two cookbooks, Vegan Foodporn (in German and English) and Vegan & Easy.
For the pasta sauce, Zapatka combines a baked potato with cashew cream, and puts in some aromatics and seasonings. There’s the clever addition of the garlic mushrooms, which make for a perfect side dish to your weeknight vegan dinner. It’s also very adaptable; you can substitute the ingredients with whatever you have on hand — butternut squash works equally as well as a base, coconut cream is brilliant too if you’re out of cashews, and you can use gluten-free pasta too.
One Pan Thai Green Curry Bowls
Thai green curry. One pan. 30 minutes. What more could you ask for? This dinner recipe from BOSH!, the UK’s bestselling vegan authors, is nothing short of a revelation. A vegan version of the classic Thai dish, it employs tofu as the meat-free protein substitute and is packed with vegetables and nuts to ensure you’re getting all the healthy nutrients while also enjoying a super easy and absolutely delicious meal.
This recipe is from the UK duo’s new vegan cookbook, Speedy BOSH!, which, as the name suggests, focuses on quick-cooking for those with less time on their hands. Promising dishes that take under 30 minutes, it’s packed with tips to speed up your weeknight vegan dinner recipes.
Making an entire curry in half an hour isn’t the easiest task. But BOSH! uses some simple shortcuts to get you there. We highly recommend using the smoked tofu if you can get your hands on it, which complements and adds depth to all the flavours in the curry. Make sure the curry paste you buy is vegan; Blue Dragon is vegan and ubiquitous.
Read our interview with BOSH!’s Henry Firth and Ian Theasby.
Vegan Ramen To-Go
Everyone needs to know about this one. It’s upgraded vegan ramen that takes only 10 minutes to put together and makes for the most delicious meal. Tofu, mushrooms and miso are a stunning combination in this comforting and easy dinner.
It’s a recipe developed by Sadia Badiei from Pick Up Limes, a highly popular vegan blog and YouTube channel. This ‘Glorified Miso Soup’, as she labels it, only calls for seven basic ingredients. Badiei, a Dietetics professional, is known for her advocacy of the plate method and incredible variety of vegan recipes that range from quick dinners and nutritious meals to indulgent breakfasts and healthy dishes.
This recipe is a work of genius. Not only is it incredibly delicious and ridiculously quick to make, it’s also perfect for meal prep. The tofu works so well with the mushrooms, and the winning mix of the miso and bouillon cube is a wonder. Like most of Badiei’s dishes, this is also super flexible. Don’t have instant noodles? Just use some parboiled or leftover pasta. Have extra time? Prep the tofu like a stir-fry first, or add some garlic. Looking for more variations? Use whatever vegetables you have on hand; beansprouts, peppers, carrots, edamame — everything works. And oh, top it up with some sesame seeds and hot sauce to truly treat yourself.
Pepper and Black Bean Stir-Fry
The ingredient list gives the duration a run for the money here, with 10 elements and only 15 minutes in this dinner recipe. It’s a truly foolproof dish: what could go wrong with black beans, sautéed peppers and rice?
Curated by Sam Turnbull from It Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken (a truly incredible blog name), it utilises canned black beans for the quick turnaround. Turnbull is a published author, with her wildly popular 2017 cookbook Fuss-Free Vegan. Now, she’s gearing up for to release her second book, Fast Easy Cheap Vegan, which is expected in late March.
The secret to this easy and healthy vegan stir-fry recipe is the liquid smoke, which gives a hickory-like flavour to dishes without an actual barbecue. Serve it with some brown rice to call it a meal. Or, if you’re in the mood for a fancy dish, dunk it over some wild black rice with some wilted greens on the side.