1. Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas with Ranchero Sauce

Homemade enchilada sauce adds authentic flavor that makes this dish truly memorable. Making it is an easy process that starts with dried ancho chiles, which provide medium heat, slightly smoky flavor, and a pleasing mix of fruity and bitter notes. Look for bags of dried ancho chiles on the Latin foods aisle of your supermarket; sometimes, you’ll also find them in the produce section. If you want a spicier sauce, toss a raw (whole) jalapeño or serrano pepper in the blender. Be sure to warm the tortillas according to package instructions; they’ll be more pliable when warm and less likely to tear.

  1. Lentil-Barley Burgers with Fiery Fruit

These bunless burgers are wonderfully hearty, with a crisp exterior and chewy-creamy interior. Though they do admittedly require a good bit of prep, the results are well worth it (just read the reviews!). For whole-grain bonus points, use cooked whole-grain (also labeled “hulled”) barley instead of pearled barley, and swap in whole-wheat panko for traditional. You may just love these burgers so much that you’ll make a double batch next time; reviewers have noted that they freeze well. The fruit salsa is, as the recipe title states, fiery—the heat comes from the minced serrano chile. For a milder version, seed the chile, leave it out, or opt for a milder jalapeño or Fresno chile.

  1. Roasted Asparagus and Tomato Penne Salad with Goat Cheese

This is no ordinary pasta salad. It’s an elegant, entertaining-worthy dish that expertly builds flavor through simple techniques and well-chosen ingredients. Cherry tomatoes and asparagus roast until toasty and slightly caramelized; herbes de Provence lend sophisticated flavor notes; briny kalamata olives and pungent goat cheese add tangy, salty layers. You can easily swap in whole-wheat penne or rotini to boost the nutrition; the bold flavors of the salad will stand up to the earthy pasta. Leftovers are great refrigerator-cold, so this makes a great brown-bag dish. Arugula’s slightly peppery bite is fantastic, but you can also use kale, spinach, or spring mix instead.

  1. Tuscan White Bean Soup with Escarole

Hearty but not heavy, this brothy, chock-full–of–veggies soup is sure to satisfy. It features escarole, a mildly bitter green with heads that look like fluffy, ruffly-edged romaine lettuce. If you can’t find escarole, substitute an equal amount of coarsely chopped lacinato or red kale, Swiss chard, or spinach. We add a half-teaspoon of crushed red pepper to complement the greens and creamy Great Northern beans with a fair amount of heat; decrease the amount if you’re sensitive to spice. A chunk of Parmesan cheese rind simmers in the soup, contributing lots of richness and depth; you can substitute a tablespoon of white miso if you don’t have a cheese rind stashed in your fridge or freezer.

  1. Fontal Polenta with Mushroom Sauté

Earthy, rich, and flavorful—this dish is packed full of savory goodness. Umami notes from the exotic mushroom blend (plus more creminis) and the savory fontal cheese quench hearty cravings without a speck of meat. This dish is rich, which makes it a great show-off recipe for a festive brunch or easy dinner party. It’s also easy, ready in just 20 minutes, and perfect for a cozy, comforting dinner on a cool night. Fontal cheese is assertive, but the mushroom sauce tempers those strong flavors. Instant polenta makes this gourmet treat come together quickly. If you have the time to invest, you can use slower-cooking yellow corn grits in the place of the polenta.

  1. Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach and Pine Nuts

Gnocchi are small dumplings made most often from potato, flour, and egg. You might first experience it swimming in a rich tomato sauce, as is customary for this Italian pasta alternative. In this dish, however, we’re keeping the sauce light but still fairly decadent. Browned butter is luxurious whenever it’s used. In this lighter gnocchi recipe, it delivers earthy tasting notes, as do the pine nuts. Fresh spinach gently wilts under the heat of the freshly cooked gnocchi, which makes it perfectly tender. Look for whole-wheat gnocchi, like Gia Russa, in the pasta section of your grocery store.

  1. Orzo Salad with Spicy Buttermilk Dressing

This dish is bright, creamy, and packed with fresh veggies. The more veggies you add, the further this easy pasta dish will stretch. It’s great as a make-ahead lunch or dinner, too. Just keep in mind the spice grows stronger the longer it sits. If you have a sensitive palate, you might want to scale back on the ground red pepper. Just add a dash and stir well before you eat. If you prefer to make this dish a whole-grain option, skip the orzo (or look for whole-wheat orzo) and use farro instead. It will hold up especially well with the buttermilk dressing.

  1. Eggplant Parmesan

Perfect for Meatless Mondays, this eggplant parmesan recipes is not only delicious, but it’s also lighter than traditional chicken and veal options. Make eggplant Parmesan instead of lasagna, and you’ll skip many unnecessary carbs and grams of fat, but you still get to enjoy all the ooey-gooey cheesy goodness. When breading the eggplant, use whole-wheat panko instead of regular panko. The whole-wheat version holds up better during cooking, and it won’t become soggy as quickly. Don’t skimp on the fresh basil, and be sure to save enough cheese for the final crispy, cheesy layer.

  1. Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

Keep the thermostat down and lose the parka. This vegetarian chili is all you need to keep warm if it’s chilly outside. This healthy, nutritious, and hearty vegetarian staple is packed with plant protein thanks to pinto beans, cannellini beans, and red kidney beans. Butternut squash lends a creamy luscious texture, as well as a delicate hint of sweetness against the heat from the red pepper and paprika. Top with thinly sliced green onions and a dollop of sour cream if the heat is too much. We also recommend a hearty portion of cornbread to sop up every last drop. It’s really just that good.

  1. Potato, Turnip, and Spinach Baeckeoffe

Translated from the French Alsatian dialect, baeckeoffe means “baker’s oven,” as it was traditionally a dish that was brought to the local baker to cook in his oven. Classic versions are loaded with meat, but our vegetarian riff is equally hearty and rich. Mushroom caps deliver all the umami goodness you want from meat but without the saturated fat and calories. Onions, potato, spinach, and turnips load this dish full of hearty vegetables. Gruyère cheese is assertive, and since it goes on top to make a cheesy crust, you’ll want to substitute with something equally firm, like fontina or Havarti. Serve with a oaky white wine.


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