Inexpensive Vegetarian Recipes: Tomato Pasta, Mac and Cheese, Tofu Curry, and More

Expensive ingredients do not make a dish tasty. In fact, some of the most satisfying vegetarian recipes from New York Times Cooking are also the most affordable, highlighting the versatility of vegetables, legumes, and tofu—and the skills of chefs who prove time and time again that less really can be more. .

This recipe from Genevieve Ko works with whatever vegetables you have on hand—broccoli, green beans, peas, whatever—so you don’t need to run to the store just to make it. Apart from your preferred vegetable(s), you don’t need anything else: some tofu, a can of coconut milk, onion and a tablespoon of curry powder do the trick.

At the intersection of sheet pan meals and 30-minute pasta is this clever recipe from Alexa Weibel. White beans and cherry tomatoes are roasted on a sheet pan before being tossed with your choice of pasta for a creamy sauce with a little texture and a lot of flavor.

Recipe: Pasta with baked white beans and tomatoes

Of course, a carton of eggs is hardly “cheap” these days. But when a recipe calls for just five ingredients (no salt, pepper, or butter), you get a return on your investment. Naz Deravian caters to breakfast-for-dinner lovers here, pocketing eggs with perfectly cooked, tomatoey potato wedges.

Asparagus and peas for spring? First sod. But a few fresh (or frozen!) vegetables go a long way to brightening up a bowl of finely seasoned barley. Ali Slagle spices up the broth with soy sauce, miso, ginger, and rice vinegar, so it’s both comforting and invigorating.

Recipe: Spring barley soup

If you’ve ever stocked up on frozen corn without much of a plan, look no further than this recipe from Hattie McKinnon. For creamed corn without cream, thawed kernels are blitzed in a blender to release the starch, then seasoned with ginger, garlic, and onion and mixed with vegetable stock and a cornstarch slurry. The result is a sweet and savory topping for cool silken tofu.

Recipe: Sook Mei Faan (Cantonese creamed corn with tofu and rice)

When your pantry is stocked with flavor-packed staples like gochujang, brown sugar, soy sauce, and garlic, you can easily whip up a hearty stew with just a few inexpensive vegetables and a can of beans. This flavorful one-pot meal from Eric Kim relies on baby potatoes, Tuscan kale, and cannellini beans for plenty of weight, but serving it with some steamed white rice will ensure that no one leaves the table hungry.

“Deceptively simple; incredibly delicious.” Take it from the comments: While this Ali Slagle recipe is riff-heavy as written, it’s the perfect combination of clever technique and affordable, basic ingredients. Add more spices if you like, add more broccoli if you have it – it’s sure to fill you up.

Recipe: Mac with broccoli and cheese in one pot

Freezer safe? Packed with protein and fiber? Cheap? These quick burritos filled with refried beans are a little bit of everything. Mashing the pinto beans with some pico de gallo, as Kay Chun does here, balances the richness of the burrito fillings, which taste like they took three times as long.

To minimize food waste and be frugal, save those parmesan rinds. When cooked in water or stock, as Melissa Clark does here, they add a complex spiciness without the need to buy extra ingredients. Cabbage and rice add a lot of body to this soup, which manages to be humble and luxurious at the same time.

Recipe: Parmesan Cabbage Soup

Want to make simple vegetables delicious dear? Toss them in a silky, tangy piccata sauce made with little more than butter, lemon, capers, and sauteed garlic and shallots. Hetty McKinnon pairs roasted, lightly caramelized cauliflower florets with canned chickpeas for a well-rounded dish.

Recipe: Chopped cauliflower

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