Vegetarian Dish

cooking with a vegetarian when the meat sessons the dish

You've been invited to a dinner party and you're the only vegetarian. What do you do? You can't just say no! So, what's your best option? Well, there are some things that you can make ahead of time

Dinnertime around here is interesting, I’ll admit. Why’s that? Well, I’m a vegetarian, and my husband is a meat-eater.

Oftentimes, one of us will compromise. He’ll get a big hunk of meat and I’ll eat a hearty side salad for dinner. Or I’ll whip up something vegan for the both of us – no animal products in sight. The very happiest dinners around here, though, are of the one-dish-two-ways variety – the recipe generally starts out as vegetarian or vegan, then a meat add-in satisfies the resident carnivore too.

Of course, adding a picky kiddo to the mix changed things up for us too. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I often find myself making one dish, three ways. Or two dishes, three ways. Or three dishes period. Yeah … we’re a work in progress.

But today, I’m focusing vegetarian and meat-eater couple recipes. If you’re a family out there like ours, have faith! Believe it or not, there really are tons of options for vegetarians and omnivore recipes, and these recipes are proof!


Pasta is pretty much universally adored – and delicious with just about anything, meat or not. But it’s especially great in these flexible recipes. Here are some faves:

From Kitchen Treaty:

  • Cheesy Baked Tortellini (lacto-ovo veg with optional ground beef) – I love using individual casserole dishes to serve this up. Having different color dishes helps us tell them apart.
  • Tortellini with Butternut Squash, Mushrooms, and Gruyere (lacto-ovo veg with optional sausage) – This is a great, easy recipe that also works well for entertaining.
  • Veggie-Filled Enchilada Pasta Casserole (lacto-ovo veg with optional ground beef) – a dinnertime staple for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike.
  • Ravioli Lasagna (lacto-ovo veg with optional meat) – use a meaty ravioli for the carnivores and a meatless one for vegetarians. Done!
  • 20-Minute Peanut Sweet Potato Noodles with Spinach (vegan with optional meat) – Not an official pasta per se, but it works here! This is a really fast, simple, yet complex-tasting base recipe that can be enhanced with either tofu or chicken.

From other blogs:

  • Lightening-Fast Cheesy Three-Pepper Ravioli with Italian Sausage (lacto-ovo with optional sausage) from Two Healthy Kitchens – The veggie-loaded skillet and delicious ravioli make for the perfect dish. Just cook up the sausage in a separate skillet for the meat-eaters’ versions. Easy peasy!
  • Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad (lacto-ovo with optional chicken) from Snappy Gourmet – Just leave the chicken out of some or all of this one and you still have veggies and flavor to spare. Love the creativity!
  • Creamy Spinach Tomato Tortellini (lacto-ovo with optional meat) from Cooking Classy – This recipe starts out vegetarian. Just add some cooked chicken or sausage for the meat-eaters and everyone’s ga-ga!


Chili is one of my favorite dinners for several reasons. Delicious? Check. Easy? Check. Simple to customize for vegetarians and meat-eaters? Check check check! So I’ve published several chili recipes here on Kitchen Treaty – each one seems to be a new favorite. I can’t help it!

From Kitchen Treaty:

  • 20-Minute Vegetarian White Bean Chili (vegan with optional chicken)– The flavors in this one defy the quick cooking time. Just add cooked, shredded chicken to the meat-eaters’ versions.
  • Spicy Chili Verde with White Beans (vegan with optional chicken) – An incredible chili made with tomatillos (so good)! Just add chicken for the carnivores.
  • Butternut Squash & Beer Chili (vegan with optional ground turkey) – This comforting chili is flavorful and hearty with or without the turkey. We love this chili over a generous scoop of brown rice.
  • Slow Cooker Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili (vegan with optional ground beef) – A traditional chili recipe that’s extra easy and totally hearty whether you add the ground beef or not.
  • Slow Cooker Black Bean & Mango Caribbean Chili (vegan with optional pork or chicken) – Black beans and mangoes are a match made in heaven, and in chili? Unbelievably delicious. Try it!
  • White Chili (vegan with optional chicken) – This unique chili has a surprise ingredient that gives it a warm, interesting vibe.
  • Chili Cheese Stuffed Spaghetti Squash (lacto-ovo veg with optional meat) – Try your chili leftovers scooped into individual squash shells! The individual servings make for easy customization; plus, it’s just darn tasty served up this way.

From other blogs:

  • Acorn Squash, Beet, and Sweet Potato Chili (vegan with optional meat) from Farm Fresh Feasts – for those that say beans in chili is blasphemy, this bean-free chili for vegans or with beef for carnivores should fit the bill just fine.

Soups & Stews

  • Thai Green Curry Noodle Soup (vegan with optional meat) – A fast, easy, and comforting soup with Thai flavors, rice noodles, and your protein of choice – tofu for the plant-based folk, chicken for the meat-eaters.
  • Slow Cooker Pasta e Fagioli Soup (lacto-ovo veg with optional meat) – A fall favorite around here! I’ve also been known to freeze this one for quick and easy dinners. I add the raw pasta when warming it back up (frozen pasta = gross!)
  • Creamy Potato & Kale Soup (lacto-ovo veg with optional sausage) – A comforting winter soup that’s equally hearty with sausage or without.
  • Hearty Tuscan Bean Stew (vegan with meat option) – This sort of reminds me of a modern take on the lima beans and ham I was served often as a kid. Love this stuff!
  • Vegetarian Pho from Scratch (vegan with optional beef) – This homemade pho recipe starts with a flavorful veggie broth. This one is especially easy for mixed-diet dinners because the super thin-sliced meat cooks right in the bowl after you scoop the broth over it!

From other blogs:

  • Potato, Beet, & Leek Soup (vegan, lacto-ovo veg, or meat option) from Farm Fresh Feasts – With three easy “bus stops,” this recipe can be made to suit vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores. Love.


Score one more for individually served-up food! Sandwiches are so easy and, of course, endlessly customizable.

From Kitchen Treaty:

  • Hamburgers/Veggie Burgers (vegan, vegetarian, and meat options) – Okay, so this one is from the Obvious Files, but still worth mentioning because hamburgers/veggie burgers are quite possibly THE easiest meal for multi-vore homes. They’re a once-per-week occurrence for us as soon as we roll out the BBQ come spring.
  • Bratwursts/Field Roast (vegan or meat options) – This combo is also on permanent rotation for us every summer.
  • Roasted Red Pepper, Arugula, & Goat Cheese Sandwiches (lacto-ovo veg with optional bacon) – A decadent yet simple sandwich. A bit of chicken might also do well for the meat-eaters.
  • BLTs/TLTs (vegan with bacon option) – Bacon for the carnivores, and tofu for the vegetarians. But not just any tofu. Quick-seared, smoky-seasoned tofu. It’s so good I kinda feel sorry for the bacon-eaters. 😉
  • Grilled Summer Vegetable Sandwiches with Pesto (vegan with optional chicken) – I’ll be honest, my guy actually preferred this one without the meat (which does sometimes happen). But it’s an option!

From other blogs:

  • Chinese Cabbage & Chicken Roll-Ups (vegan with chicken option) from Farm Fresh Feasts – because they’re made individually with separately cooked chicken, these are perfect for the multivore family.


Mini pizzas, anyone? Pizza lends itself wonderfully to individual servings and so many customization options. My guy and I used to love ordering half pepperoni and half olive pizzas (olive pizzas = glorious). Now that I’ve had to remove cheese from my diet, we generally go with individual options instead. (Side note: cheese-free pizzas can be shockingly good!)

From Kitchen Treaty:

  • How to Make Heart-Shaped Pizzas (vegan, lacto-ovo, and meat options) – Make ’em any which way. Perfect for Valentine’s Day but also anytime you want to show a little extra love.
  • Roasted Spinach & Garlic White Pizza (lacto-ovo veg with optional chicken) – This cheesy white pizza has tons of roasted garlic. No vampires in sight!
  • Gorgonzola Kale & Pear Pizza (lacto-ovo veg with optional bacon) – Kale on pizza makes such a tasty topping. I love the unusual addition of pears; my guy loves the not-as-unusual addition of bacon.
  • Brussels Sprouts Pita Pizza (lacto-ovo veg with optional bacon) – With the crusts already made, these cute little pizzas are a snap to make.
  • BBQ Chicken/Tofu Pizza (lacto-ovo veg with optional chicken) – This one is a little labor intensive but SO WORTH IT.

From other blogs:

  • Quick & Easy Grilled Pizza (lacto-ovo veg with optional meat) from Two Healthy Kitchens – One big pizza divided into “safe zones,” customized to each individual’s liking.
  • Mini Deep Dish Pizzas + Dessert (lacto-ovo veg with optional meat) from Two Healthy Kitchens – Tiny deep-dish pizzas made individually means each can be customized! No meat, some meat, lots of meat, one olive, 10 olives, veggies galore … make ’em your own! Plus, bake up a few dessert pizzas alongside and you’re good to go for dessert, too. Love this idea.

Tex-Mex Faves

Many Tex-Mex dishes are served up individually – usually in tortillas. Perfect for mixed-diet families!

From Kitchen Treaty:

  • Refried Bean & Cheese Burritos (lacto veg with optional chicken) – Freezer-friendly and individually made. Life is so much easier when our freezer is stocked with these.
  • Beans & Greens Tacos (vegan with optional chicken) – These tacos whip up super fast and taste divine. Chicken adds a meaty touch for the carnivores.
  • Grilled Tofu Tacos with Sweet Onion Slaw (vegan with optional chicken) – The tofu and the chicken can be grilled up at the same time (we keep a segregated grill around here), which makes these delicious tacos come together super quickly.
  • Grilled Peach Fontina Quesadillas (lacto veg with optional chicken) – Peaches and fontina are a heady combo; perfect during the summer months when juicy peaches are at their peak.
  • Taco Salads (vegan, vegetarian, and meat options) – With an easy trick for individual taco shell bowls, it’s easy to dish up a customized salad for each of you.

From other blogs:

  • Chicken & Sweet Potato Enchiladas (lacto veg with meat option) from The Cookie Rookie – Make it vegetarian by leaving the chicken out of all or half (use two smaller baking dishes, one for the chicken version and one for the veggie version)
  • Arepas Rellenas with Black Beans or Shredded Chicken (lacto veg with meat option) from The Wimpy Vegetarian – Homemade corn-based bread stuffed with either beans or chicken and served up individually. Mouth-watering!
  • Veggie Fajitas (vegan, lacto veg or optional shrimp, chicken, or steak) from The Live-In Kitchen – Easily customizable in nearly endless ways. Love fajitas!

Bowls & More

Grain bowls are perfect for vegetarians or vegans and meat-eaters eating together. Because they’re assembled right in the bowl, just add meat and/or cheese to one and leave it off of the other. I’ve also got a few more recipes up my sleeve. See! Lots of options.

From Kitchen Treaty:

  • Veggie Roll Sushi Bowl with Sesame-Wasabi Dressing (vegan with optional chicken) – No bamboo rolling mats required! We love these simple bowls. Perfect with a bit of cooked, chopped chicken for the meat-eater. A hunk of salmon might do nicely too!
  • Cashew Veggie Stir Fry (vegan option with tofu or meat option with chicken) – Crisp veggies. Crunchy cashews. And tofu for the vegans or chicken for the meat-eaters. All in a savory-sweet, slightly spicy sauce.
  • Rustic White Bean & Thyme Pot Pies (vegan with chicken option) – Hearty white beans, carrots, and potatoes in a creamy thyme-flavored sauce. Just add cooked chicken or turkey for the meat-eaters!
  • Thai Peanut Spaghetti Squash Boats (vegan with chicken option) – Thai-inspired peanut sauce tossed with spaghetti squash and topped with crunchy peanuts and cilantro. Top individual servings with tofu for the vegans/vegetarians or chicken for the carnivorously inclined.

From other blogs:

  • Mojito Chicken Quinoa Bowls (vegan with chicken option) from Food Faith Fitness – There’s much more going on in these bowls than just chicken. Like pineapple. And avocado. And macadamia nuts. Just add the chicken to the carnivores’ portions and leave it off otherwise. It’s a complete meal either way.
  • Roasted Vegetable Teriyaki Bowls (vegan with chicken option) from The Roasted Root – Super simple yet satisfying. Just add chicken for the meat-eaters!

That’s all I have here! What are your go-to recipes for your mixed-diet family? Leave a link in the comments below!

Originally published February 4, 2016. Updated February 11, 2020.

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