I don’t care how cliché it is to hit the ‘Refresh’ button at the outset of a new year. It just makes sense — especially where eating is involved. After spending the better part of December devouring fancy cheeses + festive cookies, and knocking back more cocktails than we care to admit, how could we *not* be keen on munching fresh wholesome salads and lacing up those runners?
Throughout our (long) holiday travels from North Carolina to Pennsylvania to Ontario to Pennsylvania and back home to North Carolina (like I said, long), my husband and I immersed ourselves into the world of podcasts. We started with The Nerdist — because Chris Hardwick is our best friend (he just doesn’t know it yet) — and moved on to the gripping first season of Serial. Nearing the end of our travels, I was at a point where I really missed the blog, creating content and cooking. I needed food chats. So, we killed the last five hours of our road trip with The Splendid Table which is, hands down, the best. If you haven’t given it a listen and you strive for culinary inspo, check it out.
At the end of one episode, a woman called in and expressed that she and her husband were pescetarian, but were stumped on what to make other than salmon. They were looking for ideas for other types of fish and, since pescetarianism isn’t exclusive to plant-based recipes, they wanted some good vegetarian entrées to work with.
As I broke away from my daydream of host Lynne Rosetto sending them here to Killing Thyme (a woman can dream, right?), I was reminded that a lot of people tend to feel stumped when it comes to pescetarianism. I haven’t worked with fish much; I don’t know what to do with salmon other than baste it with lemon + dill; I don’t know how to make a filling vegetarian entrée.
Hi. I can help.
I’ve gathered some of my easiest and most approachable fish + plant-based entrées for you to go through in an effort to help you bring more of these glorious eats to your table this year.
I hope you find something you love!
The Pescetarian Diet
Baked Flounder au Gratin (Total time is 20 minutes): This dish is a perfect starting point. It’s easy to prep, it takes a measly 15 minutes to cook, it’s light in flavor and it offers up familiar flavors thanks to it’s cheesy and herbaceous golden crust. This recipe will work with any lightly flavored white fish, and it pairs wonderfully with Green Beans Almondine.
Salt and Pepper Crusted Sea Bass (Total time is 20 minutes): This is another great option if you’re just getting comfortable with fish. Sea bass is so tasty that you hardly have to fuss over it. This recipe only calls for kosher salt and cracked black pepper to create a perfectly seasoned restaurant-worthy crust. This dish is light and pairs wonderfully with any of your fave roasted veggies. I typically serve it alongside my boozy + buttery Beer Butter Mushrooms.
Cajun Spiced Salmon (Total time is 20 minutes): If you’re into Cajun-inspired dishes and punchy flavors, this fiery salmon is right up your alley. It’s spiced with my Homemade Cajun Seasoning, but you can use any Cajun seasoning you have kicking around your spice drawer. I’ve tested this recipe with multiple Cajun blends and it’s been a hit every time. This fillet is great served atop a bed of rice and with roasted veggies.
Cod With Beer and Mushroom Sauce (Total time is 30 minutes): Cod is a great choice due to its light flavor and flaky + moist texture; you can get creative and almost always get away with it when cod is involved. Here, I’ve spooned a tasty beer and mushroom sauce over a cod fillet. It’s divine, I won’t lie.
Fish en Papillote (Steamed in Parchment) (Total time is 27 minutes): Steaming fish in parchment paper is a fantastic way to cook your fish. You can steam it alongside other tasty ingredients which allows for juices to run together and create a tasty little sauce. In this recipe, I season white fish with a flavorful homemade dry rub and package it with tomato slices, lemon slices, briny capers and big tangy kalamata olives.
Bruschetta Grilled Salmon (Total time is 35 minutes): This is another awesome way to fix up your salmon. If you love garlicky + herbaceous Italian flavors, top your salmon with a mouth-watering bruschetta mix. This recipe calls for the salmon to be grilled, but you could easily bake it instead for 15 minutes at 425 degrees C, adding the topping halfway through.
Easy Homemade Puttanesca Sauce (Total time is 50 minutes): A true puttanesca sauce includes chopped anchovies, which is why I’ve included it in my collection of pescetarian recipes; the anchovies *can* be omitted to make it vegetarian-friendly, though. This sauce is salty, briny and incredibly yummy. It makes for a great Sunday sauce and tastes amazing reheated throughout the week.
Light Tuna and Tomato Pasta (Total time is 25 minutes): This easy peasy pasta dish is a weeknight dinner that was invented on a whim; one of those “I need to do groceries really badly; what do I have that I can dump in a pasta for tonight?” sort of things. Lo and behold, it ended up being a family fave. If you’re down with canned tuna, add this to your weeknight rotation.
Shrimp Tacos With Mango Habanero Salsa (Total time varies): If you get as excited about #TacoTuesday as I do, you need this dish in your life. It’s spicy, brightly flavored and super refreshing. It *does* take a bit of prep, but it’s totally worth it and you can prep things in advance if you’d like. From beginning to end, this dish usually takes me about 40 minutes.
Harissa-Spiced Salmon Salad With Sweet Curry Vinaigrette (Total time is 25 minutes): This salad eats like a meal and it is a total treat. If you don’t have Harissa kickin’ around, go ahead and sub it with some chili powder — perhaps mixed with a little cayenne for a kick! The curry vinaigrette brings a bit of sweet to that heat to balance things out.
10-Minute Mushroom Ravioli in Brown Butter + Sage Sauce (Total time is 10 minutes): I know it seems a bit ridiculous to have an elegant and delicious dinner on the table in ten, but it can happen with minimal ingredients including fresh ravioli. This dish is perfect for stress-free entertaining or an evening of self-satisfaction.
Best Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (Total time is 40 minutes): I’ve always found stuffed peppers to be hit or miss, but these are a total hit; a knocked it out of the park kind of hit. They’re stuffed to the brim with quinoa and Mediterranean-inspired flavors. You can make these as a main or a side!
Chickpea + Spinach Curry (Total time is 25 minutes): Trying this belly-warming curry once will have you pining for it on the reg. Chickpeas go above and beyond in this one. You can serve this good stuff atop a bed of fluffy rice, with warm naan or on it’s own. However you do it, you’ll love it.
Easy Curry Fried Rice (Total time is 30 minutes): Who doesn’t love a big cozy bowl of fried rice? Not only is this recipe a winner when it comes to flavor, but it will also help you clean out that crisper before your produce turns to compost.
Grilled Chipotle + Lime Tofu Fajitas (Total time varies): If you press + marinade your tofu the night before, this dish will be a piece of cake to throw together after work the next day. These vegetarian fajitas are swoon-worthy; you won’t miss the chicken.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cream Pasta With Oyster Mushrooms and Asparagus (Total time is 30 minutes): I’m kind of pissed at myself for not making this one more often. Don’t have poppy seeds? No biggie, you can still rock this dish like a champ. Lemon brings bright flavors while Laughing Cow cheese brings a creaminess you don’t have to feel too bad about.
Mushroom Stroganoff (Total time is 15 minutes): This is one of my most favorite vegetarian spins on a meat-y classic. Seriously, who needs beef when you can just have extra of those hearty mushrooms in the dish? This recipe also amps things up with plain Greek yogurt in place of the usual sour cream.
Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash (Total time is 50 minutes): This dish takes a bit longer than the rest, but in the end you get a squash bowl filled with what will taste like nacho toppings. Seriously. It’s kind of mind-blowing.
Easy Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili (Total time is 4-8 hours in a slow cooker): If you want to come home to warm chili goodness, this slow cooker veg chili is where it’s at — just set it and forget it! If you’re a vegetarian chili skeptic, then I encourage you a little extra to give this a shot. Thanks to the hearty lentils, you still end up with a thick spoon-standing chili that will leave you feeling full and satisfied.