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vegetarian casserole recipes

I can always count on a casserole to help keep me warm on a cold winter night. Hearty and cozy, these hot dishes are about as hands-off as dinner can get. While many of us might consider a casserole an inherently indulgent meal — synonymous with heavy, processed ingredients — it turns out that’s a self-limiting belief.

That’s why I dreamed up some new versions that showcase healthy ingredients: Think leafy greens, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and ancient grains. Each vibrant recipe is full of fresh flavor, without sacrificing any of the comfort or coziness of the classic casserole. Get ready to bring a new set of delicious dishes into your winter dinner repertoire.

Mushroom Farro Bolognese

mushroom and farro bolognese casserole recipe

Makes 6 to 8 servings •  Prep time 10 minutes •  Cook time 60 minutes

  • 1 cup farro
  • ½ yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups stemmed and roughly chopped mushrooms (such as cremini or shiitake)
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ⅓ cup tomato paste
  • 2 tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped spinach
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese

Panko Topping

  • ½ cup panko
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil. Add the farro, reduce heat to low, and cover. Parcook for 15 minutes, then drain.
  3. While the farro is cooking, combine the panko, garlic, thyme, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and pinch of salt in the bowl of a food processor, then blend to combine. Transfer the panko mixture to a separate bowl.
  4. Wipe out the processor bowl and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Process until finely minced. Transfer to a separate bowl, then wipe out the processor bowl and use the processor to mince the mushrooms; wipe the bowl again, then mince the walnuts.
  5. Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and heat until shimmering, then add the minced vegetables, minced walnuts, and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Sauté for 10 to 12 minutes, until the mixture smells nutty and the vegetables are softened.
  6. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the walnut and vegetable mixture. Add the balsamic vinegar, crushed tomatoes, and parcooked farro, and stir to combine.
  7. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Once it’s boiling, turn off the heat. Add the chopped spinach and half the ricotta, and stir to combine. Add the remaining ricotta in dollops on top, then sprinkle with the panko mixture.
  8. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes, then serve.

Grain-Free Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

gluten free mac and cheese recipe

Makes 6 to 8 servings •  Prep time 15 minutes •  Cook time 40 minutes

  • 1 8-oz. box cassava pasta (or other grain-free pasta)
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5-oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tsp. mustard powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • ½ lb. white cheddar cheese, grated
  • ½ lb. feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 ½ cups chopped Swiss chard or spinach

Almond-Cheddar Topping

  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ¼ cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook the pasta in salted water according to package instructions. Add the cauliflower for the last six minutes. Drain.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large pan over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and heat until shimmering, then add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the coconut milk, mustard powder, onion powder, and ½ teaspoon salt, and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Add 1/2 pound white cheddar and half of the feta cheese, and stir to combine. Remove sauce from heat.
  5. Place the pasta, cauliflower, and greens in a 9-x-13-inch baking dish, and stir to mix. Pour the cheese sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining feta.
  6. Mix the almond flour, ¼ cup white cheddar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon sea salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the top of the dish and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  7. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve.

Quinoa Taco Bake With Guacamole

quinoa taco bake

Makes 6 to 8 servings •  Prep time 15 minutes •  Cook time 45 minutes

  • 2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 small winter squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 12-oz. block extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 1 ½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 4 oz. soft goat cheese, crumbled


  • 2 avocados
  • ¼ cup minced red onion
  • 3 tbs. lemon juice
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering, then add the onion and cook for three to four minutes, until translucent. Add the squash, stir, and cook for another five to seven minutes, until slightly softened. Add the bell pepper and cook for three to four minutes more.
  3. Pat the drained tofu with a kitchen towel to dry the surface, then use your hands to crumble the tofu into the pan. Add the chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, and salt. Stir to combine.
  4. Place the tofu mixture in a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Add the quinoa, black beans, and vegetable broth, and stir to combine. Sprinkle with the goat cheese and bake, covered, for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mash the avocados, red onion, lemon juice, and sea salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the halved grape tomatoes. Let the casserole cool for 10 minutes, then serve with the guacamole.

Sweet Potato Chickpea Curry Casserole With Cashew Poblano Cream

sweet potato and chickpea curry casserole recipe

Makes 6 to 8 servings •  Prep time 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes inactive to soak the cashews •  Cook time 70 minutes

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • ½ cup brown or green lentils
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • ¾ tsp. sea salt, divided
  • 1½ cups almond milk (or other unsweetened milk)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1½ tbs. tamari, soy sauce, or coconut aminos
  • 1 tbs. pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbs. curry powder
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • ⅓ cup cilantro, leaves and stems
  1. Place the cashews in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let soak for 30 minutes.
  2. While the cashews soak, set the oven to broil. Char the poblano pepper on the top rack, turning every few minutes, until the exterior is blistered. Cool until they can be handled, then peel off the skin and remove the stem and seeds.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  4. Place the lentils in a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Add the chickpeas, sweet potato, carrot, bell pepper, and ½ teaspoon of the sea salt, and stir to combine.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the almond milk, vegetable broth, tamari, maple syrup, curry powder, and turmeric. Pour over the lentils, chickpeas, and vegetables. Bake, covered, for one hour.
  6. While the curry mixture is baking, drain the cashews. Place the poblano, drained cashews, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender. Add the remaining ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Blend until smooth, adding water 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to reach a pourable consistency.
  7. Remove the casserole from the oven and uncover. Let cool for 10 minutes, then drizzle the poblano cashew cream on top and serve.

Wild Rice Pudding

wild rice pudding recipe

Makes 4 to 6 servings •  Prep time 5 minutes •  Cook time 50 minutes

  • 1 14-oz. can coconut milk
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup wild rice blend
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped dates
  • Milk of choice, to taste
  1. In a large bowl, whisk the coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt until combined.
  2. Pour into a small Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil.
  3. Add the wild rice blend and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 45 minutes, until the rice is tender.
  4. Stir in the raisins and dates. Serve in bowls with more milk to taste.

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This recipe collection originally appeared as “The New Casserole” in the November/December 2023 issue.

Alyssa Shultis

Alyssa Shultis is a Minneapolis-based writer and editor.

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