A casserole is technically a meal that’s baked in a single deep bowl, often a cheesy combination of various vegetables, proteins, and starches. But on the coldest nights, a casserole is also a warm blanket, a cozy sweatshirt, a hug from a friend. Below are some of the best vegetarian options New York Times Cooking has to offer; some are cheesy, others crispy, but all are comforting in their own way. And for even more inspiration for vegetarian cuisine, you should sign up for our weekly newsletter The Veggie.
This cereal and vegetable casserole by Sarah DiGregorio has the best properties of eggplant parmesan – without the many pans that the classic dish requires. The flavors are also reminiscent of pizza, which makes it easy for the kids in your life to sell. Kalamata olives line the dish and provide welcome moments of saltiness with every bite.
Choose your favorite white bean as the base in this high protein casserole from Martha Rose Shulman. Three hours in the oven on low heat makes beans so creamy you won’t even notice this casserole is dairy-free. However, you will be grateful for the crunchy and crunchy breadcrumb topping that compliments the silky texture underneath.
Recipe: Slow baked beans with kale
At first glance, you would have no idea how many vegetables are hidden in this casserole: leeks! Spinach! Fennel! Mushrooms, beans and wild rice guarantee full and full stomachs, making this Melissa Clark recipe a great option for the main vegetarian event at any upcoming Christmas party.
Recipe: Wild rice and mushroom casserole
The list of ingredients for this cozy pasta bake from Lidey Heuck may seem short, but there is no lack of flavor. Fresh basil, garlic, and red pepper flakes go a long way in adding value to an otherwise simple weekday meal, and a solid serving of spinach will make it all feel a little more balanced.
Recipe: Cheesy baked orzo with marinara
Set aside the cream of mushroom soup in favor of a vegan white mushroom sauce, your favorite milk alternative, and some flour to tie this classic Thanksgiving dish. In her version, Gena Hamshaw reaches for all the fresh vegetables, but she’ll save you some topping time – use these store-bought French fried onions!
Recipe: Vegan casserole with green beans
Place the Mac and Cheese from the box with this dish, adapted by Julia Moskin from Nigella Lawson, that hardly takes any more time and effort. The recipe contains more than a pound of Brussels sprouts so you don’t have to cook a separate vegetable side to round out the meal.
Recipe: Hearty whole wheat pasta with Brussels sprouts, cheese and potatoes
Get those crispy, cheesy lasagne edges without the hassle of a layered dish with this recipe from Ali Slagle. It’s a simple five-ingredient dish that’s ripe for customization: add hearty greens like kale or kale, toss in last night’s roasted vegetables, or change the flavor profile with your favorite spice mixes. Or not – it will still be tasty.
Think of this recipe from Colu Henry as the casserole dish of a luxurious wool sweater. It’s cozy and warm, with ribbons made from Gruyère, Fontina and Pecorino that tie delicate cauliflower florets. It’s filling and, according to a reader of the New York Times Cooking, “the best cauliflower recipe I’ve ever found”.
Recipe: Three cheese cauliflower casserole
The anise-like properties of fennel are significantly tamed when the vegetables are cooked and lightly caramelized, as in this recipe by Aaron Hutcherson. Beans are both part of the sauce and the filling; some are pureed, while others are left whole to mix with the fennel. The soft and tender filling gets a hint of lemony panko for the necessary crunch.
Recipe: Creamy casserole with white beans and fennel
Broccoli and cheddar make a deliciously nostalgic combination, and Sarah Jampel borrows from that by topping this casserole with crushed, buttery Ritz crackers. While their recipe includes a deceptively large amount of broccoli (four heads!), It’s primarily comfort food, and plant-based second.
Recipe: Cheese and broccoli casserole
It would be incredibly rude to round up a team of casserole all-stars and not include the Michael Jordan of the lasagna category. Although this version of Samin Nosrat is one of the more elaborate options, it is well worth the effort. The homemade lasagne sheets and tomato sauce are completely optional, but also a fun project. Take it from a reader: “This is the best lasagna I’ve ever eaten!”