10 Showstopping Vegetarian Main Dishes

Spring Vegetable Tart
Photo: Chef John

When you're cooking for a crowd and you want to create a feast for both the eyes and the appetite, it's easy to think of meat as the only option for a stand-out main dish. From roast turkey to prime rib, perennial showstopping mains often cater primarily to omnivores, while vegetarians are left holding the bag (of assorted side dishes). But this mentality is super outdated! In reality, there are loads of ways to ensure that vegetarians get a centerpiece dish that's just as beautiful. Here are our favorite vegetarian main dishes deserving of hearty applause.

01 of 10

Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika. LauraF

Cauliflower lends itself particularly well to doubling as a main dish and a centerpiece. When roasted whole, the outside of this flower-like crucifer gets crisp and caramelized, while the inside remains sweet and tender. This smoked paprika-dusted whole roasted cauliflower boasts beautiful color and a hint of heat.

02 of 10

Heirloom Tomato Tart

Heirloom Tomato Tart with Pesto and Mozzarella
Heirloom Tomato Tart with Pesto and Mozzarella. lolalobato

Quiches might seem so 1995, but give this heirloom tomato tart a try. Made with several colors of beautiful cherry tomatoes and seasoned with pesto and gooey mozzarella, it's sure to please vegetarians and omnivores alike.

03 of 10

Veggie Rose Tart

veggie rose tart

Tomatoes aren't the only ingredient that can stand out atop a pretty tart. This veggie rose tart is a veritable work of art! Choose a variety of heirloom carrot and zucchini in as many colors as you can find to make this tart really stand out.

04 of 10

Spring Vegetable Tart

Spring Vegetable Tart
Chef John

If you want wow factor without fuss, this spring vegetable tart allows veggies to speak for themselves. Store-bought puff pastry is topped with goat cheese, fresh herbs, and an array of gorgeous spring vegetables. It's Instagram-worthy for sure!

05 of 10

Spinach-Stuffed Pumpkin

This autumnal dish is a colorful treat thanks to the contrasting bright orange pumpkins and deep green spinach. Two kinds of cheese lend loads of flavor to this pretty dish. Add a touch of nutmeg to make the flavors really pop!

06 of 10

Roasted Cauliflower Steaks

1450538 Roasted Cauliflower Steaks 239042 bd.weld
Photo by bd.weld.

Instead of steak or pork chops, imagine emerging from the kitchen with a platter heaped with these tasty roasted cauliflower steaks. On their own, they boast a light, nutty sweetness; top with bright chimichurri or briny puttanesca (sans anchovies) for even more plant-based flavor.

07 of 10

Pizza-Style Portabello Mushrooms

Bigger than stuffed mushrooms, smaller than a pizza, these pizza-style portabello mushrooms are a super fun way to cater not just to vegetarians but also the gluten-free crowd (as long as you choose gluten-free breadcrumbs). Let your imagination run wild when topping: these "pizzas" can be scattered with the cheeses and veggies of your choice before baking and serving.

08 of 10

Hasselback Butternut Squash

Sweet and Savory Hasselback Butternut Squash
Angela Sackett Superhotmama

Hasselback is a technique usually applied to potatoes: a series of very thin cuts are made parallel to one another without going entirely through the vegetable. The result is an accordion-like shape with loads of nooks and crannies to caramelize and hold sauce, butter, or other flavors. With this play on the classic, sweet butternut squash combines with honey, garlic, orange, paprika, cranberries, and pistachios for a sweet-and-savory main just bursting with flavors and colors.

09 of 10

Stuffed Buttternut Squash

Stuffed Butternut Squash on a white plate
Mackenzie Schieck

Turmeric and tamari give this vegan stuffed butternut squash an Asian flair. Stuffed with basmati rice, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and chickpeas, this super-simple vegan main is flavorful and healthy to boot.

10 of 10

Sriracha Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Sriracha Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Sriracha Whole Roasted Cauliflower. Allrecipes

This whole roasted cauliflower is slathered in sriracha and has an almost honeyed sweetness in addition to the spice. "This one has a kick and a great crunch," says The Gruntled Gourmand. "It's also fun to put on the table and surprise your guests!"

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