Vegetarian Comfort Dishes

Vegetarian Comfort Dishes

These classic comfort dishes were given a vegetarian spin since my daughter went vegetarian a year ago. Today on Global’s The Morning Show I demonstrated how you can make my family favorites as well as the same dish with a new vegetarian spin. Can the real meatless dish please stand up?

Photo by Ashley van der Laan

Meatball Mac and Cheese

Makes: 4 servings


For the meatballs:

  • 2 tsps olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 15 mini frozen turkey meatballs or Gardein Meatless Meatballs

For the mac and cheese:

  • 375 grams elbow pasta
  • 6 tbsps unsalted butter
  • 6 tbsps all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk, warmed
  • 1/2 cup cream, warmed
  • 3 cups cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/2 cup shredded havarti or monterey jack cheese

For the cruncy topping

  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp dried sage


  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package instructions; drain well. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil, stir and set aside.
  • In an 11-inch ovenproof skillet, add the remaining oil , butter and turkey or meatless meatballs. Sprinkle with 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme. Warm and brown meatballs on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. 
  • In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and heavy cream until slightly thickened, about 3 – 4 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed. Remove from the heat.
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of the cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Add the pasta and meatballs to cheese mixture and stir to coat. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar and the Monterey Jack cheese.
  • Stir together panko, melted butter, sage and remaining thyme. Sprinkle over pasta.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes until pasta is bubbling and cheese has melted and become lightly browned. Let sit for 10 minutes on a wire rack to cool. Serve

Cottage Pie

Makes: 4 servings


For the mash:

  • 5 Yukon gold potatoes, peel and cut into evenly sized cubes
  • 1/2 cup milk, warmed
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrot
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups Gardein beefless ground
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp Worcestshire sauce
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup water
  • sprinkle of fresh thyme


  • Grease an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish or 16 oz round baking dish.
  • Add your potatoes to a large stockpot. Add cold water until water line reaches an inch above the potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the water. Turn the heat to high and cook until the water boils. Reduce the heat to medium-hight to maintain boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 – 12 minutes. Drain.
  • Return potatoes back to warm pot and mash. Stir in the milk, butter and salt, don’t over mix. Taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.
  • Place the oil in a 11- inch saute pan over medium heat, once the oil glistens, add the onion, carrots and celery and saute until they are fork tender, about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine.
  • Add the meatless ground and the thyme, rosemary and sage and mix to coat. Sprinkle the plant-based meat with the flour and stir to coat. Add the dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vegetable broth and water and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and let flavours blend and sauce slightly thickens, about 5 minutes.
  • Spread plant-based meat mixture evenly in the dish. Top with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with some fresh thyme. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack. Bake for 25 minute or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving.

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  1. MaryAnne
    January 26, 10:15 Reply

    Love your recipes, I did notice that you mention flour in your Meatball Mac and Cheese recipe but it’s not in the ingredients, how much do I add to the butter in the pan to thicken sauce?

    • Laura
      February 13, 12:14 Reply

      Oh my GOSH, thank you for the eagle-eye! As a mom, I sometimes work too quickly. I’ll fix it now. Thank you so much.

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