Creative Vegetarian Recipes That Make Leafy Greens the Star of Your Plate

Close up of healthy salad with quinoa, green peas, spinach and poached egg
Photo: Alexander Spatari/Getty

Leafy greens rule the world of nutrients, but salads can get real dull real fast. Excite your tastebuds and score essential vitamins and minerals by whipping up one of these leafy green recipes.

01 of 21

Arugula Hummus

Arugula Hummus
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Beet-infused hummus may be picture perfect, but its distinct earthy flavor isn't for everyone. Luckily, you can still sneak veggies into your dip by swapping those beets for arugula. This leafy green recipe takes just 10 minutes to make and requires minimal cleanup. (Not to mention, it packs a ton of good-for-you nutrients.)

02 of 21

Spinach Colcannon Bake

Spinach Colcannon Bake

Who says mashed potatoes need to be saved for the holidays? This leafy green recipe puts a healthier spin on the Irish dish traditionally made with cabbage, and you're welcome to use kale if that's your jam. Spinach, potatoes, and cheddar cheese, all baked together to create a dish full of ooey-gooey goodness? Yes, please!

03 of 21

Spinach Risotto with Pickled Radish

Spinach Risotto with Pickled Radish
Victor Protasio

Unlike traditional risotto, this version ditches the rice in favor of pearl barley, a slightly chewy, nutty grain. The star leafy green is baby spinach, which gives the dish a bright green hue that pairs perfectly with the red radishes.

04 of 21

Miso Soup with Bok Choy

Miso Soup with Bok Choy

With this leafy green recipe, you can easily transform the Japanese restaurant appetizer into a full-blown meal. The soup is loaded with shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, and soba noodles, so your stomach will feel full and satisfied after the first bowl.

05 of 21

Kale Chips

Kale Chips

That mid-afternoon salt craving often hits hard and fast. Instead of wolfing down a package of pretzels, opt for a snack that's a bit healthier and still satisfies that hankering for something crunchy: Kale chips. Whether you decide to use the OG leafy green or another variety, such as Swiss chard or mustard greens, you'll have a munchie that packs a punch of nutrients in under 30 minutes.

06 of 21

Shredded Collards with Popped Mustard Seeds, Fried Lentils, Mandarin, and Coconut

Shredded Collards with Popped Mustard Seeds, Fried Lentils, Mandarin & Coconut
Victor Protasio

When you're looking for a fresh way to cook with collard greens, turn to this leafy green recipe. The collards are cooked until they're wilted and are combined with hearty red lentils, slices of bright mandarins, and sweet coconut flakes that gives the dish some dimension.

07 of 21

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Greens

Baked sweet potatoes
Johner Images/Getty

Mustard greens are loaded with beta-carotene and phytonutrients and are a rather spicy green. Harness that strong flavor by pairing it with something sweet, like your favorite potato. This leafy green recipe features baked sweet potatoes topped with mustard greens, leeks, white beans, and cilantro tahini. Trust, it's so delicious, you'll never reach for brown sugar and marshmallows again.

08 of 21

Spicy Skillet Turnip Greens

Close-Up Of Chopped Turnip Leaves In Bowl
Riccardo Bruni/EyeEm/Getty

Turnip greens are crazy high in calcium (one cup cooked provides 20 percent of your daily need!) and an excellent source of vitamins C and E. To balance out the bitter bite, this leafy green recipe uses red pepper flakes and a pinch of brown sugar. Plus, it only takes 20 minutes to cook.

09 of 21

Carrot and Baby Chard Salad with Cilantro, Crème Fraîche, and Walnut Crunch

Carrot and Baby Chard Salad with Cilantro, Crème Fraîche, and Walnut Crunch
Victor Protasio

This leafy green recipe looks like something Carrie Bradshaw and the gang would order at a fancy lunch, but it's easy enough to make at home. Plus, the deep, earthy flavor of the chard is the perfect backdrop for the subtle sweetness of carrots.

10 of 21

Collard Greens Wrap

Healthy vegan wraps on a plate on white background
Claudia Totir/Getty

If you're sticking to a low-carb or keto diet, you don't have to entirely miss out on your favorite lunchtime meals, including wraps. This wrap recipe ditches the tortilla in favor of leafy greens. The collard greens are an excellent source of vitamins K, which supports bone health, and A, which promotes healthy vision and immune function. Just remember that practice makes perfect, and you might end up with a few exploding wraps when you first make the switch and haven't gotten the hang of swaddling your fillings.

11 of 21

Grilled Kale and Meyer Lemons with Asparagus-Pomegranate Relish

Grilled Kale and Meyer Lemons with Asparagus-Pomegranate Relish
Victor Protasio

The best way to soften up tough, bitter kale: Toss it on the grill. The leafy greens' bitter flavor will mellow out, and the addition of Meyer lemons and pomegranate seeds bring in some much-needed brightness. (

12 of 21

Sautéed Swiss Chard

Swiss chard has more than 700 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin K and more than 200 percent of the RDA for vitamin A. Upgrade your sautéed spinach by making this recipe featuring the nutrient powerhouse. The leafy green recipe is surprisingly simple, incorporating garlic, lemon, and red pepper flakes, so even those who are sensitive to spices can enjoy the side dish.

13 of 21

Vegan Broccoli Rabe and Cashew Ricotta White Pizza

Pizza with chopped meat, spinach and cream sauce
Eugene Mymrin/Getty

If you're in the mood for pizza with a healthy-ish twist, look no further than this vegan pie. Topped with broccoli rabe, the 'za delivers a solid dose of leafy greens, and the cashew ricotta tastes just like the cow's milk version.

14 of 21

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Fresh, filling, and colorful, this quinoa tabbouleh recipe will make you fall in love with parsley, an herb with grassy flavor that brightens the entire dish. Plus, the cooked quinoa packs eight grams of protein, three grams of fat, and five grams of fiber per cup. Talk about a satisfying side.

15 of 21

Spring Onion Flatbreads with Arugula, Zhug, and Poached Eggs

Spring Onion Flatbreads with Arugula, Zhug & Poached Eggs
Victor Protasio

Okay, you might not be too keen on the idea of having to make a flatbread from scratch, but trust, it's deep flavor profile makes it worth the effort. The fluffy flatbreads are topped with homemade zhug (a hot sauce originating in Yemeni cuisine) that's infused with a hot serrano chile, bitter arugula, and warm spices. Finally, the poached eggs give the whole leafy green recipe a hit of protein.

16 of 21

Beet Greens and Feta Pasta

Beet Greens and Feta Pasta
Maren Caruso/Getty

It's habit to toss the greens attached to the bulbs of beets right in the trash, but they're actually edible *and* delicious. This leafy green recipe features the mildly sweet leaves (which become super tender when cooked), crumbled feta, garlic, and onion. As Ina Garten would say, "How easy is that?" (

17 of 21

Dandelion Greens with Currants and Pine Nuts

Chef preparing stuffing for ravioli, chopping spinach

Looking to get a bit wild with your side dish tonight? This leafy green recipe uses three things you've probably never paired together (and possibly never even cooked with before): dandelion greens, currants, and pine nuts. Since they're traditionally a bitter green, the dandelion greens' bite is cut by the nuts and olive oil.

18 of 21

Grilled Romaine with Avocado Lime Dressing

Tongs turning heads of romaine lettuce on grill
Lisa Romerein/Getty

Every vegetarian knows what it's like to have nothing to eat besides a hamburger bun at a BBQ. Enter: This grilled romaine with avocado lime dressing recipe. The leafy green recipe makes for a simple, smoky side.

19 of 21

Spiralized Apple and Cabbage Slaw

Spiralized Apple and Cabbage Slaw
Maren Caruso/Getty

This leafy green recipe is so delicious, you won't mind digging your spiralizer out from the back of the cupboard. The slaw, featuring apples and two types of cabbage, is high in fiber and packed with flavor, thanks to the honey, poppy seed, and balsamic vinegar dressing.

20 of 21

Roasted Butternut Squash, Radicchio, and Onion

Roasted Butternut Squash, Radicchio, and Onion

This warm and nourishing leafy green recipe makes radicchio, a veggie packed with antioxidants and vitamin K (212 percent of your daily value, to be exact), the star of your plate. The side also features butternut squash, which has the highest levels of vitamin A out of all the squashes. Oh yeah, and cheese is involved.

21 of 21

Escarole and Cannellini Bean Soup

Escarole and Cannellini Bean Soup
Marianna Franchi/Getty

You probably pass right over this lettuce-looking green in the grocery store, but escarole is mild in taste, cripy in texture, and nutrient-dense (especially with vitamins A and C). Throw the leafy green into this soup, along with some cannellini beans, and you've got a simple and satisfying meal.

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