5 tips to make a vegetarian main dish

5 Tips to Create Vegetarian Friendly Meals (Black Bean Burritos)

Written by Katie of Good life {eats}.

With the New Year beginning many of us find ourselves setting goals and often those goals are health related in some way or another. Yesterday while grocery shopping, the check out clerk casually commented that in January she sells more salad related ingredients than any other month. Health is definitely on our minds right now.

I know that I certainly have some of those same goals and doing a little bit better to take care of my body, and the bodies of my family members is pretty high on the list.

I’d like to be more physically active this year, make sure I eat a balanced meal for lunch, my hardest meal of the day, and continue with our tradition of eating vegetarian once or twice a week.

Encouraging my kids to eat more vegetables is also something that is important to us. They are great with fruits, but vegetables are not their most favorite.

Whether your goal is general, such as “eating healthier” or more specific, like “eat less meat” or “eat more vegetables” I have a few tips to help you achieve that goal.

One easy way to increase the vegetables in your diet, or decrease the meat you consume, depending on how you look at it is to incorporate vegetarian meals into your weekly meal plans. I’ll show you how easy it is to do this by turning some of your family favorite recipes into meatless meals.

vegetarian black bean burritos all photos by Katie

5 Tips to Vegetarian-ize a Main Dish Recipe

By using a few simple steps, you can easily turn a traditional main dish into delicious vegetarian fare. You don’t have to use all the tips, just whatever suits your fancy to help you achieve the goal of a wonderful tasting vegetarian main dish recipe.

1. Replace chicken broth with vegetable broth.

  • Often a recipe is so close to being vegetarian already, that all you’ll need to do modify the broth choice.

2. Substitute the meat portion of the dish with tofu, egg, or cheese.

  • Adding a fried egg to a sandwich in lieu of meat or scrambled egg to fried rice are great non-meat substitutions.

3. Increase the vegetables to account for the meat you’ve removed.

  • Add extra vegetables that are already in the recipe, or new vegetables that correspond to the recipe’s flavor. For example, zucchini and red bell pepper are great additions to this Vegetarian Black Bean Burrito

4. Account for flavor loss with additional spices, herbs, finishing oils (such as truffle oil) or aromatics.

  • An important step, as meat can often add a lot of flavor to a recipe, especially in recipes where the meat is browned and the browned bits left behind are deglazed and incorporated into the dish.

5. Substitute rice with protein-rich quinoa or add lentils and legumes.

  • By substituting another protein source for the meat, you’re adding bulk back into the recipe which will keep you feeling full.

vegetarian black bean burritos

Vegetarian Black Bean Burritos

These vegetarian Black-Bean Stuffed Burritos where inspired by a Chicken and Black Bean Burrito recipe in a recent issue of Cooking Light. We eat vegetarian at least once or twice a week. I chose this recipe for our vegetarian night, and used a few of these tips to tweak it from the original.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Keyword: Vegetarian
Servings: 4 Burritos
Calories: 353kcal
Author: Katie


  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons water
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 - 2 teaspoon chili powder adjust for heat preference
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups canned black beans drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
  • 1/3 cup salsa
  • 1/3 cup red bell pepper diced
  • 1/3 cup zucchini diced
  • 1/3 cup corn
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 8-inch flour tortillas
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese or Pepper Jack cheese
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil or canola oil - plus additional as needed


  • In a small saucepan, bring the water, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne to a boil.
  • Stir in the black beans, green onion, and salsa. Cook over medium-low heat until heated through, then set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Saute the red bell pepper and zucchini for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir into the bean mixture along with the corn and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Warm the tortillas in the microwave, or whatever your preferred method, so the tortillas do not break when folding. Then, spoon 3/4 cup of mixture in each tortilla. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons of cheese, then roll up – folding the ends in to create a little pouch.
  • Coat the surfaces of a heavy skillet with a small amount of oil. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat. Then, add the burritos and brown 3 minutes on each side. Repeat with remaining burritos.


You can keep the burritos in a warm oven while you complete the browning process to keep them all warm before serving.
Adapted from Cooking Light


Calories: 353kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 15g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 19mg | Sodium: 933mg | Potassium: 516mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1255IU | Vitamin C: 24.3mg | Calcium: 258mg | Iron: 4.1mg

 More Vegetarian Main Dish Recipes

What are your food resolutions this year?

About Katie G

Katie’s lifelong interest in food has shown her that part of the goodness in life is enjoying delicious food with friends and family. Katie Goodman is the cook, recipe developer, and self-taught photographer behind GoodLife Eats. It is there that she shares what she finds good in the kitchen and in life. A mix of great recipes, family memories, and yummy photography is what Katie serves up each week.

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  1. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    There are a lot of really great tips here for going vegetarian in a variety of meals. I must applaud you for folding that tortilla right and calling it by it’s right name! Katie, this looks so good, I’d happily eat it for any meal of the day, including breakfast! (Can you tell I’m starving?)

  2. Great recipe!! A wonderful and delicious way to get healthier!

  3. it’s 8AM and I want to eat this!! Looks and sounds delicious!!

  4. Cookbook Queen says

    These look AMAZING–I love black beans!!

  5. I just love to add beans, especially black beans, into meals to get more protein and fiber into my diet. Love these healthy burritos!

  6. Yum! Food resolutions: eat more locally and seasonally, and grow a garden. I think I’ll try to preserve a little more too…I’m missing most vegetables this winter.

  7. We love black blean burritos in my house. Do you know if these freezwe well?

  8. Great recipe, Katie! Thanks for sharing. We eat vegetarian around one dinner per week, but tons of our lunches are meatless as well. I’m always happy to find a new recipe that fits this bill. I think we’ll make this sometime this week!

  9. Steve @ HPD says

    It’s amazing how easy meatlessness can be.

  10. Thanks for these tips and recipes! With one vegetarian (my oldest daughter) in our family of seven, I’ve got to keep coming up with good vegetarian recipes to add in to my menu plans. It’s gotten to where my whole family (well, except for my middle carniverous son who abhors dried beans of any kind) enjoys them.

  11. Love your tips, Katie! And I’m so excited to have you here at Simple Bites with all of us. 🙂

  12. I LOVE black beans, so these look absolutely perfect for us! We need to start eating vegetarian more, so this may make it into next week’s rotation! Great post, Katie!

  13. Great tips. Black beans are just yummy. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

  14. I’ve been near-vegetarian for the last 5 years. The near part comes from the fact that I will eat seafood when I am at someone’s house, travelling, or eating out. At home, however, it’s veg. One way that we adapted some of our favorite recipes was by using portobello mushrooms instead of meat. It works wonderfully in chicken picatta or chicken parmesan. Usually meat is not even the main source of flavor in a dish and can be left out all together. Mushrooms are the best replacement if you need something toothsome and tofu is good for something to soak up lots of flavor.

  15. I love this! Thanks for sharing the tips too.

  16. Love these tips! I’ve been searching for healthier lunch choices and this is definitely on my menu for next week! Beautiful photos!

  17. These are great tips, and the recipe looks delicious! Love this site and can’t wait to spend more time here.

  18. Vegetarian Black-Bean Stuffed Burritos with Strawberry Tofu special dessert would make the perfect vegetarian meal, http://www.fourgreensteps.com/community/recipes/desserts-a-goodies-/strawberry-tofu-dessert .

  19. My husband and I switched to vegetarian meals probably 40-50% of the time. (2 graduate students + 2 little ones = very little money for meat!) The #1 recommendation I have when attempting to “go veg” is to buy a vegetarian cookbook. You can check out several from your local library, and then buy the one you liked the best. We have “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone”, but I also like “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”. Since the cookbooks are vegetarian, they approach vegetables and grains as a main dish, rather than a side dish, which was extremely helpful in meal planning.

  20. These are great ideas for incorporating more meatless meals into the week. We’ve slowly moved more of our meals that way and I can tell a difference in how we feel, and our budget.

    Since my son can’t have dairy, we use eggs, beans and nuts to replace meat in many of our meals. If a dish is low in protein, they’ll have apples with almond butter along with it. No one has missed it, but they do enjoy a good burger when we go out.

  21. These are some really great tips, that show that making vegetarian dishes doesn’t have to be complicated or involve strange ingredients like a lot of people assume. I think you have done an excellent job of making vegetarian food accessible for even the biggest meat eater.

  22. Stacey Cotrotsios says

    I love all these tips! I cook vegetarian on Tuesday nights which we call Fruit and Vegetable Night (or FVN for short). I have a few more tips: (1) include a potato dish (like baked potatoes or roasted potatoes), add fruit as a side dish (like homemade or organic unsweetened applesauce) and/or accompany the meal with a quick bread (like zucchini or carrot bread); (2) make it part of a regular weekly menu so it does not come as a surprise; and (3) add a fruit dessert like a berry crisp or baked apples topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. I also always put on the table a raw fruit and veggie platter.

  23. These were so easy to make and very good! A great vegetarian addition to your weekly menu!

  24. Sarah Gainey says

    Just made this tonight…AMAZING!

  25. When I started cooking for myself I started eating about half of my meals vegetarian… I was already getting more than enough protein. It does take some time to adjust to not expecting meat (or meat substitute) on your plate. Pasta dishes are a great place to start: the pasta add some of the chewiness back that you lose when you take out meat.

  26. Tofu egg & cheese are good, but those are only a couple of the options, and lots of people aren’t very fond of tofu due to its rather odd texture and lack of any real flavor. Adding beans is one of the best solutions, as they’re both very healthy, as well as being full of protein. Cheese is great (I’m a cheeseaholic!), but it has far less protein and plenty of [unhealthy] fat, definitely not something I would recommend as a meat replacement! Using a small amount along with a meal is fine, but it certainly shouldn’t have status as replacing the meat. One of the other great solutions is using good meat replacements (the “fake meat” stuff), as they give you the ability to make almost any meat dish meat-free, while providing you with a good amount of protein as well. Quorn is an excellent product that I have yet to discover anyone, meat-eater or veg alike, who doesn’t think it tastes great!

  27. rick sills says

    hello. im a young man in college who loves to cook. (mostly because i love to eat.) ive been trying to adapt to a healthier lifestyle recently, and you have inspired me to have some meatless days a couple times a week. i look forward to trying all of the recipes you’ve linked. thanks so much! and i love your website. god bless.

  28. Great looking recipe – and REALLY good pictures (I’m going to have to try that close-up approach on my next posting!)

    Our family tries to eat vegetarian at least several times a week (prompted by my daughter’s declaration of vegetarianism about half a year ago), so I’m always on the lookout for new vegetarian recipes I can serve for supper that the whole family will enjoy. My kids and I love black beans, and this looks like one more recipe to add to our repertoire.

    At the moment, black bean dip, mexican black bean soup, and mexican black bean casserole are on our make-often list. My mexican black bean soup recipe is super-quick to prepare (I use a pressure-cooker), and so delicious that everyone has given it the thumbs up, including random house-guests and my kids’ friends when they sleep over.

  29. Sally Thompson says

    I am a vegetarian.. I will surely try out your recipes! Thanks for the post! keep it up..

  30. This all sounds great but the black bean puts me off, what else could you use?

  31. Very beneficial tips. I’m sharing it on facebook. Thank you.

  32. Try these with whole wheat shells for better nutrition.

    BTW, shells are easy to make.

  33. Vegetarianism is not some kind of passing trend that you can exploit to get vegetables into your children. Saying “vegetarian-friendly” demeans vegetarians by implying that it’s some sort of fad. And “vegetarianize?” That implies that there’s no vegetarian food and you have to “vegetarianize” your barbecue-sauce slathered crap to get vegetarian food.

  34. Found your website this morning and just had to make this recipe. It was delicious! Hubby loved it too. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes. Now what to make tomorrow…

  35. 5 stars
    I have made these a couple times and they’ve been delicious every time! This time I decided to add some chicken and it was just as yummy. I love being able to convert this easily between a veggie dish and a chicken dish. For the chicken, I threw it in the crockpot with the seasonings, lime juice and chicken broth. Then I prepared the dish as directed, and added some of the shredded chicken to half the batch, so we had some that we veggie and some that had chicken. It worked perfectly! Thank you!

  36. Cooking food

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