“It’s not just about the salads.”

It’s an unexpected statement to hear from a nutritionist and food influencer, but Bri Beaudoin knows better than most. Beaudoin is the Vancouver-based author of the popular Evergreen Kitchen food blog, and she and her husband embraced vegetarianism in 2015 after becoming inspired by a documentary about the subject. 

portrait of bri beaudoin, smiling by the ocean

Since then, she’s developed hundreds of recipes, hosted dozens of dinner parties and put a squad of meat-loving recipe-testers to work—and learned that the secret to eating a plant-centric diet lies in seeking flavour, not virtue. And plain old salads or bowls piled with raw, unseasoned vegetables get boring, fast. “The key to cooking vegetarian is to lean into what you’re actually, truly excited to eat,” she says. “I want people to get super excited, to not feel restricted, to want to eat these dishes whether you’re vegetarian or just interested in Meatless Monday.”

Her new cookbook, Evergreen Kitchen, zeroes in on craveable comfort food indulgent enough to entice even the most dedicated of carnivores. These are dishes heavy on the umami (think mushrooms, parmesan and miso) and that hit that sweet spot in the salt-fat-acid-heat matrix. So, yes, skip the salad, and tuck into recipes that make a compelling argument that vegetarians have more fun.

Read on for four great new vegetarian comfort-food classic from Beaudoin, plus wine pairings from our resident wine guy, Neal McLennan.

a big tray of cooked tofu and vegetables

Recipe: Firecracker Tofu with Broccolini and Chili Garlic Oil

Dinner party tip: Pair it with CedarCreek Platinum Home Block Riesling ($35) says our wine expert Neal McLennan. “If there’s one word you need to know when it comes to pairing spicy food, it’s riesling. The grape’s natural sugars help counteract the heat. But don’t worry: when it has ample acid like this citrus and lightly floral beauty from CedarCreek, it won’t taste sweet.”

big dutch oven filled with cheesy dish topped with pickled red onions

Recipe: Cheesy Chipotle Quinoa Bake

Dinner party tip: Pair it with Culmina Unicus Grüner Veltliner ($29), advises McLennan. “One can’t live by riesling alone—so this oddity, made from Austrian grüner, gives you some juicy grapefruit and pineapple notes that manage (extinguish?) the sneaky heat that the smoky chipotle in adobo brings to this dish.”

a colourful rice salad in bowl with pickled radishes on the side

Recipe: Crispy Rice Salad with Smashed Cucumbers

Dinner party tip: Pair it with Orofino Gamay ($23), says McLennan. “Red wine can also deal with spice, but choose something that’s fresh and juicy and that stays away from oak barrels. This version from Orofino is all jumpy energy with very little winemaker intervention getting in the way of the vibrant fruit. A salad like this would be happy to take a slight chill.”

pea fritters and fries displayed on a sheet pan

Recipe: Pea Fritters and Fries with Tartar Sauce

Dinner party tip: Pair it with Township 7 Seven Stars Polaris ($36), advises McLennan. “Fritters? Bubbles. Tartar sauce? Bubbles. Fries? Definitely bubbles. B.C. is spoiled with dozens of wines that could step in to fill the role (Blue Mountain, Lightning Rock), but we’re going with a 100-percent chardonnay from the superlative sparkling program at Township 7. This one delivers beautiful acidity and classy toast notes, all from Fraser Valley grapes.”

Ready to dive into meatless cooking? Check out these Beaudoin’s pro tips for leveling up your vegetarian feasts.

Excerpted from Evergreen Kitchen: Weeknight Vegetarian Dinners for Everyone by Bri Beaudoin. Copyright © 2022 Bri Beaudoin. Photography by Anguel Dimov. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.