10 Warming & Soothing Lunch (Or Dinner!) Recipe Ideas For This Week
No matter the day, I can find calm in my kitchen.
Last updated on February 28, 2021
For me, cooking is something of a meditation: I love to turn on a good playlist, grab my favorite ingredients, and start cooking. In moments of particular stress or anxiety, I've been known to make batches of caramelized onions or big pots of soup, because I find the methodic chopping super-duper calming.
So if you, too, have been feeling the weight of this time of year and are looking for something to soothe your soul, warm your body, and occupy your mind (and hands), here's some inspiration:
1. Power Pancakes With Popped Tomatoes
You might look at that title and say, Pancakes with tomatoes? No thanks. But trust us, this savory take on pancakes was basically made for breakfast-for-dinner moments (a practice I am here for). The pancakes themselves are made of a mixture of silken tofu and chickpea flour, meaning they are seriously packed with protein. And don't let the simple tomato sauce fool you: Just a few minutes in a hot frying pan is all it needs.
2. Ina Garten's Broccoli & Kale Salad
While salad may not be what comes to mind when you think of soothing and warming foods, for me Ina Garten is exactly the sort of kitchen inspiration that I need to make a salad that really does feel soothing. Maybe it's the addition of soft-boiled eggs or the careful attention required to not burn the homemade toasted croutons, but the methodical homemade-ness of this recipe is perfect for anyone who loves checking off their to-do list.
3. Easy Pine Nut Pasta Sauce
A good bowl of pasta should always feel like a hug, and vegan recipes shouldn't have to sacrifice that umami-rich flavor that comes with the use of ingredients like Parmesan. This four-ingredient creamy sauce relies on one of those sometimes unsung kitchen heroes (and one of my favorite ingredients): pine nuts. It makes pasta for lunch manageable since the simple sauce comes together so easily—we recommend adding some spinach or kale to the pasta for extra nutrients.
4. Farro & White Bean Soup
This simple soup uses my three favorite food groups: leafy greens, ancient grains, and plant-based protein—to great success. It's the sort of soup that will probably only get better if you let it cook a bit longer, and the simplicity of the flavors means it leaves you feeling nurtured and warmed but not overly full: a key to avoiding an afternoon slump.
Ramen may not be on your usual recipe repertoire, but this one-pot version will bring it within reach. Portioned for two, the vegetarian and keto-friendly recipe is packed with veggies and uses a base of premade vegetable stock paired with aromatics and spices (ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes, specifically) to make that über-flavorful broth that makes ramen so great.
6. Lobster Mushroom Mac 'n' Cheese
There's nothing like mushrooms for upping the ante on a vegan recipe, and this recipe is a perfect example of harnessing the mushrooms' true potential for bringing flavor to a dish. By nature, mac 'n' cheese is a decadent dish, but this version goes above and beyond to bring a little bit of sophistication to a dish that's often made out of a box. The color and flavor of the lobster mushrooms are actually a bit reminiscent of their namesake shellfish, and the cheese sauce brings richness thanks to roasted garlic.
7. Lentil Soup With Spinach
For psychiatrist and nutritional expert Uma Naidoo, M.D., this dish was a go-to during her journey with cancer. "The soup is comforting and flavorful and became a staple during my treatment," she writes. The recipe calls for a soak overnight, but the actual preparation time is just half an hour—plus the 20 minutes to cook. But the mix of vegetables, lentils, and spices like turmeric and cumin is a surefire favorite: "Dal is one of my favorite comfort foods, but even if you didn't grow up eating it, I'm sure you'll find it filling and soothing," writes Naidoo.
8. Ethiopian Spiced "Meat" With Hummus & Toasted Cashews
Spruce up a plant-based burger with this recipe from James Beard Award–winning chef Kwame Onwuachi. Consider this hummus bowl an unsung hero for lunchtime: The dip is the perfect base for a variety of flavors and packs in good fats and proteins that help keep you full. The spices used on the "meat," like cardamom, cumin, and cinnamon, ensure the dish will give you that warm feeling—but it'll also get you out of a lunch rut (if you find yourself there).
Making your own pizza is a luxury, if you ask me, and not only because it means you can carefully pick your favorite healthy ingredients to top it with. I usually opt for a mix of green veggies and a homemade pesto, personally. With this paleo-friendly recipe for pizza crust, you can enjoy this classic, no grains required—a plus for anyone avoiding gluten or just looking to keep things a little healthier.
It's time to move past eggplant Parmesan. As much as I love it, the longer cook time necessary for truly tender eggplant often discourages me from making it—and honestly, I think the flavor of zucchini works better for the dish. This recipe for a zucchini Parmesan couldn't be simpler, as it uses premade sauce, but if you want something a bit more involved, you can make your own sauce first.
What you find soothing is totally personal. But for me, it's all about step-by-step cooking with a tasty meal at the end—especially if I know that dish provides plenty of nutrients. Whether it's a bowl of soup or a quick and easy meal you find soothing, there's no reason you can't make it for lunch—it'll be worth it.