Most food trends are fleeting, generally (these days) driven by social media; Instagram triggered the unicorn Frappuccino® — and a thousand swirly purple unicorn foods after it — and TikTok recently brought us a roasted feta and tomato pasta that’s actually pretty fantastic. But some trends are deeper, slower-moving evolutions of the way we eat, like the shift toward more plant-based foods in our collective diet. Food manufacturers and fast-food chains are hopping on board, noting that whether they consider themselves full-blown vegetarian or vegan or not, more people are eating less meat more often.

Veggies, fruits, grains and dairy products have so much potential — but often, those who are just easing into eating more of them seek out versions of dishes that are typically meat-heavy, like burgers and wings, butter chicken and ginger beef. Here are a few classics to help bring you down that garden path.

Check out Julie’s other recipes in our Plant-Based Dishes series: Ginger Not-Beef and Cauliflower Fritters with Hollandaise Sauce.

Butter Paneer

Most of us love butter chicken for its sauce, ideally scooped up with chewy naan or spooned over rice. Paneer is a fantastic substitute for the chicken, or cubes of tofu if you want to go completely plant-based.
Author Julie Van Rosendaal


  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (15 ml)
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger (15 ml)
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (15 ml)
  • 1 tsp cumin (5 ml)
  • 1 19 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes, undrained (540 ml)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 tsp garam masala (5-10 ml)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup whipping cream, full-fat sour cream or coconut milk (60-125 ml)
  • 1/3 cup fresh or frozen peas (80 ml)
  • 1/4-1/2 lb paneer or tofu (110-250 g)
  • canola or olive oil for cooking


  • Drizzle some oil into a large skillet set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute or two, then add the chili powder and cumin cook for another minute.
  • Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a simmer; turn the heat down to low and stir in the garam masala, cream and peas, cook for 5 minutes and then stir in the paneer. Heat through and serve with naan or over rice.