- By Kim
- 13 September, 2013
- Comments Off
So … you’ve decided to throw a dinner party when you find out that some of the guests are vegetarian. No problem! We found out a little earlier this week how to be a better friend to our non-carnivore pals, and with a few minor alterations, you can serve a meal that everyone can enjoy. Seriously, it’s not vegan or gluten-free, which are totally different posts.*
When I’ve got a mixed crowd of veggies and carnies, I tend to turn any meat dishes into a side dish or I’ll literally have some cooked meat on the side for the meat-eaters to add in to their plates. I use vegetable stock instead of chicken or beef. I substitute a hearty vegetable or tofu for meat. I make everything from scratch so that I can control the ingredients and don’t have to deal with mystery ingredients in processed foods. I find that once I get into the mindset of plant-based cooking, I get more creative since it forces me to work within constraints. Here are a few ideas for dinner party entertaining, or if you are looking to go meatless more often.
1.) Let’s start off easy. Make a hearty vegetarian main dish that appeals to everyone, like mac and cheese, risottos, corn chowder or hearty bean soups. Add a salad on the side with lots of different textures and flavors to round out the meal. Your carnivores won’t miss the meat.
2.) Bake a veggie or cheese lasagna. There are many recipes for these, so take your pick. For those die-hards who need a meat sauce, I’ll make some that they can top their lasagna with. Similarly, you could have a pasta bar with different sauces and cheeses. Serve some walnut kale pesto + asiago cheese , a spicy tomato vodka sauce +basil, or try a butternut sauce + sausage and spinach. There are a ton of combinations.
3.) A lot of Asian dishes use meat as flavoring, rather than as the highlight. They can easily be made vegetarian with tofu, especially if the dish is saucy. Fried rice is a great way to use up vegetables and leftover rice. So are noodle stir-frys. Dumplings like gyoza or spring rolls are all easily vegetarian and can be made in advance, served with a little sauce. Check out this recipe for soba noodles with miso-glazed tofu. Delish!
4.) Mexican food is also great for a party. Awhile back, Andrew threw a great hot sauce party, where everyone brought their favorite sauce. He set out a large taco bar, full of fixings, beans and rice. We stuffed ourselves AND simultaneously burned off our tastebuds. Anyway, a taco bar is great for entertaining. Grilled or sauteed tofu, portobello mushrooms, or tempah can be a source of tasty protein. You can easily add some grilled chicken on the side for meat-eaters, or shredded fish or shrimp for pescatarians. Throw in some homemade salsa and guacamole and your party will be an automatic hit.
5.) Speaking of grills, if you have one, you can serve grilled individual pizzas. Similar to the taco bar idea, set out a bunch of toppings and sauces for your guests. Go for both the usual (olives, mushrooms, pepperoni) and the unusual – potato slices, butternut squash, asparagus, and goat cheese. This arugula and poached egg pizza looks awesome, as does this potato and rosemary pie. Whether you make your own pizza dough, buy it, or use ready-made flatbreads, everyone is able to custom-make their serving. Serve with a large salad and something delicious for dessert, and you’ve got complete meal.
6.) Last, but one of absolute favorites is to eat Middle Eastern. Seriously, make or take-out a hundred falafel and then invite me over, and I will eat them all. There are so many different dishes you can serve that are veggie friendly. Tabouleh (bulgur wheat and herb salad), grilled haloumi cheese and fattoush (tangy salad often with tomatoes and cucumbers) are all easy to make and tasty. Kofta kebabs can be made with ground lamb, or vegetarian using adzuki beans and bulgur. Don’t forget the pita with all of the spreads – baba ghanoush (eggplant dip), hummus (chickpea spread) and even tzaziki (yogurt cucumber sauce). Finish off the meal with a decadent, gooey piece of baklava. Why am I not eating any of this right now?
* Double check with your guests regarding vegetarian/vegan status. Also, I would also check on any restrictions or concerns. Some vegetarians eat seafood, some don’t. Ditto with eggs. Actually, you should check in with all of your guests regarding allergies and restrictions if you don’t already know what they are.
Pizza image from jeffreyw, Wikicommons
Spring rolls image from sweetonveg, Wikicommons