menu challenge--high-protein, low-carb veggie dinner
We have business colleagues staying with us in a couple of weeks. They live in Seattle and are vegetarians. My husband, on the other hand, is an Atkins guy. Can you recommend some dinner ideas for a high-protein, low-carb, vegetarian-based menu? I don't mind cooking an extra dish or two to accomodate, but I don't want to do two separate meals. I believe they eat some fish--primarily salmon--but I wouldn't dare compare what we can get near Philadelphia with what they can get in Seattle. I do make a great fish stew, so that might be an option if they are open to more fish.
It sounds like you might want to do a veggie stir-fry one night; that would make it easy for the carb part (rice) to be optional. You could even make a separate dish of similarly stir-fried chicken or beef for you and your husband -- or you could include shrimp, if your guests will eat seafood. And in general, the kind of sauce you would make for an Asian stir-fry is reasonable in terms of carbs (soy, rice vinegar, teriyaki, garlic, ginger... not much carb, right?)
I'm curious about why you specified high-protein -- does Atkins require that people get a lot of protein? I'd always thought it was just low-carbs and as-much-as-you-want of other things.
Spaghetti squash roasted with a little olive oil with a hearty vegetable marinara sauce is a good alternative to pasta.
A bean chili (veggie "meat" crumbles can be good in this).
A chickpea stew of some sort is a good option. (Chana masala is a favorite of mine: chickpeas, tomatoes, onions, garlic, garam masala, jalapeno).
A vegetable cheese frittata is another option.
Veggie fajitas (maybe with separately prepared meat for the low-carb meat eaters) with tortillas available for the vegetarians but left out for the low-carb people.
If your guests are not vegan, then frittatas or omelets with aged cheese and the vegetables of your choice ( I like asparagus and parmesan or fontina, mushrooms and gruyere, spinach and sundried tomatoes and pecorino romano) with a nice salad or some sauteed greens is a nice vegetarian supper, and is eat-able in early stages of low carb diets.
If your husband is in the more advanced stages of his diet, broccoli rabe, porcini mushrooms, and a spicy red sauce over polenta (soft or fried in cakes), a vegetarian lentil soup, and wheatberry or bulgur pilafs are also good ideas.
I also have started making my favorite couscous dishes featuring quinoa, a high protein whole grain, instead of couscous-- my mother in law taught me a trick she said she found in Bert Greene's Grains cookbook-- to rinse the quinoa under hot water for 15-20 minites, in order to get all the saponin residue off. Quinoa with pumpkin or winter squash, onions, carrots, celery, raisins, cashews, and a curry sauce is nice and filling.
Try a modified eggplant parmigiana. Grill the eggplant using a stove top grill pan instead of breading and frying the eggplant. Then put them in a baking dish with your favorite marinara sauce, top with slices of fresh mozzarella and basil leaves. Serve it with a salad, and bruschetta with white bean puree (for the non-Atkins people).
You're going to need to count the carbs. Vegetables and grains, of their very nature, are carbohydrate-rich foods. I agree with the poster who essentially suggested you'll need (if you insist on making everyone happy) to make several dishes so people can pick and choose: They forego the meat/fish; he foregoes the starch; everyone can eat the veggies.
I strongly suggest you eat several meals out so you don't run yourself ragged. I'm hoping your guests are polite enough to suggest they take you out a few times and that they share the cooking chores.