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.
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.
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).
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.
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.