a real vegetarian challenge
I need to cook dinner for 8-10 people, 2 of whom are vegetarian, but that's not the real challenge. Luckily, they are not vegan, but one of them is allergic to peanuts, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and soy products, though soy sauce and lecithin (whatever that is) is okay. This is a celebratory reunion dinner for old friends, so I'd like to make something special, but not too elaborate since it does need to feed a crowd, and possibly sit around while people straggle in.
I was originally going to make two Thai curries, one meat, one tofu, but is there any other protein product I can put in the vegetable one? Any other menu possibilities? I don't mind making two versions of the same dish. I have and like Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, so if there's something in there that's been especially successful (and doesn't have peanuts, soy, chickpeas, etc.), that would be especially helpful.
I love Madison's recipe for winter squash galette. It's wonderful, and people love it. The fresh sage is a must for this recipe to be really special.
When I'm in a rush I don't make the yeasted dough. I just take her basic pie crust (the one that's just flour, salt, butter, water), bake it, and pour the filling for the galette right in. I've even been known to just make the filling and serve it as an alternative to mashed potatoes. It's colorful, easy to eat on a plate while standing/walking around at a party, etc. The squash makes it a sweetish veggie dish, which might go well with Thai curries.
Rough ingredient list so you know if it's something you want to look up: winter squash of any kind, onions, sage, salt, pepper, cheese (pecorino or parmesan), olive oil, garlic.
If they can eat white beans, a green chili might be nice. I made one the other day with veggie broth, tomatillos (i roasted them a little while first), vidalia onions, potatoes, cilantro, hot green peppers, white beans and spinach. stewed tomatillos, onions, and potatoes together, threw most of it into the blender with the spinach and cilantro after all of the major cooking was done to keep it bright and then added the beans that were fried up with garlic and cumin just before serving. If they can't eat white beans, maybe sub zucchini and throw it in at the end? I served it with jack cheese, sour cream and avocado and it was pretty tasty. Could serve with cornbread, too...?
We used to make main dishes to tote to dairy pot luck dinners on Fri. nights.
We like Mollie Katzen's Persian Eggplant: It contains sauteed eggplant, onions, garlic in a sauce (bechamelish?) that is chopping intensive, but then goes onto a base of bulghur in a 9x 13 baking pan. Veggie mix can be made ahead. I think it is in The Enchanted Brocolli Forest book.
Another favorite is her Zucchini Tomato-Cheese Casserole (I'm not sure of the exact name) from the Moosewood Restaurant Cookbook. I overheard two women raving about it in a bookstore, and promptly bought the book. Very tasty and tolerant of waiting around to be served.
Just remembered the name of the second dish:
Zucchini-Feta Cheese Casserole. Zesty. Feta cheese, ricotta and tomato paste with basil, thyme, etc.
No last minute cooking, etc. When I am hosting a large group, I like to get the food, usually a casserole, into the oven, wash all the prep equipment and then sit down and enjoy my guests. I find last-minute cooking while my friends/guests are present very stressful...i.e. maked fried food like potato pancakes at the last moment.
Give yourself a break and enjoy the reunion time with your friends!
How about spanikopita (spinach pie)? You could make it as an appetizer(individual triangles) or as a main course(pansize), depending on what else you make. I'll even tell you my secret ingredient: cilantro mixed in with the spinach. Recipe available if you want it, although it isn't in exact measurements.