Recipe --vegetarian for 25 people
If your vegetarian friends eat cheese, I'd suggest a vegetable-based lasagna. I have this planned for a family gathering coming up. My recipe calls for ricotta, spinach, tomato sauce and some other flavorings. It can be done ahead of time and reheated.
Or how about a vegetarian chili, with beans, vegetables and some nice spices? The revised Joy of Cooking has an excellent recipe for Wild Caribbean Chile (or something like that) which combines beans, tomatoes, orange zest and juice with lots of spices. It keeps well and is another good do-ahead dish.
I make butternut squash enchiladas, and have had even small children like them. For the filling, I use butternut squash puree, green onions and cream cheese (mixed in when the squash is still hot from baking. I use small flour tortillas (my sister uses corn), dip them in Las Palmas mild enchilada sauce, add a blob of filling, then roll up. Top with more sauce and a little bit of mild cheese. Bake 350ish until hot through - 25-35 minutes. Foil over the pan if they start to dry out.
if they aren't vegan, mac and cheese is always well received. it's amazing how many people have never had the real deal! there have been many threads with tons of recipes on here, so a search should yield plenty of mac and cheese recipes.
if you're feeling ambitious, vegetarian biriyani with raita is yummy. sadly, i don't have recipes for the biriyani. i always just eat my mom's. speaking of which, i better have her teach me!
Here's my recipe - I've made it at least 15 times, and it's always a favourite. This makes (supposedly) about 10 servings, but I'd triple this recipe for 25 people (or quadruple, if you want to be extra sure) and bake it in two large roasting pans. You can use those big foil turkey-roasters, if you want.
Can be assembled a day ahead of time and baked later. Leave a bit of extra time to be sure it bakes through and to let it stand for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy!
The eggplant part
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
The custard part
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
nutmeg and pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
The sauce part
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 medium red or green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp. crumbled oregano
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper
2 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
3 tbsp. tomato paste
Without peeling them, slice the eggplants into 1/2-inch (1 cm) thick slices and salt the slices on both sides. Stand them upright (as much as possible) in a colander and allow the liquid to drain for about 30 minutes or so. (This step helps remove the excess water from the eggplant, and reduces any bitterness.) Rinse with water, and pat dry. In batches, brush the eggplant slices with the olive oil and broil in a single layer on a baking sheet until lightly browned (about 2 minutes per side), turning them once. Set aside.
Meanwhile, don’t just stand there - make the custard. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir in the milk, and cook until smooth and thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the salt, some nutmeg and pepper, the eggs and the ricotta. Set this aside too.
Now, make the tomato sauce. In a skillet, cook the chopped onions, zucchini, pepper, and garlic with a little olive oil until softened. Stir in the oregano, cinnamon, salt and pepper and cook for a minute or so. Add the tomatoes and the tomato paste and simmer this together for about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened.
OK - now put it all together. Spread half the tomato sauce in a deep casserole dish, and top with half of the eggplant. Sprinkle with half of the feta cheese, then spread on the rest of the tomato sauce. Layer on the rest of the eggplant, top this with all of the custard, and sprinkle on the rest of the feta cheese. (You can make the moussaka up to this point and refrigerate overnight or so – cover with foil or something.)
Bake at 350o F (180o C) for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is browned and set. Let it stand for about 15 minutes before trying to cut into squares.
Makes about 10 servings.
Vegetarian chili if it's a casual party - there are a thousand variations. I add TVP to mine to make it meatier, but really anything goes. Have cheese, plain yogurt/sour cream, green onions, crushed tortilla chips, etc... as toppings that guests can control themselves. Serve with cornbread.
Soup parties are fun and easy to make ahead, and the veggie choices are numerous. Vegetable stews, lentil/bean soup, cream of mushroom, corn chowder, potato soup. serve with a selection of good breads, croutons and toppings.
A big veggie/tofu stir fry with rice.
One of my favorites, "inspired" by my in-laws Bulgarian heritage:
Banitza - like spanikopita but way easy, recipe below. Serve with a big shopska salad (greek salad wihout lettuce), or a cucumber and tomao salad with red wine viengar and olive oil dressing, homemade hummus, pita or flat bread, olives. Add a homemade lentil soup (look for a greek-syle one with vinegar), sliced zucchini baked with tomatoes and onions. Dessert can be store-bought baklava or almond cake (recipe on the inside label of the Solo Almond Filling can!)
Banitza (my ow easy recipe - you can find others online)
1 pound Bulgarian Feta (Greek feta is fine)
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 package frozen phylo dough, thawed
1 stick melted butter
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a bowl, crumble feta. Add egg and spinach and mix until thoroughly combined.
Carefully unroll phylo dough. Work on a cold baking sheet to keep the phylo from getting too soft. Brush a phyllo sheet with butter. Spoon a portion of the cheese mixture along the long side of the phyllo sheet, and roll, jelly-roll style towards you (I use 2-sheets of phyllo at a time s it's easier to work with.) Take the rolled-up dough/cheese "snake" and coil it around itself t form a spiral. Place the spiral on a large buttered baking sheet or baking dish. (I have a large, round glazed ceramic caserole I use).
Continue to create "snakes", adding to the sheet to create a large, spiral-shaped pastry. You can made this as small or large as you like, or create several of these). Brush the entire thing with butter and bake for 40 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Cool slightly before serving. Alow guests to putll it apart with their hands.
My soon-to-be-husband is from Bulgaria and he introduced me to Shopska salad when we first started dating. Now we serve it at every get together and we have even worked it into our wedding day menu on June 26th, 2010. Sometimes we even eat it alone as the main course with just bread. Anytime we get together with our family and friends to eat, they tell us to make the "Bulgarian Salad". :D Banitza is also VERY delicious, but that is one I have yet to make myself.
I am married 7 years, and over that time I've made from-scratch Bulgarian meals several times for my in-laws. I bought a Bulgarian cookbook online (http://www.amazon.com/Bulgarian-Rhaps...) and had at it until I was pretty good at a few things. There's no better way, at least in my world, to show love than through food! Besides I am he only cook in the family - someone's got to pass along the Eastern European traditions from the old world, even if I am Irish myself! Have a great wedding and eat well!