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Casual Buffet dinner for 12

I know I know people must be wondering what I get myself into! I am on the board of a small modern dance company. I have offered to host the dancers at my home for a casual/fun dinner after a showcase performance 2 saturdays from now.

Since almost all of them are vegertarian I was thinking of just doing an all vegetarian menu. Am looking for good dishes that can be made in advance (I'll be watching the performance as well) and can be heated up. I'm thinking baked pastas or lasangas - I have a good butternut squash lasanga recipe) a couple of salads, selection of breads and cheeses and white bean dip.

Any other good baked pasta recipes? Salad ideas??

Thanks! my new years resolution should be not to volunteer for things anymore...........

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  1. How about vegetarian Thai curry or my fav, vege. pot pie. Both are really easy and a far cry from the usual suspects in vege dining.
    POT PIE:
    2 deep dish pie shells, check label most are made w/lard. Bake one and leave the other uncooked.
    Saute potatoes, carrots, onions and garlic, s and p. Then add green beans and mushrooms. Make sauce w/ vege stock. Make a roux with whole wheat flour and some stock. After veges are somewhat cooked add stock and roux. stir togeter until roux thickens and then add to cooked pie shell. Add uncooked shell to the top and bake 350 till bubbley and done. YUM!

    Thai curry is also very easy. Get yellow curry in a can. Open and put into saute pan. Let it heat a little then pour a little vege stock and 1 can of coconut MILK (shake can a little). Put in same veges as above and let it simmer until all veges are done. Pour over brown Jasmine rice and serve w Jasmine or brown rice tea. Yellow curry is sweeter and not as spicy as red. YUM!

    1. Baked pasta shells with spinach, ricotta and parmesaan or zuchinni and marinara sauce.They hold up nicely for a buffet.

      But my preferred buffet is to serve enchiladas chicken with chipotle sauce & cheese enchilada with a tomatillo & cilantro sauce, red rice, and salad with oranges & avocado,olives & grape tomatoes and redwine vinegar & oil dressing/ Carmel Flan with whip cream and toffee bits. ooooooo I'm hungry!

      1. Stuffed peppers are lovely as well!

        I like to use veggie ground round, mix it with cooked rice, salsa, chopped sauteed veggies and fresh coriander. Stuff the pepper and stop with grated cheese. It looks lovely on the plate and you can accompany with salad and soup (and perhaps even a pasta course, if you're feeling ambitious!).

        1. I was thinking maybe a vegetarian chili or a bean soup or potato soup with a salad and bread, since it's supposed to be casual. Soups hold up a good while for a buffet - I have a nice large stainless steel crockpot that I set up in the dining room for things like that. Or depending on how casual and your house layout, you could have the buffet in the kitchen - this time of year it's nice to have kind of a cozy soup party.

          Well, I say that, but it's 70 degrees here again today. Sheez.

          1. A middle eastern theme could be fun. You could start with stuffed grape leaves (bought), hummus & pita (bought), vege platter, baba ganuj (sp-bought).

            Flafel patties over salad (patties can be pre-made & heated) with tzaki, cous cous salad, lentil salad & veges with dressing & feta.

            Pomegranate punch & wine (with other drinks) would fit the theme.

            Figs and other fruit for dessert.

            Or, I have made tofu lasagna and it is great. There really is a lot that you can do, but middle eastern is easy and can be totally made ahead of time.

            1. If you have a copy of the Greens cookbook the Black Bean Chili is brilliant. Everyone loves it veg and non-veg's alike. Very somky from the chipotles. It would be a simple main to do sides around.

              1. How about with the cheeses some toasted nuts, honey, fruit (apples). A little spread.

                1. I second the suggestion for a Middle Eastern meal. All the dancers I've ever known (all in ballet) were permanently on diets. I think they would appreciate a choice of lighter foods if pasta is more calories than they want. Perhaps your dance friends aren't as nutty?

                  1. Just saw a guest on Martha that did rack of lamb with a mustard and brown sugar glazed, frenched the rack, then after cooking sliced into indiviual little lamb lollipops and served with red currant jelly, red wine vinegar, water, and 1 cup of fresh minced mint dipping sauce. Pile high on beautiful silver or antique platters for serving. Looked good to me!!! Individual chops, what a terrific idea, not matter how you prepare them or sauce, they make an impressive cocktail/entree.

                    1. I brought a huge antipasto platter to Thanksgiving dinner and it was a hit. I roasted a lot of different veggies (separately) and then plattered them in alternating colors: carrots, baby brussel sprouts (halved), zucchini sticks, broccoli florets, cauliflower florets, asparagus, baby red onions, eggplant, and then added some provolone, marinated bocconcini, olives, giardinera, oil packed sun dried tomatoes, marinated artichoke hearts and hearts of palm. (I also had mortadella and salami but yours has to be a veggie platter.) You could do all this ahead of time and it holds well. Just make sure that everyhing is well drained and it will be fine.

                      1. Or, how about an Asian buffet:

                        Vegetable Lomein
                        Tofu Stir-Fry
                        Plain or Fried Rice
                        Vegetable Eggrolls and/or
                        Fresh Spring rolls

                        1. I made this artichoke and mushroom lasagna on Christmas and even meat-loving husband was happy. Rave reviews all around.