Life After Lasagna: Veggie Suggestions for Easy, Make-Ahead Dishes for a Crowd?
I've made a lot of different lasagnas in my life, and somehow, even my brain keeps defaulting to it, and I can't think of what else to make that's relatively simple to serve for a sit-down dinner for 8-10 people. I've made vegetarian pastistio and moussaka. I like them, but they're both really heavy, and I can't get too motivated for them, either.
Got any vegetarian (or adaptable) no-brainers?
Cheese is fine. It just needs to be something I'm not fussing with -- something I can cook in advance and warm up for dinner. I'll also serve soup, salad, maybe some home-made breads and spreads, and dessert. I just need a centerpiece!
Jacques Pepin's cheese souffle is delicious and easy. No egg separating or white beating. He says you can prepare it hours or even a day ahead up to the point of baking. I've made it several times and it is not as airy as a typical souffle, which suits me as it seems more substantial that way, and is really delicious. We love it.
Glad you asked this, I know what you mean about getting a few ideas stuck in your head and needing something fresh. I'm looking forward to the responses.
Why not make the soup the centerpiece? Make something really hearty, like a vegetarian minestrone. Or make a vegetarian stew instead of soup.
Or make the salad the centerpiece by doing a composed version with beans, feta, olives, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers.... A nice frittata would be a good option.
I make spanakopita fairly often. It looks impressive, people who haven't ever worked with filo think you're a master chef and it tastes good. It can be made in advance and reheated, though the pastry loses some of its crispness. I eat leftovers for breakfast.
Don't know if vegetarian chile is too casual, but there's a great recipe in the revised Joy of Cooking (1997) for Wild Caribbean Chile. It has wonderful flavors including orange zest, lots of cumin and chili and different beans.
I love soups in winter. There's an excellent butternut squash soup in Cook's Illustrated which is the best I know for pure squash flavor. I made it for a big dinner, together with a non-vegetarian soup but this one was cleaned out. You can find the recipe online, I believe, but you have to register on the site - registration is free.
If your guests are interested in ethnic foods, look up Indian vegetarian recipes. Channa masala which is curried chickpeas, is a big favorite in our non-vegetarian household. There are also tasty dals made with lentils, rajma (kidney beans) as well as a big variety of vegetable and cheese dishes.
Why not a vegetarian curry - Indian or Thai? You could make a couple of different accompaniments, too (spring rolls, soup, rice/noodle dish). I find when I make a curry and then let it sit, the flavours meld wonderfully!
I have posted my recipe for vegetarian moussaka on this board before. It's fabulous - I actually prefer it to the meat version (and I'm no vegetarian). Either search for it here or let me know and I'll post it again.