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Vegetarian Dinner Party

Hey guys,

I am planning a dinner party for five this coming Monday. Two of my guests are vegetarians, so I would like to plan a vegetarian menu. So far I am set on making Eggplant Parm, but other than that, I am clueless. I might do some roasted asparagus as a side dish, but if I see something more inspiring, I would definitely like to try it. I guess I am looking for ideas for an appetizer and sides.
Dessert would be great too!
Please help! Thanks!

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  1. doodle~
    will your entire meal be vegetarian? if not - what else are you serving?

    1 Reply
    1. re: lollya

      I think that my entire meal will be vegetarian. That way, my vegetarian friends will not feel like they are missing out on something if I do make a meat dish.

    2. Olive tapenade and tomato bruschetta with toast points or crostini. Assortment of cheeses. It's spring, so a nice salad and add fresh berries and sunflower seeds.

      1. Are your vegetarian friends vegan?

        1 Reply
        1. re: morebubbles

          They eat cheese and dairy products, but one of them won't eat anything that uses broth from chicken or beef.

        2. Well if you're doing eggplant parm, is serving pasta on the side too obvious? It could be an almost-normal Italian meal. If you want to make something more involved, you could do a stuffed pasta, but I don't think it's really necessary - eggplant parm is a pretty heavy entree.

          Salad would be another obvious choice, but as an app, you could make Polpette di Lupo - fake "sneaky" meatballs made with bread crumbs instead of meat - which is an Italian antipasto item.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Adrienne

            I was thinking of a pasta side dish. but I don't know which one. Eggplant Parm is already a pretty heavy entree, so I was looking for something light. I don't think an alfredo based pasta would work too well with it. Maybe a pesto?

            1. re: doodle

              Agree, keep the sauce lighter; maybe a pomodoro?

              1. re: doodle

                If you're doing a pasta course, you could do a pesto or pomodoro, but if you're planning to put it right next to the parm, I would either just do olive oil (like what lollya said below) or I'd give the pasta the same sauce as the eggplant -- a second sauce may not go that well on the same plate, or could seem like it's competing with the parm sauce.

            2. if you are going by way of the eggplant parm - i would serve up with a light tossed olive oil/tomato dressed pasta with fresh shaved pecorino, and a big beautiful salad with tomatoes, black olives, pepperocini, a vinaigrette and shaved parm or pec. a trifled tiramisu would be easy and delicious.

              1. As a vegetarian, I'd just like to say thanks for having a vegetarian dinner party. I certainly don't think folks need to feel obligated to do this every time they are having veggie guests, but I do think it's nice to do it some times.

                I'm not great at conceiving Italian menus, but I'll toss in a couple of ideas.

                How about polenta squares instead of bruschetta for an appetizer, just for something a little different? I've served before with roasted veggies, carmelized onions, olives or olive tapenade...

                We've been having grilled greens with our pastas of late and have really enjoyed them. It started with grilled radicchio, but lately we've been grilling romaine and it gets kind of a nutty taste.

                For dessert, maybe a fruit-centered dessert?

                4 Replies
                1. re: debbiel

                  I just made had a dinner party this weekend and it was vegetarian. I am vegetarian, and I don't cook meat any more. The guests didn't even think about the fact that there was no meat.

                  One thing about dinner parties is that I like to get almost everything done in advance. It is so much easier. Then you can have more fun and focus on your guests.

                  You had said that you were set on eggplant parm, but it is normally prepared by frying which would keep you away from your guests. I did a wonderful lasagna which I made the day before and put in the fridge, then just popped it in the oven when guests were set to arrive. As I usually do, I substituted tofu for ricotta and noone could tell the difference.

                  To start I served tapanade, roasted peppers & assorted cheeses. Then lasagna, large salad & fabulous bread. The guests brought wine and desert, which turned out to be brownies and lemon squares made by their children. If I had done dessert, tiramasu or fruit with marscapone would be my choices. Easy make ahead.

                  Good luck on your dinner party and HAVE FUN!

                  1. re: Main Line Tracey

                    I think i might ask my guest to bring the wine, but for desert I am planning to do fruits and marscapone, just like you mentioned. What fruits do you recommend? And is there a certain way I should prepare the fruits before hand? I apologize for all the silly questions, but I really am new to this world of dinner parties. Normally I would just cook a bunch of dishes, and than have my friends come in the kitchen and grab a plate. Also, we're all 21 years old, so I want something that is easy and fun and not to heavy on the wallet.

                    1. re: doodle

                      Here is alink to Ina Garten's recipe.


                      I would use this as a guide, but I wouldn't use the heavy cream. The cheese is rich enough and buying a container of heavy cream for that little seems a waste. The fruit I would use is ripe apricots, just because I love them. Almost any fruit would be great though.

                      The wonderful thing is that you can cut up the fruit and sprinkle with a little sugar the day before, and also prepare the marscapone. Then just assemble right before serving. Super fast!

                      1. re: doodle

                        If you want to do it inexpensively, you could cook down some frozen berries - even better if you add some ginger or a glug of liqueur (those mini bottles you can get for a couple bucks).

                  2. for protein, how about white bean-roasted garlic bruschetta as an appetizer? Easy and delicious! Your guests will be impressed that you included protein in such a snazzy original way! (no tofu! :)

                    1. Chickpeas with Fennel, Tomato, and Olives (serve with a good bread and goat cheese)
                      Dressing: 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, 1 garlic clove minced, 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard, salt, freshly ground black pepper, whisk to blend these ingredients and then whisk in 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

                      Let this salad marinate for one hour before serving (up to 4 hours) -
                      2 cups chickpeas, cooked and drained
                      1 small fennel bulb, halved vertically and sliced thinly (1-1/2 cup of thin slices)
                      2 ripe tomatoes, diced
                      10 black olives, pitted and halved (I use Kalamatas)
                      1/2 cup red onion, sliced thinly
                      1/3 cup Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
                      reserve the fennel sprigs and use as garnish when ready to serve

                      1. I love eggplant parmesan and think the ideas suggested sound great, but my husband wouldn't consider it a meal without meat. If it were me, I would most likely make meatballs or something as an "extra" for the meat eaters. Just a thought. :)