need suggestions for vegetarian "regional" food ++
i have a catering client who wants regional food but it needs to be adaptable for vegetarians and something that can be reheated or held one day. so far we did cheese enchiladas for the california cuisine, now i need ideas for chicago, new york, boston, new orleans, the south etc. only problem is the first thing that comes to mind is always foods with meat!
Stuffed eggplant is a very popular dish in New Orleans and South Louisiana. Usually done with seafood but often without. Topped with parmesan and breadcrumbs and browned. Often done ahead and baked when ready to serve. Nice for a catered event as it's a single serving and adds nice balance to a plate.
Also stuffed mirlitons are popular.
Cheese Garlic Grits Souffle with or without corn added to it. I add a bit of finely diced red bell pepper and parsley for color.
A vegetable jamabalaya, using large pieces of veggies instead of meat and seafood - artichoke hearts, chunks of squash, fava beans, okra - anything that will hold its shape and not mush down.
Tomatoes stuffed with Succotash.
Bell peppers stuffed with maquechoux
Galatoire's Fried Eggplant with powdered sugar
Sweet potato french fries
Savory bread puddings with veggies and cheese sauce
Sweet potato souffle
Crudité with red and white remoulade sauces
Eggs Sardou - if you can deal with poached eggs - over artichoke bottoms with creamed spinach
A chef friend who does a lot of high-end weddings has started making New York soft pretzels (little bite-size knobs, actually) with several fancy mustard-based dips. They are ALWAYS the very first things to go. Not incredibly hard to do, and people who go to a lot of cocktail parties won't have eaten them elsewhere. Frequent party-goers get pretty fatigued with the heavy appetizers they always see.
Some ideas for New York: Kosher dill pickles, water bagels, potato knishes, and, of course, pizza with "foldable" crust (REAL New York pizza is good enough not to need any topping---meat or otherwise!).
I'd highly recommend you get your hands on this book: Real American Food by Jane & Michael Stern. This displaced New Yorker can vouch for the authenticity of the New York recipes, anyway.