Dinner Party - Vegetarian Options?
We are hosting a dinner party for some of my husband's work colleagues - one of whom is a vegetarian. I want to be able to provide her with a substantial option, while not making the rest of the party eat vegetarian fare. Does anyone have any brilliant ideas? Thanks!
My favorite veggie option for my veggie husband when entertaining non-veggie parents and friends comes from British cook Delia Smith's online recipe repository (http://www.deliaonline.com/). She's got a brilliant recipe for a wild mushroom stew served on a cheese choux pastry (http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/ch...) that is super-easy, and goes well with the sides you'll serve with, say, the roast you're making for everyone else. The pastry takes about 15 minutes to make and you can do it the day before, the mushrooms just sit on the stove and simmer while you get on with the rest of the meal; you serve it all up together with no problems. It is brilliant, substantial, and simple. The only word of caution is to be careful about the wild mushrooms you buy: on one occasion I paid more for a handful of fresh ceps and chanterelles than I did for my organic pork roast for six!
I'm a vegetarian, and I do get embarrassed if a host prepares a vegetarian dish just for me. I don't want anyone to go to that much trouble. That being said, I'm going to a dinner party tomorrow night (but each guest is bringing a dish, we planned this out beforehand), and I'm making a vegetarian chickpea curry dish with brown rice. I figure that I can eat this for my main course, and other guests who are not vegetarians can have it for a side dish. Hope this helps!
I don't eat meat, and have thrown dinner parties for picky meat and potatoes type eaters with success. If your guest eats cheese, i'd recommend the epicurious recipe for the mushroom and artichoke lasagna (the one with vermouth and the bechamel sauce). It is incredibly rich, but very very good, and i've made this several times to rave reviews. Another option is the hazelnut butternut squash lasagna from the same site, but might scare some people off. Again however i made this for a guest with rave reviews.
If your husband's work colleague is anything like my vegetarian friends, he/she will be embarrassed if you go out of your way to make a special dish. Although I think it's very thoughtful of you to do so. I always try to make something vegetarian for everyone that doesn't feel like a vegetarian dish. Or, if you want to make something like lasagne, make one with Italian sausage and one with spinach and offer a choice to everyone. I have a recipe for an eggplant pasta (http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe...) that I serve to meat eaters all the time and they never miss the meat. You could do a first course and then serve the pasta as the main with an elegant salad of arugula and shaved parmesan.
Depending on the situation, I'm always grateful when someone does keep my diet in mind, but embarrassed if they address it directly and make something special. I've also been in a lot of situations where the meateaters get jealous over what I'm served, so in that sense I'd suggest something that could be a main dish for her and sides for others.
Thus pasta with different sauces (or with marinara and meatballs on the side ...) would work; as would a fajita or burrito bar (for more casual). Stir fry or curries; veggies can be cooked together, a small portion reserved for the vegetarian and meat cooked for the rest. Remember with soup not to use a meat broth - so many people think that a chicken-broth base is "vegetarian" (I technically could get past chicken broth in rices and soups when I eat out, just for simplicity's sake - but the taste is overwhelming to me)
Make sure you ask your husband to confirm her eating habits to be sure that cheese/egg product would be OK.
Mark Bittman published a really tasty tomato paella recipe in NY Times last year that could get served w sides of steak for carnies/portobellos (as Charlebois suggests).
A mushroom risotto could also work nicely -- hearty enough to make a meal -- but could be served with steak as a side offering.
You could also do a tapas party, and serve a number of options that are vegetarian, as well as a few meat options. That way everyone can pick and choose what they like, and she won't look "different' with a separate entree.
By the way, does she eat any seafood or fish? That would make your life very easy. It might be worth a quick call or conversation with her to see exactly what her restrictions are.
I love hazelnut or pinenut crusted goat cheese. It can be served warm (baked) on top of a bed of grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts, and grilled zucchini, with a vinaigarette drizzed over the top. I make them in the size of a very small hamburger, and the richness of the nuts and cheese is very substantial and filling; its like a meat substitute. Your non-vegetarian guests will love it too! (I'm not vegetarian)
Its super quick and no-hassle. Just stick toasted nuts in food processor until they are coarsely ground. Take goat cheese and form into a pattie and press the nuts into it to coat. Then bake or pan sautee until golden brown, if desired. It can also be served with a salad of baby greens.
Last summer Mr. Suebee and I went to a wonderful vegetarian dinner party. The hosts served portobello mushroom burgers along with curried lentils and other sides I can't recall. It may be a little casual for your dinner party, but I'd suggest a stuffed portobello recipe. Very filling and satisfying...who know, maybe your other guests will covet the mushrooms! :)
Here's some ideas:
How fancy do you have to be for the colleagues and what type of meat are you serving to the rest of the party?
I would try to make the meal very vegetarian friendly, meaning meatless starch and vegetable sides for all, and instead of the meat portion, serve a very similar meatless entree to the vegetarian. For example, if serving steak to the omnivores, serve the vegetarian grilled portobella mushrooms, perhaps with grilled polenta. Eggplant scallopine for of chicken scallopine. Roasted squash with apples instead of pork roast. Wild mushroom ragout in wine instead of beef bourguignonne. That way, every one has an equal number of dishes, and the vegetarian does not feel she is eating the "side" dishes only.
You could do cannelloni or manicotti or rollatini w/ a marinara or meat sauce option. Serve w/ crusty bread, some broccolini, salad, etc.
Or, do kebabs but do hers w/ tofu or a meatless seitan or tempeh substitute.
Do a mediterranean spread - spanokopita, schwarma, hummus, tabbouleh, dolmas, etc.
If you wanted to do a Mexican theme, enchiladas are easy enough to vary the middles.
These are assuming this is a "sit down, I'm making your plate for you" type of affair.
Cannelloni stuffed with spinach, onions, pine nuts, and golden raisins w/parmesan, sauced with a bechamel sauce, always goes over like gang busters. You could serve a more substantial app with cheese and nuts and then maybe a squash or other root vegetable soup.
Riffing on Emme's mediterranean suggestion, you could easily do middle eastern a tagine with vegetables, chickpeas, and whole wheat couscous along with a greek salad and some babba ganoush and hummus with pita. And then just buy some good baklava for dessert.