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need help! part veg part meat eater dinner party

Next week I am having two couples over for dinner with mostly meat eaters but one vegetarian in the mix. I was thinking of doing an italian themed evening, serving some crostini, a salad and then perhaps a veggie lasagna with some meat offering as well. I dont have a big enough dining room table for the 5 of us to comfortably sit so I was going to do it buffet style. 3 issues
1. I hate ricotta cheese - does anyone have a good veggie lasagna recipe that uses goat or some other non ricotta option?
2. any ideas for the meat course? Was thinking maybe sausage and peppers but totally open to ideas
3. its a celebratory dinner for the engagement of one couple and the first baby for the other so any ideas on how to make the meal more festive would be great - sounding a little peasanty to me right now. Maybe prosecco and tiramisu??

Thanks - I know i can count on you guys!

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  1. Do you like cottage cheese? you can make lasagna with cottage cheese instead of ricotta.

    this post also has some great meal ideas....http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/576731

    I posted a polenta recipe on that link, which would fit with the italian theme, could replace your lasagna...

    1. This butternut squash lasagna is fantastic. And no ricotta cheese in sight:
      http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/gi...
      I use regular noodles and par boil them for 4 minutes, b/c the no boil ones taste icky to me. And I use the amaretti cookies, but I think they would be OK to leave out if you don't have them in your pantry already.

      If the meal is a celebration, I might do a roast of some sort for the meat course. If just feels more festive to me. And prosecco too. :)

      1 Reply
      1. re: dexters

        oh yummy! and perfect for the cold weather that just hit there. thanks so much! (and totally agree on the no boil noodles)

      2. This is a typical delema for myself-
        I have done the veggie Lasgna and I use a recipe from Ellie Krieger- it is very low on the ricotta, it adds a richness and sticking power
        but the mushroom and tomato flavors are the real stars.
        http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/el...
        It has been a repeat crowd pleaser

        Other thing I have done and will be doing again for a party very soon. Is individual meatloafs, some meat some veg. It is a fun presentation and elevates the comfort food level while pleasing many paletts.
        I work off of Ina Garten's recipe and subsitute veggie crumbles for meat.

        1. My mom always used to make lasagna with just mozzarella because my dad doesn't like ricotta. It comes out fine. Maybe you could add some spinach if you are concerned out it being dry.

          I also recently saw a recipe for pierogi lasagna that sounded really good.

          1. I was also thinking a meatless lasagne with sausages on the side when I saw this title, but my preference would be for a wild mushroom version. Make a bechamel using some of the soaking liquid from the mushrooms, and add plenty of parmesan.

            Another approach I use for dinner parties when I have vegetarian friends over is to go Mexican, either by making enchiladas (some with meat, some without) or for a larger group to set up an assemble-your-own taco bar.