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Vegetarian Mains?

My husband and I are meat and potatoes people, but there's a good possibility that we'll be entertaining vegetarians in the forseeable future (no formal plans yet, but I'd like to have some ideas in advance). I'm looking for suggestions for both a sit-down dinner, and for a more casual cook out type gathering. Here's the caveat...it needs to be something my husband will enjoy, so not too veggie-centric, and definitely not tofu based. Absolutely no asparagus or Brussels sprouts, please. I want something that will please everyone without me having to prepare two entrees, or our guests feeling relegated to sides and salad. Thank you!

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  1. Eggplant parmesan is a good bet, if your husband likes eggplant. Tastes meaty because of the sauce and cheese. Or vegetarian lasagne. Do a search on epicurious.com or foodandwine.com for the recipes.

    3 Replies
    1. re: AppetiteforChina

      Yeah, a cheese lasagna was my first thought...and I love eggplant, even though I'm one of those people who gets tingly-throated from it. Hubby probably wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole, though.

      1. re: AppetiteforChina

        Do you have any non-meat stuffing recipes? The two I use have crab/sausage in them...

        1. re: AppetiteforChina

          I was going to recommend eggplant parm too. Just make sure that the vegetarians are ok with parmigiano cheese. I know a few who aren't because of the animal rennet.

        2. Mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms! Portobellos are practically meat.

          In the salad department, you can make anything filling with enough nuts and berries and cheese.

          1. i'm probably starting to sound like a broken record, but Wild Mushroom Ragù over polenta...or a Moroccan chickpea-based dish like a stew or Chana Masala.

            or if they eat eggs, you could do a quiche or soufflé (either a large one or individul portions).

            1. Stuffed butternut squash is always a big hit, and it's not too vegetable-y.

              And there's always pasta, in a billion different permutations. You can always make meatballs and serve them separately to those who want them.

              For the cookout, vegetable kebabs are great -- and you can do a make-your-own situation, again with cubes of meat for those who want them.

              2 Replies
              1. re: dmd_kc

                Oh, I forgot: Before doing anything very cheesy, I'd check with them first. Even if they aren't vegan, a LOT of vegetarians don't like to eat big portions of cheese.

                And because they get so much of it at things like wedding banquets, I'd avoid pasta primavera. I was vegetarian for 17 years, and you wouldn't believe how many times that is the only meat-free dish available.

                1. re: dmd_kc

                  Good advice! Not vegan by far, but not a fan of the pound-of-cheese school of veg cooking. Cheese is a garnish/condiment in my book.

              2. Roasted Vegetable lasagna is a tasty dish. Veggie chili is a great casual dish and I use veggie "ground beef"- you can't really tell the difference. Veggie Sheppard's pie made with the same veggie ground beef and mushroom boullion works well too.

                1 Reply
                1. re: salsailsa

                  I will second the roasted veggie lasagna. My SO is a meat and three kind of person and I can slip roasted veggie lasagna in our rotation because he doesn't miss the meat.

                2. Another option would be a vegetarian risotto as it's easy to make and very versatile. You can use porcini mushrooms, asparagus, butternut squash or a mixture of roasted vegetables. A vegetable pot pie with a side salad? If it's informal, vegetarian fajitas with Mexican rice and refried beans and for an entree, you could also do some veggie phyllo parcels or a Spanish tortilla (this one's sure to please your hubby as it's mainly potatoes and eggs). Hope that helps...

                  1. Always great ideas on 101cookbooks.com! Her Greek pasta bake is terrific (just cook the squash a bit more and maybe saute the garlic--along with a small onion) and only has a bit of feta on top. Or, I second the polenta idea with mushroom ragu or the chickpea idea.

                    Or something like red beans and rice works well. Just leave out the pork, but add a dried chipotle to cook with the beans. Smoky flavor (and heat) without the meat.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sagestrat

                      rather than copying out the recipe again, here is a link to a vegan dinner party thread where I posted my recipe for roasted veg on baked polenta, the recipe looks like a lot, but it is not tough to make at all, and everyone will LOVE it.


                    2. I've always had good luck with Middle Eastern dishes: Baba Ghanoush or Hummus to start, then Dolmades, followed by Spanakopita.

                      I serve the Baba Ghanoush with pita triangles and raw vegetables for dipping (sweet onions, cucumbers, celery sticks, and the like), make the Dolmades with no meat but fennel to give them a nice flavor, and the Spanakopita doesn't need to include much cheese at all.

                      1. Another resource for ideas is a posting for 'vegetarian meals you don't think of as vegetarian'


                        1. As a former daily meat-eater and recent vegetarian convert, the hardest part of the change was figuring out what constituted a "main course" in the vegetarian world. I cook every night and my husband likes meat - a lot. I find that cooking vegetarian usually means I have two relatively equal dishes per meal, like a stuffed tomato and a bean salad, as opposed to a "main" and "side" in the meat-based world.

                          I agree with the ideas above of a roasted veggie lasagna (Peter Berley's version in Flexitarian Table is the best I've ever eaten), a pasta dish with mushrooms and tomatoes, a soup and salad, or an egg-based dinner like frittata or quiche. Stuffed veggies are always good, too, with quinoa or couscous based stuffings. I HIGHLY recommend Peter Berley's books -- Flexitarian Table and, even better, Fresh Food Fast. They have saved me.

                          1. I nice lasagna, I know it has already been suggested with spinach, mushrooms and fresh vegetables, very meaty tasting with lots of cheese.

                            Also, Pasta, a great veggie fettuccini or a ragu with muchrooms and fresh squash is also great.

                            I love stuffing portabellos served over a bed a great sauteed spinach and shallots and then topped with a great stuffing of portabellos or hollowed out zucchini stuffed with a variety of sauteed vegetables, bread crumbs and cheese, very nice. Add chicken to those who want meat, easy and no two dishes. Easy and great.

                            Serve will grilled romaine, easy and quick, A great bread crumb topping and some wonderful dressings.

                            I also make a pasta with all fresh roasted veggies (all done in advance) over a light creamy parmesan sauce and a whole wheat pasta. Very hearty. As the veggies roast, cook a chicken breast for you and your husband, then add sliced at the end. or some shrimp, makes in hearty but still veggie. Etamomie (sp?) sorry is great with pasta.

                            The stuffed squash is great. Some with wild rice, apples, nuts, spices, pears and onions and then others add some sauteed squash in them. A bit of each, great flavors.

                            Also stuffed shells, cheese with a simple fresh tomato or a bechemel sauce. Stuff with spinach or kale and some nuts, ricottas, and fresh veggies and can be just a rich. Make 2 red sauce 1 batch and then seperate and meat to 1 and not to the other.

                            Let me know if you would like any sauces.

                            2 Replies
                              1. re: buttertart

                                yep, good stuff I buy my frozen at my grocer, I love them just stir fried, in salads and pastas. Rice dishes, cold or warm, I love them

                            1. So as not to echo the same suggestions....

                              Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Browned Butter and Sage


                              --Breakfast for Dinner - frittata with hash browns

                              --A trio of gourmet pizzas with different interesting (maybe one not vegetarian) toppings - (rosemary, yukon potatoes, onions, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses), (wild mushrooms sauteed with marsala, onions, garlic and parsley with a walnut pesto base), and (ricotta cheese, tomato sauce, sundried tomatoes, mozzarella, romano, parmesan and basil)

                              --Shepherd's Pie made with Meatless Gourmet crumbles

                              1. I always like to suggest spinach pie made with phyllo. Not difficult and really delicious.

                                1. You'll want to find out what kind of vegetarians (lacto-ovo, vegan, etc) your potential guests are since if they're vegan they won't eat cheese.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: lgss

                                    I know they're not vegan, but I'm not sure about the other stuff...

                                    1. re: theferlyone

                                      lacto-ovo is when they eat dairy & eggs. If they are not vegan then by definition they are lacto-ovo.

                                      1. re: cleopatra999

                                        not true actually... i have a friend that won't eat eggs... so she's just a lacto-veggie... she says eating eggs is like abortion.

                                        1. re: Emme

                                          I thought eggs from the supermarket are unfertilized eggs. I'm not trying to start something here, just clarifying for my own knowledge.

                                          1. re: TampaAurora

                                            this particular friend is not one to listen to logic. she just considers eating eggs the murder of a potential fetus. in her opinion, the life of a chicken begins at the time of laying. we've tried to explain an unfertilized egg like a human 'period,' but she'll rant on about the potential for fertilization.

                                            regardless, there are some vegetarians who choose to include milk or eggs, and most do both (as i do), but i'd still confirm with the guests, just out of courtesy, even if they say, "of course!"

                                  2. Here's Bittman's Paella With Tomatoes. You could always shred some cooked chicken and add it to the carnivores among you. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/05/din...