Vegetarian Wedding Menu
Much to the dismay of my traditional parents, I would like to serve only vegetarian food at my wedding. I would like to develop a menu of fancy, non-tofu foods. So far, we were thinking risotto, ravioli, quiche.... possibly a Mediterranean type theme...
Does anyone have any suggestions for a menu that won't offend the meat and potatoes crowd?
A few years ago I attended a wedding reception in rural Georgia with a southern theme going on. One of the stations served cheese grits in over-sized martini glasses and an assortment of toppings including caramelized onions, sauteed mushrooms and red peppers (shrimp and scallops too)...it was an elegant presentation of the classic southern dish.
I love that you're having a vegetarian wedding reception! And as the guests should know you, well, I don't think you have any need to put some text on the invite. This is your event, a day to celebrate you and your mate; not a day to appease the masses regarding their preferred protein choice.
Now about the menu, I think it'd be nice to avoid the traditional vegetarian traps like pasta. Depending on the season, how about:
-> appetizer stations of hummus, dips, flatbreads, dried fruits (mango, cranberries, strawberries) and nuts (pumpkin seeds, almonds, marcona almonds), tomatoes, etc.
-> a grilled asparagus or broccolini salad with radish slivers, purple carrots, lemon juice, toasted almond slivers, and a dash of cayenne
a choice of two entrees:
-> a red curry with vegetables (peppers, zucchini, squash, whatever is in season!)
->tomato and roasted eggplant stew with chickpeas (I'm thinking of the one from the Veganomicon cookbook; this dish is filling, flavorful, and celebratory)
both served with isralei couscous(yeah, it's a pasta, but it's unusual and not the focal point)
-> dessert: a light, fluffy cake accompanied by rose water sorbet or gelato and fresh blackberries
We had a great vegetarian menu for our wedding. We were married in September. For appetizers we had point reyes blue cheese stuffed baby potatoes and phyllo wrapped eggplant triangles. Tomato Bruschetta, Olive tapenade and hummus and crostini. Olives. Also we had a fresh fruit platter since the reception started in the afternoon.. For dinner we had a fennel and mixed green salad, spinach pasta manacotti with a light lemon cream sauce. french lentil salad and heirloom tomato salad. It was a hit and no one went hungry. We had alot of east coasters and mid-westerner guests. We had mac and cheese for the kids. Pick things you like or you think others will like, pick what kind a service you can afford (this is huge) we had the salads set on the tables, but had the main course buffet style. Somethings are really easy as finger food, others aren't. My advice would be pick stuff you enjoy!
re: coney with everything
When my mother remarried around 20 years ago, she had an afternoon wedding with a heavy-hors d'oeurves reception, which she and I catered ourselves. It was Mediterranean foods served at room temp, and vegetarian. There were little spanikopita triangles, stuffed grape leaves, little squares of artichoke and mushroom frittatas, crudite, sliced baguettes with a selection of cheeses, fruit skewers, etc.
Sounds like you have gotten a lot of good suggestions. I went to a "vegetarian" wedding that offered only salmon or pasta in red sauce, rice pilaf, & garlic breadsticks. (I know, fish is not vegetarian, but she thinks it is). Although I am a meat-eater, I think a vegetarian wedding well-planned is wonderful. Just please offer multiple choices (within reason, of course), to give those unaccustomed to vegetarian fare a great exposure. I bet you some people will not even notice what is missing, as long as the food is good! Congrats & best wishes for your wedding.
re: Indirect Heat
Out of curiousity...why should the hosts inform people in advance that they won't be serving meat? I guess managing expectations makes a little sense, but then I've never seen a wedding invitation say "FYI we are not serving steak, shrimp, etc." Should she tell people so they can bring their own chicken in a ziploc? or they can load up on hamburger in the car ride over to the reception? How would these even be done? "please join us at our meat-free wedding celebration!"? Seems weird to me.
Me, I would have no problem enjoying myself at a vegetarian dinner. But I know plenty of people (mostly older folks) who would be appalled at the lack of meat in a meal. Why have drama?
In the converse situation, If I'm having vegetarians over, I generally make something that they'll enjoy. However, about a year ago, I had a pig roast. I invited a ton of people, and one friend asked, "Can I bring my vegetarian girlfriend?". I responded, "Of course, but let her know I'm not making any vegetarian main course. There'll be salad, but not much else". I could have said, "Sure." and had her arrive and discover there was nothing there for her. Or I could have added another job to my plate, and prepared a vegetarian main course. I chose a middleground. She had a lovely time. So did I.
I think there are two polite ways to handle food restrictions: 1) Serve food that everyone will enjoy. 2) Serve food that you will enjoy, and let people know what will be there. If they're not down with your food, they can have something ahead of time, and everyone has a grand ol' time. Either way, it doesn't need to be a big fuss. The important point is that as a host, you ensure that people have fun.
re: Indirect Heat
Hrm. I guess the veg gf at the pig roast is the exact opposite situation for me - if you put an ingredient in things (meat) that a peson can't eat, they won't have anything they can eat. If, on the other hand, you simply leave out an ingredient that people like (meat) you still have dishes people can eat (for people with soy issues, obviously soy based veg items will be problematic). Whether someone chooses to eat them or likes them is a totally different story.
If someone is going to be appalled and cause drama, do you really think letting them know ahead of time is going to prevent that? What is Aunt Edna going to do? Refuse to attend the wedding because she doesn't get a choice of chicken or salmon? Or is Aunt Edna just going to bombard the couple with phone calls and suggestions about including meat in the menu?
Sorry - I don't mean to single you out. I am just surprised that anyone would feel they needed to be told ahead of time about the lack of meat in a menu.
As a general rule of etiquette, guest are not entitled to know what the menu is in advance, nor are hosts obliged to inform them in advance.
That said, wedding dinners are mega-ritual meals, and, if the couple is acting in the role of hosts, marks (at least for first weddings) a very formal entry into society as such, and the couple should not be shocked or surprised about the myriad social judgments that such a situation entails. With the opportunity for high reward comes risk, especially from people who travel a long distance and thus feel entitled to a double-share of judgments....
These days, in many (but not all) places, I feel that a vegetarian menu is not nearly as risky as (1) a vegan menu, or (2) far more risky, a macrobiotic or raw food menu. I would class a vegetarian menu along with an alcohol-free menu as unusual but within the bounds of socially normal behavior for such events; both will garner some negative judgments, but those judgments can usually be ignored (unless it's from the in-laws or the relatives who are leaving you a lot of money....).
re: Karl S
Generally a host should think of the guests' preferences first, and his own, a distant second, correct? But with a wedding the couple often says "this is my day, I will serve the food I like even if some of the guests don't like it." Of course most people hope their guests will enjoy the food, but is it a breach of manners to serve a menu that the couple knows may scandalize or offend (disappoint?) their guests?
But all weddings as an ordinary matter of course involve the risk of underwhelming or disappointing guests. If not, boneless chicken breasts would have been banned aeons ago! I would not class this much differently than finding out that the only flesh option was boneless chicken breasts. It's within the norm.
are you saying that serving a vegetarian menu would <<scandalize>> people?
in this day and age?
(certainly wouldn't be the case in the northeast US or in the coastal areas of california, where i've lived most of my life.)
imho, it is well within the norm to serve a vegetarian menu for any meal, but be aware, i've never lived in the middle of the country nor in any of the big rectangular states.
re: Karl S
When guests attend a wedding, it should be because they love the couple getting married and they want to celebrate the special day with them. The day is about the couple, not the meal. If someone complains about the vegan meal they receive at my wedding someday, the only thing that will concern me is how I managed to be friends with an asshole so long without knowing it. I've gone to plenty of weddings where the only thing I could eat was a piece of dry bread. Guess what? I wasn't there for a free meal, I was there to have an awesome time with my friends. Vegan food is super awesome because everyone (I'm not including allergies, obviously) can eat it. If someone chooses not to try it because they are judgy and scared to try something new, that's their problem, not anyone elses. And I think everyone knows that the only thing that really is of any importance at a wedding is a open bar! he he...By the way, I've never been told that there were going to be no vegan options at any wedding I've been to, nor would I expect to be told that. So why should PotatoPuff have to tell anyone that no meat will be served. That's ridiculous.
I have made my share of vegan meals and have enjoyed my share of vegan foods. However, I have experienced that vegans vary considerably in their appreciation of the palates of others, and I've also had more, well sad to say, hideous vegan food described as "this is great!" than I've had with non-vegan food; for some reason, there just seems to be a higher risk factor with a certain weirdness - especially with the vegans who have a lot of other food rules. And I know from discussions on these boards I am far from alone in this experience.
Remember, I clearly said guests have no entitlement to foreknowledge. I merely noted that hosts likewise bear the social risks they undertake.
re: Karl S
yes, we had an alcohol-free wedding and it was commented on by a few, although our guests (family & close friends only) know we don't drink, so it wasn't totally unexpected. Then again, I think the most negative reaction was my parents, who felt uncomfortable at not offering alcohol. Anyway, I am a believer in offering a menu similar to what you'd serve at your home. If you are vegetarian, serve accordingly. People who want to be with you will be happy to attend.
We had a vegan, alcohol-free wedding. Everyone we invited knew us well enough to know we're vegan and don't drink. Buffet-style allowed people to try only what they wanted to try and in whatever portion. We also had everything identified for any others with food allergies, sensitivities, or dietary restrictions.
I got married last June, and as both me and my now husband are vegetarians and were paying for the whole shindig, so we insisted on a fully vegetarian menu. Also, given how much food matters to us, this was probably the most exciting part of our wedding. We had a relatively casual outdoor party in the afternoon, and I heard only a couple people complain about the non-traditional food (some people I'm related to won't eat any vegetables, for example).
We had stations set up around the pavilion, which reduced congestion and gave people freedom to pick and choose what they wanted. Our caterer was unbelievable and worked with us to create the insane menu you'll see below. It was delicious and completely memorable! I just hope the meat-eaters appreciated the thought we put into it.
Mediterranean Rim Station
-Greek frittata with sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese, potatoes, kalamata olives and fresh basil
-Hummus sunflower with kalamata, green olive, and grape tomato "seeds", dolmades "petals"
-Marinated orange rounds, Medjool dates, & toasted pistachios with pomegranate reduction drizzle
-Balsamic grilled vegetables (featuring zucchini, eggplant, red bell pepper, Portobello mushrooms, sweet potato and asparagus)
Asian Fusion Station
-Couscous, garbanzo beans, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots julienne, delicately flavored with Indian spices, sprinkled with feta and served with leaves of Romaine lettuce – for wrapping up scoops of salad – and artisan flatbreads
-Chilled mango soup shooters (laced with coconut cream and a splash of run, and served in individual shot glasses)
-Smoked tofu and fresh pineapple tossed with Asian vinaigrette, topped with carrot, cucumber and red bell pepper confetti and served in Chinese “to go” boxes with chopsticks
-Mandarin Thai Broccoli Salad (florets of fresh broccoli in Thai-style marinade with mandarin oranges, water chestnuts, slivered yellow bell pepper and honey roasted peanuts)
Twisted Pasta Station
-Cheese tortellini with black forest mushrooms and blush alfredo sauce
-Strawberry-mango mesclun salad with praline pecans
-Marinated mozzarella and heirloom tomato salad
-Garlic-rubbed crostini with tapenade
-Lemon & key lime mousse spoons on rock candy trays
-Belgian chocolate cupcakes with polka white chocolate buttercream frosting
-Brownies: triple-chocolate fudge, dulce de leche, white chocolate-raspberry and double-decker macadamia-coconut topped brownies
-Make your own fruit salad sundae (tropical fruit in sundae cups with a choice of assorted sundae toppings, including candied nuts, chocolate syrup, raspberry syrup, whipped cream, crushed Oreos and rainbow sprinkles)
-Marzipan on rock candy trays
-Black & white cookies
-Watermelon-lime agua frescas
-Mint-ginger iced tea
if you go italian:
polenta rounds with a white bean or red ragout
butternut squash lasagna
broccoli al limone
mozzarella, tomato and basil skewers
mushroom con mole negro
and some interesting menus here http://ethicalceremonies.com/2008/02/...
It really depends on the size of your crowd. The ranges of quality choices is inversely correlated to the size of the crowd. Catering food is not the same as restaurant food in terms of range of choice with high quality. For example, a risotto made for a large crowd will be mediocre compared to a risotto prepared for a single table of diners. Not all foods make the translation to catering scale with quality intact. The best are foods that can be held over heat without deterioration (that's a big qualifier) or foods that can be served at room temperature or merely warm. A lot of popular vegetarian chafing dish buffet food (thinking especially of Indian and east Asian buffets) is mediocrity covered up by ample amounts of oil and other fats to disguise the mediocrity.
Stuffed jumbo shells or manicotti with spinach/cheese filling
Roasted vegetable platters (squash, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, cauliflower, peppers)
cold vegetable salad platters ~~ example, marinated green beans, corn salad, salad caprese
artisinal bread basket
cheese and fruit platter
A few questions. Are you getting the meal catered or making it yourself? How many people will you be inviting? Buffet style or palted? What time of day is your meal going to be? I think of quiche as a more of a daytime type of thing. But here's a few options for menus.
Mediterranean style - spanikopita, dolmades, feta stuffed filo pastries, hummus, babaganouj, tatziki with pita bread, Greek salad, grilled vegetables, rice pliaf, vegatarian mousakka (with mushrooms as the base)
Brunch style - assorted quiches, breakfast pastries, fruit salad, spinach and strawberry salad, cheese platter, grilled asparagus
Elegant style - individual crostini with goat cheese spread, tapenade, and sauteed mushrooms, individual vegetable pot pies, creamed spinach, roast potatoes,
Cold: Lots of salad variations. Can/do you eat shrimp? If so, mini shrimp cocktails are good as are shrimp platters, Veggie platters with dip, summer rolls.
Hot: Anything pasta, Vegetable Medly (Red/Green/Yellow peppers, Onion, Mushrooms, Cherry Tomato's, Zucchini, Yellow Squash) or any other combo you might want, Creamed Spinach, Au Gratin Potatoes.
The creamed spinach could be a side with the quiche. Au gratin could also be paired with possible a braised cauliflower and a Waldorf salad or a spinach salad. Either work very well as an accompaniment to just about anything on your menu.
You might also find some good ideas here for more salad ideas:
You could also do some sort of rice stuffed peppers. I'm just trying to think of some of the not every-day-make at home ideas.
You can find some good vegetarian ideas here as well:
Good luck with the wedding. Be sure to let us know when it is and how your menu comes out. Congratulations!
You could do grilled or breaded and fried eggplant cutlets along with the spinach and potatoes to evoke a traditional Sunday roast kind of meal. Portobello "steaks" would also work.
Vegetarian moussaka would also work, as it's quite solid. I simply replace the ground beef of my grandmother's recipe with lentils. Sides of rice pilaf and any veggie with a Mediterranean flair would work.
Any stuffed pasta is easy for a meatless option.
Are you planning on offering multiple meal options? If you can, everyone should be able find an option to please them, no matter how much they love steak.
We had a Greek-style vegetarian moussaka with portobellos at our wedding that everyone raved about. I'm still disappointed that I never got to taste it!
These were our (passed) appetizers):
Raspberry & Goat Cheese Phyllo Cups
Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Pies in Phyllo)
Asparagus Portobello Chevre Quesadillas
Crostini Toasts Of Marinated Roasted Red Pepper & Capers
Grilled Cheese Squares
Our sides were asparagus & a rice-veg pilaf. There's also a Greek spinach and rice mixture that we almost got, but didn't end up with. Our meal was Kosher dairy (I needed butter in the cake and creamer for the coffee) and anyone who does Kosher catering understands how to be meatless. Although you'd have to watch out for fish (which is considered to be dairy).
Portobellos seem to go over well with a lot of folks. A quinoa salad would give a complete protein. The savory bread pudding below sounds good to me too. I would consider a mushroom-free option as I know many folks who aren't fond of them. What about a savory cheesecake?
i'm not going to be able to figure out a whole meal that works together right now, but i can free associate some dishes from which you can pick and choose.
i don't know what city you are located in, but here in LA there is a persian restaurant that serves stuffed grape leaves with a stuffing made of a spiced lentil paste instead of the usual oily rice stuffing.
not only is it more delicious, imho, it holds it's shape better, is easier to eat, and actually delivers some protein.
this same restaurant serves a specialty rice dish called ADAS POLO. it contains raisons, currants, dates, and lentils, so, therefore is protein complimentary.
falafal balls as appetizers perhaps?
with dip of tahini sauce.
steamed or roasted asparagus served with a goat cheese dip.
a burrata salad with either marinated roast red peppers or sun dried tomatoes.
as a main dish a savory bread pudding made with gruyere cheese and fancy mushrooms.
also, most folks would accept a very cheesy version of eggplant parmesan or lasagna.
if i were in your postition, and lived in a city with a Whole Foods market, i'd take a look in their deli case to get some inspiration.
also, if you have a favorite vegetarian restaurant, i'd go to them as a possible caterer (in Los Angeles, for me, that restaurant would be NATIVE FOODS).