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Help with Dinner Party planning (vegetarian, paleo, and meat-eaters in the mix)!

I've been scouring the boards for dinner party menu ideas, and am coming up flat.

The simple solution is to NOT invite this particular mix of people at the same time... but, the occasion warrants this particular group of people to gather.

Here are the challenges (5 people in this group):
One is vegetarian (can do eggs, dairy)
One is Paleo (trying to stay away from dairy (but not strict), no wheat, no sugar)
The guest of honor is a lactose-intolerant meat eater.
The other two are open to anything.

Here's my brainstorm so far. I'm open to any and ALL suggestions!

Appetizer: hummus and veggies
Salad: Some sort of mixed greens w/ nuts
Main: The only thing I can think of so far is brown rice pasta (ok but not ideal for the paleo) with two kinds of sauce (one w/ meat, one w/o meat)
Dessert: Fruit and some other 'special' dessert.

I'm not thrilled with the main or the appetizer... and would love some input on another type of dish that might work for this group.

TIA!

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  1. My first thought was summer rolls - rice paper, sprouts, daikon, avocado, could add peanuts, could have some with shrimp for the seafood eaters. Still contemplating a main!

    9 Replies
    1. re: Bigley9

      Summer rolls are a great idea! I've actually never made them, but my guess is I could prep most of the ingredients ahead of time. How far in advance can you assemble them (with the rice paper)?

      1. re: The Oracle

        I've found they can dry out really quickly. I lay them out in a single row and top with a damp cloth and then another row on top and another damp cloth etc.

        They can be pretty fussy to make until you get the hang of it so making ahead is a great idea. I love these so much. I serve them with nuoc cham and a peanut sauce.

        1. re: ChervilGeorge

          Sounds delicious and a perfect summer meal. Do you make your own sauces? If so, you KNOW what my next question is going to be? Recipe, please?! :)

          1. re: The Oracle

            Here you go.
            Nuoc Cham
            1/4 c Lime juice, freshly squeezed
            1/4 c Fish sauce (nuoc mam)
            1/4 c Water
            1 T Rice Vinegar
            1/2 tsp Garlic-Chile paste
            1 T Carrot and Daikon radish, shredded
            1 T Sugar

            Mix all the ingredients and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

            I make my peanut sauce different every time so you may want to google a recipe, I don't really have one but I always include, lime, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, chili paste, brown sugar, soy sauce, sesame oil. I thin it out with a chicken or vegetable stock if I have some on hand, otherwise I use water.

            1. re: ChervilGeorge

              Thank you for the recipes and tips on the peanut sauce.

              My new game plan is:

              Appetizers: Spring Rolls (shrimp & veggie) w/ dipping sauces
              Main: Veggie Red Curry (with chicken for the meat eaters to throw in) w/ rice
              Dessert: TBD - my backup plan is coconut milk ice cream... but I'd love to pull off a show-stopper!

              Any thoughts on what I'm missing or drinks to pair with the courses (alcoholic)?

              I'll have to make the spring rolls about 10 hours prior to serving, and I'm hoping they won't dry up too much!

              1. re: The Oracle

                That sounds fabulous with some version of the parfaits discussed downthread. Let us know how it goes!

                Oh, and drinks, I am very partial to a well chilled Provençal rosé, I think it would play very nicely with your proposed menu.

          2. re: ChervilGeorge

            I agree - but I have made them several hours in advance and covered with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap.

            1. re: Bigley9

              Funny - I opened the food section of my newspaper to this article today! I hate when they eavesdrop on our conversations!
              http://www.philly.com/philly/food/kit...

              1. re: Bigley9

                Love it! Thanks for posting that link! 4 hours seems like the max these will keep. I may do a 'build your own' type bar, since I have about 45 minutes before my event (scheduling gaff, for sure!)

      2. I had a get together with similar parameters. Mine was for about 15 people, most paleo and a couple of vegetarians. The vegetarians weren't picky though and didn't care if meat touched the vegetables, they would just pick around the meat.

        I mostly used middle eastern dishes, and mostly from Ottolenghi's cookbooks.

        For the appetizers, I had a butternut squash dip, beet dip and hummus. The hummus I split into 2/3 and 1/3 (for the vegs). The 2/3 was hummus with lamb and lemon sauce. All of the above are from the Jerusalem cookbook (it was COTM and I've reported on the result there).

        For the main, I made a roasted herb turkey breast (from Ottolenghi's original cookbook, Ottolenghi) and meatballs baked in tahini sauce (same source). I also had two sides, roasted cauliflower with pomegranate seeds and yogurt (Melissa Clark's, Cook this Now) and roasted butternut squash with pine nuts (Jerusalem).

        The vegetarians munched on the appetizers and sides and were more then happy. Even though hummus isn't technically paleo because of the chickpeas, I didn't care.

        For dessert, I don't remember what I made but it wasn't even close to paleo.

        Lastly, the beauty of these recipes is that most of the dishes could be made ahead of time or were maintenance free (just stick in the oven and then slice). So it all came together quickly.

        1 Reply
        1. re: beetlebug

          This is a great menu that I'll keep in mind for another time. I need to get my hands on those Ottolenghi cookbooks!

        2. What about a meal of tapas? Hummus, falafel, some sort of skewered meat or two, salad, olives, roasted nuts, a nice feta, tabouli, a nice flat bread, some middle eastern rice or potato, etc? And then fruit and baklava w/o butter or a honey nut cake of sorts for dessert?

          1. For the appetizer - veggie eggrolls (filling baked in mini-muffin pans for the paleo).

            For the main: Kabobs w and w/o meat, prepared on separate grill for the vegetarian. Barley for the grain?

            Take a look at this blog for other inspirations? She has great meat & non-meat dishes.
            http://kateinthekitchen.com/recipe-in...

            Or the KitchenTreaty blog, which features one dish two ways (veg / meat) http://www.kitchentreaty.com/hawaiian...

            1. I would do a "build your own" taco bar for the main dish. Have a "meat" filling (chicken, steak, beef, shrimp or fish), a bean filling, paleo can make a taco salad (or taco/burrito "bowl" since I see you already have a salad course planned).
              Include salsa, corn, shredded lettuce, sour cream, rice, diced jalapenos, tortilla chips and tortillas, etc., your usual taco stuff.

              1 Reply
              1. re: OhioHound

                Also, avocado would go nicely with both this theme and your guests' dietary restrictions. Diced in a salad, or guacamole (and salsa) for tortilla chips in an appetizer.