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Hosting a BBQ next weekend--6 meat LOVERS and 2 vegans. Menu help?

Hi all,

So I'm hosting a BBQ/casual dinner party next weekend. So far, it looks like there will be 6-8 meat eaters and 2 vegans attending. Some of the omnivores are into veggies, but a couple of them won't touch something unless it's at least cooked in bacon. So I've got a great mix of guests here.

This is not really a foodie crowd. They are excited for Lipton onion soup mix dip.

Menu so far:

-Tortilla and potato chips with salsa, guacamole, sour cream/onion dip
-Vegan baked beans (Is this a bad idea?? Will omnis not want these?)
-Chopped green salad with veggies
-Roasted potato wedges
-Roasted sweet potato fries
-Corn on the cob
-Asparagus with garlic, lemon, tarragon (family recipe everyone loves)

-Hot dogs/sausages and burgers for the meat eaters (going to set out toppings--all the usual suspects plus caramelized onions, bacon, etc.)
-Pressed roasted veggie sandwiches for the vegans (grilled eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers with homemade pesto and tapenade. Made ahead and pressed in the fridge)

-Lots of fresh seasonal fruit
-Vegan vanilla cupcakes with chocolate ganache (I've made these hundreds of times; no one can tell they're vegan. I even had a middle aged male friend request this for his bday cake)
-Homemade apple hand pies
-Ice cream
-??? Maybe some kind of cookie

I feel like I'm missing something. Pasta salad, or some kind of app. I was trying not to make any mayo salads and instead roasting potato wedges, or maybe doing crash hot potatoes so the vegans can eat them as well. I believe all of my apps/sides are vegan up there aside from the onion dip. I'd love to be able to limit the splitting and labeling of dishes.

Anyone ever had vegan baked beans? Are they terrible? I'm not a bean eater myself, so I've never had the bacon/pork kind either. Just wanted some protein for the vegans.

Any suggestions? Thanks!!!

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  1. Sounds like plenty to me. If you want, add a grain or pasta salad and call it good.
    and no, vegan baked beans are not terrible. I like the addition of molasses, onion, catsup, mustard.

    2 Replies
    1. re: wyogal

      what's a good catsup substitute? Everything you listed I find delicious but that haha

      1. re: JiveHealthNate

        I would think you could add tomato paste?

    2. Oh, Chow.

      I posted this in the Home Cooking thread for a reason. I don't want to know if vegans find vegan food good. I wanted to know if omnivores would be satisfied with these vegan dishes at a BBQ.

      Thanks wyogal for your reply though. I think I'm overthinking things.

      1 Reply
      1. re: nothingswrong

        Thanks, I'm non vegan and think it sounds great! Even my picky, meat-centric husband would enjoy your menu!

      2. I agree with keeping the baked beans on the menu, otherwise you have no vegan protein on your current menu.

        Oh and make sure you have plenty of the vegan grilled sandwiches on hand---more than enough to feed the two vegans on your guest list. It has been my experience at BBQs that many non-veggie folks eat all of the black bean/veggie burgers before I get to them. Plus your sandwiches sound YUMMY.

        Also, if you have time I like the addition of a pasta or other starchy salad. You could always do orzo and make sure to add chickpeas for more veggie protein. Another protein-rich option would be adding a hummus dip to your apps. In fact dipping your roasted spuds in those is sounding kind of delicious to me at the moment. Ahh food!

        Have fun!

        2 Replies
        1. re: pedalfaster

          Thank you!

          The bf told me last night that I "have" to make my Italian pasta salad (rotini, spicy salami, pepperoni, mozzarella, roasted peppers, olives, tomatoes, with parmesan and a tangy vinaigrette with fresh basil). When I told him about the vegan situation, he said he would forfeit the meats and cheese in it, so long as I keep the dressing the same.

          So I guess that will be the app I was missing!

          I will keep the beans. I thought about roasting some Cajun spiced chickpeas too, but I dunno. I'm really not good at this menu planning stuff; everything looks so delicious.

          1. re: nothingswrong

            Have a bowl or platter of dressed meat and cheese on the side for those that like those additions.

        2. I personally could not imagine eating baked beans in the summer, how about chickpea salad with lentils( smitten kitchen) quinoa salad...lots of options in the summer. Vegannaise (vegan mayo) is delicious. Nuts will add lots of protein to any salad.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Gloriaa

            Baked beans are a summer staple here in MN. You'll find them alongside the potato salad, corn on the cob and coleslaw at nearly every BBQ.

            I think your menu looks great, nothingswrong!

            1. re: Gloriaa

              I couldn't imagine NOT eating baked beans in the summer...

              1. re: LaLa

                To each their own. I associate baked beans with winter, I prefer salads that are fresh and refreshing in the summer. This is a great forum to express preferences...

            2. I have no input on the beans as I am not a bean person myself. I agree with the other poster that said baked beans in summer don't sound that great though. I like their suggestion of a chickpea salad. Or any kind of bean salad really. But, what about grilling some portobello mushroom caps? The really big ones so they can be eaten like a burger? The pressed sandwiches sound good to this meat eater too though. Actually, the whole menu sounds great to me, I would eat even the vegan stuff :)

              5 Replies
              1. re: juliejulez

                We eat baked beans all summer long, great accompaniment to grilled foods.

                1. re: juliejulez

                  I thought about Portobellos. TBH, I wasn't sure how the vegans would feel about having their meals grilled next to bloody beef and pig's anuses. We will be somewhat pressed for time getting the food off of the grill (we have a bit of entertainment planned after the BBQ starts) and I have a feeling my boyfriend will just dump it all on at once.

                  I forgot to mention, I was a vegetarian for most of my life and an accidental vegan for much of that time... Things like grill contamination would have put me off of my dinner, though I don't know how everyone stands on such matters.

                  I will definitely look at some other bean recipes. I just know all the omnis attending LOVE baked beans. I can't stand the things, but I know they've been at all of the BBQs I've attended so far this spring/summer.

                  1. re: nothingswrong

                    Ah that's a good point about the "contamination". I didn't think of that :) The sandwiches sound fantastic so I'm sure that'll be plenty.

                    1. re: nothingswrong

                      I'd skip the fusshy sandwiches and grill portobellas (first) and plenty of them. And then make something with pasta/beans/herbs.

                      Unless I know that meat was good quality and well handled I often skip it at barbecues. Barbecues bring out the absolute worst entertaining quality.

                      1. re: JudiAU

                        That's interesting. I'm the same way about meat. I won't touch the stuff unless I'm sure it was handled properly. I've been served grilled chicken that was placed on my dinner plate with the same fork that was used to handle it raw... Things like that put me off chicken in general when I'm at other peoples' houses.

                        I'm nuts about food safety and all my friends know it.

                        I'm going to start grocery shopping tomorrow; I'll check out the cost on portobellos. The guest list keeps growing and I'm not keen on spending too much.

                  2. baked beans are pretty traditional for bbqs. i've made my own, and they are pretty time-consuming unless you have a slow cooker - several hours in a low oven.

                    but, i do agree with the need for some vegan protein. this is a summertime variation of white bean and kale soup.

                    white bean and kale salad

                    8 ounces dried small white beans
                    2 bay leaves
                    sprig rosemary (optional)
                    bunch kale (or 10-ounce bag)
                    juice and zest of 1 large lemon
                    1 clove garlic or 1 small shallot, finely minced (optional)
                    salt, pepper
                    1/3 cup olive oil

                    cover beans with cold water. add bay leaves and rosemary and soak overnight. drain, then transfer beans and herbs to a large saucepan. cover with fresh water. bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans are tender (1 - 1 1/2 hours). while beans are cooking, trim and chop kale; transfer to a large bowl. place lemon juice, zest, minced garlic or shallot, s&p and oil in a jar and shake.

                    when beans are done, drain. remove herbs, then pour beans over the kale. add vinaigrette and combine well. as the beans cool, the kale will wilt. adjust seasonings before serving at room temp. keeps well in fridge

                    1. I had a vegan dip made of beets, black beans and hummus yesterday that was quite good and shouldn't be too hard to recreate, I think.

                      1. I think your menu sounds great although no pig in them hurts me :)

                        1 Reply
                        1. Frankly, I don't have much patience with people with self imposed diet restrictions, especially if I don't share their affliction.

                          I am a simple guy with simple solutions. I wouldn't invite vegans. I would uninvite ones I figured out after the invites went out.

                          That being said.... some kind of baked sweet onion is good. Slice it in sections from the top to the root only don't cut all the way through. Cut it, maybe, 3/4 of the way through. put some butter in between the wedges. add some beef bouillon powder if you like. wrap them in foil and bake in the grll or oven for about an hour. They are very good.

                          Jalapeno poppers are good. Jalapenos stuffed with cheese.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                            You'd really uninvite people who didn't want everything on your menu? That's what it boils down to. There are certainly things I don't care to eat and I'd just fill up on what I did enjoy. The menu above sounds great and I'd be perfectly happy with just about everything on there.

                            1. re: Hobbert

                              Absolutely, if they want to come, fine, keep their self imposed restrictions to themselves and nibble on whatever in hell is there that meets there restrictions.

                              If I go somewhere and there isn't anything I would eat, I don't eat. I don't whine about it. If I really am distressed, I would either leave or bring something that fits my restrictions.

                              More than 30 years ago, I was best man at a friend's wedding . He had some kind of barbecue after the practice ceremony. He served the cheapest chicken hot dogs he could find because, according to him, it didn't matter they were going to taste like bbq sauce. He was probably right but it pissed me off. I went to the store and bought beef hot dogs and cooked them for myself and my family.

                              If I invited a bunch of people to a bbq and someone surfaced and announced that they were vegan and wanted to know what I was going to provide them, I would say ...nothing. If you still want to come, you better bring something you will eat.

                              If someone came forward and said, "I am deathly allergic to nuts and peanut butter. I could die if i am even in the same room as nuts", I would say, "That's unfortunate, I don't want to take any chances with your health so I don't think you should come.

                              Again...simple solutions.

                              1. re: Hank Hanover

                                Ah, well that's a bit different than your initial statement about uninviting vegans. To an extent, I agree with you. A polite guest eats from what's offered. But a gracious host provides food for guests to enjoy.

                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                  Hank, respectfully, you contradict yourself. "keep their self imposed restrictions to themselves and nibble on whatever in hell is there that meets there restrictions." and then " He was probably right but it pissed me off."

                                  When I entertain, my primary goal is to keep my guests happy. If that includes taking consideration for certain dietary restrictions I am more than happy to do so. And what you said about food allergies is absurd and insulting. Allergies are a health issue, not a lifestyle issue.

                              2. re: Hank Hanover

                                I was thinking about tossing some onions on the grill in lieu of caramelizing some for the burgers. Your recipe sounds yummy.

                                I also contemplated jalapeno poppers, but we are a heartburn crew.

                                As to the vegans, one of them is the one who is handling all my invites and has been of great help to me lately. She and her spouse are newly vegan, for health reasons (it's a temporary situation), and I'm more than happy to support that decision.

                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                  I carmelize my onions on the grill-
                                  Slice onions into rings or half moons, toss with some oil, salt, pepper. Put onions in a disposable foil pan, cover with foil, place in the back of the grill. Every so often, stir. They'll get carmelized and crispy.

                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                    How long does that take on the grill??

                                    If we're just grilling burgers and hot dogs, I'd most likely have to start the onions way earlier then, right?

                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                      Takes about a half hour. I put them on right when I turn on the BBQ.
                                      Every time I go to flip burgers, I give the onions a stir.

                                2. re: Hank Hanover

                                  Where do you get "self-imposed diet restrictions?" Many of us eschew animal product due to health issues.

                                3. If you can get large, burger sized, portobello caps, They grill up nicely with lots of garlic and olive oil. I'm a hard core carnivore and I'll even eat these.

                                  Wax potatoes wedges grill up nicely in foil packets with olive oil, garlic and fresh rosemary.

                                  1. The beans are a side dish not a main, should fit in well. Other than that, looks like you'll have enough to feed double your guest count!

                                    1. I think your menu sounds fantastic!

                                      Vegan baked beans can be awesome. I honestly don't miss the smoked meat when I make them vegetarian. If you want, you can always add a little liquid smoke.

                                      If you're wanting to add another side, a couscous salad with roasted veg would be nice. Or tabbouleh.

                                      For appetizers, I might do some little canapes both vegan and not. Hummus on a cucumber round with a cute garnish, smoked salmon on toast points with creme fraiche, fennel and white bean spread on crostini, warm spiced olives, assortment of pickled items etc.

                                      8 Replies
                                      1. re: ChervilGeorge

                                        Okay, I'm feeling better about the vegan baked beans now. Thanks for the input.

                                        I am very Greek and contemplated doing all Greek apps. My favorites being spanakopita, skordalia (!!!), tiropita, and saganaki. I was going to add yemista (stuffed tomatoes/peppers), some kind of deconstructed Greek salad, olive plate, roasted garlic hummus, tabouli... then I started thinking how about some delicious chicken souvlaki skewers, or fish, or grilled shrimp, and then I'd have to make roasted lemon potatoes, homemade baklava, kourambiethes, and the most utterly delicious dessert ever, diples.

                                        As you can see, things got out of hand and I had to stop that line of thinking. That is a dinner party for another night!

                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                          Smoked paprika also does the trick.

                                          1. re: wyogal

                                            Thank you for your help! I didn't want to have to buy liquid smoke; I know I'll never use it again. I have some new smoked paprika and I'll toss that in.

                                            Also, I will keep some chopped meats and cheese next to the pasta salad like you suggested upthread. Or maybe I will just prep everything and put it in two bowls: One vegan, one with meat/cheese. That's easy enough.


                                          2. re: nothingswrong

                                            Hope I'm not confusing the issue..... I think these are vegan and they sound darn good.

                                            Mexican baked beans with Beer,


                                            Also - a three bean salad (homemade) is classic for a bbq and is something both vegan's and no vegans would like (I guess you'll have to skip the bacon and bacon grease for the dressing). I normally just wing it when I make this - however, you could go along ways with this dish..


                                            1. re: sparky403

                                              Both of those look wonderful, thank you.

                                              I was THIS close to making a three .bean salad... and then the bf grabbed two cans of vegetarian baked beans last night from the grocery store. At this point with the guest list growing quite a bit, I'm going to have to be okay with some canned beans.

                                            2. re: nothingswrong

                                              would love your chicken souvlaki recipe if you're inclined to share? As well as..he stuffed tomatoes and peppers recipe... (After your event - or whenever you can get around to it)...

                                              sounds like you got it handled... have fun...

                                              * Remember - the secret to a great chef is to make sure everyone is damn hungry!

                                              1. re: sparky403

                                                I don't have my own souvlaki recipe. My mother and grandmother made it by eye. Try and get a Greek woman to give you an actual recipe in my family, and you'll just end up frustrated. It's always "What do you MEAN 'how much garlic?'"

                                                Anyway the chicken has a mix of garlic, olive oil, lemon, and herbs. Delicious with spanakorizo (spinach rice--similar to a rice pilaf I guess?).

                                                As to the yemistes, I make different recipes if I'm using peppers or tomatoes. I tend to make meatless stuffed tomatoes as a side dish. My mom's stuffed peppers are still my absolute favorite thing in the world to eat. Once again, no real recipes, apologies!

                                                Stuffed Peppers (with ground beef and rice)

                                                -Lop the tops off of a few green and red bell peppers. Scoop out the seeds and ribs.
                                                -Saute chopped onion in olive oil until translucent. Add ground sirloin (or you can use lamb, but we always had lean beef) and cook several minutes. Add a few cloves of minced garlic, a pinch of oregano, pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon (that's the "Greek secret" when cooking red meats).
                                                -Cover beef with canned tomatoes. Add long grain white rice (should be enough cooked rice to fill each pepper, sorry no measurements!) Bring all to a boil, simmer 10 minutes.
                                                -Place peppers tightly into a high sided lidded casserole dish and spoon them FULL of the meat/rice mixture. Pack it in! Place tops back on peppers, cover dish, and bake at 375 for one hour, or until they are very tender.

                                                Mom always served this with some kind of bread for sopping up the juices. These are my #1 favorite comfort food, even now as an adult. She makes them for me whenever I come home. Such a simple recipe with very few ingredients, but they are so juicy and flavorful!

                                                As to the stuffed tomatoes, I follow a similar recipe but no meat:
                                                Lop the tops off of some vine tomatoes and scoop out the innards. Mash the flesh and discard any big chunks of white core. Saute an onion and a ton of garlic in olive oil until soft. Add oregano, salt and pepper, maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes. Add tomato flesh back into pot, long grain rice, and enough crushed canned tomatoes to cover. Simmer until thickened a bit and rice is cooked halfway.

                                                Place empty tomatoes in a baking dish and stuff with rice mix; sprinkle with grated hard cheese (or you can fold it into the rice before stuffing--you can also fold in fresh chopped parsley or mint). Drizzle tomatoes/rice with olive oil. Place tops on tomatoes.

                                                A lot of Greeks will put chopped potatoes between the tomatoes in the dish to keep them from falling over; just scatter cubed taters around (Yukon golds hold their shape nicely), then drizzle with more oil, and put a bit of water and/or chicken broth in the baking dish to help them steam. You want liquid to cover about halfway up the potatoes. You can also season them, but I don't think most recipes call for it. I would definitely add some salt though. Cover the dish and bake at 375 for an hour. The potatoes in the dish should be browned and the rice cooked through.

                                                Sorry about the lack of actual recipes. Like I said, they don't exist in my family.

                                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                                  I totally appreciate it.... I don't really use recipes all that much so trying to write them down is vexing for me too.

                                                  I will try soon thanks much for taking the time to put it down.

                                                  Efxaristo (utilizing all the greek I can muster:-)

                                          3. Sounds delicious! If you want, you could add soy chorizo to the beans to give them a meaty taste, or instead of bbq beans you could do a 3 bean salad OR a salad of black beans and corn with tomatoes, onions, cilantro and a nice oil and vinegar dressing.
                                            The pressed sans sound delicious, and if I come to the party I probably will choose one instead of a burger, even though I'm not a vegetarian. So, maybe make extras of those. I am guessing you put the sans together with the veggies and then press? If you worry about mayo because of fear of sickness, perish that thought. If anything, commercial mayo, with its acid content, protects other foods! One thing the health dept here in Mazatlán, Mexico warns us about every summer is salsa! The fresh salsa (raw chopped tomatoes, etc) must be kept cold. People get sick going to outdoor stands with no refrigeration when they eat the raw salsa and/or (naturally) the seafood. The seafood part is just common sense, but I was surprised at how many people get sick from salsa.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: MazDee

                                              I dislike fake meats as do many others so please leave out soy anything. Vegan baked beans are delicious and also a summer staple here in New England. I would add a grain salad rather than a pasta one just because it is more substantial IMO .
                                              I find the idea of uninviting people because of thir food preferences very in host like.

                                              1. re: MazDee

                                                I remember reading somewhere years ago that the #1 cause of food poisoning in the US is from produce, not from meats. I found that frightening at the time, but since then there have been so many produce recalls so I guess it's old news.

                                                But I agree, that's interesting about the salsa!

                                                I'm going to skip the fake meats this time around, as I don't want to put anyone off. I was never a big fan of them when I was a vegetarian and vegan, but I know many who rely on them for protein and flavor.

                                                I LOVE a black bean/corn/tomato/onion/cilantro type salad, and I'm sure the guests would too, but I just mentioned upthread that my bf went and bought some cans of vegetarian BBQ beans, so I'm just going to stop fretting about it and serve those. I'm not a bean person, so I have no idea if they're really gross, but I see them around at other BBQs and people seem to eat them, so oh well!

                                                1. re: MazDee

                                                  There is vegan mayo, but its not needed with pesto and tapanade.

                                                2. Potabella Mushroom burgers?

                                                  1. Meat eaters aren't going to like Vegan baked beans, no way. I would bake a Ratatoulle to be served at room temp. along with brown rice for the vegans. I did a wedding reception on the beach for 60 with 4 vegans in attendance and this is what I offered the 4, they loved it!

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: robt5265

                                                      I never, ever will understand this attitude. Why on earth can't vegan baken beans be enjoyed by meat eaters? I don't know anyone who holds this opinion.

                                                      1. re: JudiAU

                                                        Agreed. Vegan food isn't some bizarre thing. I eat meat and I'm perfectly content with a vegetarian or vegan meal. But no fake meat products, please!

                                                        1. re: Hobbert

                                                          I agree. Not to get all new-age-y, but if you eat a whole food based and well-balanced diet, much of what you're eating is probably vegan. I can't believe when I see people who eat meat 2-3 times (or more) per day. It has never appealed to me.

                                                          When I started trying to plan the menu for this BBQ, all those veggie sides were what I personally wanted to eat. I grew up eating that way--lots of individual veggie side dishes, a starch or two, and grilled meat. My mom was (and still is) very into simple dishes made with high quality ingredients and it's been engrained into all of the children.

                                                          A typical Sunday night dinner for us was grilled filet (just seasoned with s+p, maybe a little garlic salt), grilled marinated shrimp, baked/roasted potatoes (EVOO, s+p), grilled peppers/onions, corn on the cob, salad, and 1 or 2 green veggie sides (asparagus, green beans, broccoli, etc.). Crusty bread on the side. Something chocolatey for dessert with 2-3 types of fresh cut seasonal fruit.

                                                          We never ate things like casseroles, or veggies globbed in mayo or ranch. We are Greek, and use olive oil and vinegar for everything. My older brother used to eat bowls of salad just so he could drink the vinegary dressing at the bottom! I guess we were lucky to grow up here in Los Angeles where there is amazing produce year-round, but we all grew up enjoying the taste of fruits and veggies on their own. When I went vegetarian somewhere in high school, my mom ran out and bought me a bunch of fake meats for protein (as I'm not into beans and legumes). I ate them for a while but they just made me feel gross. Then when I went vegan in my late teens/early 20s, I there were no fake meats on my plate.

                                                          Going over to mom's for Sunday dinner, I ate well and felt very satisfied, just eating everything but the steak/shrimp.

                                                          I do love me some cheese though. And I bake daily; there is no way to replicate a buttery pie crust, pastry dough, etc. in the vegan world. Only reason I'm not vegan now!

                                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                                            I agree. When you say "vegan", many people automatically think its a bunch of weird, unusual things. But, like you, a lot of what I make is naturally vegan- dinner is based on what produce looks good and we go from there. Especially at a barbecue, it's fairly easy to eat meat free considering the sides generally don't have meat. I just don't get all the outrage about vegans and vegetarians.

                                                      2. re: robt5265

                                                        I beg to differ in a HUGE way. I've had so many vegetarian baked beans that have been awesome and I am a meat eater.

                                                        1. re: robt5265

                                                          Speak for yourself. I am an omnivore and I love vegan baked beans if they are made well.