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Vegetarian/Pescatarian Entertaining on a Budget?

I travel a fair bit for various reasons, which means my friends often watch my cat for me while I'm out of town.

They usually refuse cash payment, but I'd like to do something to thank them. Coincidentally, most of my cat-sitting friends are some variety of vegetarian (ranging from full vegan to ovo-lacto to pescatarian). I'm looking to cook them a thank-you dinner. Any great, guest-worthy dinner recipes that are either veggie or easily modified to be so?

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  1. budget? - forget the pesce idea - that stuff (the good items anyway are sooo pricey!)

    vegan and ovo-lacto, you can go wild (well within reason).

    1 Reply
    1. re: hill food

      second hill food's thought about the fish.
      the world wide price of good fish has skyrocketed and the only inexpensive fish is farm-raised yuck.
      also, don't know about your ventilation, if you cook fish, your whole house may smell of fish when the guests arrive.

    2. You could do a chili night - black bean, with soy milk cornbread and vegan or non-vegan cheese.

      A taco night, with offerings from soy chorizo to spiced tofu to shrimp.

      Marinated grilled portobello mushroom caps make lovely burgers, with vegan cheese or regular. Olive oil baked fries. Salad. Chocolate coveted strawberries.

      Or do an asian night - spring rolls made with marinated tofu or shrimp, a napa cabbage slaw, veggie potstickers.

      Or if they are pescatarians, that leaves the barn doors wide open for crab, shrimp or lobster dinners. Way cheaper at home and more fun than restaurants : )

      6 Replies
      1. re: happybaker

        never considered crab or lobster as
        <<Entertaining on a Budget>>

        canned crab is gross and fresh crab costs a fortune.

        1. re: westsidegal

          lobster is $3.99 a pound for me right now. cheaper than deli meat. :)

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            hotoy - where is there and why am I not?!?!

            1. re: hill food

              lol, boston. same thing happened last summer. honestly i don't know how the lobstermen can afford to even take out their boats, but we do our best to help them!

          2. re: westsidegal

            Ah, so jealous of hotoy!

            But even in LA, I can get a lobster for less than $9 a pound, and getting a few lobsters for friends with bread, salad and wine is WAY cheaper than a "nice" restaurant meal.

            And the frozen dungeness crab legs and claws from Costco are great for cracking and then roasting or stir frying, to add extra flavor and fun.

            1. re: happybaker

              just got culls caught this morning for $3.99 pp at the farmer's market.

              using a couple of these bugs to make lobster fritters or as a topping on crostini would seem decadent and still way cheap compared to dinner out.

        2. It's not the most original choice, but my favorite chili ever is the Vegetable Chili from the New Basics cookbook.

          http://caloriecount.about.com/silver-...

          Also, there are lots of great Indian curries that are vegetarian. Usually they are quite easy and very budget-friendly.

          There are two recipes in Celia Brooks Brown's "New Vegetarian" that I really like. One is the Piedmontese Peppers with Gorgonzola polenta. Here is a variation of that recipe
          http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2001/jun...

          The other is the haloumi fajitas. Here is a variation of her recipe:
          http://cookingfromatoz.blogspot.com/2...

          1. for an appetizer do a simple hummus with toasted pita halves and crudite to dip in it.

            if, on the other hand, your main dish is chili, then consider guacamole.

            i've had good success making a main dish bean-rich minestrone soup using water instead of stock, using fresh basil, and adding shelled edamame to it.
            a hearty whole grain french bread (in LA the brand to get is La Brea Bakery) tops the whole thing off.

            if you do make the minestrone soup, for an appetizer make a white bean hummous

            1. Take a look at the Ottolenghi threads - he's had two cookbooks of the month, and "Plenty" is vegetarian. You'll get some great ideas and inspiration.