Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >
Nov 6, 2013 01:36 AM

Food that isn't what it seems, need creative ideas

For a themed dinner party (a huge one, I have to feed about 50 people) I'm looking for ideas for food that isn't what it seems.
Like: noodles that are not pasta but zucchini ribbons, meatballs that look like meatballs but are actually vegetarian (maybe lentils, or faux meat), cauliflower rice, ...
It should not get too gimmicky, and it should be something that is doable in very large batches.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I'm drawing a blank other than stuffing into cupcake papers and baking in cupcake molds > 'stuffing/dressing' and frosting with whipped/mashed potatoes-could be done in quantity without terribly much effort.

    2 Replies
    1. re: iL Divo

      I was thinking similar except in cake form.

      Casserole of meat, sauce, vegetables then covered in mashed potato frosting.

      1. re: iL Divo

        Please excuse the interruption, folks, just a quick message for iL Divo:

        We've received some feedback from you that makes us think you haven't received our recent email. Can you please check your registered address for the email (check spam, too, in case it ended up there) and touch base with us at if you haven't received it. Thanks.

      2. As a vegetable, spaghetti squash is the definition
        of food that isn't what it seems. Could be made ahead of
        time as a vegetable for a large group.

        1. Dessert "taco" using ice cream. Shell is pie crust, shaped (folded) baked in foil accordians, or sweetened taco shells fried. Chocolate ice cream thru cookie press or ricer to form "ground beef". Vanilla ice cream as "sour cream". Strawberry syrup as "salsa", green colored coconut as "lettuce". Chopped cherries as "tomatoes".

          Example recipe and image here

          1. Individual Meatloaf/hamburger patty "layer cakes" that look like carrot cake.


            1 Reply
            1. re: MidwesternerTT

              Or meatloaf cupcakes with mashed potato frosting. Gross, I know, but comfort food is comfort food.

            2. You might also look at links found when you search for "Trompe L'Oiel food"

              The video from Gourmet has great ideas - mozzarella/yellow tomato "hardboiled eggs", scallops (I think you could use mock-crab if costs are a concern) prepared as "scrambled eggs".

              2 Replies
              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                It's spelled "trompe l'oeil", means "fools the eye". You omitted the link to the video.

                I make "fauxtato salad" by soaking and slightly overcooking large dry lima beans. The canned version of this bean is butter beans, not the smaller green ones. You want most of the skins to split, mimicking the texture of cut-up boiled potatoes. Sub for spuds in any potato salad recipe. I defy anyone to taste a difference. It's much closer to the real thing than the typical cauliflower-instead-of-spud creations.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Apologies for the typo swap of the "e" and "i". I intentionally did not provide the video link, since it's not a link to a recipe.