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Help with planning for pescatarian house guest.

Without going into too many details. A dear friend is visiting in a few weeks and her and her husband eat mostly vegetarian with some fish/seafood. They will be here for only 3 days. While I love to cook, she does not, so food will not be a focus of the visit. I basically just need to feed everybody for 3 days. However, the CH in me, wants to provide some really great food. So, how do I please everybody, without driving myself crazy?

I want to make things ahead of time as much as possible. I am looking for comments and suggestions. Here are my thoughts for things I might make ahead:

-Quinoa salad with Mediterranean flavors
-Mexican style beans like frijoles de olla, cooked from dry beans.
-Arizona chile Colorado sauce or something similar used either as a sauce for tacos/burritos or as an enchilada sauce.

Also to have on hand: Homemade bread, pitas and homemade salad dressings. Lettuce/greens, fresh tomatoes, olives, onions, sweet and chile peppers, a various cheeses, etc. To serve as salads or for sandwich toppers.

For make ahead, my mind goes blank from there. We raise chickens so eggs are a given. I know her and her husband eat a lot of quiches, omelets, and frittata. So we have that in our advantage.

-A Spanish torta with Romesco sauce would be a great alternative to the egg dishes that I know they already eat. Does anybody have favorite recipe for making the torta with a favorite Romesco sauce? Especially if there are things I can make ahead.

Sorry for rambling...any thoughts?

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  1. I don't know where you are but if not in frozen winter land you could poach some salmon or halibut to be served room to with a sauce you like.
    Also if you have access to smoked salmon or trout these make nice bases for sandwiches or apps.
    A grain pilaf with kabocha squash or butternut or Delicatas is easily made ahead and served room temp or rewarmed.

    Also, soups. Carrot ginger, broccoli and cheese, borscht, et call are better the second day.

    1. I, too, am pescetarian. I think an surefire yet easy way to impress non-cooks is a shrimp scampi. Simple and super quick, but still delicious. Also I don't know anyone who doesn't like it ;-)

      3 Replies
      1. re: Meowzerz

        I was considering shrimp scampi. Do you serve it with rice or pasta, or just on its own?

        1. re: Springhaze2

          I usually serve it with pasta, but rice will work, even a polenta or farro, too.

          Perhaps a pan BBQ shrimp, like they do in New Orleans? Then serve it with lots of crusty bread to sop up the sauce, so delicious.

          1. re: Springhaze2

            Sorry for the delay. Yes, pasta is what we do. I forgot that part hehe. Angel hair.

        2. Also, lasagna- if you make them ahead of time, all you have to do is reheat. And if you make two smaller lasagnas, you could do a meat one and a seafood or veggie one!

          1. Deep breath.

            Your menu sounds lovely.
            If it helps focus on what the CAN eat rather what they cannot.

            Pork,beef, chicken.
            That's THREE THINGS on the "no" list vs. 3 bagillion on the "yes" list.

            You might consider a seafood/shellfish dish or two in there to bump up the protein (X2 if you are on a coast).

            Pour some great wine and, first and foremost, enjoy your visit!

            1 Reply
            1. re: pedalfaster

              Love the reminder to breath deep. Thanks for helping to keep me grounded. Yes, wine and ... will certainly help. Our visit and lots of hugs are the most important things.

            2. You should not feel as though you have to rid your home of meat for the duration. Go ahead and have bacon with your breakfast eggs if you want it, and plan to have meat cold cuts for you and your family to add when the meal includes sandwiches.

              Veggie burgers for the houseguests, "real" burgers for you and yours. Tuna melts are good, too.

              If Trader Joe's is in your area, their meatless meatballs are simply outstanding. I am a carnivore but I always buy them for when I have more sauce than meat and need to fill in a bit.

              12 Replies
              1. re: greygarious

                Really? If I have guests for only three days I would not put meat on the table. There are so many delicious fish and vegetable items; I would think of it as an opportunity to explore them.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  If I were a vegetarian family's houseguest, I would not expect them to eat meat because they were cooking for me. Personally, it would not bother me to forego meat for several days. That sometimes happens without my planning it that way. But if the OP's family would feel deprived, then they should not have to go meatless.

                  1. re: greygarious

                    I never said that my family would feel deprived.

                    1. re: Springhaze2

                      Nor did I - I merely pointed out that if they would be unhappy not having meat for several days, they should not have to give it up. There are options that allow everyone's preferences to be accommodated.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        when i was a vegetarian, i never expected special considerations and in fact it felt weird if the hosts were eating something but prepared a separate dish for me. made me feel like a pita.

                        now as an omnivore, i'd simply prefer to not be cooking 2 meals instead of one. besides, the smell or appearance of meat may be uncomfortable for the guests, especially if they are ethical vegetarians.

                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                          I agree hotoynoodle, I'd rather just make one meal that we can all share and enjoy. We often have meat-free meals, just because they are really good. And I don't want her to feel like a pita.

                        2. re: greygarious

                          just that your suggestion was kinda gratuitous-greygarious!
                          (but not hilarious)
                          for us pesky-veggies, it always seems that the idea of 'deprived' always surfaces around even the slightest
                          suggestion of bypassing meat, even for one meal.

                          1. re: VenusCafe

                            I find that so odd. W e are omnivores but go many meals without meat.

                    2. re: magiesmom

                      I have to agree with magiesmom on this one. We happen to have two freezers full of venison. (We hunt..) While I'll tease my friends that I am serving them venison, I want to stick to a vegetarian with some fish menu for the time they are here.

                      Both of my children went through times of vegetarians when they were teenagers. I know how to make some amazing vegetarian meals. There will be no meat served during the time they are here. I'm just really asking for some short cuts, so I don't focus on the food, and just enjoy our visit.

                      1. re: Springhaze2

                        There will be no meat served during the time they are here. Seriously? Eh, I don't see the big deal of making bacon at breakfast along with the regular fare. I was veg for years and vegan for a couple. It was a complete non issue to have meat on the table as long as there were enough other things I could eat.

                      2. re: magiesmom

                        I'm with you on this. One night I would make a vegetarian lasagna or pasta carbonara without the pork, another some nice salmon with potato and vegetables and the third a risotto with peas and shrimp. For lunch, grilled cheese one day, tuna salad the next and a Greek salad the third. For breakfast I would offer all the usuals but would not be frying up bacon or sausage -- but then we rarely do that even though we are carnivores.

                        1. re: magiesmom

                          I've never had vegetarian guest object to our eating meat while providing a spread for their needs, too.

                          When I was vegetarian for years long ago, i never thought of objecting, and neither did/does my ex, vegetarian almost 50 years now. I ate meat most of our life together.

                      3. I agree with the idea of a side of salmon that can be slow baked or poached. You can use leftovers for salmon patties/cakes. Also shrimp scampi is a hit at my house, and my husband doesn't even like shrimp.

                        Some more ideas:
                        Crab cakes
                        Wild mushroom risotto or lasagne
                        Butternut squash risotto or lasagne
                        Linguine with clam sauce
                        Thai curry mussels or clams
                        Clam chowder
                        Vegetarian chili with three beans
                        Baked manicotti or stuffed shells
                        Baked ziti with Swiss chard
                        Cheesy polenta topped with wild mushroom ragout
                        Hope that helps!

                        6 Replies
                        1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                          Yes..it does help! Do you happen to have a recipe for butternut squash lasagne? I was already thinking about something with butternut squash.

                          And the polenta with mushrooms, made me think of something along the lines of shrimp scampi over polenta. (Unfortunately a dish featuring mushrooms is out, my husband does not like them).

                          1. re: Springhaze2

                            I made a butternut squash Mac n cheese last week. It's not lasagna, but it went over really well in my house.

                            1. re: cheesecake17

                              Was it the Martha Stewart one.? Though I am no fan of hers I love that recipe.

                              1. re: magiesmom

                                It was from parents magazine, but I doubled the sauce and made a few changes

                          2. This Suzanne Goin recipe for butternut squash gratin with poblanos is totally CH-worthy, can be made ahead of time, and is vegetarian. It's a great main dish with just a salad, or it can be a heavy side. http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sq...

                            This smoked salmon and cream cheese fritatta is really good, simple and fast: http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe... -- Great brunch, lunch or dinner dish depending on what you serve with.

                            This tempeh scallopini is a lovely, rich, totally vegan dish that can be made the day before and reheated in a covered casserole. It's great with mashed potatoes and string beans and has a lot of the deep, slow-cooked flavors one misses when one is a busy vegetarian: http://www.food.com/recipe/tempeh-sca...

                            And, if you and your guests like Indian food, maybe an Indian-ish veg meal? -- channa masala, basmati pilaf with cashews, sauteed spinach or chard, and cucumber raita? This site has some of my favorite Indian veg recipes online: http://www.tastypalettes.com/

                            Vegetarians get served pasta primavera, vegetable risotto, hummus, vegetable "napoleons", and beans and rice pretty much everywhere. All those foods can be delicious, but if the goal is to give them something they might not eat regularly, I'd try other things.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: ninrn

                              The butternut squash gratin sounds amazing! I'm totally looking forward to trying this soon.

                              1. re: ninrn

                                I love the idea of Suzanne Goin's recipe for butternut squash gratin. Might make it just to try ahead of time.

                                Unfortunately I don't like smoked salmon. I like salmon, I like other smoked fish, but every time I try smoked salmon, I just don't like it.

                                My husband does not like most tofu dishes and there is no way to find things like tempeh were we live. (We are very rural.)

                                I love Indian food, not sure about my guests.

                                As a parent who had two vegetarian teenagers, I agree with the point about what vegetarians normally get served. That is one of the motivations for my post. Thanks for posting the links.

                              2. I knew the Chowhounds would come through with some great responses. I tend to make long posts, so I am trying to keep my posts simple. I live in a very rural part of North Carolina. We can get some great seafood, but salmon is out. Just not available and my husband does not like it.

                                This woman has been my friend for over 20 years. (we are in our 50's). My husband and I have been married for 4 years. She is my friend from a former life. She is also remarried in the last 4 years, so we are kind of blending years of friendship with new relationships.

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Springhaze2

                                  Whatever kind of seafood you can get is great. If it is local all the better.

                                  In terms of shortcuts soup is a great make ahead solution. How about a chowder or gumbo wiki th your local fish added at the end?

                                  1. re: Springhaze2

                                    I'm in NC too - we have other excellent fish - what about grouper?

                                      1. re: Jeanne

                                        I love grouper. Just not sure what the local market will have that is fresh the day my friend comes in. I want to have a few different plans for whatever is fresh that day.

                                        1. re: Springhaze2

                                          I know what you're saying about fresh - we are spoiled with our seafood! Not shrimp season but I'm sure you can find some fresh shrimp - although will probably be more expensive out of season. Same with crab - crab cakes - yum! Crab bisque? Even better!

                                          There used to be a restaurant in Manteo that had the best crab bisque I've ever had - was SO good. I don't remember the name of it - the building is still there and has changed hands - I would LOVE to have their recipe!

                                    1. Smoked kippers, smoked salmon are nice to have around for breakfast folks can grab for themselves, especially if you have capers, red onion, cream cheese, etc. Quiches are a great idea, too.

                                      Also, you could do a make ahead seafood gratin like Ina Garten's, or seafood stew that's greath reheated the next day and the day after that, make a meal with a salad and if very rich with seafood.

                                      Egg salad, tuna or smoked whitefish salad, roasted ratatouille to fill omelettes with cheese are all easy and great make aheads, too.

                                      18 Replies
                                      1. re: mcf

                                        Wow...thanks for the inspiration. My friend grew up in New York, I grew up in New Jersey. We are now living in totally different parts of the country. One thing we both miss is bagels! A local friend of mine makes really close to perfect New York style bagels. I can ask her to make up some bagels for us! Cream cheese, capers, red onion, tomato slices and smoked salmon. (though I am not a fan of smoked salmon, I know my friend loves it...) Perfect things to have on hand.

                                        1. re: Springhaze2

                                          If you are near a Costco, see if that location carries honey smoked salmon. It is a hot smoked salmon (what some folks used to call "baked) and, it's DIVINE.

                                          Take a fresh bagel, cut it in half, spread it with a thin layer of cold butter, smoosh chunks of the salmon on it, top with fresh cracked pepper - enjoy.

                                          I'll have a half a bagel with that salmon and coffee for breakfast, or a whole bagel, with salmon and wine for dinner.

                                          And to give you fish hope, I brought some of that salmon to a friends house a while back, we were hosting a brunch for a mutual friend. But the co-hostess hated lox. I told her this WASN'T lox. She took one bite, looked at me and said with awe and joy "It's like bacon!"

                                          Ah, the ultimate compliment : )

                                          I was just so happy that she was happy!

                                          1. re: happybaker

                                            Any chance that you could find out what the brand name is on that honey smoked salmon? We don't have a Costco, but we do have a Sam's club. I see they have one listed that is from the Honey Smoked Fish Co. I wonder if it's the same brand.

                                            1. re: Springhaze2

                                              I think it's usually Acme? They also carry Blue Hill Bay Whitefish salad, but it's too mayo heavy. But they also carry whole smoked whitefish that one could use to make it better.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                I am looking for the brand of the honey smoke salmon. I am not a big fan of cold smoked salmon, but the description happybaker gave of the honey smoked salmon sounds like it might be more appealing to me.

                                                I am considering making a smoked whitefish salad, depending on what type of smoked fish I can find locally. I wouldn't buy it already made.

                                                1. re: Springhaze2

                                                  Duck Trap makes a nice smoked brook trout that would be nice in salad, too. I had an amazing omelet once that had smoked brook trout with horse radish sauce. I sometimes eat a filet of it for breakfast with or without horseradish sauce.

                                                  Maybe this: http://honeysmokedfish.com/ Says it's carried by Costco.

                                              2. re: Springhaze2

                                                It's the same brand! Huzzah!


                                                I love that fish. I've brought it to ranchers in Arizona, New Yorkers, Ohioans and Californians - it's been enjoyed by all.

                                                You can eat it on a bagel with butter (my first method), but they have recipes on their website as well and I know some folks put it in a green salad. It's very rich, festive and a little goes a long way.

                                                I hope you and your guests like it as much as I do :


                                                P.S. The thin layer of butter on the bagel must be cold, otherwise it comes off as too oily... But cold, it works!

                                                1. re: happybaker

                                                  The local Sam's club does not have it, but I am planning a trip to a town that is about 1.5 hours away where the Sam's club does carry it. There is also a Whole Foods and Trader Joe's in that town, so I can stock up on other things while I'm there. Thanks again for the recommendation.

                                                  1. re: Springhaze2

                                                    If all else fails, they sell it online and ship it.

                                                    1. re: mcf

                                                      Unfortunately the smallest quantity they sell online is 25 lbs!

                                                      1. re: Springhaze2

                                                        Wow, that would be SOME meal! OTOH, it freezes really well. ;-)

                                              3. re: happybaker

                                                Are these the fillets of salmon? Comes 2/pack, one plain and one peppercorn?

                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                  Are the salmon filets you are thinking about honey smoked? The brand name is Honey Smoked Fish Co. The "warehouse" giants (Costco/Sam's) could be buying in bulk and repackaging into a 2 filet pack. They do have a pepper coated version:

                                                  1. re: Springhaze2

                                                    I think so,, but not totally sure. I'll take a better look next time

                                              4. re: mcf

                                                respectfully disagree with making a seafood casserole or a seafood soup with the intention of storing and serving it over a period of several days.

                                                speaking as a pescatarian

                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                  A nice clam chowder would be fine for 2 days - (minus the freshly steamed clams some people add at the end of course!. I have a really good easy recipe I found within the past year. I LOVE clam chowder.

                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                    Did someone here say "several days?"

                                                    The gratin can be mede earlier in the day and held for baking later.

                                                    The seafood stew or chowder great for a couple of days. I have refrigeration in my home, and I keep it much colder than normal.

                                                    Speaking as an experienced cook and fish lover.

                                                2. I would probably have them help to cook some meals . Alot of choices to put together seafood and a vegtable.It's always nice to have a group effort. Do some shopping,preparing,and cooking together.

                                                  11 Replies
                                                  1. re: emglow101

                                                    It sounded from the OP like the guests do not like to cook.

                                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                                      Maybe it's time.What else do you do when your just sitting around ?

                                                      1. re: emglow101

                                                        Um take your guests out? Sit and chat?

                                                        The point of the trip is not to teach the friend how to cook

                                                        1. re: cheesecake17

                                                          Unfortunately going out or ordering in is not really an option. When I say we live rural, I mean we live really rural. (We live on 126 acres of woods, we have only 3 neighbors within 2 miles of our home.) While there are two or three decent restaurants within 20 miles, but the vegetarian and fish/seafood choices are very limited.

                                                          This also makes planning ahead more important. Don't really want to run out to the grocery store - that's a 20 mile round trip.

                                                          1. re: Springhaze2

                                                            If I lived there, I'd NEVER get out of my car!

                                                            Too forgetful. :-)

                                                            1. re: Springhaze2

                                                              Springhaze I've been trying to figure out where you are since I've first seen your posts. As I've mentioned already - I'm in NC also -

                                                              1. re: Jeanne

                                                                East of Exit 20 from 95. I can drive east to Wilmington or south to Myrtle beach to find anything close to a health food store. And you?

                                                                1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                  I had been curious too. I am just South of Myrtle Beach.

                                                                  1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                    I live in Durham but have family in the Washington, NC, Bath and Core Point areas.

                                                          2. re: magiesmom

                                                            Magiesmom is right my friend does not cook. (Honestly, she has "food issues" but that's another story) However her husband does like to cook and is pretty good at the things he does make. His repertoire‎ is limited, but I totally plan to drag him into the kitchen and help out with meals.

                                                            One of my reasons for needing to pre-plan is that I don't want to have to go out to the grocery store. We live at least 10 miles from the nearest store. That means a 20 mile round trip and with time in the store at least an hour. Since my friend and I only have three days together I don't want to spend that time buying groceries.

                                                            1. re: Springhaze2

                                                              Your right. Spend time with your freind. Forget about driving around to buy groceries.I like all of your make ahead ideas anyway.

                                                        2. i ate pescatarian for a couple years for medical reasons. one dish i came up with that i really like is soba noodles with edamame, in either a miso-based or a peanut sauce. i would often also add a piece of grilled fish on top, or some shrimp, and top with green onion and roasted sesame seeds (or peanuts). it's not make ahead (soba doesn't keep that well), but it does take under 20 minutes start to finish.
                                                          mock duck is a good vegetarian protein: it's also really versatile (i've used it in everything from stir fry to on top of pizza).

                                                          also, remember! your friend doesn't (from what you said) care much about food, she does care about YOU. food is unlikely to ruin her visit, but she'll probably notice if it ruins yours. just try to have fun :) enjoy your visit!

                                                          5 Replies
                                                          1. re: chartreauxx

                                                            Thanks! I do have a great recipe for a peanut sauce that works with pasta and veggies. I never thought aobut using it on fish. I just make some up to have on hand. Edamame is a great idea, just to have on hand as a snack.

                                                            The whole food thing is just weird in our relationship. She knows I love to cook and she has an "unhealthy relationship" with food. (She is actually a psychotherapist so we understand those dynamics.) That makes it even more important for our visit to not focus on food at all, but I still want to wow her and her husband with great meals, because that is what I do.

                                                            1. re: Springhaze2

                                                              fwiw, imho.
                                                              peanut sauce works much better on pasta and veggies than it does on fish.

                                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                                Agree about the fish, (almonds are better), but it is GREAT on (8-9)shrimp, especially with (3)hard-boiled eggs, (1)cuke, tomats, scallions, celery, garnished with (TJ's blistered) peanuts, bean sprouts, mint, then topped with POTATO CHIPS!
                                                                ...and drizzled with a little lime juice/zest and/or chili oil.
                                                                We use mesquite grilled shrimp from our BBQ.
                                                                Thai Yum Yai salad, and it sure is!

                                                                1. re: VenusCafe

                                                                  also is terrific on soba topped with blanched sugar snap peas.

                                                                  1. re: VenusCafe

                                                                    i usually would do fish with the miso (or sometimes a dashi) broth/sauce, and shrimp or tofu with peanuts.

                                                            2. A lovely quiche is half Swiss cheese and half Feta, in combination with fresh asparagus tips (barely poached a little before you add them). The Feta is salty and the asparagus is sweet---a nice combination.

                                                              Also, I have fed vegetarians fried polenta with black beans. Make corn meal mush, add a lot of sharp cheddar cheese, chill overnight, slice, and fry until crispy around the edges. Ahead of time cook Cuban style black beans (onion, green pepper, tomato sauce, cumin, garlic---puree half of the beans and return to pot).

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: Querencia

                                                                Asparagus. Wow.

                                                                You reminded me that one of my fav meals (had as an appetizer but now I'll make it for breakfast or dinner) is grilled or fried asparagus, topped with a soft cooked egg, drizzled with butter, S & P, lemon rind and grated pecorino.

                                                                So so good.

                                                                1. re: Querencia

                                                                  A big yes on those Cuban black beans. Every once in awhile I have to splurge and eat black beans with pico de gallo maybe a pinch of sour cream and some corn tortillas chips.

                                                                2. You can make ahead fried pickled or marinated fish to be served cold or room temp. I made some the other day so it's on my mind

                                                                  This is the one I made last week: http://www.joyofkosher.com/recipes/fr...

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Siegal

                                                                    I love the sound of that. Thanks.

                                                                    Re: serving meat when vegetarians are present. I like to pamper guests and make what they most like. I just don't see the point of serving something I know they will not eat.

                                                                    1. re: magiesmom

                                                                      In small groups I agree. A large party may have options for everyone but not be strictly vegetarian.

                                                                    2. re: Siegal

                                                                      Thinking about it I ate all vegetarian today minus the chicken nugget I ate off my daughters plate.

                                                                      Maybe you would also like to make a sabich platter. All served cold or room temp make ahead. Fried eggplant, huevos haminados, tehina, salad, Amba, schug, etc

                                                                    3. The spanish tortilla with romesco is perfect.

                                                                      You can use your chili sauce to make enchiladas and freeze ahead of time.

                                                                      Sorry, but please skip a lasgna- vegetarians are often given that as the only veg menu option.

                                                                      This version of african peanut stew is hearty and delicious, also a make ahead meal:

                                                                      Maybe one night you do pizzas? Everyone can choose their own toppings to customize them.

                                                                      If you wanted you could make muffins or a quick bread ahead and freeze for breakfast.

                                                                      Don't worry too much!

                                                                      1. legumes are your friends.

                                                                        vegetable soups with lentils/beans are a staple in my house.
                                                                        i have middle eastern soups, mexican soups, western european soups, each made with different legumes and different vegetables and grains. there is no need to use special vegetable stock, the water used in making the soup will become stock if the soup is full of vegetables and legumes.

                                                                        stews made with legumes such as vegetarian chili, vegetarian ghormeh sabzi (made with red kidney beans), curries, dals, sag with paneer, moroccan chickpea tagine, etc.

                                                                        also, i like serving roasted vegetables as side dishes.
                                                                        in particular, roasted carrots served with a cumin/yogurt sauce is delicious.
                                                                        curried roasted cauliflower and plain roasted peppers are delicious.

                                                                        in terms of dairy and eggs, the recipe for ricotta al forno from evan kleiman's book (i believe that can't copy it here without infringing on the copyright) is as easy a recipe as can be imagined. i serve it with well sauteed browned mushrooms (all water cooked off) on top and with a side dish of ratatouille)

                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                                                          You can list the ingredients and paraphrase the directions or link to it online somewhere.

                                                                          1. re: magiesmom

                                                                            basically a casserole made of ricotta, eggs, and parmesan cheese.

                                                                          2. re: westsidegal

                                                                            The ricotta al forno recipe is online! Search in google, somebody imported it from MasterCook.

                                                                            That sounds like a good idea as something to have for the night they arrive. They will be getting in here at about midnight. Maybe the ricotta al forno and some roasted or grilled veggies, like eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, onions, etc. to serve along side. The roasted veggies can be used the next day for sandwiches, wraps, or as pizza toppers.

                                                                            I am going to make at least one type of soup, probably something with lentils and veggies, with middle eastern flavors. You just reminded me, that I do want to make up some vegetable broth. I have a simple recipe using the juicer, so you use both the juice and the pulp. (I usually have some in the freezer, but used up all that I had.)

                                                                            1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                              i would advise against adding any salt and i have stopped adding the olives because, imho, the parm has enough salt in it to carry the whole dish.

                                                                              1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                also, here is a link to one of the tagines that i make:


                                                                                (the recipe says that it serves 8: a complete lie.
                                                                                in my house it serves 4 hearty eaters when served with a grain.)

                                                                            2. Quinoa salad made with pesto, sun dried tomatoes, grilled veggies, and cheese if you like is also a great mid day snack or light lunch meal.

                                                                              I worked in a veggie restaurant for awhile, and this was one of our most popular lunch items.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: adventuresinbaking

                                                                                Yes, I am definitely planning to make some kind of Quinoa salad. Also works as filling for pita. I never thought of using pesto, I generally use sun dried tomatoes, halved grape tomatoes,olives, peppers, green onions and feta, with a lemon or balsamic vinaigrette. Since I am going to be roasting or grilling some vegetables anyway, I might try your "recipe".

                                                                              2. I am obsessed with romesco sauce, I have found the best one here on CH
                                                                                Here is the best Spanish tortilla I have ever made or tasted
                                                                                I also love caponata on anything and everything
                                                                                I had butternut squash lasagna for dinner last night and it was sooooo good. There were 12 layers of ultra thin pasta, roasted butternut squash, pecorino and bechamel. It was a show stopper.
                                                                                I served it with an interesting salad of greens, apples, walnuts and oyster mushroom chips.
                                                                                How about paella?
                                                                                There are so many options....

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: DowntownJosie

                                                                                  "I am obsessed with romesco sauce"


                                                                                  I was too after wiping up pink shrimp in it in Key West...

                                                                                  1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                    Homemade pizza with shrimp/sliced black olives/mushrooms covered with slices of provolone cheese.
                                                                                    Tonight's dinner:
                                                                                    Home made crust/s
                                                                                    Precooked in a medium oven on both sides till almost crispy
                                                                                    Out of the oven.
                                                                                    apply a generous coating of OO directly to the dry crust (the OO soaks into the dry crust making sort of a binder between the dry crust and the mozza cheese then after the cheese goes on nothing will slide off)
                                                                                    then a sprinkle of mozza cheese
                                                                                    then a thin layer of sweet sauteed onions
                                                                                    then layers of mushrooms/sliced black olives/shrimp. Then the provolone slices then into a hot preheated 450F oven (on a stone) till the cheese is golden brown.

                                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                      I have definitely added "make pizza dough" to my list of things to do ahead of time. So many options with pizza.

                                                                                2. I've scanned the replies but didn't catch a mention of eggplant, one of my favorite vegetables. Couldn't find a link for Christopher Styler's eggplant meatballs, but I have the recipe and will gladly post it, since it may not be copyrighted anymore. It's a definite make-ahead, just do NOT freeze. I learned the hard way that it just gets watery once thawed. Good hot over pasta and even better a day later as a meatball sandwich. Perhaps 1-2 days ahead as a max, covered in sauce, refrigerated.

                                                                                  There's a marinated eggplant app that I saw on TV that could be a make-ahead. Made it once. Very good.

                                                                                  Slice, dredge in seasoned flour, fry eggplant slices. Stack in a container not too much larger than the slices (maybe yoghurt container if you don't have a Tupperware or glass vehicle). Tight lid, keep in auxiliary pan if necessary for drip control. Pour in vinaigrette of choice. Turn top to bottom and vice versa occasionally, like twice a day. Keep in fridge. Serve in wedges with a drizzle of the extra vinaigrette.

                                                                                  Also, don't forget that there are lots of Indian recipes that are vegetarian/vegan. We make a faux Indian cauliflower and frozen chopped spinach dish that comes together rather quickly and could be for one of those times when you ask friend's husband to help.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: nemo

                                                                                    i LOVE eggplant, but the b/f generally does not. recently started making this, which he loves:

                                                                                    slice into rounds, lay on paper towels and salt to drain out some moisture. this can be done on a plate in the fridge from early in the day. about 20 minutes before serving, brush both sides with mayo and fresh thyme. sprinkle grated romano (or parm) and bake about 10 minutes. turn, sprinkle with more cheese and finsih baking til golden. omg, so good. i also like it room temp.

                                                                                  2. somebody else mentioned this but as a recovered vegetarian, i'll add that lasagne and mushrooms are too often the defaults for omnivores serving non-meat eaters. same menus also tend to be carb-loaded which isn't necessary either.

                                                                                    you can make fritatta "muffins" ahead, freeze and gently reheat.

                                                                                    has anybody mentioned shakshuka? that can be for any meal, really.

                                                                                    i know you said you don't like smoked salmon, but fresh or poached salmon makes a lovely eggs benny or hash.

                                                                                    if you want a carb-binge breakfast, how about brioche french toast with good marmalade, fresh whipped cream and maple syrup as an assortment of toppings?

                                                                                    smoked, tinned or fresh fish can be made-ahead into mousse and served with frisee salad for lunch. fish cakes can also be made ahead.

                                                                                    not sure what's available to you for fish...

                                                                                    miso-ginger glaze
                                                                                    en papillote with herbs
                                                                                    coconut-crusted and oven baked
                                                                                    preserved lemons whizzed into mayo
                                                                                    tomato confit

                                                                                    all can be prepped ahead and just finished in the oven

                                                                                    can you get squid bodies? they are wonderful stuffed with herbs and slow baked in a spicy tomato sauce

                                                                                    you can stuff eggplants or zucchini with their own roasted flesh, lots of fresh herbs and some grated cheese as a side dish

                                                                                    any soup is always better made ahead and with crusty bread and a small salad is a lovely lunch. add some shrimp or scallops at the last minute as a topping for a light dinner

                                                                                    soup au pistou
                                                                                    spanish almond soup
                                                                                    roasted garlic soup
                                                                                    french onion soup (veg stock, red onions)
                                                                                    cream of mushroom (make ahead, but add cream for serving)
                                                                                    moroccan-spiced cauliflower soup
                                                                                    potato chowder

                                                                                    chili rellenos and quesadillas can be prepped ahead and simply reheated.

                                                                                    kitchen sink fried rice always better the next day

                                                                                    are you ambitious enough to make spring rolls, ravioli or dumplings? possibilities for fillings are infinite and all can be made ahead, par-cooked, frozen and reheated.

                                                                                    16 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                      I totally agree with what you said about lasagne and mushrooms being served too often to vegetarians and meals often being too carb heavy. I am mostly avoiding pasta dishes, except I think we will all really enjoy the butternut squash hazelnut lasagne. (Her husband does the cooking and I don't think he ever makes anything like this.)

                                                                                      As for mushrooms, my husband does not like them, so they won't play a major role in any of our meals.

                                                                                      Also while I love salmon and I know my friend loves salmon, my husband is not a fan. Besides we live in rural North Carolina, my friend lives in the Pacific northwest. So there is no way I would be able to get the quality of salmon she is used to. So salmon is not an option other than maybe some smoked salmon to serve with bagels.

                                                                                      I am not sure what fresh fish will be available. I'll need to stop by the fish market the day before and finalize the menu based on what is available. (Choices are always limited even though I'm only about an hour from the coast.)

                                                                                      Hmmmm....potato chowder might be nice with simple tuna salad sandwiches. Or depending on the availability of clams, I could use it as a base for clam chowder. (Did I mention she lived for many years in New England?)

                                                                                      Really like the idea of fritatta "muffins". Do you have a recipe or technique? Just make fritattas in a muffin tin and freeze individually?

                                                                                      1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                        Really like the idea of fritatta "muffins". Do you have a recipe or technique? Just make fritattas in a muffin tin and freeze individually?


                                                                                        yup. be careful not to overbake since they will be reheated (although they are great at room temp). let them cool and freeze on a sheet pan, so they don't stick together, then bag.

                                                                                        these are great to have in the freezer as a staple.

                                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                          Thanks! Yes they do sound great to have in the freezer as a staple. We raise chickens so we have fresh eggs. I never thought of doing this.

                                                                                          1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                            i am in sales so am in the car all the time. these are great for breakfast or for taking along as portable lunch.

                                                                                            i covet your access to such fresh eggs. :)

                                                                                            1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                              They will be great for my husband to take along to work. He usually eats something in the car while he's driving.

                                                                                              Just to rub it it a bit. ;) I also have dairy goats and make my own goat's milk cheese. A friend of mine has some cows, so I always have fresh cows milk and cream. Her and I get together every few weeks and make butter, buttermilk, yogurt, etc. I didn't even mention that these ingredients are also things that my guests will be able to enjoy.

                                                                                              1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                Okay, now I'm green with envy, too!

                                                                                                1. re: mcf

                                                                                                  i covet the byproducts but would go stark-raving looney out in the boonies. :)

                                                                                                2. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                  in this case, i vote chevre omelet with veggies/herbs of your choice.

                                                                                                  1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                    Yes, omelets will definitely be made and the chevre will also go on pizzas.

                                                                                                    I have fresh herbs growing both indoors and outside.

                                                                                              2. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                I make frittata muffins all the time! They are great for any leftover veggie bits and i have two with salad for an easy lunch fairly often, and great even room temp

                                                                                                1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                  I have a big pan of veggies roasting right now. (along with some chicken). The leftover veggies are definitely going into frittata muffins.

                                                                                          2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                            Hotoy.. I am doubled over here giggling. I have heard of a *recovered Catholic* in fact my friend claimed that she was one but what is a *recovered* vegetarian? I am not making fun if you are being serious:)

                                                                                            1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                              I'm also a recovered vegetarian. In my case, I lost a host of ills when I made the change and have never looked back. Especially those vegan type years, very bad for ME.

                                                                                              1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                ha! am a collapsed catholic and a recovered vegetarian. :) had no idea how sick the latter had made me til i lost my stubborn wilfulness about it and changed my diet.

                                                                                                as for the former? lol, not for this board!

                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                  I'm married to a Catholic of similar persuasion. :-)

                                                                                              2. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                                                WOW, just WOW, hotonoodle, from a recovered steak-lover from Chicago! An amazing litany, thanks!

                                                                                              3. Thanks for all of the great contributions! Part of why I am doing this, is because I simply find it fun to plan for a visit or a holiday, etc. It kind of stretches out the actual event.

                                                                                                Here's what I have come up with so far. I still need to decide on a soup (legume based). Of course, I am also open to other suggestions as well. Nothing is set in stone, and I have two weeks yet before her visit.

                                                                                                Make ahead ingredients:
                                                                                                -Vegetable broth
                                                                                                -Pizza dough
                                                                                                -Caramelized onions
                                                                                                -Roasted garlic
                                                                                                -Grilled eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, onions, peppers, mushrooms
                                                                                                -hard boiled eggs
                                                                                                -dough for French bread

                                                                                                Make ahead bake:
                                                                                                -Whole wheat banana nut muffins
                                                                                                -Whole wheat sandwich rolls
                                                                                                -have Teresa make bagels
                                                                                                -A whole grain bread (undecided which)

                                                                                                Make ahead Dishes/sauces/components:
                                                                                                -some kind of legume based soup (undecided)
                                                                                                -curried tomato soup (1000 Vegetarian Recipes)
                                                                                                -Quinoa salad
                                                                                                -Ricotta al Forno https://groups.google.com/forum/#!top...
                                                                                                -Romesco Sauce http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/820139
                                                                                                -butternut squash filling for lasagna http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo...
                                                                                                -frijoles de olla (pinto beans) (The Border Cookbook
                                                                                                )-Arizona chile Colorado sauce (mild red chile sauce) (The Border Cookbook)
                                                                                                -Tuna salad/egg salad/smoked whitefish salad?

                                                                                                Menu ideas:
                                                                                                -Make your own pizza
                                                                                                -Spanish torta with Romesco sauce served with grilled shrimp
                                                                                                -Fish tacos with rice and beans on the side or bean burritos enchilada style (The Border Cookbook)
                                                                                                -Butternut squash lasagna, curried tomato soup, salad
                                                                                                -Soup and sandwiches
                                                                                                -Veggie frittata or omelets
                                                                                                -Hummus platter with pita and quinoa salad
                                                                                                -Bagels, cream cheese, honey smoked salmon, tomatoes, onions, smoked whitefish salad, etc…

                                                                                                Link to The Border Cookbook –

                                                                                                Link to 1000 Vegetarian Recipes

                                                                                                Considering this soup: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sp...

                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                  Looks wonderful!

                                                                                                  Now we'll all show up at your door : )

                                                                                                  1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                    Try a Lentil soup, with chunks of potato. You might want to use a sofrito to give it some depth. (green pepper, onion, tomato, cilantro, if you like)
                                                                                                    You menu and plan, leaves you lots of room, since it is only 9 meals.

                                                                                                    1. re: PHREDDY

                                                                                                      Thanks Phreddy, A menu and plan with lots of room is what I am trying to accomplish. A lentil soup with potatoes would be a good addition, want to get some legumes in there. I agree with a sofrito for depth.

                                                                                                      1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                        This red lentil curry soup with butternut squash was great, very hearty, i've swapped in sweet potato for the squash too.

                                                                                                        This chickpea stew from ny times was also great- i added barley instead of the orzo.

                                                                                                        1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                                                          Oh, nice idea. I happen to have a large box of sweet potatoes.

                                                                                                          1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                            Perfect! Use what you've got is my cooking mantra :)

                                                                                                  2. Looks like you've got some great ideas! I'll add to the mix ricotta gnudi. which can be made a day ahead. Here's a recipe that looks promising:


                                                                                                    A nice quinoa salad that I made recently that also keeps well in the fridge is red quinoa with a sharp, mustardy Dijon vinaigrette (I added a touch of toasted walnut oil), diced granny smith apples, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, chopped Italian parsley and spinach leaves.

                                                                                                    Have a wonderful time- you sound like a great host!

                                                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                      Oh that ricotta gundi sounds really good. I bookmarked the recipe. I am already planning Ricotta al Forno for the night they get here. So the gundi might not make it into this visit, but I will definitely try it later on.

                                                                                                      Quinoa is one of my favorite grains, it can be worked into so many different flavor profiles. I usually have more pecans than I know what to do with them. Unfortunately this year, the weather destroyed most of the pecan crop.

                                                                                                      1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                        I just wanted to let you know how excited I was to see you post gnudi, It was featured in our local paper and I can't wait to make them. In addition to the Ricotta one, they also had a recipe for spinach gnudi and squash and ricotta gnudi.

                                                                                                      2. New twist on this pescatarian house guest visit. I need to make a cake! We realized that we have been friends for 20 years. So I want to make something special. I bake breads and muffins, occasionally cookies, but I don't have a really special cake recipe.

                                                                                                        14 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                          I dunno why this popped in my head, but you could consider tres leches cake... not fancy but delicious! I think I'm craving it haha. Or just a really great moist cake with layers of cream or pudding in between. Ganache on top. Yep, definitely craving something like this lol.

                                                                                                            1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                              you mentioned your friend has food issues... i don't obviously know precisely what you mean, but is she going to be comfortable with this much focus on food? i'm not trying to pry or be bossy, but i'm in recovery from anorexia, and sometimes food being offered by others (especially if i know it's a "special" effort, or a lot of time and care went into it) was REALLY stressful. you already seem to be putting a good effort into offering options that will make your guest comfortable. is a cake necessary? there might be a non-food way to express your joy about the milestone that would maybe be more comfortable for your friend?

                                                                                                              1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                                She's the one that wants a cake. She also asked me to make some walnut/poppyseed pastries that I make. I was going to leave sweets out of the weekend, other than having some homemade cookies just in case. But she asked for a cake.

                                                                                                                1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                  alrighty then! sorry, i wasn't trying to be like bossy or whatever, just trying to help. in that case, cake specifically, or would a pie/tart work? i have some good pie/tart ideas...

                                                                                                                  1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                                    She really wants a cake!! While I would rather do a pie or tart. She is talking about a cake.

                                                                                                                      1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                                        The Pioneers Woman's carrot cake is actually just the better homes and gardens carrot cake, with salt added. That one change keeps it simple (unlike most of her stuff!) but makes it divine.

                                                                                                                        I bake it in a big cookie sheet, the perfect size to cut strips, chunks or bite size morsels. I don't frost it, preferring it plain, but it would be awfully nice with some vanilla ice cream...


                                                                                                                        1. re: chartreauxx

                                                                                                                          I really love carrot cake too - but my recipe from a friend is not on my computer. The following cake recipe is delicious too - has the consistency of carrot cake - love it.

                                                                                                                          This is the recipe from Pywachet's in Chapel Hill - one of my favorite restaurants that has been closed for many years - is excellent. (I make it in 13 x 9 cake instead of a tube cake).

                                                                                                                          Chocolate Zucchini Cake

                                                                                                                          3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
                                                                                                                          3 cups all-purpose flour
                                                                                                                          1 ½ tsp baking powder
                                                                                                                          1 tsp baking soda
                                                                                                                          1 tsp salt
                                                                                                                          4 eggs
                                                                                                                          3 cups sugar
                                                                                                                          1 ½ cups salad oil
                                                                                                                          1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
                                                                                                                          3 cups unpeeled, grated zucchini


                                                                                                                          1 3-ounce pkg cream cheese
                                                                                                                          1 tablespoon butter
                                                                                                                          1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
                                                                                                                          2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
                                                                                                                          Milk as needed

                                                                                                                          1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour a tube pan.
                                                                                                                          2. Melt chocolate and cool.
                                                                                                                          3. Sift together flour, baking powder, soda and salt.
                                                                                                                          4. With mixer at high speed, beat eggs until light. Add sugar ¼ cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
                                                                                                                          5. Add salad oil and chocolate.
                                                                                                                          6. Beating at low speed, add sifted dry ingredients. Beat until well mixed.
                                                                                                                          7. Stir in nuts and zucchini.
                                                                                                                          8. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack.
                                                                                                                          9. For frosting, beat cream cheese and butter with mixer until fluffy.
                                                                                                                          10. Add chocolate and sugar and beat again.
                                                                                                                          11. Stir in a little milk. Beat in more milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency.
                                                                                                                          12. Frost cooled tube cake.

                                                                                                                          12-16 servings

                                                                                                                          Hints: This is a versatile batter that may also be baked in three cake pans for 30-35 minutes. Or try three small loaf pans for 25-30 minutes. Or try a 9 “x 12” pan for 45 minutes. (this is what I use – be sure to test for doneness with a toothpick). Whatever size pan you use, fill no more than 2/3 full. Double frosting recipe for layer cake or 9” x 12 “ pan.

                                                                                                                2. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                  What flavors does she like?

                                                                                                                  There are some fancy versions of German chocolate cake, that I've seen, it's one of my favorites and my MIL made on effort me for my birthday one year.

                                                                                                                  Baba au Rum is not very common and is pretty special.

                                                                                                                  There's always cheesecake....... ;-)

                                                                                                                  1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                    What about hummingbird cake..nice , easy and a nod to the area

                                                                                                                    1. re: LaLa

                                                                                                                      Oh great idea! Do you have a favorite recipe? I know I can find some online.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                        I am old school...lol..I just use an old Southern Living one like my granny! http://img4-3.southernliving.timeinc....

                                                                                                                    2. re: Springhaze2

                                                                                                                      Is there anything you two used to do or eat together that could be part of the design or flavor of the cake?

                                                                                                                    3. Here's a make-ahead idea I haven't seen mentioned yet: a nice fish soup or stew. Most are fairly simple to put together, feed a good crowd, are great for winter months AND (imho) often taste better a day or so after cooking as the flavors merge together (though if you wish, save adding any shellfish until right before serving.)

                                                                                                                      This is maybe my favorite recipe for fish soup, I've made it a number of times and love the lightness the orange and fennel add to the broth:


                                                                                                                      1. One of my fav cakes, for years, is a cocoa buttermilk cake. (Thanks to Laurie Colwon.)

                                                                                                                        It must be made a day ahead of time (to let the cocoa howdy/mellow) but it is awesome. LIke an oreo cookie and fab with milk on it's ownsome.