Once upon a time, vegetarians were relegated to simply eating everything that surrounded the main course on the dinner table, but making a meal out of side dishes doesn’t exactly create a dining experience to remember. Thank goodness times-and vegetarian fare-have changed.
Gone are the days of salad, rice and pasta! Today’s vegetarians can treat themselves to a range of fabulous foods that even carnivores will enjoy. Grocery stores are stepping up to the meat-free plate by offering a wide variety of items that could once only be purchased at expensive specialty stores, making vegetarian entertaining easier and tastier than ever before. Here are six tips for throwing a delicious vegetarian dinner party that will have your guests coming back for seconds and thirds!
1. Consider all degrees of vegetarians Your dinner guests may be vegetarian and eat no meat, fish or poultry or pesco-vegetarians who do enjoy fish in their diets. Lacto-ovo vegetarians eat dairy products and eggs, while vegans refrain from eating meat, fish, poultry, dairy products and eggs. Check with your guests before you plan your menu to make sure you can accommodate everyone’s tastes.
2. Make the most of the season’s bounty Since fresh vegetables will be the centerpiece of your dinner party, think about what’s currently in season as you choose foods to prepare. Starting with the freshest and best ingredients will make your dishes stand out.
3. Go global Many of the world’s tastiest cuisines are primarily vegetarian. Get your Google on and find some interesting vegetarian recipes from another part of the world. Treat your dinner guests to an authentic Moroccan tagine, Indian vegetable masala or a Brazilian black bean stew and the compliments will flow more freely than wine.
4. Try hearty whole grains Whole grains like quinoa, barley and bulgur are healthy additions to any table. They are excellent sources of protein, low in fat and are typically cholesterol-free. Some whole grains like couscous, quinoa and kasha are also quick and easy to cook. They adapt to any number of flavors and cuisines and are filling, so your guests will leave the table feeling well-fed.
5. Cover the food groups In 1991, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) created a cholesterol-free, low-fat food pyramid focusing on four new food groups-fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Make sure your dinner party menu includes an entry or two from each group and you’ll have a nutritionally sound and diverse meal.
6. Update a favorite recipe If your homemade chicken chili is your signature dish or you’re famous for your beef lasagna, try updating your recipe to create a vegetarian version. Replace the chicken in your chili with beans and swap the beef for butternut squash in your lasagna.
Need ideas for your vegetarian dinner party? Try these seven recipes:
1. Garlic Kale Hummus
2. Sauteed Garlic Spinach & Tomatoes
3. Zucchini & Tomato Flatbread
4. Quick Quinoa Salad
5. Perfectly Sauteed Mushrooms
6. Eggplant Parmigiana
7. Sweet & Spicy Roasted Chickpeas