You have organised the most beautiful and well thought out dinner party menu and at the last minute your best friend reminds you their date is a vegetarian… Boom, we’ve all been there.
Catering for vegetarians is not difficult, or at least it doesn’t need to be. However, anyone that has a vegetarian or even vegan sprung on them at the last minute will feel slightly caught off guard.
When our wonderful team of chefs write their menus, we encourage them to consider the vegetarians and vegans right at the first step of menu planning. This helps ensure there is always a great option standing by…
Keep reading and we shall explain.
Here we have put together 5 Tips to help keep your Vegetarian pals happy
- Plan Ahead
- Think like a Vegetarian
- Think about substance
- Don’t forget texture
- Don’t always make the meat the hero
This tip is simple in theory but easy to overlook. It’s that straight forward, ask your guests if they have any dietary requirements which will then give you time to organise something in advance.
Think like a Vegetarian
For some of you this may not be that easy, I mean if you have never had to eat like a vegetarian then it’s not going to be that simple but what we mean is this; If I simply took the grilled chicken off your salad would be enough to please you? Probably not…
Think, how would I like that dish without a certain component. Does that component need substituting or should I tweak the dish slightly?
Maybe you incorporate some nuts, seeds and feta or even some cannellini beans. Now take the chicken off and it’s still substantial.
Think about substance
Moving straight in from our last substantial comment, vegetarians need to eat the same amount of calories as non-vegetarians so if you take the fish off the dish, what brings the substance???
If you are already cooking a substantial main course, say risotto, then it won’t be such an issue but let’s go back to the salad… Maybe a simple piece of grilled tempeh or some roasted field mushrooms might make up for it;)
Don’t forget texture
Having been a chef for many years (and I have 2 vegetarian sisters) I cook lot of vegetarian food and if there is one thing I have learnt it’s that incorporating texture into your cooking really works wonders.
Typically, a dishes texture comes from the meat or fish, then you have a garnish, a sauce and that’s often about it.
Try cooking with nuts, seeds and even grains. Quinoa, pumpkin seed and tabbouleh has a great crunch to it, it makes your teeth work.
Beans and Lentils are always a winner as is Pain Gratata (toasted olive oil bread crumbs).
Don’t always make the meat the hero
What we mean by this is, don’t simply make the meat component the fixture of the dish.
For example, you may be serving a fillet steak with some mushrooms, asparagus and a red wine sauce. Simply take away the steak and its really lacking!
What if you were to roast some mushrooms, then bake them onto a puff pastry sheet to mare a thin tart… Serve this with your steak, some asparagus and a red wine sauce…. Now take away the steak, make the tart a touch bugger and you have a good solid vegetarian dish.
Meat option = Delicious
Vegetarian option = Delicious
Winner, Winner, optional chicken dinner 😉
Do you have any great tips to share with our readers that you have tried at home?