Vegetarian lifestyle

Tasty Vegetarian Dinner Party Sample Menu

With the right recipes, you can host a vegetarian or vegan dinner and your guests won’t even notice the meat is missing. Remember, putting a little extra thought into the presentation and plating of dishes will allow the colorful beauty of your fresh ingredients to shine.

Appetizer/Hors d'oeuvres

  • Vegetarian Appetizers. Try pastured-egg mini-quiches with goat cheese and spinach. The deep hue and rich taste of pastured yolks add an incredible—and ethical—dimension to this simple dish. Without a crust, these still taste great and are very easy to make, and any gluten-free guests will appreciate it.
  • Vegan Appetizers. A beautiful-looking antipasti platter with olives, marinated mushroom dip, and tomato-basil spread served with crostini adds an air of sophistication and offers something for everyone. Gluten-free crackers and breads are easily found in most grocery stores and can be readily substituted. If you want something simpler that will still please a crowd, guacamole or salsa are great choices. Stay away from the ready-made stuff if you can; besides avoiding added preservatives, making it yourself will result in a huge taste and color difference. Serve with warmed tortilla chips or crudité-style bell pepper strips for grain-free dipping.

First Course

Use thoughtful flavor pairings to elevate salads. If it’s a less formal dinner, serve the salad with the main dish. Pick a dressing with light, acidic flavors to balance out earthy, heavier dishes.

  • In the summer, mix it up! At your local farmers' market, look for unique ingredients like dandelion greens, local cheeses, or even edible flowers for a striking presentation and memorable flavor. Highlight the fresh produce by simply tossing the ingredients with cold-pressed virgin olive oil and a little red vinegar.
  • In the colder months, try a wilted spinach and toasted pecan salad with a zesty balsamic dressing. If dairy is OK, add some local chévre for an extra dose of deliciousness.

Second Course

Vegetable Soup is a great option here, as it can be made in advance and reheated-most even taste better on the second day. Whatever your level of culinary skill, remember that produce is the star here, so use the highest-quality you can find for the cleanest flavor profile.

  • Minestrone or gazpacho are naturally vegan and gluten-free, and are a great way to showcase fresh summer produce. Garnish with fresh basil for a lovely presentation.
  • A heartier bisque is perfect for colder weather. Roasted red pepper and/or tomato bisque is tasty and fairly simple to make. As a bonus, it can easily be made vegan by substituting rich, delicious coconut cream instead of the dairy variety. Don’t forget to garnish with a half-teaspoon of extra cream and fresh cracked pepper.

Main Course

There are plenty of hearty vegetarian main dishes. One trick for richer flavor is to marinate vegetables like eggplant or mushrooms the same way you would with meat. In nice weather, grilling is a delicious, easy way to cook that is often overlooked for vegetarian food. Using fresh, real food as a centerpiece is always a safe bet. Meat replacements like soy ground “beef” might be distasteful to your omnivore friends.

  • For a high-protein, hearty vegetarian dinner, quinoa-stuffed squash or eggplant is a great choice. This can be made vegan, but you can add mozzarella or other melting cheese and broil it for a few minutes until golden brown and bubbling. Top it with minced fresh basil for a sophisticated, gluten-free vegetarian main dish.
  • In the summer, vegetables can be marinated and roasted or grilled. Serve atop a wild rice and vegetable pilaf for a simple, clean meal that satisfies.

On the side, experiment with textures. Brussels sprouts get a new dimension when cut in half, tossed in olive oil, and roasted until the edges are crispy. If the crowd eats dairy, top the brussels with shredded smoked Gouda or another bold cheese for an extra dimension of umami flavor. For a lighter dish, try sautéing shredded swiss chard or beet greens with garlic and sweet rice vinegar.

Dessert

Wrap up a healthy vegetarian meal with an indulgent but nutritious dessert. Fruit is always a great starter; simply take advantage of what’s in season. The rest of your menu has been centered around bringing out the incredible flavors of fresh produce. Though dessert can be an indulgence, there’s no reason to use processed food here!

  • Gluten-free and vegetarian desserts are a cinch with a crustless “cobbler. ” Cube apples, pears, peaches, or similar fruits that are in season. In a saucepan, gently cook with a little butter, cinnamon, maple syrup. Thicken with arrowroot starch if needed. Place in small bowls and add a spoonful of whipped cream or coconut cream to the top and sprinkle with additional cinnamon. Blackberries or blueberries can also be added to the mix!
  • If you’s going for sophistication, poach quartered Bosc in maple syrup and fresh ginger. These can be served with gingerbread, gingersnaps, or a scoop of coconut ice cream.

Believe it or not, it’s possible to enjoy innovative vegetarian dishes with farm-fresh ingredients on weeknights! Get incredibly fresh local produce and easy-to-follow menu steps delivered straight to your front door.