How to Effortlessly Entertain Vegetarian Style
If you're not of the vegetarian persuasion and still haven't hopped on the Meatless Mondays wagon, cooking a meat-free meal for a friend or guest might throw you for a loop. But don't feel as though you have to start keeping an emergency block of tofu in the fridge for those impromptu occasions. A few simple ingredients, ones your probably already have in your pantry and fridge, can go a long way if combined in just the right way.
Think Outside the (Pasta) Box
Pasta and salad are quick and easy, making them great for last-minute entertaining, but if you plan on inviting your non-meat-eating mate over on the regular, you're going to have start working on your repertoire. Lentils, beans and grains like quinoa and couscous are common pantry ingredients and when smartly paired with fresh seasonal vegetables, spices, oils and even cheeses (also things you likely have hanging around) can make for an inspired, hearty dish. If cooking isn't your calling, look to unexpected ingredients, like seasonings, seeds or cheeses to take pasta dishes to the next level.
Play Off Recipes You Already Know
You don't have to recreate the wheel to whip up a fabulous meat-free meal. From tacos to pizzas and even stews, gather inspiration from dishes you already know and love. Simply swap out chicken, beef or fish with things like beans, lentils or sweet potatoes (think: spicy black bean quesadillas, vegetarian chili and stuffed peppers or tomatoes).
Ask for Advice
Ask vegetarian friends and family members about dishes they love, ingredients they can't live without and tips for planning veg-friendly meals. They're kind of experts after all and will likely be excited that you're taking an interest and happy to share their advice, experiences and personal preferences.
If you and your friends have adventurous taste buds, look to cultures across the globe that favor vegetarian dishes. Curries are fairly easy to make (especially if you already have sauce on hand), as are rice bowls, which also afford everyone the opportunity to customize their dish to match their personal tastes.
Stock Up on Staples
If you're the type that likes to entertain, keeping a few veg-friendly staples on hand is a must. You don't have to stock up on every grain, legume or vegetable known to man, but a few basic ingredients will make cooking a whole lot easier. Chickpeas are incredibly versatile and can be transformed into everything from hummus for a mezze plates to spicy falafels and refreshing salads. Quinoa, rice, nuts, couscous and sweet potatoes offer just as many possibilities. Spices and herbs are transformative ingredients that can enliven in the most basic of dishes.
A Few Recipes to Try
Going meatless doesn't have to mean more effort. These recipes are anything but complex and use common kitchen ingredients. (And they're delicious — so they might even make it into your regular dinner rotation.)
- Lentil, Basil + Feta Salad via Simply Real Health
- Brussels Sprouts Pizza with Balsamic Red Onions via Cookie + Kate
- Portuguese Baked Eggs via Bon Appetit
- Beet and Sweet Potato Stacks via The Kitchn
- Zucchini Fritters via Smitten Kitchen
- Loaded Quinoa Bowl via Clean Eating
- Skillet Tomato Casserole with White Beans and Parmesan Croutons via Well Plated
- Black Bean Flautas with Avocado Dipping Sauce via Oh My Veggies
- Spaghetti Squash with Chickpeas and Kale via Love & Lemons