If you’re in the process of planning a dinner menu for a meal with friends and family, it’s important to remember that one of the first rules of entertaining is to make sure you’re aware of your guests’ dietary preferences and restrictions. You don’t want to slave over a hearty dish only to find out that half of your party can’t eat it. And with more and more people making the choice to remove meat from their diets today, ascertaining whether visitors are vegetarian should be your first port of call.
What do you do if you’re hosting someone who’s sworn off meat and fish, or if you yourself are trying to cut back? The good news is there are plenty of options – we outline three below.
THREE WAYS TO INCLUDE VEGETARIAN MEALS IN YOUR DINNER MENU
GO THE SHARING BOWLS AND PLATTERS ROUTE
Vegetarian food lends itself well to platters and tapas, so instead of preparing plated meals for each guest, why not cook up a smorgasbord of different bowls, salads, tarts and bakes that everyone can help themselves to. This way, you could even include a few meaty options for those that lean that way. The alternatives are endless: you could, for example, whip up Vietnamese spring rolls, a Caprese salad, vegetable fried rice, spinach and feta parcels, deep-fried halloumi sticks, and root vegetable fritters. Alternatively, you could make pizza bases in advance and encourage guests to choose their own toppings – this option works especially well if you’re not entirely sure who’s vegetarian and who’s not as you leave the choice of what to eat in others’ hands.
PREPARE A CROWD FAVOURITE AND SWAP OUT THE MEAT
Most people love a cheesy lasagne, rich bake or spicy curry, and there’s really no need at all to include meat in any of these options, especially if you choose the right vegetable substitutes, herbs and spices. For instance, rather than making a beef or chicken lasagne, pack those layers with bell peppers, zucchini and carrots, or swap out the pasta sheets for sliced brinjals, use lots of cheese and tomato sauce, and you essentially have a delicious Melanzane Parmigiana. Another idea is to drop the chicken or beef in a bake and replace it with lentils (we recommend our Lentil and Sweet Potato Bake). Curry is also an easy vegetarian option – with enough spice and seasoning, you won’t miss the meat for a minute.
CREATE A SEPARATE VEGETARIAN MENU
If you’re still set on cooking up a meat dish for those in the party who are fans of beef and chicken, you could always go the route of preparing something different for the vegetarian members of the group. This might sound like a whole lot of extra work, but remember, you don’t have to cook any of the meals yourself. You could choose to purchase ready-to-eat dishes, like those in our FOMO Frozen Meals range, and make entertaining that much easier for yourself. All items in our selection are home cooked from fresh, seasonal ingredients and served in different portion sizes, and we have a range of options for both meat-eaters and vegetarians that are bound to delight your guests.
All three of the suggestions above will help you prepare a dinner menu that goes down well with friends and family. But if you, like so many others, don’t have a lot of time to spare and are looking to take some of the hassle out of entertaining, remember you can always turn to the professionals. We at Food Matters are equipped to handle all your vegetarian catering needs, and, as mentioned, we recently launched a range of FOMO Frozen Meals that are ready to just heat and eat – it doesn’t get more convenient than that