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I am planning a send off dinner for one of my law school roommates and her boyfriend, who are moving to San Francisco. A few other law school friends will be joining. The boyfriend is a vegetarian and one of the other attendees "doesn't like cheese."

I'm a bit at my wits end about what to serve. I was planning to make batali's fresh ricotta and asparagus ravioli as a starter and then do a main course of poussin with a quiche or something for the vegetarian. Since the issue of cheese was introduced, I'm not sure how to adjust the menu, but I'm beginning to think that family style dining might be more suited to a picky group.

If possible, I'd like to stay very seasonal and ingredient driven. Since it's a goodbye dinner, I'd also like to make it as special as possible, within the limitations of the group.

Ideas?

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I don't know if you've got vegans coming, or if maybe the vegetarian eats fish?

Bottom line is, you're never gonna please everyone.

You can make a great, simple pasta with asparagus and parm - and leave the parm off of the person's plate who "doesn't like cheese." Oy.

Leek and potato soup is another simple, great starter. Just leeks, potatoes, water, salt and pepper. Even a vegan can love it.

Artichokes are is season now (at least in California). They make an awesome starter simply steamed with a vinaigrette or aioli. Cream of artichoke soup is good too, using a vegetable stock as the base.

Load up on the hors d'oeuvres. Nuts, olives, focaccia, etc.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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There is a delicious cheese free recipe for Leek Pie in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book. You can make it, serve a large piece to the vegetarian and slice the rest into slivers to make a pretty glamorous side dish for the meat eaters. They can share in some other non-cheesy salad or side.

Catherine

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There is a delicious cheese free recipe for Leek Pie in Jane Grigson's Vegetable Book. You can make it, serve a large piece to the vegetarian and slice the rest into slivers to make a pretty glamorous side dish for the meat eaters. They can share in some other non-cheesy salad or side. 

Catherine

That sounds fantastic. It looks like the recipe is online.

I think I am now settled on a menu of spring risotto (peas, asparagus, morels?- I'll figure it out) and braised lamb (maybe Molly Steven's 7 hour leg?) and a salad. I figure everyone can put cheese on the risotto as they wish, the vegetarian will have plenty of food without the lamb and the salad will go with everything. Someone else is bringing dessert. I might do an app as well, though I haven't determined what that will be.

Acceptable fare? Does anyone have a spring risotto that they love?

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Sounds good to me, as long as the risotto is made with water or veggie broth -no animal-based stock. (I'm a vegetarian.)

An easy, no-cheese appetizer might be bruschetta. Several types are easy and cheap to make including the basic garlic, olive oil, S&P. Then there's variations with (mix n match) chopped tomatoes, basil, olives, grilled veggies, pickled veggies, etc.

Good luck, and try to have fun! (Sorbet makes a good emergency dessert!)

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In a word, Kebobs!

Marinate beef (or lamb) cut in cubes, skewer with fresh vegetables, I go with whole cherry tomatos, onion quarters, slices of zuchinni, peppers, mushrooms, whatever looks good at the market. My marinade is pretty simple, worchester sauce and melted butter, fresh ground pepper.

Serve on a bed of rice pilaf, veg and meat for meat eaters, just veg for the others.

this and a simple salad is a meal!

it has the added advantage of being able to broil them in the house, or put on the grill for outdoor eating.

---------------------------------------

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In a word, Kebobs!

Marinate beef (or lamb) cut in cubes, skewer with fresh vegetables, I go with whole cherry tomatos, onion quarters, slices of zuchinni, peppers, mushrooms, whatever looks good at the market. My marinade is pretty simple, worchester sauce and melted butter, fresh ground pepper.

Serve on a bed of rice pilaf, veg and meat for meat eaters, just veg for the others.

this and a simple salad is a meal!

it has the added advantage of being able to broil them in the house, or put on the grill for outdoor eating.

Worcestershire sauce contains anchovies and is not suitable for vegetarians.

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My bad, lisa!

then, how about some italian style dressing? I've done that too.

That's much better. Be forewarned, though, this is a very common meal dished out by hotel chefs put on the spot. I was forced to eat this for lunch and dinner for an entire week's conference once. Breakfast was the only thing that kept me sane, since they had a buffet.

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Thanks for all your suggestions.

I did the leg of lamb from Molly Stevens, which was perfectly tender and fell right off the bone. The vegetarian ate some of the veggies with the lamb, which I considered a good sign.

The risotto was made with carnarolli rice, homemade veggie stock, fresh asparagus, a half package of frozen organic peas and some parm (standard, in other words). Veggie stock was better than this carnivore would have expected (normally I use chicken stock for everything). Delicious and springy.

I took the veggies from making the stock, pureed them and added some butter and salt. Perfect side dish.

Rounded out with a salad dressed with a white balsamic vinaigrette.

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Next time try mushroom risotto, with mushroom stock and chopped or sliced mushrooms.

The mushroom stock is made with porcini or other dried mushrooms plus fresh mushrooms, to give it more oomph. Fabulous, unctuous, delicious, lots of other "ous" adjectives, and a meal in itself, and it doesn't even need the parmesan.

But my ongoing education in rice continues. What is carnarolli rice? I use arborio for risotto.

Also, would soy sauce be an acceptable substitute for Worchester for the non-pagans? Or does it contain fish as well?

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  • 2 weeks later...
Next time try mushroom risotto, with mushroom stock and chopped or sliced mushrooms.

The mushroom stock is made with porcini or other dried mushrooms plus fresh mushrooms, to give it more oomph.  Fabulous, unctuous, delicious, lots of other "ous" adjectives, and a meal in itself, and it doesn't even need the parmesan.

But my ongoing education in rice continues.  What is carnarolli rice?  I use arborio for risotto.

Also, would soy sauce be an acceptable substitute for Worchester for the non-pagans?  Or does it contain fish as well?

I wanted to do something seasonal and using top quality produce from the greenmarket, so mushroom risotto wasn't really going to do it for me.

Carnaroli is a very absorbent very white (in color) rice. A lot of chefs like it better for risotto than Arborio. They sell it at my Whole Foods.

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  • 3 weeks later...
I am planning a send off dinner for one of my law school roommates and her boyfriend, who are moving to San Francisco.  A few other law school friends will be joining.  The boyfriend is a vegetarian and one of the other attendees "doesn't like cheese."

I know this is an oldish thread. But it made me laugh because I'm one of those "I don't like cheese" people. It's very considerate of you to allow for that. I don't have a good reason like "I'm Vegan" or "I'm lactose intolerant." I just dislike cheese unless it's in cannolis, tiramisu, cheesecake, or it's mozzarella.

We are a strange bunch, we are.

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My bad, lisa!

then, how about some italian style dressing? I've done that too.

you can buy vegetarian versions too - at least here in the uk you can..

"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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