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HELP! Vegetarian Christmas Dinner


Paulo Freitas
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First of all, happy holidays for every one.

My room mate, a good friend of mine, realized that she wants to be vegetarian, 2 days before Christmas, now I have to come with a menu for our Christmas dinner but don't have a clue where yo start. Any help would be appreciated

Paulo Freitas

Bartender @ Bar do Copa (Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil)

http://www.bardocopa.com.br

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Well, I may cause some eyes to roll, but if we're talking vegetarian and not vegan, there are some pretty big loopholes to take advantage of. In fact, despite being a meat loving individual with little love for veg, on more than one occasion I've reflected on the fact that for two weeks straight I had eaten a vegetarian diet without even thinking.

Imagine a table laid out with spaghetti carbonara, lasagna, pizza, bread and butter, gnocchi, etc. I don't think most people would think vegetarian. Dairy and eggs are allowed, but for cheese you'll need to find cheese made with vegetable rennet.

Pasta, crepes, cheese, bread, butter, cream sauces - all legal. So cheat (well, it feels wonderfully like cheating to me). Oh sure, you can add some veg - combine a marinara sauce with a bechamel. Oh, wait tomatoes are fruit, not veg. Fine, eggplant then. Or is that a fruit too?

Also, see if you can plea bargain up to pescetarian, which could give you fish and possibly crustaceans.

[ETA]

Oh, and for me Morel mushrooms are the most meaty non-meat thing I've ever tasted. Not a particularly seasonal bit advice, but perhaps if you're still at it come spring.

Edited by IndyRob (log)
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I grew up in a vegetarian household (IndyRob's suggestions sound both good and familiar), so I was wondering whether your friend is becoming vegetarian for ethical or health reasons. This may sound like a daft question, but it does make a difference in your approach: If she's become vegetarian for health reasons only, and there will be more than just the two of you at dinner, you could still make any meat dish you were planning, as long as there are plenty of side dishes that had no meat in them for her to eat (when I ate at friends' homes when I was a kid, that was what I usually did). Of course, if she's made her decision for ethical reasons, you'd want to avoid having meat on the table at all.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I've been vegetarian for the last few years, and I think the options vary greatly depending on how steadfastly vegetarian she is becoming, and for what reasons, as others have stated.

For example, I don't eat any meat but still eat cheese with animal rennet, and gelatin on occasion. This is NOT vegetarian in the strict (correct) sense, but it's what I decided and so I go with that. Vegetarian cheese is harder to find and more limited in variety, so if she is not concerned about that, it opens up a few more options.

Personally, my attitude at Christmas is that people are already too stressed and doing too much food stuff, so I want to make it as simple as I can for people. At our family Christmas, people DO enjoy preparing the food, but they're not "foodies" who will relish the opportunity to stretch themselves and make me something special, so I am always happy to eat plenty of the side-dishes and not expect something custom made for me. I'm grateful for what they prepare and want to make things as enjoyable for them as I can. If your roommate is the same, perhaps you can work out some tweaks to your existing plan to make sure she has plenty of food without having to slave away for too long.

I don't know about the U.S Christmas traditions, but we have a big roast dinner (probably similar to your Thanksgiving I think) so typically I will eat lots of fresh salad (it's usually hot on Christmas day in Aus so I'm happy with that) and some good sides, like green beans, stuffed mushrooms, roast vegetables. If they're tasty and plentiful, I don't feel shortchanged... I'm eating four or five different things! More than I usually have at home for dinner :)

The suggestions people have already given sound great. I'd be very happy to have soup with blue cheese crumbles followed by pasta or gnocchi with some salad!

Otherwise, think about stuffed vegetables (maybe they're a bit old fashioned, I don't know, but I still like them as long as they're flavourful). Stuffed mini squash, capsicum/peppers, mushrooms, all good!

Roasted cauliflower (in the famous eGullet style) would be great by itself or with some kind of sauce/dressing. Indian food seems odd to my thinking because I'm so used to the roast dinner, but I definitely wouldn't say no to some great dal or a curry.

Trying to make a faux meat roast or something is probably my least appealing option. I say you find out a bit more of what she might like/imagine, and then just make something tasty, not focussing too much on whether it feels Christmassy or not. That's what I'd like to receive.

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Oh and what about a savoury tart of some kind... if you used bought pastry it would be easy to assemble, and an individual tart made just for her would make her feel a bit special. Make it exciting and others will be asking for a taste :)

The flavour possibilities are endless. Mushrooms, cheese, quiche-style, tomato, etc.

And I just thought of this as a hearty vegetable dish - I haven't actually made it, but bookmarked it for later. Looks very substantial and sounds like the flavours will be robust. LINK.

EDIT : Oh, and this! A bunch of ideas for salads from Mark Bittman, may help if you need some inspiration :)

Edited by stuartlikesstrudel (log)
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Vegetable gratins make substantial main courses. In winter, think potatoes, butternut squash, maybe some greens, all under a lovely bechamel toped with some cheese. It would make a fine side for non-vegetarian guests too.


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I grew up in a vegetarian household (IndyRob's suggestions sound both good and familiar), so I was wondering whether your friend is becoming vegetarian for ethical or health reasons. This may sound like a daft question, but it does make a difference in your approach: If she's become vegetarian for health reasons only, and there will be more than just the two of you at dinner, you could still make any meat dish you were planning, as long as there are plenty of side dishes that had no meat in them for her to eat (when I ate at friends' homes when I was a kid, that was what I usually did). Of course, if she's made her decision for ethical reasons, you'd want to avoid having meat on the table at all.

Fair. And probably the most sensible way of handling it. Altho' about that last point, I'd argue that if they're not buying and cooking the food, they can live with whatever's on the table.

In addition to your roast potatoes, pumpkins, etc you could do a ratatouille or something. Perhaps even a steadying soup.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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Actually, I'm the one that is late! :wacko:

Thanks for all the fast replies. Just so you guys understand better, she decided to go vegetarian for an ideological reason, but I'm quite sure she didn't realized all the difference between vegetarian, vegan, etc yet (it was like 3 days ago that she "became" veg and I want to back her up, even being a meat lover myself :wink: ). Also we are from Brazil, witch makes our Christmas dinner much more like the Thanksgiving feast from our North American friends, and making it a summer menu.

Too many things to do and so little time :unsure:

Thanks for all the help guys, Merry Christmas to all

Paulo Freitas

Bartender @ Bar do Copa (Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil)

http://www.bardocopa.com.br

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I don't know if it helps, but this is my veggie xmas menu, and my two cents.

Menu

first course is Regents Punch, spiced nuts, olives, stuffed mushrooms.

Course two is

vegetable pot pie, heavy on mushrooms and caramelized onions, so a dark gravy.

Balsamic roasted potatoes and onions

herb and lemon risotto.

salad with chicory oranges avocados and fennel.

Course three

apple pie, flan, assorted little cookie things, and if I had $$ marrons glace, and a smoking bishops punch.

I am nearly 50 years old and have not eaten meat or fish since I was 14. I started eating eggs a few months ago.

I am a vegetarian for ethical reasons. If you come to my house, I will cook you the best meal I know how, but I will not cook meat. If you invite me to your home, I do not expect you to change your menu for me. I have become expert in the last 30+ years at vegetarian "pre gaming" i.e. eating before I leave, keeping crackers in my purse etc. About the turkey on the table... my feeling is, if I would be uncomfortable with it I would stay home. Holidays are personal, and it is not my business to change up yours.

On the other hand... Indian and chinese are two cuisines that can be ordered out, and easily cooked, and have a lot of veggies.

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Some past / present "hits" from my holiday menus.

* Wild mushroom risotto (lots of chanterelles around this year)

* Stuffed squash gets mentioned a lot as a "main dish" type thing - we did one for thanksgiving with a quinoa filling, which I thought was pretty good

* Beet "tartare" with dried cherries / candied nuts (I usually use a modified version of this method, adding the cherries and nuts, and sometimes omitting the cheese) http://www.artisanalcheese.com/prodinfo.asp?number=NP1014). You can cook the beet greens much like chard for an extra side

* Roasted root vegetables or roasted cauliflower ()

* Slow-cooked Tuscan kale (http://www.latimes.com/features/la-fow-sos28-2009jan28,0,3039776.story - w/o the chicken broth, of course)

* Eggplant caponata

appetizers

* Lentil-walnut "pate" (http://the-dairy-free-diva-recipe-exchange.yumsugar.com/Roasted-Wild-Mushroom-Lentil-Walnut-Pate-689523)

* Olive tapenade

* White bean spread w/ crostini

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Thanks for all the help guys!

The dinner is about to start and this is the menu:

Poached Pear and Brie Bruschetta

http://www.suite101.com/content/bruschetta-and-beyond-a65498

Ratatouille with Penne

http://www.kqed.org/w/morefastfoodmyway/episode225.html

Fried Cauliflower with Tahini

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jul/17/fried-cauliflower-tahini-recipe-ottolenghi

Butter Pecan Ice Cream with Apple Maple Topping

As you can see from my signature I'm more familiar with the liquid part of the kitchen, but I think and handled my job pretty well :cool:

Fingers crossed

Merry Christmas

Paulo Freitas

Bartender @ Bar do Copa (Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro - Brazil)

http://www.bardocopa.com.br

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  • 3 years later...

Cook a rich winter vegetable stew, with wine and lots of mushrooms in it, like this:
http://andreasgardencooking.com/2013/12/22/winter-vegetable-stew/

 

Try it served in individual casserole dishes with a pastry crust baked over it. You can roll extra pastry scraps very thin and cut out decorative shapes for the tops of the pies.

 

A vegetarian friend made this soup for her guests, and they raved about it:
https://bigsislittledish.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/tomato-cognac-soup/
I think my friend used 1.5 quarts of broth in the recipe. The soup in the blog pic looks pretty thick.

 

ETA: Worcestershire sauce has anchovies in it, so it's not strictly vegetarian.

Edited by djyee100 (log)
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FWIW, Annie's makes a vegetarian worcestershire, without the anchovies.

 

As for the OP, I'm not a vegetarian but if I were in the position of doing a vegetarian Xmas, I think I'd go with a Middle-Eastern theme.

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Or an indian theme, maybe.

 

Southern indian is mostly vegetarian.

 

Maybe because it's had so much time to develop, they have come up with so many flavorful meatless dishes.

 

To me, that's where most of the really delectable veggie options are, although I'd never turn down a good spanakopita or meatless moussaka, or hummus, or ... 

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> ^ . . ^ <

 

 

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On review, I realize I should have explained the reasoning behind my suggestion.  it's not just that M-E has plenty of good vegetarian options.  I was thinking of it as a riff on the location of Bethlehem.  And that's how I'd pitch it to my guests.

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If you eat milk and egg there is a  vegetable paté recipe in the Swedish Christmas thread. 

 

Vegetable pate,  peaballs,  false veal ( fried and breaded parsnips) ,  coleslaw, beetroot salad,  kale salad  and  vegetable brawn is what we used to serve my lakto ovio vegetarian  grandmother and she loved it.

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Cheese is you friend, Cheese will take care of you, Cheese will never betray you, But blue mold will kill me.

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