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Vegetarian, dairy free app and main

So crazy me decided to cook Christmas dinner for my husband's family. We've been together ten years and this is the first Christmas we're spending with his family, so I want to do a good job. I love cooking and have never had any issues, but for some reason I'm nervous! This could be because its my first time cooking a holiday dinner, I'm doing it mostly on my own and I just had a baby a month ago!
My menu is basic:
Mashed potatoes (thinking sweet potatoes)
Steamed Broccoli/cauliflower
Stuffing and caesar salad and assorted baking by his aunt

Bacon wrapped water chestnuts
Feta dip with cucumbers
Dill cheese dip

There's going to be 12-14 of us, and I emailed his cousin to double check no food allergies... Turns out she doesn't eat meat or dairy. She was sweet about it and said not to make anything special she'll just eat what she can. So, basically the veg and possibly the stuffing. I was thinking of doing a stuffed mushroom app instead of one of the dips, but can't think of a "main" that isn't like stuffing. Any suggestions? Is my menu too basic?
Thank you :-)


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 23rd, 2013 01:12 am (UTC)
I make very nice mashed potatoes (white), cooking peeled and rough cut potatoes in broth. Sautéing some garlic in olive oil before adding the potatoes is tasty. I use about 2 pounds of potatoes, and 1.25 cups broth. Cook till the spuds are done, then mash them right n the pan. No need to drain!

For dips, Serious Eats has a really good and pretty green pea hummus. No dairy, and it is really easy!

Maybe roast the cauliflower or broccoli?
Dec. 23rd, 2013 02:35 am (UTC)
A pasta salad would be excellent.

check for a dairy free dressing or make one of your own.


just skip the cheese in the salad. They are quick to make the night before and taste better the longer they sit in their dressing. Just shake (or mix) up the container from your fridge every once in a while.

That gives her a pasta dish, stuffing (do you make it with vege broth?), sweet potato's - you can use cinnamon and brown sugar in your mix (no butter) and she can eat it.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 02:49 am (UTC)
I'm not clear on this - is the aunt making the stuffing? Unless she's making it with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, it's not going to be vegetarian. I would check with her specifically.

I think there are a few menu changes you could do to make the menu more accommodating and inclusive of the vegetarian.

1) Make sure you use veggie broth instead of chicken/turkey broth in everything. Likewise oil or a vegan margarine like Earth Balance instead of butter.
2) Instead of caesar salad, why not do a more seasonal salad (or convince the aunt to do it)? Greens and belgian endive, some shaved fennel, toasted walnuts, some dried cranberries or pomegranate seeds or orange segments, and a vinaigrette made with cranberry, blood orange, or pomegranate. If it's just not salad without cheese, have a small platter of some sliced goat cheese rounds for people to add to their salad invidivually.
3) Steamed veggies seem blah to me - roasted cauliflower is tasty - I shake mine up in a curry spice blend from Penzey's before roasting. Roasted veg can also hold at room temp reasonably well. Green beans, maybe sauteed with some shallots and some toasted almond slivers (make sure to use oil and not butter) seem more holiday-ish than steamed broccoli. Brussels sprouts (roasted with shallots and toasted walnuts) are also tasty and seasonal.
4) Unless you're certain the stuffing with be vegetarian, then having a stuffing-like main wouldn't be an issue. I would roast an acorn squash in separate pan along with the turkey and then stuff it with a quinoa (and wild rice) pilaf (cook the quinoa in some veg broth, toss with some sauteed onion, mushroom, maybe diced or shredded carrot, toasted hazelnuts). This way she has something with protein, too.
5) You could do roasted new potatoes instead of mashed - use some oil and seasonings of your choice - dill would be nice) if you don't want to worry about making the mashed potatoes dairy free and her not being able to eat the gravy.
6) I'd replace one of the dips with a hummus or white bean dip and add a few more assorted crudite to the mix.

The aunt will be doing some baking, but unless she's doing vegan baking, you may want to have something dessert-like on-hand, too. Meringues are relatively easy (assuming she eats eggs, just not dairy) and can be flavored with peppermint extract. Or even maybe just have a pint of some dairy-free sorbet or ice cream (like the So Delicious coconut milk ice cream) on hand.

Edited at 2013-12-23 02:52 am (UTC)
Dec. 23rd, 2013 05:41 am (UTC)
Also, I know Aunt's covering baking, but this cake is SO GOOD.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 05:43 am (UTC)
BTW I agree with the above poster about roasting instead of steaming veggies. Roasted broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, or roasted carrots would be a lovely choice.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 05:45 am (UTC)
And (sorry so many posts! I keep thinking of things) The Kitchn just posted this AWESOME assortment of vegan appetizers: (2 in post, lots in comments)

Edited at 2013-12-23 05:45 am (UTC)
Dec. 23rd, 2013 06:22 am (UTC)
For vegan dessert look up vegan impossible pie. Easy and tasty I am told. I make it but can not eat it as soy is not my friend.

There are several hummus mixes on the market that come dry. You just add H2O and oil. I also add fresh herbage and garlic. simple and better made ahead.

Main dishes you might consider a a roasted veg dish. There is one alton brown makes one with bread that would be good and veg friendly if I recall aright.

Bread is another easy vegan dish. Simple ones that take no dairy are easy to find in your deli and make yummy side.

I have recently been cooking for a vegan buddy alot so I have gotten pretty good ate solving this.

Dec. 23rd, 2013 06:29 am (UTC)
Good lord. Vegetarian is one thing, Vegan is a whole other ball game. Unless you want to start going out and buying things like soy cheese my suggestion would be to keep it simple but flavourful.

You CAN'T serve pasta! Most pasta has egg in it. Vegans won't eat eggs. This is a recipe I've used in the past, it's tested, it works and its very easy to make and you probably have most things in the cupboard... plus, you can add (this is pretty much the base). Cauliflower works well in this, I've never put broccoli in it but I can't see it being an issue, you could also add mushrooms if you wish, in fact, pretty much most veg will work in this. I've even thrown in carrots, parsnip and turnip which I think you call rutabaga??) If you are adding more root veg, be sure to steam or boil along with the sweet potatoes before adding in.

400g tin of chickpeas, drained (1 tin)
2-3 tbsp curry powder
2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
150g spinach (2 cups)
400ml coconut milk (1 tin)
100ml tomato passata (half a tin of chopped tomatoes works just as well)
water, as needed
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp oil

Steam or boil sweet potatoes for 5-7 minutes.
Heat oil in a deep frying pan and cook onions until softened add chopped garlic cook for a minute.
Combine the curry powder with a little water to make a paste, stir into the onions and gently heat for 2 minutes.
Add coconut milk, sweet potatoes, chickpeas and tomato passata, simmer gently for 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
Add water as necessary if the curry reduces too much during cooking.
Add spinach just before you finish cooking the curry and simmer until wilted.
Serve with rice.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 04:23 pm (UTC)
FYI most store-bought boxed pasta is vegan :) and any kind with egg usually says egg noodles. It is not hard at all to find vegan pasta at any grocery store.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 06:59 pm (UTC)
Store bought must be different to home made then cause I've never seen a pasta recipe without egg! lol

Dec. 23rd, 2013 10:42 pm (UTC)
It is different you're right- home made usually does have egg and restaurants will use egg a lot too!
Dec. 23rd, 2013 06:23 pm (UTC)
The wording was "doesn't eat meat or dairy". That isn't full vegan, and does allow eggs. Come to think of it, it also allows fish and shellfish.

Dec. 23rd, 2013 06:49 pm (UTC)
No, it really doesn't. Fish is meat and if you think vegetarian means you can eat fish and shellfish then you're an idiot.

Vegetarian means NO meat. None. Had she said she was a pescatarian *then* she could have served fish.

People who don't eat dairy and are vegetarian tend not to eat eggs for the exact same reason they don't drink milk and it's nothing but good manners to presume that. That being the case they *are* in fact vegan.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:38 pm (UTC)
Precisely: "vegetarian" means all those things. And "vegetarian" was not the word used. "Does not eat meat or dairy" was what was said, and so presumably what was meant. Reading what was said, by both the original poster and by me - had you considered trying it?

Dec. 23rd, 2013 09:35 pm (UTC)
I did thank you.. I'm still trying to figure out exactly what sort of vegetable you seem to think a fish is.

Fish is meat. Period.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 01:57 pm (UTC)
Your menu sounds great.
I would make some little changes to what you have and add some simple elements.

Roast some of the sweet potatoes instead of mashing them;
Wrap some of the chestnuts in something else than bacon (I'm thinking thin slices of eggplant, not sure it would work). If you get eggplant try baking it whole (peeled). It's delicious.
Add hummus to your dips, keep the cucumber. It's easy to make and everyone will enjoy.

Good luck, and merry Christmas.
Dec. 23rd, 2013 08:25 pm (UTC)
Baked stuffed buttercup or acorn squash.

Cut the top off the squash. Scoop out the seeds. rub the outside with olive oil. Bake for about 20 minutes or so (can be done a day ahead). The quick and dirty filling for this is a packet of rice pilaf mixed with a pack of frozen mixed veggies, seasoned with Italian seasoning. If you have time and energy, parboil some basmati or jasmine rice, saute some diced onion and mushroom, throw in some frozen peas, or diced asparagus, diced carrots, ( you can add pine nuts or chopped chestnuts and cranberries if you want to make it seasonal) maybe a little broccoli. Stir in the rice. Season to taste.

Fill the squash with the stuffing and bake for 15 or so minutes to heat it all through.

This makes a nice vegetarian/vegan main dish
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )


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