Low Carb + Veggie Friendly + Tastes Good + Party = ?
January 8, 2010 6:50 PM   Subscribe

Please help me come up with fun party foods, hors d'oeuvres, and other snacky/easy to eat recipes that are low carb (and mostly vegetarian) and are good for entertaining!

Recently, I was diagnosed with a medical condition that requires me to limit the amount of carbs I eat per day. I can still eat carbs (ideally about 150g per day), especially low glycemic index/whole grain carbs, but I've made a decision to virtually eliminate refined carbs from my diet. I want to focus on healthy, high protein foods.

I've been able to come up with a game plan for my regular day-to-day diet pretty easily, but I'm having a hard time adjusting for social occasions. We entertain quite a lot -- usually at least several times per week -- and many of our friends are vegetarians. Most eat fish.

In the past, there has been a lot of crackers and cheese, homemade pizzas, little puff pastry appetizers, chips and dip, etc. Obviously, this isn't going to work anymore. Usually, we watch football or movies, play games, talk, etc. I need some good ideas for relatively healthy, low carb appetizers and dinner recipes that I can use to entertain our friends without sacrificing my health!

We have already covered the crudite/hummus/bean dip angle. What else is there?!? Recipes that take some time to prepare and/or need to be eaten with a plate are just fine. I have looked at the lowcarb tag, and I found a couple ideas, but I'd love to hear some thoughts that relate specifically to entertaining. Thanks!
posted by theantikitty to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Have you thought about something like meat-substitute "buffalo wings"? If you used seitan, with a no-carb wing sauce, and a low or no-carb dressing, that would keep the carbohydrates relatively under control (seitan has some carbs but you're not going to avoid them altogether). It doesn't taste bad if you know seitan's texture.
posted by graymouser at 4:44 AM on January 9, 2010

Asked my vegetarian wife for more suggestions. You might want to try some kind of lettuce wraps - you can use nuts or meat substitute in the filling. Mushroom caps stuffed with a faux-meat type of filling could also serve, if you made the filling to be low-carb.
posted by graymouser at 6:15 AM on January 9, 2010

Prosciutto wrapped around melon?
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:00 PM on January 8, 2010

Brie stuffed mushrooms from Pioneer Woman.

You also might want to look, or even post this question, at Chowhound's Home Cooking board. I've looked for party food ideas there and they have several threads with some very good ones.
posted by apricot at 7:16 AM on January 9, 2010

Just a couple of ideas:

- halloumi cheese and roasted vegetable mini skewers
- King prawns, marinated in soy/ginger/sweet chilli sauce, grilled
- mozzarella balls, cherry tomatoes and pesto, on sticks
posted by schmoo at 8:35 AM on January 9, 2010

On the mushroom cap front, a friend of mine makes an incredibly delicious dish that is basically mushroom caps baked (I think?) with a lot of butter and savory herbs. Insanely good and rich-tasting and party-popular. Regretfully, I have no recipe, but the idea doesn't seem too complicated if you're up for experimenting.
posted by nicoleincanada at 8:39 AM on January 9, 2010

If dairy and fruit are acceptable, a basic fruit tray with a good variety is always a safe bet. A nice cream cheese or yogurt dip is great with fruit.
posted by nicoleincanada at 8:42 AM on January 9, 2010

Last idea - edamame (soy beans) are easy to prepare and serve, delicious, and high protein/low carb. I used to buy bags of frozen beans to keep on hand. You can buy them pre-shelled, but those are best for cooking, IMHO, while the unshelled beans are great boiled, salted and served in a big bowl at parties. (Just don't try to eat the shell.)
posted by nicoleincanada at 8:45 AM on January 9, 2010

What happened here? I had favorited a whole bunch of suggestions, and now they're gone? And my lame suggestion is still here? Memail me your deleted recipes!
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:46 AM on January 9, 2010

Response by poster: Wow, this is pretty strange! I checked this quickly last night before bed, and StickyCarpet is right! There were a lot of comments that disappeared. Thanks to all for the awesome suggestions. I think I will memail a mod to see what happened.
posted by theantikitty at 10:24 AM on January 9, 2010

Oops, my answer from yesterday vanished in the server tip. Here's the closest recreation of it I can muster.

- dates stuffed with ricotta (or other mild cheese: goat cheese, cream cheese) and baked just until the cheese gets melty. A friend makes these wrapped in prosciutto and that's a wonderful taste, but since you asked for vegetarian-friendly foods, I assure you these are marvelous without meat.

- goat cheese topped with tapenade and a squeeze of lemon. You can doll this up by topping it with herb sauce* or a handful of grape tomatoes, sliced. It's great with fresh vegetables or, if you like, you can also provide crackers or French bread for higher-carb eaters. (I know you have the vegetables covered, but I can't resist giving this tip in case others are wondering: for dipping, cut some of the vegetables into the flattest, thinnest pieces. Think carrot coins, not carrot sticks. I like cucumber slices, too, which have the same size and shape as a cracker. That way, people can get a higher dip-to-veg ration if they want.)
*herb sauce: a handful of parsley and a sprig or two of any other fresh herb you like, a good splash of olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon, all zapped in the blender with a few capers, salt to taste, and just a tiny tiny hint of garlic.

- here are my serving suggestions for Mimi Smartypants' artichoke dip. It is goooooooood, and goes very well with vegetables. Though it is trivially easy to throw together on the spot, you can even make it in advance: just be sure to store it air-tight in the fridge, and be prepared to drain off some liquid that will collect on the surface and to re-season to taste, since the lemon and basil fade a bit overnight.

- frittata! for a party, I like to make it in advance, and serve it chilled or warm, sliced into small wedges or cubes. People can eat it by hand, with toothpicks, or on a small plate with a fork. I make them very full of vegetables with the eggs as a binder rather than the bulk of the dish, and often omit the cheese. They are delicious! If you plan to serve it cold, season it more highly that you would a hot dish.

You can also make mini-frittati in a muffin tin, if you'd like tidy little single servings. I've done this, and it's so simple and the cook very fast. Be sure to oil the muffin tins (no muffin papers!) and if the frittati get stuck, just coax them out by running a wooden skewer around the edge of the tin.
posted by Elsa at 10:24 AM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Oh. There was a server blip! Says so on top of the page. If anyone revisits this, I'd love to see those suggestions again!
posted by theantikitty at 10:25 AM on January 9, 2010

(Sticky Carpet and the anti kitty, if you look at the top of the page, there's a link explaining the server tip and the wiping out of some answers across the site.)
posted by Elsa at 10:25 AM on January 9, 2010

Oh, and a seemingly obvious suggestion, but worth mentioning: spiced nuts and plain fruit together. (Well, not together in a bowl, but served next to each other.) Even when I put out a groaning board of finger foods, the nuts and fruit disappear fast.

I like to toast nuts (almonds, pecans, walnuts, cashews, whatever) in a skillet in a few drops of oil with one bold seasoning (curry or smoked paprika or rosemary) and a bit of salt, tossing them until they're a little toasty and quite fragrant. Serve warmed if it's easy, for the extra bit of wow!; room temp is fine, though.

I like to serve a bowl or bunch or plate of one kind of fruit in season: grapes or cherries or strawberries or apples or pears (sliced and rinsed in lemon-water, to reduce browning). A little pile of clementines won't go as fast as a bunch of grapes, but they're amazingly easy to peel and eat piece by piece, and they make the room smell lovely! If there's not fresh fruit in season, you can always serve a dish of dried fruit: nice figs, dried cherries, dates. (Since your concern is refined carbs, keep an eye on the sugar levels of dried fruits and make your own decision.)

Of course, this is also a great way to serve cheese, with or without bread or crackers: a wedge or chunk of cheese goes beatifully with a pile of fruit and a bowl of nuts.
posted by Elsa at 10:41 AM on January 9, 2010

Someone had said water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, broiled for half an hour. I might bake for 10 and broil for 20, but that sounds simple and great.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:16 AM on January 9, 2010

Also: I'm confabulating two lost answers, but an assortment of nuts, olives, and tiny pickles served in an endive "plate" would be nice.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:18 AM on January 9, 2010

Someone had said water chestnuts wrapped in bacon, broiled for half an hour. I might bake for 10 and broil for 20, but that sounds simple and great.

That would be Rumaki-- one of my favorite appetizers. I realize the marinade has sugar, but I will give you the recipe and you can modify as you wish.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
24 canned water chestnuts, drained and halved horizontally
8 bacon slices (1/2 pound), cut crosswise into thirds

Marinate the water chestnuts for one hour in the soy sauce, ginger, brown sugar mixture. Wrap each water chestnut with 1/3 slice of bacon and secure with toothpick. Place under broiler for 3 minutes, turn and broil approx 3 minutes more. Or if the oven is otherwise engaged, you can bake them and just keep checking the bacon for doneness.

Another favorite is Blue Cheese Mushrooms
(This is a family recipe never written down so amounts are approximate)

Large Mushroom caps with stems removed
Blue Cheese
Cream Cheese
Chopped walnuts.

Eyeball the mushrooms and put Blue Cheese crumbles into a bowl-- enough to fill half of the mushroom caps. Match with the same amount of cream cheese. Mix the cheeses together and spoon into the caps so they are mounded (like deviled eggs). Sprinkle walnuts on top and put under the broiler until cheeses are browned and mushrooms are golden. Heavenly (and oh so rich.)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:30 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

24 canned water chestnuts, drained and halved horizontally

Whoops! In the Rumaki recipe forget about halving the water chestnuts. You halve them if you want to go all traditional and cook them with a chicken liver between the two halves before wrapping them in bacon. For the meatless version, the water chestnuts are left whole. (Sorry, I just copy pasted and forgot to remove that one part.)
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 12:35 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

fried plaintains, with some salt and maybe some spice

boiled green peanuts

midye dolme (rice stuffed mussels, a turkish favorite)

avocado halves stuffed with either tuna or shrimp, mixed with either olive oil or mayo, and some chopped tomatos and onions (not as finger friendly but very popular anyway)

the frittata idea is excellent.

roasted chestnuts, served warm
posted by saraindc at 1:05 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hooray! Thanks to everyone who came back to repost answers. Lots of these sound terrific. Also, thanks for that suggestion about Chowhound, apricot! That sounds like a really good place to continue my search.
posted by theantikitty at 2:21 PM on January 9, 2010

My original answer got eaten, so here's most of it again...

Fry a thin egg omelette and use it like a tortilla to roll up a variety of stuffings: cream cheese, julienne carrots, sprouts, herbs etc. Slice it into rounds and use a toothpick to keep them together and use as a handle. Dipping sauces are also nice to have with these. Which leads me to...

Bagna Cauda: I know you said you've got crudites under control but this takes it to another level. Essentially, it's a hot dipping sauce. For a truly vegetarian option, leave out the anchovies and either sub with an alternative (like tapenade) or just boost the salt to compensate. Some blanched vegetables (beans, carrots, cauliflower etc) make it perfect and minimum fuss. Re-purpose an old fondue set to keep the sauce hot.

San Choy Bau: Essentially lettuce cups with a savoury filling, just stir-fry an assortment of vegetables (be sure to dice finely) like shiitake mushrooms, water chestnuts, sprouts, spring onions (scallions) and so forth, and use a thick teryaki sauce. Serve in lettuce cups, on on endive (which is a little bitter so sweeten the mix slightly). Do an Italian version with radiccio and a mix of goat-cheese, basil, pine nuts, semi-dried tomatoes and so forth.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:03 PM on January 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Deviled eggs.
Mushrooms stuffed with spinach. (I use a similar recipe but I add parmesan cheese to the mixture and then top with a slice of a flavorful cheese (havarti, gruyere, fontina)
posted by CathyG at 12:09 PM on January 11, 2010

I don't know if this thread is still alive, but Kalyn's Kitchen has great low-carb (specifically South Beach) recipes.

Here's the appetisers page, but I think it's a good website to trawl around. You're bound to find something useful. Love the idea of the curried eggs myself.
posted by Ziggy500 at 6:48 AM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

« Older Give me some "vintage music that still sounds...   |   Yelp sucks. I need unbiased reviews. Help! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.