What easy vegetarian meals can I cook for six, including kids?
April 26, 2016 1:51 PM   Subscribe

RecipeFilter: My husband and I are hosting a family of four (two grown-ups, two kids) for a few days. What easy, quick things can we cook? One of the guests doesn't love cheese (a little is okay, but no mac-n-cheese type meals) and two are vegetarians; the kids are rumored to be easy eaters. We'll be touristing all day so will likely want something we can make fairly quickly before getting the kids in bed. We have a fairly small kitchen and oven, but are decent cooks and bakers. Please share your best recipes!
posted by stillmoving to Food & Drink (28 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
Look into Indian cuisine; a lot is vegetarian. Chana masala is one of my favourites and usually goes over very well.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:00 PM on April 26, 2016


Burrito bar. Everyone makes them the way they like them.

Pasta, a big antipasta plate with meats and cheeses, crusty bread.

Make 'em yourself Sandwiches and salads from the deli.

Breakfast for dinner, omelets, pancakes, fruit.

Pizzas!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:00 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Bars are my answer to a group with veg/non-veg eaters.

Taco bar: make TVP taco filling, cheese, onions, cilantro, avocado, olives, sour cream, etc - and everyone can fill their tacos to their own liking.

Chili bar - make vegetarian chili - again everyone can top their own chili

Baked potato bar - leftover chili, broccoli, cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, etc.

Taco filling, chili and baked potatoes can all be done in the crock pot while you are out being touristy.
posted by sarajane at 2:02 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the replies so far. Won't threadsit, but forgot to mention: recipe links also desired, and we're especially interested in dinner options. We unfortunately don't have a crockpot.
posted by stillmoving at 2:04 PM on April 26, 2016


this moroccan stew is my most favorite thing. It's just as good in the slow cooker as it is on the stovetop.

baked potato bar with lots of vegetables! you have a lot of hands- make everybody chop something.

eggplant sandwiches in pitas - you can bake slices of eggplant quickly - topped with tomatoes, cukes, feta, olives, shredded lettuce, onions and tzatziki is a win at my house. french fries or sweet potatoes on the side with feta & oregano on top makes it even better.
posted by bravecanary at 2:08 PM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm making shakshuka tonight!

I can't vouch for that recipe in particular, but read it to get the idea. You just kinda make a spiced tomato stew with basically whatever you want in it, crack some eggs in it and dig in with some pita or soft bread when the whites are cooked. It's delicious and healthy and easy and for those reasons it's a staple around here even if there are only two of us.
posted by cmoj at 2:09 PM on April 26, 2016 [3 favorites]


Taco filling, Chili and Baked potatoes don't need a crockpot, you can make them ahead of time and just warm them up when ready to eat.

I don't have recipe links, as I just make the taco filling with grocery store taco filling packets and I make my chili freeform by just dumping beans and what-have-you into the pot with lots of cumin and chili powder.
posted by sarajane at 2:09 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Spaghetti and vegetables.
https://www.barilla.com/en-us/recipes/barilla-whole-grain-spaghetti-with-fresh-vegetables

Contrary to the recipe, we don't miss the veggiescand the pasta. We put the veggies on top. The mixing did not work well for us.
posted by SemiSalt at 2:11 PM on April 26, 2016


Soup, salad, and bread is easy, and you can mix and match whatever kind of soup and whatever kind of bread: tomato soup and some kind of cheesy bread, carrot soup and popovers, nice chunky bean soup and biscuits, etc.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:19 PM on April 26, 2016


Vegetarian/vegan chili is easy. Dice a large onion and add minced garlic. Sauté in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally. While it's softening, dice and add a green pepper, 4-6 carrots, and 4 ribs of celery, in that order. Stir until the other vegetables are tender-crisp. Add chili powder, dried oregano, and cumin to taste (keeping in mind you'll be adding more ingredients. Add 1 lb. sliced mushrooms, stir, and continue cooking until the mushrooms give off their juice. Then add 2 cans diced tomatoes, stir, and check seasoning. If you want to add some diced zucchini or summer squash at this point, go ahead; it will cook enough without being sautéed. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, then add two cans of beans, rinsed and drained (I use one can of dark red kidney beans and one can of something else, like small red beans or pinto beans), and one lb. of frozen corn kernels. Stir, check seasoning, and then continue simmering until the beans and corn are heated through and the other vegetables are done to your taste. Serve with garnishes of your choice. This also works as a burrito filling; leftovers could be added to scrambled eggs to make a breakfast scramble or filling for a breakfast burrito.

You can make this the day before they arrive, and reheat it after a day of touristing.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:20 PM on April 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


Vegetable lasagna -- add cheese to most of it, leave a section at the end cheeseless. If you think it won't be enough for a main course for 6, roast some chicken and the meat-eaters can have that with a side of lasagna.

To make vegetable lasagne, roast or saute the vegetables first to prevent the finished dish from being watery. Look at a few recipes and then use any/all of the suggested vegetables and cheeses. You can use lasagna noodles or just layers of vegetables.

Hearty Vegetable Lasagna from allrecipes.com

Vegetable Lasagna from The Pioneer woman

Vegetable Lasagna from Eat, Drink, Binge
posted by wryly at 2:23 PM on April 26, 2016


Also, fast vegetarian/vegan tacos:

Chop a couple of large onions and sauté them in a big skillet with a lid. After they start to brown, add some minced garlic and a few crushed red pepper flakes. After a few more seconds of stirring, add a bunch of swiss chard, coarsely chopped after removing the large, thick ribs (or use pre-washed spinach to save time). Stir a few seconds, then add 1/2 cup of water or vegetable stock, turn the heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook until the chard is tender, then remove the lid, turn up the heat, and cook, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is gone. Scoop a bit of the filling into a warmed tortilla and top with salsa, sour cream, crumbled goat cheese, and any other garnish you want. This works as a burrito, too, if you prefer larger tortillas.
posted by brianogilvie at 2:24 PM on April 26, 2016


Peanut noodles!
posted by Gymnopedist at 2:25 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


The Fantastic Foods brand taco filling is fairly common and tasty, even to omnivores. You basically just microwave it with water and it's ready, so it lends itself well to a fast burrito/taco bar.

Lentils are good, as they don't need extensive soaking time like non-canned beans. If you have an oriental grocery near you, it will likely have pre-fried tofu, which is good for throwing into stir fries while avoiding the pressing time. Canned white beans can be added to spaghetti to boost protein and makes a tasty combination.
posted by Candleman at 2:26 PM on April 26, 2016


Crepes
They are easy to make and you can fill them with different stuff, letting people customize it.

Potatoes are so nutritious that you can just about live off them with nothing else added for long periods. So just about any kind of potato based recipe is substantive enough to make work as a meal. If you buy Ore Ida diced frozen hash browns and Ore Ida frozen Potatoes O'Brien, you can cook up fresh potatoes easily on short notice. I like mixing the two, half and half, and having an egg to go with it.
posted by Michele in California at 2:33 PM on April 26, 2016


Hiya, chiming in from a vegan household with two adults and three kids (only one of whom is vegan, but the rest don't cook so they eat vegan without complaint).

The most popular Feed Everyone At Once dishes from the last decade:
1. Ratatouille (served with couscous, noodles, rice, pitas, baguettes, whatever is handy
2. Tacos (refried beans, veggie crumbles if they're available, tomato, lettuce, cashew cream, shredded carrots, enchilada sauce, salsas, cilantro, etc.)
3. Enchiladas (which are very simple to make by the tray)
4. Squash/zucchini noodles/zoodles/whatever you call them (our kids love squash to a degree that is hard for me to understand, since they get picky about a lot of other veg; I take advantage of their love for it by making squash noodles at least once or twice a week in relatively huge portions)
5. Homemade pasta (the flour kind, not the squash kind--more time consuming but also can be made in huge quantities)
6. Shepherd's pie
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 2:49 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Ratatouille. Pop an egg on top then broil for a few second before serving.
posted by monologish at 2:56 PM on April 26, 2016


Cupcake lasagna can be put together pretty quickly and customized to each person's tastes and might be something the kids would think is fun.

You can also make lasagna ahead of time and freeze it and just reheat it when you need. Using a bechamel sauce will help with the cheese issue. Here's a bit of an unusual spin on the classic.
posted by Candleman at 2:59 PM on April 26, 2016


Grilled veggies are delicious, assuming you have a grill. Brush with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder. Cook until soft (5 minutes?)
* Asparagus (Takes slightly longer to cook)
* Zucchini
* Bell pepper (cook very lightly)
* Portabello mushrooms (These don't take long)
* Eggplant (Takes slightly longer to cook)
* Tomato (slice in half and cook lightly)

Heres's a recipe. Consider serving with beans or rice to bulk up the meal a bit.
posted by cnc at 4:45 PM on April 26, 2016


A greek feast. Falafel, hummus and pita. With a salad on the side. A vegetarian favorite with my kids.
posted by turtlefu at 5:03 PM on April 26, 2016


I also recommend lots of Indian curries, as they are traditionally vegetarian or vegan and can be made in big batches to be eaten with rice or chapatis. I like this kidney bean curry, which is rich and tomato-ey; if you / your guests don't like too much spice, you can leave out the green chillis and reduce the amount of garam masala without reducing the flavour. A straightforward tarka dal might be a good staple to try. I also like this sweet potato and lentil curry. You could also play around with big batches of flavoured rice; a vegetable biryani might appeal or, for something milder and easier, South Indian lemon rice.
posted by Aravis76 at 11:44 PM on April 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think Jamie Oliver has good vegetarian recipes; at my house we eat his vegetarian chili and caponata quite a lot.
posted by neushoorn at 11:51 PM on April 26, 2016


This sweet-potato bean chili is my go-to for feeding any crowd with dietary restrictions. It is easy, quick, delicious, and the base recipe is vegan and gluten free (and if you use mild salsa, it is not spicy). Depending on preferences, you can add shredded cheese, sour cream, cilantro, hot sauce, etc. as toppings to customize it to taste. It is also very good made ahead and reheated later.
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:32 AM on April 27, 2016


Without use of a slow cooker, I'd probably make 2-3 soups, stews, or curries (depending on how many dinners they'll be eating with you all), the weekend before. Then the day of, in the morning, before you all go out, I'd stick one meal into the fridge to defrost while you all are out. After you all get back, when you're all pretty tired, all you'd have to do is make some rice, noodles, or get some bread together to eat with the meal while it is reheating on the stove.
posted by PearlRose at 7:22 AM on April 27, 2016


Apologies for this being a bit 'meta', but four extra people for a few days, and you'll be spending time playing tourist and all that?

- I'd suggest you search for a restaurant or take-out place you can fall back on, in case you get home and everyone is tired and not in the mood for cooking. Remember: in addition to cooking, you'll be cleaning up, too.

- Obviously, anything you can make in advance would be a winner. Ie, freeze a casserole, move it to the refrigerator the morning of the day you plan to eat it, pop it in the oven first thing when you get home.

- Do you have something like Whole Foods in your area? They (and other places) will tend to have 'food bars' with a lot of choices, many veg* and ethnic-style dishes. Not the cheapest option, but (for instance) the place near my house has nice indoor and outdoor seating and it can be pleasant to sit outside, eat, talk, and wind-down in the early evening. Gives the kids a chance to stretch their legs a bit, too.
posted by doctor tough love at 7:41 AM on April 27, 2016


A crockpot is like a pot in an oven on low heat - it works best if you have a heavy cast-iron or clay pot with a lid, but it works perfectly then, and in my opinion better than the slow cooker for some reason. If you have a casserole without a lid, you can use foil.
This is practical for the Moroccan stew and some of the Indian recipes mentioned above.

With vegan guests, I often make a stew of Puy lentils with a side of salad, possibly rice, and some bread. Kids often like it a lot, once they get over the look of it which is brown.

Finely chop an onion, a sprig of celery and a carrot.
Soften these gently in olive oil

Meanwhile, rinse 1 1/2 cups of lentils carefully in cold water.

When the aromatics are ready, add crushed garlic to taste, along with a spoonful of ketchup, salt, pepper and a sprig of thyme. (And other fresh or dried herbs you like - out of season I sometimes use a mix called herbes de provence).

Now, you can add a diced russet potato or two, for fullness of taste and texture.

Add the lentils, and water or vegetable broth to cover + one inch.

Cook for 25 mins, taste and tune taste, maybe with salt and pepper, or with extra oil, extra ketchup, or a dash of lemon (improves everything). Cook for five minutes more to make the tastes combine. For non-vegans, a sprinkling of bacon is delicious. For everyone, a sprinkle of parsley and some cherry tomato halves on top of the stew makes it all look less brown. It is delicious.

This is a dish which works well in the oven at low heat for several hours - if I do that, I cut the vegetables into chunks rather than fine, and I add more liquid. I go really safe with the liquid and reduce on the stove before serving if it is too watery.
posted by mumimor at 8:48 AM on April 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


We like these "Snobby Joes", a lentil take on sloppy joes. We've made this for a large group (mixed meat/veg eaters) and it was a hit.

A black bean quinoa enchilada bake is also great and can be made ahead of time. We eat it with avocado on top, chips on the side. Could be modified to be made without cheese, or without the extra cheese on top.

This is a tasty and easy pasta salad with asparagus, sun dried tomatoes and mozz (could put cheese on the side).

We make this Lal Dal dish (red lentils) fairly often, too. I usually serve it with broccoli and rice. The vegan chocolate pie on this blog post is also crazy delicious and easy!
posted by LKWorking at 1:12 PM on April 27, 2016


These are fantastic. Favorited the ones that I think we'll make this go-round, that don't require new equipment purchase for us. Thank you!
posted by stillmoving at 1:19 AM on April 28, 2016


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