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December 14, 2016 7:13 PM   Subscribe

What's a fitting vegetarian plate at a lobster dinner?

I will be the vegetarian at a Christmas dinner of stuffed lobsters. The hosts are family, and enjoy Christmas dinner as an event: time goes into the cooking, and time goes into the eating. I would like to find a vegetarian dish for me which fits the theme or aesthetic of (stuffed) lobster such that:
  1. the pacing and mechanics of the dish are similar to eating lobster, and, less importantly,
  2. the appearance or components of the dish compliment the dinner overall.
Last time I had artichokes. These worked well because you eat them slowly, by disassembling, and dip them in butter. However, they were not filling. I'd like to improve on this year.

The lobsters will be stuffed with seafood stuffing.

I'd love to hear some ideas!
posted by postcommunism to Food & Drink (25 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Lobster mushrooms :)
posted by ananci at 7:20 PM on December 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

Baked potato with creamed mushrooms and splurge on fancy mushrooms.
posted by shoesietart at 7:23 PM on December 14, 2016

This is a fun question. I call these kinds of foods "enrichment" (you know, like they give animals puzzles with food inside at the zoo) and really enjoy them. I think artichoke is probably your best vegetarian match, though. Some other ideas:

As a side: pomegranate, cut in half, served still in the fruit. Also good aesthetic match for lobster.
Anything still in the shell: peas, beans (edamame?), nuts
posted by phoenixy at 7:31 PM on December 14, 2016 [5 favorites]

I'm not sure you're going to find a cooked dish as disassemblable as artichokes. Maybe some uncooked stuff as an element, like pistachios or other nuts, or tangerine in the skin. Maybe something like a veggie paté with veggies or crackers you dip.

However, what your question really evoked for me was something I think I've seen in Asian grocery store freezers: vegan scallops. I think these are made from taro root or something, but there's a whole faux seafood sector that occasionally appears in restaurants; I was just surprised to see them in the local grocery.

If you search online for [vegan scallops], you will find some recipes for dressed-up mushrooms, which is fine too. Just... if you have access to a largeish asian grocery, check the freezer for fancy faux-seafood stuff.

If you have weird food allergies, approach with caution.
posted by amtho at 7:31 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

What if the artichokes were stuffed? That would make them more filling. Here's another recipe. These are vegan, but if you eat cheese you could add some of your choice to make them richer and more filling.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:38 PM on December 14, 2016 [7 favorites]

How about something vegetarian cooked en papillotte? The opening of the little parcels somehow reminds me of the way one eats a stuffed lobster. It's infinitely variable (for example) and can be made as filling as you like.
posted by peacheater at 7:38 PM on December 14, 2016 [10 favorites]

What immediately popped into my mind was this Savoy Cabbage Gratin recipe, because (if you use luxuriously expensive cheese, rather than brie) it has a similar rich creamy taste and texture as lobster, and because (maybe contrary to your request) it cooks slowly and doesn't require much tending, which makes it a good fit for a chef who's trying to also deal with quick-and-fussy lobster-cooking.

I'm an omnivore, and one who tends to need large meals to feel full, and this recipe feels totally complete to me (maybe with bread on the side). I've halved this recipe and had that completely alone as a full dinner, and it feels decadent in the same way lobster feels decadent to me.
posted by lazuli at 7:39 PM on December 14, 2016 [4 favorites]

Edamame in the shell sounds perfect, phoenixy, and really easy and fast to prepare.

Also: mu-shu vegetables. You have to put the vegetable mixture in the little pancakes, fresh at table. Now I want some.
posted by amtho at 7:41 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bowl of nice garlic butter, another of olive oil & balsamic, and basket of nice thin breadsticks - great for snapping into pieces.
posted by parki at 7:41 PM on December 14, 2016

Also: roasted whole heads of garlic, served with a cut up baguette and baked Brie, plus red fruit jelly or jam if you want. To eat: get a piece of baguette. Smear with the cheese. Squeeze a garlic clove out of the skin and smoosh it on the cheese. Top with jelly or jam if you want. Repeat till you're full!
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 7:49 PM on December 14, 2016 [17 favorites]

Roasted chestnuts are a traditional winter-holiday food, require cracking a shell, are meaty inside.
posted by xueexueg at 7:52 PM on December 14, 2016 [8 favorites]

If they'll consume part of it as a side dish, you could make a Vegducken and step the shiitakes up to black truffle. We did one as the main dish for my 1/2 vegetarian Thanksgiving and it was well received with the vegetarians and meat eaters alike. It's not 1:1 with Lobster but I don't know that anything is.
posted by Candleman at 8:02 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Also, maybe something Jackfruit based? It's one of the trendy things in vegetarianism right now.
posted by Candleman at 8:04 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'm assuming you eat dairy, since you mention butter. So what about a mini cheese fondue? You could have it bubbling away at your place and dip all sorts of things in it, including artichokes if you like. Should be more filling, even if you are only dipping vegetables but you could add bread pieces as well if necessary.
posted by lollusc at 8:13 PM on December 14, 2016 [11 favorites]

Dude. I am a lobster lover (new englander and fanatic) but I made this and it did not allow me to miss sweet pinchy.

If vegan, eliminate the butter.

-6-10 button mushroom caps - do a quick steam of them so they are soft/partially cooked. Drain.


Throw them into a ramekin or small corningware with:
-2 tablespoons butter
-few glugs of olive oil
- glug of red wine
*they should be shallowly covered by the stuff but not drowning at this point*

Chop and add:
Rosemary (fresh chopped is best - big bunch)
Basil - fresh is best - I usually toss in 2-3 tablespoons (?)
Squeeze of lemon juice
Red pepper flakes
Sea salt
Garlic (be very generous) - if I fresh mince I do a whole head
Sea salt
Black pepper

Totall optional: Parmesan grated to the top, let melt a little before taking it out of oven.

I go heavy on my seasonings so it's like a watery pesto consistency, but thinner can work too. Go by your own palate at this point.

Swish it around
Let that baby cook in the oven for 15-20 mins @ 450
Let everyone go nuts over that amazing smell
Serve with a warm crusty baguette.

posted by floweredfish at 8:25 PM on December 14, 2016 [37 favorites]

You can stuff artichokes! I've made this recipe from Lidia Bastianich, it has anchovies and eggs in it, but you could easily replace things, I'm thinking sautéed lobster mushrooms and some extra Parmesan cheese, or maybe those big capers. When I made it the eating was about as messy as eating a lobster, and you could have an extra thing of drawn butter to drizzle on top so you can match the other diners.
posted by Mizu at 8:55 PM on December 14, 2016 [1 favorite]

Weighing in that I made a vegducken as I am an ambitious vegetarian who brings the veggie dish to events, and it was fun to make, delicious for all, and felt like a cooking feat.
posted by fairlynearlyready at 9:19 PM on December 14, 2016 [2 favorites]

An alternative to stuffed artichokes is deconstructed stuffed artichokes.

My mother in law's recipe (well my version of the recipe -- she usually does the whole stuffing kit and kaboodle but the one time she made it for me, it was this deconstructed version, which I've made very successfully since):

-- Whole artichoke, stem cut off, covered with water with added oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and rosemary sprigs and simmered covered for about one and a half to two hours. For the last half hour add a peeled and quartered potato
-- half an avocado with lemon or vinaigrette
-- cannellini bean salad -- just a tin of drained cannellini beans, some chopped fresh basil with a little oil, salt and pepper
-- olives, pickled cucumbers, pickled onions

(For non-vegetarians, the recipe also includes a tin of tuna in oil, with the oil drained).

It gives you the pace of the artichoke with a few yummy extras!
posted by prettypretty at 10:58 PM on December 14, 2016

Maybe something like a stuffed red pepper with some grains/beans to get your protein?

You could buy smaller peppers and have more of them so you stay on pace with everyone else. You can pretty much use any recipe for the stuffing--may even be able to borrow elements from the host dinner's flavours.

Then do a jackfruit crabcake (make em smaller than as shown in the recipe) as an small side and to share? I always find that it's nice to make extra and pass them around at holiday dinners. Half the people will try, the other half will turn up their noses, but the effort is what matters and great conversation can be had over jackfruit!
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 5:00 AM on December 15, 2016

What if you made 'scallops' from king oyster mushrooms, and then lined them up in a 'shell' crafted from halved red peppers? You could dress them with the seasonings that flowerfish recommended above, and then wrap the whole thing in a packet to bake.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 5:11 AM on December 15, 2016 [1 favorite]

As suggested above, lobster mushrooms - but as a lobster mushroom risotto. Depending on how long the stuffing and cooking of the actual lobsters is going to take, it might match up well in terms of pacing of the cooking since the risotto will require someone to be hands-on with it for a fixed period of time.

Duxelles might be another way to go as its versatile as a stuffing for things (like pasta, peppers, etc). Some more ideas on lobster mushroom duxelles here.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:43 AM on December 15, 2016

If you want to keep with the seafood theme, you can use salsify as an oyster substitute.
posted by Candleman at 8:57 AM on December 15, 2016

Love the idea of a lobster mushroom risotto. And, if someone can bring a pressure cooker, you can make the prep a lot less hands on.

Also, if the only problem with the artichokes was that they weren't filling enough, what about adding a filling side dish, like a whole grain salad or hearty bread with a protein-y spread (some type of bean dip or cheese spread, maybe?).
posted by rainbowbrite at 4:09 PM on December 15, 2016

It occurs to me that tamales need to be unwrapped. Not very much like lobster, though.

Something to be constructed may be easier than something deconstructed. Something spread on crackers or sopped up with bread. Maybe even a fondu.

I haven't had stuffed peppers in a long time.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:10 PM on December 15, 2016

Thanks all! Lots of good ideas here. I'm offering the above options to the hosts, and I'll see what's easiest for them to accommodate. (And hoping to find lobster mushrooms this time of year -- the whole table will appreciate the pun.)
posted by postcommunism at 4:24 PM on December 20, 2016

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