Mmmmm...veggie everything...
February 26, 2006 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Cooking for a LOT of people. Vegan people, and nonvegan people. And I don't want to make chili.

So I'm having an informal dinner party for about 15-20 people. And the food needs to be vegan. I'd rather not make a big pot of stew or soup, I think I'd prefer four or five different dishes. And I'd like for the food to be palatable to nonvegans as well.

Anyone have any good vegan dishes that will feed that many people, that aren't too crazy hard to prepare?
posted by jennyjenny to Food & Drink (30 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My first thought is veggie stir-fry and rice. You could make it with tofu, then separately stir-fry some shrimp for the non-vegans to put in theirs (assuming they eat shellfish). A veg curry would be great, too.
posted by scody at 11:30 AM on February 26, 2006

oops, sorry, hit post too soon. With curry, you can have raita on the side for the nonvegans. Mmm...raita.
posted by scody at 11:31 AM on February 26, 2006

I'm thinking something vaguely Mediterranean might fit the a big platter of couscous and veggies, with fresh tomatoes and olives on top. You could even provide crumbled feta separately for the cheese-eaters.
posted by hilatron at 11:33 AM on February 26, 2006

Hummus, maybe guacamole as well, with fresh veggies and tortilla chips?
posted by dilettante at 11:37 AM on February 26, 2006

Firm tofu - they come in squares ~ 3"x3"x1/2" - slice into 3"x1/2"x1/2" sticks. They come in "plain" and "5-spice" flavours.

Bamboo shoot - fresh if available, canned - ok. If fresh, strip most of the green leaves off, cut ~1/4" from the bottom, slice vertically halfway in. Boil for 20-30 minutes (depending on size), drain, slice into pieces ~ tofu

Optional: carrot & celery sticks of ~ same size

Combine with sesame oil, hotsauce, minced garlic, soy-sauce/magee. Toss, top with pan-roasted sesame seeds prior to serving.

Served cold.


Glutenous Rice Puding, coconut flavoured

200g cane sugar
250ml water
180g glutenous rice flour
40g coconut milk
2 tsp oil

Dissolve sugar into water, set aside to cool.
Slowly add sugar solution to glutenous rice flour, mix until smooth
Add coconut milk, blend well, add oil, blend well
Pour into greased cake tin, steam at high temperature for 30 minutes


Water chestnut cake

300g water chestnuts
300g water chestnut starch
450g cane sugar
2 tsp oil
5&1/2 cups water

Peel, wash, cut water chestnuts
Mix water water chestnut starch w/ 1&1/2 cups cold water
Dissolve cane sugar in remaining water, add boiling sugar solution to starch solution, mix vigourously (this can take a little muscle) and add oil.
Add water chestnuts, continue stirring
Pour mixture into greased cake tin and steam for 30 minutes (or so) until cooked.


If you're willing to deep-fat fry stuff, I've got a bunch of recipes involving taro and other stuff.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:40 AM on February 26, 2006

Vegan girlfriend says:

I would do mexican food. Make your own tacos and burritos, setting out beans, rice, tofu crumble, and assorted vegetables. It's festive and colorful, cheap, filling and satisfying to all. Non-vegans won't feel they're being forced some crazy meat substitute. If you want to get creative, you can have a lentil curry or quinoa available to add to the tacos, but no one is forced out of their comfort zone. Set out chips and salsa and guacamole. Serve margaritas. Sorbet for dessert. Vegan sour cream is actually pretty good. Look up Joanne Stepaniak's fake cheeses if you're feeling particularly ambitious, but call it a sauce, not a cheese, so the non-vegans don't bash the uncheesiness of it.
posted by team lowkey at 11:42 AM on February 26, 2006

(For both of the steamed cakes, you can either serve cold or for the rice pudding, you can slice into pieces, lightly coat in beaten egg, and pan-fry just prior to serving. The waterchestnut one is more amenable to a light dusting of corn starch and pan fried without egg just prior to serving.)
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:48 AM on February 26, 2006

You can make a very tasty pasta sauce for vegans, fry onions in olive oil and cashews or any other nuts you fancy and maybe some peppers, then add flour to make a roux, then add tinned tomatoes and garlic and thicken, season with balsamic vinegar and honey ( if they don't eat honey, use brown sugar). A secret tasty UK ingredient is a bit of marmite or use veggie stock cubes and then at the end put in fresh basil or use a bit of basil oil - goes great with pasta. You can also add pine nuts. This is not the healthiest idea of vegan food, but when I used to cook vegan for my student household it went down very well. If you combine it with different sorts of fancy fresh pasta it can be a very nice dinner party course.
posted by Flitcraft at 11:51 AM on February 26, 2006

I'd do a trio of tarts. Get some vegan frozen phyllo or a vegan frozen savory pie shell for the crust. Then do one with pumpkin and sage, one with aubergine and tomato and basil, and one with mushrooms.

If you can't find vegan phyllo or pie shells(I'm betting you can though), you'd have to make your own using vegetable oil or shortening. I don't know whether that falls under the "crazy hard" category but it's actually not that difficult at all. And you can use whole wheat flour for at least the pumpkin-sage as I think the combination works really well. If you don't have a rolling pin, use a wine bottle with the label peeled off.
posted by hazyjane at 11:57 AM on February 26, 2006

If you go for the pasta, another good sauce would be to make pesto (basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil and parmesan, substituting soy parm for regular parm). Great over pasta or drizzled over tomatoes, roasted peppers, etc.

Also, roasted peppers would be good & easy side dish/appetizer in general (plus they make your kitchen smell so nice). Drizzle in olive oil. Blue cheese dressing on the side for the nonvegans.
posted by scody at 12:02 PM on February 26, 2006

If you're doing a buffet sort of serving for a ton of people with meat and non-meat items, it never hurts to put little hand-written labels next to food items. As a vegetarian, I usually avoid an item that I can't positively identify rather than grill the host to find out what is in it.
posted by divka at 12:03 PM on February 26, 2006

I would suggest some casseroles. They're easy enough to prepare, and can be done ahead of time and then shoved in the oven to bake, leaving you to be a proper host. Two big dishes of something would be enough to satisfy; I'm thinking the Bulgarian Pepper Casserole from The New Moosewood Cookbook, but that has cheese. You could adapt or choose something similar... how about vegan lasagna? Or a vegan shepard's pie (mashed potatoes, eggplant, tvp, tofu, veggies, etc - the opportunities are endless).

For a whole meal:

For Starters:
-homemade babaghanoush and hummous, some kalamata olives, and toasted pitas

For The Main and Sides:
-Aforementioned casseroles
-Herb Roasted Vegetables (eggplant, red onion, red peppers, yellow and green squash, etc - choose your own adventure here; this is a beautifully-colored dish) tossed in dried herbs and olive oil and roasted for 20-30 minutes.
-Some fresh-baked bread (two boules of focaccia are super-simple and plenty to eat for 20 people)

For Dessert:
-Fresh fruit (Strawberries, other berries, bananas, oranges - go crazy!)
posted by The Michael The at 12:07 PM on February 26, 2006

I'm a big fan of the mezze platter. On mine, I usually include:

homemade hummus
tapenade or good olives
sliced tomatoes (grape tomatoes in the winter, or a sun-dried tomato pesto)
cucumbers dressed with kosher salt and a squirt of lemon
red onion
toasted triangles of pita bread

You can fill it out with any crudites you like: carrots, blanched broccoli or asparagus, sliced zucchini... For non-vegans, feta or a tangy goat cheese is lovely with this, but the bold flavors stand up beautifully with or without cheese.

Baba ghannoush is also a natural with this, if you make good baba ghannoush. (My brother's baba ghannoush is drool-worthy. I'd be happy to provide the recipe if you like. Email is in profile.)
posted by Elsa at 12:15 PM on February 26, 2006

Do you have a food processor? A good blender? Is it tonight or do you have time to shop and do prep?
posted by dobbs at 12:15 PM on February 26, 2006

I have a few meals I whip out for vegans. Usually I'll make a big pot of some sort of risotto with plenty of nuts, olive oil and good veggie stock (which can be made in advance and then kept on a warmer, there are good ways to make it without all that stirring) and some sort of spinach salad with sliced strawberries, mangos, mandarins and whatnot, sweet dressing. Fresh-baked bread (make sure the vegans eat yeast!) with small bowls of olive oil with balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes available on the table (if you're doing a vegan/non-vegan thing you can have butter too natch). Other good entrees include stuffed peppers (assuming you live someplace where it's winter out, like I do) which you can filll with all sorts of things and make a mixture of vegan/veggie/meat if you want. Desserts are usually sorbet with sliced fruit (I prefer lemon sorbet with blood oranges, kiwis and blueberries drizzled withrosemary honey drizzled over it)

In general, I like to think of what sort of foods seem like a treat to people generally and lean more on those foods when I'm cooking vegan, that way the people who usually eat meat don't feel like they're being forced to eat krill because I have vegan friends and my vegan friends also feel like they're having something fancy, not just being accomodated.
posted by jessamyn at 12:23 PM on February 26, 2006

Stuffed bell peppers. Stuff with tofu crumbles and rice and a bit of diced vegetables (maybe just tomatoes and onions) and tomato sauce. Top with soy cheese if you can find any good stuff (make sure it doesn't contain casein or whey). Pretty fast and simple as you can make the filling en masse.
posted by rafter at 12:27 PM on February 26, 2006

I second the mexican idea. Makes it very easy to feed vegan and non-vegans at the same time with a few simple adustments.
posted by necessitas at 12:58 PM on February 26, 2006

I wonder why all the mexican suggestions when the poster doesn't want to make chilli?

If you decide to go italian I would suggest polenta; it is extremely easy to whip up in the oven (if you buy one of the prepared tubes) with olive oil and sauce poured on top, casserole-style. I'd fry some mushrooms in olive oil and garlic to top. Also, polenta is usually wheat-free (even if made from scratch i think the consistency is nicer without wheat flour but I am biased).
posted by shownomercy at 1:10 PM on February 26, 2006

Here are two recipes that are great for vegans and non-vegans alike.

Spicy Pineapple-Cucumber Gazpacho

I know you said no soups, but this gazpacho kicks serious ass and is easy to make if you have a half decent blender. Make it twice to feed 10+ as recipe serves 4 - 6 depending on portion size:


4 cups cucumber, chopped and peeled (1 lrg English cucumber)
4 cups chopped pineapple (1 large or two small)
1 cup fresh pineapple juice (or an extra cup of pineapple, if you don't have access to good, pure juice)
1 small red chili, seeded and chopped (if you want less spice use a jalepeno)
1 green onion (white and 1 inch of green), chopped
1 tbs lime juice
2 tsp sea salt
1 handful of cilantro leaves, plus a few extra for garnish
3 tbs of avacado oil, macadamia oil, or extra virgin olive oil
1 handful of finely chopped macadamia nuts (optional)

Do This

In a blender, add 3 cups each of cucumber and pineapple, the pineapple juice, chili, lime juice, salt, green onion. Blend until smooth.

Add remaining 1 cup pineapple and cucumber, the handful of cilantro, and 1 1/2 tbs oil. Pulse a few quick times (you want it to remain chunky). Taste for seasoning.

If you have time, chill in the fridge or just serve immediately.

Distribute evenly among bowls and evenly divvy up the Macadamia nuts, if using. Drizzle remaining oil and garnish with a bit of cilantro.

Truly, a kickass, shockingly-good soup.

Absolutely the Best Pumpkin Pie You'll Ever Have

Recipe is enough for two 9" (I think they are) ready-made pie shells (I use Keebler graham cracker shells).


1 cup raw cashew nuts, soaked 4 hours min (8 is better if your blender is suckass)
1 cup coconut meat (I recommend young thai coconut--you can get it in a can for about $1.50)
2 cups carrot juice
3/4 cup of agave nectar (avail at any health food store)
3/4 cup of cocunut butter (recommend organic or at least unrefined)
1/3 cup date paste (or make your own with 1 cup of dates and 1/2 cup of water--I actually do this first, just put them in the blender first and blend until smoothish)
1 tbs vanilla extract
1 tbs ground cinnimon
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp sea salt

Do This

Put it all in a blender and blend till smooth. If you're doing the date paste yourself, do it first in the bottom of the blender.

Pour into the two pie shells and put them in the fridge to chill for about 3 hrs.

Actually, after typing all this I remember that I usually "seal" my pie crust pre-filling with an egg white, which would be a no no for vegans. Perhaps there's a vegan alternative to making sure the graham crackers don't crumble?

If there isn't, freeze the ingredients and you'll have a great pumpkin flavored 'ice cream'.


Though both of these dishes have a fair number of ingredients, they are extemely easy to make as you're simply combining things and blending. I've made both of these dishes many times, for vegans and meat eaters and all are delighted with them and everyone's shocked that they're raw. Both recipes are from this book, which is the best cook book I've ever owned, hands-down.
posted by dobbs at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2006

Vegan Spanikopita
Different Salads: fruit salad, green salad with nuts, vegan potato salad
posted by Packy_1962 at 1:27 PM on February 26, 2006

The quinoa-stuffed peppers I gave a recipe for in a previous thread are pretty delicious and very impressive for the amount of work required (not much). To make them vegan, increase the amount of grated tofu and marinade, and omit the cheese that's sprinkled on top.
posted by louigi at 1:42 PM on February 26, 2006

The spaghetti the Hare Krishnas serve on University of Florida campus in Gainesville, Florida is delicious. You might be able to extract something of recipe from that article. I seem to remember olives and other veggies in addition to the ingredients listed here. You can substitute olive oil for the butter.
posted by lalalana at 1:52 PM on February 26, 2006

How about a huge vegetable pot pie? Blanched carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, etc. with lightly sauteed onions and garlic, in a vegetable broth bechamel or cheese sauce, spiced with thyme, all put into a 13x9 cake pan, and covered with pie crust. Attach the pie crust to the pan with a little egg wash, and then coat the crust with egg wash and sprinkle sea salt and ground pepper on top.

Or do without the pie crust, and dollop with biscuit dough.

Potatoes au gratin -- layers of thinly sliced potatoes and onions, in a cheesy bechamel (or just plain heavy cream), baked in a hot oven for an hour or so.

White bean soup --- (I make this for 4, but you can scale it up...) sautee a chopped onion, chopped celery and shredded carrot in olive oil in a huge dutch oven until the onions are clear. Add 2-4 chopped cloves of garlic. I use chicken stock, but vegetable stock or just water would do, maybe 4 or 5 cups. A couple of bay leaves, maybe some thyme or chopped rosemary. Then I take 3 cans of drained and rinsed cannelini beans and put them in a food processor with a little stock or water, and blend until smooth. I add that to the pot, along with one can of drained and rinsed beans, whole. Simmer for 15 or 20 minutes. Add a little cream for richness. (Add a couple chopped chorizo sausages for meat eating people.) Serve with salad and a crusty bread.
posted by crunchland at 3:34 PM on February 26, 2006

Vegan Shepherds Pie. You can make a big one of these easily. Use soy milk when you mash the potato (if necessary) and drop the cheese (it's not needed).
posted by tellurian at 4:07 PM on February 26, 2006

Woops. Didn't realize vegan was the strict one. Ignore all references to cheese and cream.
posted by crunchland at 4:26 PM on February 26, 2006

i would go with like 10 small things, being a vegetarian myself here are some of my favorites.

rice and beans

Mexican food (sans cheese for the vegans or use soy cheese)

pasta with Olive oil and salt and pepper on top with black olives tomatoes and avocados on top

tofu stir fry

veggy burgers

put it and anything else you can think of out and just let people munch on what they want.
posted by stilgar at 4:32 PM on February 26, 2006

I'd include a vast vat of vegetables in Thai curry.

You want masaman (not spicy, just tasty) paste in a can (Maesri brand) and Chaokoh brand coconut milk. All you have to do is open a couple cans, follow label instructions an cut up vegetables to suit. (Potatoes, carrots, onions, green beans are key; some people go for tomatoes or members of the cabbage family.)

Vegans and veggies alike rave over it. Add rice and a handful of cilantro and it's genius.
posted by sacre_bleu at 5:51 PM on February 26, 2006

Do you have a grill? A great starting course is grilled rounds of polenta. You can cut them with a drinking glass, after making any basic polenta recipe, pressing it into a cassarole dish, and chilling. Brush them liberally with olive oil, and grill on a clean grill. From there, they can be topped with pretty much anything-carmalized onions and some fresh herbs would work well. You can see a picture of a similar dish I made(but with meat) here.
I also think shish kabobs would work-have an assortment of veggies(cherry tomatos, pineapple, shallots, whatever you like) and then some cubed, marinated london broil. Just keep the shish kabobs with meat on them and the ones without seperate during cooking and serving.
posted by Juliet Banana at 6:25 PM on February 26, 2006

WHat about vegan pizza? I'm a carnivore, but I have a lot of vegan friends, and a staple for when they come over for dinner is vegan pizza. Or gazpacho soup? Both of these are easy to make in large quantities.
posted by pollystark at 2:13 AM on February 27, 2006

Dal is pretty easy if you use precooked canned lentils; if you don't, it's still easy but needs advance preparation. Most of cooking dal is just waiting, so it's a good thing to prepare along with other things.

Advance preparation:

Soak a few cups of green or brown lentils in plenty of water, at least overnight; strain off the water and feed it to your favourite plant (the stuff that comes out of lentils is a fabulous liquid fertilizer). Do this up to twice more, if you have the time - the more soaks, the less farts. If the lentils start to sprout, so much the better.

Then add fresh water (about two cups of water per cup of soaked strained lentils) and boil gently for a couple hours in a big pot. You now have a pot of canned-equivalent cooked lentils (but they will likely be less farty - I'm unconvinced about commercial producers' dedication to soaking).

Main dal preparation:

Rough-chop some carrot, some pumpkin, some potato, and maybe a bit of cauliflower. Don't bother peeling the carrot or potato; and if you use Kent pumpkin, you won't need to peel that either. Chuck those in the pot to keep the lentils company.

Cut a few onions into slices (cut them along the grain, not across it) and throw them into a pan with way too much olive oil (about half an inch deep is good). Add an indecent amount of garlic (you can chop your own, or use pre-crushed if you're not feeling purist) and cook over low heat until the onions are well and truly softened and golden.

Into the onion pan, throw a goodly handful each of ground cumin seed and ground coriander seed (I like to rough-grind my own with a mortar and pestle, just to give the thing some texture), about a heaped teaspoon of ground turmeric, a dessertspoon or so of garam masala, and as much fresh black pepper as you can be bothered grinding (you can cheat and use Worcestershire sauce instead of pepper when you're not cooking for vegans). Stir that lot around for a while until it's taken up all the oil and become a dark, oily, sloppy looking mess. Then shake in a few big schlurks of decent soy sauce, and about half that amount of malt vinegar, and stir it all up some more until the vinegar smell is no longer stripping hairs off the insides of your nostrils.

Now dump all that into the simmering lentils and stir it all quite vigorously until the lentils start breaking up into a porridgey mess and all the sharp edges are knocked off the veggies. Add a good amount of tomato paste to improve the colour, turn off the heat and let the thing mature overnight before reheating to serve.
posted by flabdablet at 4:34 AM on February 27, 2006

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