Now I know I’m probably pretty normal when I say I get really nervous when I invite vegetarian or vegan friends for dinner. Why? I’m scared I’ll use something with an animal product in the food without thinking. I’m often guilty of tasting and putting in a dollop of cream or a pinch of butter and for most, that’s not going to be okay.
What if I use something I put up in the freezer and I’m pretty sure it’s okay but I don’t know for positive. Maybe I stress too much? Could be. Well, I recently met Kirsty Tanner from Vegan Tasmania and I was explaining how I got all bent out of shape at dishing up good meals to vegans. To be fair, I can make some really delicious vegetarian dishes. It’s the MEAL that makes me nervous.
When Kirsty thought about it for a minute, she suggested she could write something to share with my friends (and me) to help us serve a delicious meal from beginning to tend for our vegan/vegetarian friends.
What to Cook When Your Vegan Friends Come to Dinner
Hello, I’m Kirsty and I can’t wait to make your acquaintance through my new friend Maureen. This topic is dear to my heart.
Don’t worry this is not the time to hit the panic button, cooking vegan can be fun and easy, I promise! It’s also a lot easier on the stomach and your wallet. The only thing you need to avoid other than the obvious meat, dairy and anything animal derived is cooking anything bland and boring. It’s a common misconception that vegans are boring eaters, we’re big foodies too but that doesn’t mean the meals you make as an inexperienced vegan chef are going to be hard either. To help you along I’ve put together this curation of vegan dishes to serve at your next vegan friendly dinner.
Let’s start off with some nibbles. One of the simplest snacks to serve is a tray of mixed salted nuts, gourmet chips or try this vegan hummus recipe to serve with crackers or vegetable sticks (carrot, zucchini, celery etc.) it’s healthy and delicious. For a sweet snack try these vegan peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, not so healthy but oh so good!
A good starter should be relatively simple, you don’t want to put all your effort into the small portions and run out of steam for mains. A good Asian lettuce wrap paired with hoisin sauce is always a winner, or try it Mexican style with taco lettuce wraps and homemade vegan sour cream, bonus, it’s even gluten-free.
For mains it’s always a good idea for a first-time vegan cook to go with something they already know and love and just veganise it. Take this vegan shepherd’s pie for example, it’s a classic, hearty dish that everyone knows and loves. You’ll be surprised at just how good this vegan alternative is! If you’re after something a little lighter, try creating a vegan pizza. If you don’t have enough time to make the base yourself you can always buy a couple of yummy vegan pizza bases from a good bakery that respects vegans. And if you’re really strapped for time put vegan takeaway on the menu.
In my book, vegan desserts are the best part of any dinner. If you’re really looking to impress your guests try either this vegan lemon cheesecake or chocolate cheesecake. My dinner guests are always amazed that its vegan, it’s definitely one to serve to vegans and non-vegans alike, so if you’re looking for a dessert to cater to both crowds this one has you covered. If however you need something a little more simple or extremely kid friendly, this vegan chocolate custard AKA vegan yogo is super easy to make and better yet, it’s gluten-free.
My number one tip for catering to vegans? Experiment and enjoy. Cooking is all about the passion, so relax and try and have fun with it!
Thanks to Kirsty – I’m not going to be quite so fearful next time my veggo friends come for dinner. I hope you check out her blog.
Kirsten Tanner is a professional writer and blogger from Tasmania, Australia. She is a passionate vegan recipe developer. Some of her vegan recipes have been sold at local restaurants. She blogs over at www.vegantasmania.com and http://kirstygirl7.blogspot.com. She’s on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest too!