The Meatless Holiday Table
by Kate Heyhoe
Pity the poor vegetarian whose only options at a holiday dinner are cranberry sauce, salad, and bread.
We all know that vegetarians by definition don't eat meat. But in today's globally mixed society, all types of diners may observe some type of special meatless restriction. For religious, health, or personal reasons, diners may choose to avoid all or only certain kinds of meat (such as pork or beef), either perennially or just at certain times of the year, such as Lent. Or they may be forbidden to eat meat in combination with other food types (such as meat and dairy together). Eggs and dairy products fit into some vegetarians' diets, but vegans rule out all animal products.
Today's savvy host can make all guests feel welcome by not focusing entirely on meaty meals. A truly considerate host will ask guests in advance if there are certain foods they can't or don't eat, and plan a menu that accommodates any special diets.
Whether you're a vegetarian cook or a carnivore cooking for vegetarians, consider the ways you can make the holiday table equally satisfying for all. Beyond the obvious step of not using meat products in any recipe, keep these animal-free cooking tips in mind:
- Instead of adding chicken broth to stuffings, potatoes or other vegetables, use water or vegetable broth. In some cases, wine, milk or cream can be used.
- Cook with oil instead of butter. Olive oil and flavored oils (such as basil oil or nut oils) can add just as much punch if not more. Some nut and herb oils, though, lose some flavor when heated so are best used at room temperature to dress salads and vegetables or as a dipping condiment for bread.
- When serving a turkey or roast, add an equally substantial meatless main course. A centerpiece dish such as a nut-loaf or a wild mushroom and pasta casserole, for instance, acts as a solid entree and complements standard holiday side dishes.
- Another strategy besides a meatless main course is to include several side dishes made of grains, vegetables, and fruits. Consider serving a green bean casserole, maple-roasted butternut squash, poached pears and cranberries, and a rice and almond pilaf. Meat eaters and vegetarians alike will likely exclaim how wonderful the whole meal was, and you may end up with lots more leftover turkey.
- If you are doing dual entrees or increased side dishes, try to prepare as much as you can in advance. Many meatless casseroles can be assembled entirely the day before, and seek out dishes that can be partially prepared in advance. Good planning will make your meal manageable in terms of time and effort.
Remember, just because a dish is meatless doesn't mean it won't be eagerly devoured by carnivores. If it tastes good, no one will resist it and you may need to make more than you thought. These recipes below are perfect examples of meatless menu items that can enhance any holiday table. For a more substantial meal, start with a (meatless) first course soup or other appetizer.
Meatless Menu Items to Mix and Match
These are just some of the many recipes at Global Gourmet you can use to make a meatless menu. Remember to strive for contrast in flavors, colors and textures. For more recipes, consult the Cookbook Profile or Search feature.
Appetizers, Soups & Salads:
Garlic and Cheese
Betzels (Algerian Phyllo Triangles)
Fin de Siecle Cream of Mushroom Soup
Red Lentil, Bulgur and Mint Soup
Radish and Orange Salad with Paprika
Green Salad with Blue Cheese, Walnuts and Figs
Entrees & Side Dishes:
Mock Meatloaf with
Cashew Bastilla (Cashew-Phyllo Pie)
Provencal Vegetable Bake
Leek and Mushroom Strudel
Baked Pumpkin with Caramelized Onions, Cinnamon and Almonds
Green Beans with Tomatoes and Olive Oil, Turkish Style
Grate Grated Zucchini Casserole
Oven Roasted Fruit
Kate's Global Kitchen, in November 2001:
Copyright © 2001, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created November 2001. Modified November 2006.