I love the challenge of a crowd-pleasing vegetarian wedding menu, especially when it involves relatives from the Midwest who want to know “where’s the beef?” The challenge becomes stickier when the couple chooses an all-vegan menu, with relatives from the Midwest – challenging, but not impossible. When a guest list includes a lot of dedicated carnivores, a hearty fare that includes eggs and/or dairy often does the trick.
Many of the Mediterranean specialties make for hearty fare that satisfies vegetarians and carnivores alike. Crowd-pleasing favorites include spanakopita, the Greek phyllo specialty, and any number of Moroccan tagines (many of which can be made vegan). Spanish paella is a wonderful, fragrant dish. My vegetarian version includes red or black ayocote beans from Rancho Gordo and any number of grilled vegetables.
Polenta is always great choice. It has a creamy texture and can be served in a variety of different ways. There’s a wonderful recipe from the Greens Restaurant cookbook which I’ve served on many occasions: layers of polenta with a fresh tomato sauce and lots of basil, marjoram, fontina and gorgonzola. One of my personal favorites is my version of “Torta Azteca”: blue corn polenta with a sauce of caramelized onion, bell pepper, chilies, cilantro and cheese. So even when there’s no beef, there’s no “beef” from the guests . . .