A Stand Out Corporate Holiday Gathering!!!

With corporate holiday gatherings right around the corner, a great way to show employee appreciation is to make allowances for people’s dietary preferences and multi-cultural backgrounds. A great menu is one that delights and surprises with options that offer variety and take special dietary needs into consideration (e.g. gluten free, vegan, vegetarian).

 

While many holiday offerings can pack on the calories, how about offering a menu that is healthy AND delicious! Try it and you will like it.

 

Check out The Vegetarian Gourmet’s website to menu choices and contact us to create a unique and pleasing menu for your guests.

Apple Rösti–a Swiss Comfort Food

Like many comfort foods, this simple dessert does not require a trip to a fancy store but makes use of what is on hand: day-old bread, apples and butter. Cut bread into fine slices and brown in butter. Remove from pan and add sliced apples, a little sugar, lemon zest and cinnamon. Cook until apples are softened, then add toasted bread to soak up the liquids. Serve with a dollop of cream.

OMG- Vegan Empanadas!

Empanadas, dim sum, pasties, piroshky…the list goes on. Many cuisines feature tasty little packages of meat and vegetables wrapped in dough–the perfect finger food–which can be served as an appetizer or with a salad for a light meal. Our vegan empanada is a new favorite from The Vegetarian Gourmet, served with chimichurri sauce. The filling has a nice little bite to it, made of a mix of caramelized onion, yams, black beans, cilantro, garlic and Field Road Mexican chipotle sausage. Our chimichurri sauce has lots of parsley, mint, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, salt and a splash of red wine vinegar.

Freekah…Freakin’ Awesome

A newly “discovered” grain, freekeh, has been a staple in Mediterranean cuisines for centuries. If you’re gluten-free, this one’s not for you, as it is created from green durum wheat. The grains are harvested while still green and roasted over an open fire, to burn off the straw and chaff. What remains is a tasty wheat berry with a slightly smoky flavor. Available as a cracked grain from Bob’s Red Mill, it can also be found as a whole grain in most Middle Eastern markets.

High in protein and fiber, as well as iron, calcium and zinc, freekeh has been called the new “supergrain”. It cooks in about 20 minutes and can be eaten in place of rice, as a cereal, or added to a salad. I love the combination of cooked grains or legumes with raw veggies, olive oil, white balsamic and spices. Try a drizzle of pomegranate molasses for a tangy treat.

If You Must…

. . . go for the fast food joint, here are some recommendations from Dr. Andrew Weil:

Go for the salad bar; with any luck, it will include beans, cheeses or nuts

Avoid fried foods (haha, I know!)

Skip dessert

Skip the soda

Grabbing a quick meal in unfamiliar surroundings can be a challenge. Whenever possible, you’re better off at a grocery store than a fast food restaurant. For a quick pick-me-up, grab some nuts, yogurt, protein smoothie, fresh fruit . . . you get the point. As they say, it’s not rocket science.

All that Summer Squash

If you planted summer squash in your garden, chances are, the harvest always exceeds your capacity for consumption. Best policy is to pick the squash when they’re small and tasty, instead of trying for immortalization in the Guinness Book of World Records. So what can you do with all that excess produce? In addition to freezing them or foisting them on your neighbors, summer squash also make excellent pickles. Just go online and find a recipe to your liking. Fill them in jars and give them away as Holiday gifts.

Summer BBQ . . .

. . . don’t forget those pesky vegetarian friends. Here is a quick and easy dish to serve with your summer BBQ; it’s vegan, high in protein and DELISH!

Try this easy recipe for salsa or a side dish:

3 c cooked black beans

1 c fresh or frozen organic corn

1 medium ripe tomato

1 medium mango

1 small chili, seeded & minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 avocado

½ bunch cilantro

Salt, lime juice

Rinse the cooked black beans to get rid of the dark cooking liquid until water runs clear. Cut the tomato into small cubes, cut the mango into small cubes, salt, and carefully fold into the drained beans. And here’s a fabulous trick: add the corn while still frozen – it will keep the dish cold for a long time on a hot day! Mince the chili and garlic and fold into the beans. Fold in chopped cilantro and cubed avocado. Season to taste with lime juice and salt. Serves 8-10 as a side dish.

Vegetarian Wedding Favorites – Even For Carnivores!

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. Sharing food in community is one of our
oldest rituals – and one of life’s great pleasures. You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy a wonderful vegetarian (or
vegan) meal. The secret is to start with high-quality, fresh, organic ingredients, and the difference between ho-hum and
fabulous is often a choice of seasonings.

 

For many vegetarian and vegan couples, their wedding day is the perfect opportunity to invite friends and family to
experience an all vegetarian or vegan meal. It is a way for you to share your heart, and a new experience for many of
your guests. I say go for it – it’s your party, celebrate it your way, with the food that you want. And if you offer
something really fabulous, your guests will be wowed and might even be inspired to rethink their habitual food choices.
I’ve often heard people remark that they “had no idea that vegetarian food could be this good”.

 

Non-vegetarians can get obsessed with the notion of protein. The fact is that all foods contain protein, and creating a
protein-rich meal from all-vegetarian ingredients is not rocket science. One way to satisfy dyed-in- the-wool carnivores
with a vegetarian meal is to add some hearty fare with eggs and dairy. And the combination of grains and legumes – rice
and beans – will provide all your essential amino acids. It’s the staple of many cultures, and the possibilities are endless.
I love grains and legumes: they’re satisfying, tasty, and nutritious, and they lend themselves to an endless variety of
seasonings.

 

Some couples try faking out their guests with faux meats, a staple that is gaining in popularity among many vegetarians and vegans. There are some excellent products on the market, created from natural, organic ingredients. As an example, Field Roast (www.fieldroast.com) products are vegan and include veggie burgers and sausages; my favorite is their chipotle Mexican sausage which adds texture and “sabor autentico” to a vegan taco bar, enchiladas, or posole.

 

I’m a huge fan of the cuisines of Mediterranean rim, among them the cuisines of Spain, Provence, Italy, Greece, the Middle East and North Africa. Mediterranean specialties tend to be heavily plant-based, with meat added as a condiment. In some instances, the meat can be replaced with a plant-based protein, or it can be left out altogether.

 

Here are a few selections from our Mediterranean menu:

 

Trio of relishes: baba ganouj, muhammara & beet hummus

Elegant platter of high-end cheeses, seasonal fruit & oven-dried tomato

Tortilla Española: traditional potato frittata with caramelized onion, mild chilies and peas

Spanish paella with seared vegetables, saffron, garlic, pimenton & scarlet runner beans

Polenta layered with sauce of tomato, fontina, gorgonzola, basil, marjoram

Moroccan tagine with yam, caramelized pearl onion, carrot, dried plum, saffron, cilantro

Ratatouille with eggplant, tomato, summer squash, basil, garlic, purple yam

Roasted seasonal vegetables with light balsamic reduction

Salad of root vegetables, dill vinaigrette, chopped egg

Silk Road bulgur pilaf with French lentils, caramelized onion, dried cherry, saffron, pomegranate seeds

Persian wedding rice with caramelized onion & carrots, saffron, cinnamon, orange zest, dried fruit, nuts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another popular menu is Cuisines of the Americas, with specialties from Mexico, the American Southwest, and the Caribbean. My favorite is Mexican Posole, traditionally made with chicken or pork and a tasty combination of hominy, seared vegetables, garlic, chilies, and cilantro. Our vegan version includes Field Roast chipotle sausage and heirloom beans.  

 

Samples from Cuisines of the Americas:

 

Mini empanadas with yam/chipotle filling and chimichurri dipping sauce

Mexican posole with hominy, seared onions, bell pepper, chilies, red ayocote beans, garlic, cilantro

Torta Azteca: blue corn polenta layered with sauce of seared onion, chilies, bell pepper, garlic, cilantro, queso fresco

Vegetarian (or vegan) taco bar with seared vegetables, strips of Field Roast burgers, condiments & guacamole

Black beans with mango, tomato, organic corn, avocado, lime, cilantro

Coconut pineapple fried rice with garlic, green onion, toasted cashews

Red, white & green salad with spinach, red cabbage, jicama, avocado

Painted Desert coleslaw: finely shredded cabbage and veggies in a lime marinade

Peruvian vegetable salad with baby vegetables, eggs, olives and thinly sliced vegan ham

 

Our menus span the globe and are prepared with love and expertise from local, organic ingredients. They are custom-tailored to fit our clients’ budget and needs. So whatever menu you choose, follow your heart. It’s your special day, and your guests will be delighted to find out how delicious and satisfying a vegetarian meal can be. And you and your Sweetheart can stay true to what you love – bon appétit!

Vegetarian = Healthy???

. . . not necessarily. Novice vegetarians often gravitate toward a diet heavy in pasta, cheese and refined starches – foods that are not bad per se, but need to be complemented with lots of other foods. Did you know that there are vegetarians who don’t like vegetables . . . kind of ironic, don’t you think? Reminds me of a trip to Scotland, some years back, when a fried potato was the vegetable of choice, but not necessarily the one I had in mind.

Food is like Feng Shui – if everything on your plate is beige, there’s no energy. With summer BBQs right around the corner, here is another take on potato salad. This one has a garlicky vinaigrette dressing (instead of mayonnaise), cubed heirloom tomato (they’re here!!), cucumber (try Persian cucumber, very flavorful), lots of dill, green onion and chopped egg. In order to extract maximum flavor from the tomato and cucumber, cut them into small cubes and toss with a little sea salt; refrigerate for a half hour. This releases juices from the tomato and cucumber and adds lots of flavor to your salad.