Sunday, February 5, 2012

Cooking For Non-Vegans

Now that I am (just about) settled in my new home, it's time to entertain.  I tested the waters with a few (vegan) friends and then decided to invite the co-workers who have been so patient, supportive, and helpful during the past year of my whining renovation.  The invitation was essentially for a tour and what I described as a "light meal".  At that point I wasn't yet sure what the menu would be, but I wanted to be sure they realized it wasn't going to be steak.

The pressure was on; I didn't want to make any vegan cliches, so- no hummus, chips & salsa, or tofu.  I also didn't want to serve anything unusual or dishes that would be deemed too convoluted to duplicate.  I also wanted to be able to prepare it ahead of time so that I could actually enjoy my company rather than spend the evening in the kitchen- all this in an effort to impart both the accessablity of healthy and delicious vegan food, as well as the ease with which you can eat compassionately.  With all of these rules in the back of my mind and the input and encouragement of many vegan friends, I settled on the following menu.

Freshly baked sun-dried tomato bread,

using Jim Lahey's My Bread recipe for basic bread and adding as many sun-dried tomatoes as I felt like cutting (I did not rehydrate them).  Note to self: guests are really impressed by homemade bread.

To accompany, Christine Waltermyer's lentil walnut pate.  You can find the original on her website (preferred), but there is a slightly different version in her cookbook, The Natural Vegan Kitchen.  This is my variation; you need only whir it all up in the bullet:

2 cans cooked lentils
1 bunch fresh parsley (florets only!)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 small red onion, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
2 tbsp white miso
2 tsp Bragg's liquid aminos
4 tsp lime juice
2 tbsp agave
6 tbsp filtered water

I'll admit this pate gives my bullet a run for its money, but don't be tempted to add too much liquid or it will wind up runny.

always reserve some parsley for garnish
Of course, a raw kale salad with dijon dressing: my take on Sacred Chow's dijon marinated kale.

6 tbsp dijon mustard
6 tbsp evoo
5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp water
3 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp paprika

Simply whir it up in the bullet and massage into torn, de-stemmed, firm, curly kale leaves.

And, a chilled tri-color quinoa salad with toasted cashews, currants, chick peas, and diced red onion (next time I'd add more raw veggies for added crunch and color).  I deferred to my Horizons New Vegan Cuisine cookbook for a cumin-lime dressing.

I was incredibly nervous that the group of omnis wouldn't like anything, but their reaction was positive from the start.  They weren't frightened by the presentation of unfamiliar foods (kale and quinoa were new to some) and each took healthy helpings of each dish.  They seemed to be enjoying their meal while they independently asked questions about nutrition and ingredients.  I wasn't entirely sure if they were being polite or if they were really interested.  And then, just when I was about to clear the table, one of my guests decided she was going for seconds...and all of the others followed suit!  By the time they were done noshing they all asked for recipes.  I would call that a raging success, no?

I'm not as much of an activist as some, but a little education accompanying a pleasant introduction to vegan food goes a long way. 

My wall of truth doesn't hurt either.


  1. Everything looks good!

    I'm a firm believer that there is no better way to ensure success at a dinner party than by serving lentils!

  2. Nice meal plan. I'm having several upcoming dinners involving omnis and am trying to come up with a meal plan I can pretty much use each time, with slight modifications so I don't get bored. I'm planning a kale salad and a paté, and now I think I might add a quinoa salad. (Thanks!) Plus some other raw things, and maybe a roasted veggie. I like entertaining but the whole process makes me crazy.

    I like that your chairs don't match!

  3. Beautiful table and chairs. Where did you move to, btw? Still in the NY vicinity?
    Like Andrea, I like entertaining but it stresses me out (although I've learned that you can serve pretty much anything and people will appreciate it.) The bread looks fabulous and I love your Of Course Kale Salad.

  4. I wish I was one of your co-workers!! Everything you made looks incredible, especially the bread. And, I want a magnet that says This Fridge is Vegan. Where did you find it?

  5. BYOL- I should have known!

    Andrea- I know; I don't do it often and I make myself crazy about much more than just the food. Thank you for appreciating my chairs! It was an idea that ultimately could have gone either way, but I think works. Nothing like being in the middle of a meal and having someone say, "Wait; are these chairs all different?" P.S. They're also all very comfy.

    foodfeud- Thanks! Believe it or not, I only moved about 8 minutes' drive from my previous home. Or, as I like to figure, as long as it takes me to eat 4/5 peanut chews. I think vegans are generally more of the homemade type, so that's always much more appreciated than heated frozen appetizers and a tub of store-bought dip. I forget that we have that going for us from the get-go ;-) And, OF COURSE kale salad!

    Amy- Everyone loves the magnet! I actually got it from For the Animals Sanctuary, which sells a ton of cool buttons and magnetty things to spread the word (the "wool is baaad" pin on my coat is one of my faves).


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