If you love entertaining then the chances are that you’ll have friends round for dinner. However, their dietary needs might not always match up to your own so it’s important to cater to everyone at the table.
For anyone that has vegan friends and family, it can feel a little daunting knowing what to cook. But a vegan dish isn’t as scary as you might first think. In a lot of cases, you can create dishes you are familiar with using alternative ingredients. For example, you’d use paneer in place of chicken for a curry or tofu in place of meat for something like a stew. Roasted cauliflower makes a very satisfying and delicious replacement for a steak.
But if you want to get creative with vegan cooking then I have some great ideas to get you started. I’m also going to be talking about some of the things you need to consider when cooking for vegan dinner guests.
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Using the Right EquipmentBefore we get started, we’d like to point out that any meal you create will only turn out as good as the equipment you’ve used.
Vegan recipes require a good amount of preparation so having a decent set of kitchen knives is a must. There are some knives that are perfect for chopping, slicing and dicing vegetables so we’d encourage you to expand your collection to include these if you haven’t already.
There’s lots of chopping and cutting veggies in these recipes so go for a sharp, high-quality knife such as a chef’s knife, nakiri or usuba for your vegetables. Where smaller cuts or peeling are concerned, you can’t go wrong with having a petty or utility knife in the kitchen.
It also pays to learn to use your kitchen knives properly as this will not only improve the quality of the cut but will also make things safer.
Whether you’re hosting a dinner party with a single vegan guest or a table full of plant-based food lovers, there are so many delicious recipes to try. For dinner parties, you want meals that aren’t too challenging to cook but that leave a lasting impression. Here are some of our best ideas.
Easy Vegan Recipe Ideas for Dinner Parties
Warming Red Pepper Soup
There’s nothing that starts a meal off better than a hearty bowl of soup such as lentil soup or this delicious red pepper version. We love this one because it’s really smoky, rich and warming and perfect for a winter dinner party.
● Start by preheating the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
● Now take three red peppers and roughly chop them using your chef’s knife or a nakiri knife.
● Roast the peppers in the oven covering them with salt and pepper and some olive oil. You’ll need to leave them for between fifteen and twenty minutes and they should look a little charred when they’re done.
● Remove the peppers from the oven and allow them to cool for a little while before taking your knife and finely chopping them.
● Next, in a large pan, fry some onions in oil until they soften and turn slightly brown.
● Throw in some garlic and continue frying for another 60 seconds before adding some paprika and cumin for flavour.
● Take 200 grams of red lentils, a litre of veggie stock and two tablespoons of tomato puree as well as some harissa pasta and add this to the pan.
● Stir well and allow the mixture to simmer for ten minutes.
● Put the peppers in and add 250 ml of coconut milk, allowing it to simmer for a further ten minutes.
● Now drizzle some coconut cream over the top and sprinkle with coriander and toasted sesame seeds. You could also add cashew cream.
If you ever buy food from the Chinese takeaway then you may have tried crispy seaweed. But did you know that this is actually made with cabbage and is something you can recreate at home as the perfect vegan side dish?
Crispy Fried Cabbage
● Start by removing the leaves from a savoy cabbage and cutting the stalks out. Now take a good quality knife and use this to finely shred the leaves.
● Blanche them in water for 60 seconds before removing them and draining them well.
● Now mix some salt, five spice and sugar in a bowl.
● Take a pan and fill it to around one-third with vegetable oil, bringing the temperature to 160 degrees Celsius.
● You only need to fry the cabbage for around 30 seconds and I’d recommend doing this in batches. Make sure it’s nice and crispy when you remove it from the oil and drain it on a kitchen towel.
● Finally, add the spice seasoning you made earlier and serve.
If you’re looking to make the perfect finger food for your guests then these crispy pakoras are ideal. They do require a little more work than some of the other options I’ve included but they’re well worth the effort.
● Start by taking a shallot, one green chilli, a bunch of fresh coriander, and a juiced lemon. Chop your ingredients and put them into a food blender, leaving a small amount of coriander behind. Add five tablespoons of water and turn on the blender until the consistency is nice and saucy. You can season with salt and pepper if you wish.
● Now mix 25 grams of plain flour and 200 grams of chickpea flour with some cumin, chilli powder, garam masala and ground coriander. Pour in 200 ml of beer and mix until you have a batter. Once you have the desired consistency, add in the remaining fresh coriander, some lemon juice, baking powder and black pepper.
● Take a pan and add ⅓ of oil, heating to 180 degrees Celsius. Now take a dessert spoon to place portions of your pakora batter into the oil and fry these for around five to six minutes. Turn them halfway through and when you remove them, be sure to let them drain on kitchen towel.
● When you’re ready to serve, ensure that the pakoras are still warm and enjoy with lashings of the sauce and a squeeze of lime juice.
At the end of your dinner party, your guests who are eating vegan will also expect a sweet treat. Out of all the vegan recipes I have tried, this one has gone down a storm every time I have served it.
Cherry Choc Espresso Pots
● Start by adding ¾ of a cup of pitted cherries and a teaspoon of maple syrup to a pan with just a dash of water. Heat this until the cherries start to go soft.
● Now take 100 grams of vegan chocolate and break this up until a bowl.
● Take two tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of coconut oil, ½ a teaspoon of vanilla extract and 250 ml of coconut cream and heat these to boiling in a pan.
● Now take this mixture and pour it over the broken-up chocolate and leave it to stand for a while so that the chocolate can melt.
● Once the chocolate has melted, you’ll need to add in two tablespoons of raw cocoa and a teaspoon of espresso powder (two if you want the coffee taste to be extra strong.)
● Give everything a good stir and then add in your cherries.
● All you need to do now is spoon the dessert into an espresso glass and chill it in the fridge for four hours.
What to Consider When Cooking for Vegan Guests
If you don’t usually eat a vegan diet, there can be a concern that you’ll make a faux pas or serve something that isn’t suitable for your friend’s diet. But don’t panic; making vegan-friendly food doesn’t need to be scary and there are some delicious dishes you can make easily. It can certainly help to talk to your guest to find out more about their needs but in any case, just think about the following.
● If you’re really struggling for ideas then go with foods that you already know how to cook. A vegan diet includes many foods that you’ll already be familiar with such as potatoes, fruits, pasta, rice and many other things. If you start off with these things, you’ll break yourself in easily.
● As we mentioned earlier, you don’t need to stray from recipes you are already familiar with. Just be sure to use plant-based alternatives to animal products and you can create a vegan version and you’re good to go.
● For non-vegans, there’s a temptation to think of a meal as having a main star which is usually meat. However, you need to get out of that mindset and start thinking about your meal as a whole with the vegetables combined to make a whole.
● You don’t need to learn how to cook all over again. When making vegan meals, you can use the same cooking methods you would for meats.
● Don’t forget to season your food. Just as a lot of animal products, like chicken, need a bit of extra flavour, so do plant-based foods.
● Before your vegan dinner party, it pays to plan. If you know you’re going to be cooking a vegan recipe for the first time, make sure to do plenty of research and gather your ingredients and equipment so you know that, come cooking time, you won’t have forgotten anything.
● Most importantly, have fun with what you’re doing. Cooking shouldn’t just be a means to an end, it’s something that can be inspiring and entertaining when we let it.
Having a dinner party for vegan guests but never cooked vegan food before? We know the idea can be terrifying. You want to make sure you get it right and serve up a storm but approaching new recipes can ignite fear in even the most experienced chefs.
But there really is no need to panic. Making beautiful vegan-friendly dishes is easy in any kitchen provided you have the right knowledge and equipment. Why not try out one of these delicious vegan recipes at your next dinner party? We’d love to know how they go down!