It’s a pretty common scene to hear about. You suddenly realise that one of your dinner guests is a vegetarian, and it throws all your plans into the air! If this has happened to you, then don’t panic. Dropping your plans and preparing something that’s both delicious and meat-free is easier than you may think. Here, I’ve brought together a few tips on cooking for a vegetarian.
My first tip is to find out what kind of vegetarian you’re cooking for. That’s right, there’s more than one! Pescatarians, for example, can eat fish but no dairy products or eggs. Lacto-vegetarians, on the other hand, can eat dairy products but pretty much nothing else that comes from an animal. Ask your vegetarian if they have any exceptions to their rule, without making it sound like they’re a circus curiosity! It may be that you’ll only have to change one small part of your meal. If you can prepare a meal with fish, eggs and broccoli while keeping everyone happy, then you’ve hit the jackpot! Figuring out exactly what you can and can’t make will usually simplify the whole process.
Secondly, don’t be afraid to mix raw and cooked foods. For most of us omnivores, this is complete sacrilege! However, some of the most popular vegetarian dishes around use a combination of cooked and raw foods. You might want to mix bits of roasted sweet potatoes with a raw salad. Or you could have some fresh orange segments mixed in with a range of steamed greens. The dishes you can prepare take a little creativity and experimentation.
Just make sure you try your creations yourself before plonking them in front of your guest. The mash of textures and flavours may not go down so well with your own household. However, if you want to give your vegetarian a compatible and memorable meal, you’re going to need to come out of your shell somewhat.
Finally, be sure to season the meal you serve up. I’m going to let you in on a little secret here. If your ingredients are fresh, all you need to make something delicious is olive oil, garlic and salt. These three seasonings, when used in the right quantities, have the power to turn even the blandest of dishes into complete wonders. Obviously, you don’t have to stop there. If you’re making a dish which you’re afraid is going to end up being a little bland, then pull out the spices and experiment to your heart’s content! Just make sure you’re using your herbs and spices to accent the other food, and not replace it. If you overload the spice in a dish, you’ll only end up with a heavy, acrid flavour and a wholly unpleasant meal. Take baby steps, and make sure to keep tasting as you go along.
Whether your veggie avoids meat out of health or for moral reasons, cooking for them shouldn’t be a problem. Ensure you know what the rules are, and leave yourself some time for experimenting before you serve up.