Hosting dinner parties is one of my favourite things to do.
What can I say – I love food. But mostly, I love sharing how delicious vegan food can be with friends and opening their minds to an evening without any meat or dairy.
Many people find it difficult to imagine what vegans eat (especially GOOD stuff!) so if you can demonstrate that for them I highly recommend it. Even if you aren’t a massive fan of entertaining – invite a few vegan-curious friends over and show them how delicious vegetables can be 😉
Or, if you’re reading this because you’re having a vegan over for dinner – that can be a daunting concept! I’m sure most vegans don’t expect anything fancy and are just happy to have vegan food cooked in their honour. Hopefully this can give you some simple, wholesome inspiration.
I try to go for at least two courses and not fall into the trap of making unhealthy “rich” dishes to try and impress people. Let your food represent veganism at its best – healthy, abundant, beautiful and fresh!
The Bruschetta Starter
Bruschetta is simple and always a hit. The key is – great bread and great tomatoes. With those staples, you will make a hit!
Start off by dicing fresh tomatoes (I would say one per slice of bread) and placing the diced pieces into a bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil, lots of chopped fresh basil and some salt and pepper.
Place bread slices under the grill and leave them to brown slightly. Once finished, rub one clove of garlic over the toasted side and top off with the tomato mixture.
Finish with a fresh basil leaf. Your guests will be wowed.
Main Option One
All You’ll Need:
Pesto (Make your own or buy a Vegan Pesto)
Basil or Rosemary for Garnishing
Salt and Pepper
Begin by boiling enough Baby Potatoes and, once nearly cooked through, remove from the heat and set aside. Prep your spinach by washing and blanch the Asparagus in some boiling water. I like to leave mine a bit crispy!
For the Pesto, if you want to make your own it’s SO easy. I have one Pesto recipe here already on Vilda Magazine which you can check out OR you can try this new, raw Avocado Pesto which will work brilliantly.
Avocado Pesto: In a food processor or blender – combine the juice of one lemon, 4 cups of fresh basil, 2 perfectly ripe avocados, 1/2 cup pine nuts, 2 cloves of garlic and some salt. Blitz or blend until you have a perfect pesto. Taste and add more basil, salt or pepper to taste.
Once the Pesto is made – pour it onto your potatoes and combine.
Serve by starting with a bed of spinach, then the cooked asparagus. On top of these squeeze a little lemon juice for flavour. Top your greens with a generous serving of potatoes and sprinkling cherry tomatoes around the edge. Finish off with a dollop of Pesto and some fresh herbs.
Main Option #2
Vegan Mezze Platter
So, this is my new favourite way to feed people – making a massive Mezze for everyone to get stuck into! It has a sense of abundance and variety, which automatically debunks two common vegan myths 😉
You can adapt this Mezze in any way you wish, adding any favourite snacks, but here is a list I’ve found to be successful and complimentary.
Fresh Bread, Oven-roasted Sweet Potato Wedges, Falafel, Raw Vegetable sticks (cucumber and carrot), Home-made Hummus, Guacamole, Olives and a giant, fresh side salad.
Main Option #3
As a third option for your dinner party I suggest SALADS! Make three or four diverse salads and guests can help themselves. For this option you want two or three “rich” or “heavy” salads so everyone feels satisfied. Anything rice or potato based is a good option, or rich vegetables like artichoke, sun dried tomatoes or avocado.
With a few rich options and then a fresh, green salad – you will be onto a winner selection.
I say – put your salads in the centre of the table in lovely bowls, maybe have a loaf of bread, some dressings/sauces and a bottle of red wine.
I’ve included my favourite salad recipe for inspiration and a suggestion for your bowl of Greens.
The Asian Rice Salad:
Cook two cups of brown rice and leave to cool. Add 1 cup of Organic currants, 1 diced red onion, 1 diced red pepper, 1 cup toasted almonds and 1 cup chopped coriander.
Dressing: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup katsup manis and 1/8 cup Sesame oil. Mix well.
Pour dressing over salad and combine.
Spinach, cucumber, tomatoes, olives, spring onion, avocado, toasted almonds and lemon juice.
Once the menu is designed and the shopping is done – the next step is having a well designed dinner table and making your guests feel looked after. I would always have some water, salt and pepper and a bottle of wine within reaching distance!
I love a bit of candlelight and music – these aren’t reserved for romance. They create a lovely relaxed atmosphere and a bit of a wow factor too!
Enjoy your vegan dinner party! Remember, if in doubt – simplicity and good ingredients are key.
Massive thank you to Lucas Smith Photography for his beautiful photos of these recipes.