He won’t eat meat?
Family food traditions vary at the holidays, but what’s the one thing that’s usually common no matter where you’re celebrating Easter or Passover or any other holiday for that matter? Meat — and lots of it!
Whether it’s a big stuffed turkey or a juicy glazed ham at Easter, or the roasted lamb shank bone as part of the Passover Seder, meat usually plays a significant role in holiday dinners. Side dishes are plentiful too, but the meat tends to be the main event.
So what happens when you discover that one of your invited guests is a vegetarian? How can you keep that guest full, satisfied and comfortable at your meat-loving table?
First of all, don’t make a big deal about it. Your guest may feel uncomfortable that he or she is upsetting the applecart by having special dietary needs, so make an effort to quietly reassure your vegetable-loving friend or family member. Tell them that you considered it a culinary adventure and thank them for introducing you to the world of vegetarianism!
Make sure that whatever special food you prepare for your vegetarian guest is ready at the same time as the rest of the food so that he or she is never left waiting for part of the meal.
Cook enough of the vegetarian dish so that you can make it available for everyone to try. That way it will truly feel like part of the meal instead of a substitution meant for just one person.
If you’re cooking a turkey, remember that vegetarians won’t eat stuffing that’s been cooked inside the bird. Consider making a special batch stuffing and bake it in a small casserole dish. This will give your guest another side dish option.
If you’re making matzo ball soup, make a special small batch with vegetable broth so your vegetarian guest can enjoy it too.
Make sure you have lots of vegetarian appetizers on hand — but don’t make a point of announcing to the rest of the guests they’re vegetarian for a reason. The meat-abstainer will be able to enjoy a wide range of delicious nibbles while feeling like part of the gang. A cheese platter with crackers, vegetable crudités with dip, nuts, fresh figs with honey, and seasonal fruit all make delicious pre-dinner fare.
For the main event, consider one of these delectable vegetarian dishes:
- Vegetarian paella,
- Vegetarian lasagna (to keep it kosher, use matzo crackers instead of lasagna noodles)
- Stuffed peppers with rice
Your guest might also be a vegan (unlike most vegetarians, vegans abstain from all animal products, including dairy and eggs). It’s wise to double-check to see what your guest can and cannot eat. For a full menu of vegan Easter ideas, visit Veg Kitchen. For a list of ideas for a vegan Passover celebration, visit About.com.
Whatever you serve to your vegetarian or vegan guest this Easter or Passover, know that your efforts will be much appreciated and warmly remembered.
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