Entertaining for a Veggie Planet: 250 Down-to-Earth Recipes

Entertaining for a Veggie Planet: 250 Down-to-Earth Recipes

by Didi Emmons

The queen of vegetarian hip is back! Convinced that entertaining doesn’t have to be high-stress or high-maintenance, Didi Emmons presents an alternative view: the best parties aren’t meticulously planned. Crammed with innovative ideas for delightfully informal gatherings and hundreds of globally inspired, big-flavored vegetarian recipes,… See more details below


The queen of vegetarian hip is back! Convinced that entertaining doesn’t have to be high-stress or high-maintenance, Didi Emmons presents an alternative view: the best parties aren’t meticulously planned. Crammed with innovative ideas for delightfully informal gatherings and hundreds of globally inspired, big-flavored vegetarian recipes, Entertaining for a Veggie Planet proves that having friends over — whether for the season finale of a favorite TV show or for a book group discussion — is not only easy, it’s fun.
From dips and cold bites (Malaysian Spring Rolls) to main dishes (Shiitake Mac ’n’ Cheese), from brunch (Cardamon Blueberry Cake) to “sweet eats” (Oreo Key Lime Pie), Emmons’s dishes offer endless possibilities for vegetarians, vegans, and anyone else in search of a satisfying meal. Her creative menus (“Vegetarian Solutions to Turkey Day”) and her spirit of fun (“if you’re serving only one food, make it homemade ice cream”) will put all cooks in the mood to share.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Exactly what veggie hosts need in order to plan, execute, and most importantly, enjoy their own parties." -Publishers Weekly Publishers Weekly

"...ways to make entertaining easy and fun are offered throughout. For most collections." -Library Journal. Library Journal

"Whether you are a steadfast vegetarian or simply searching for meatless alternatives, Entertaining for a Veggie Planet may inspire many of yoru holiday celebrations"--Cookbook Digest

Publishers Weekly
Emmons (Vegetarian Planet) comes to the rescue for vegetarian dinner-party hosts with this guide to orchestrating intimate gatherings or large parties with food so good the guests won't notice it's meatless. Sound principles are at work here: parties exist so you can "feed people (yourself included)" and "enjoy people (yourself included)." Emmons gives tips on making dips (Greek Skordalia, Roasted Red Pepper Dip) and crudites, using salads (Green Bean-Sweet Potato Salad with Peanut Dressing, Mango Slaw) as buffet centerpieces, and buying pre-made snacks at Asian groceries. Festive touches, like beets for Pink Eggs and "Seizing" Hot Fudge Sauce (it hardens over ice cream) add creativity without hardship. There's even an ingenious "miraculously cheap wedding for fifty in ten easy steps" sidebar that includes tea sandwiches and brie with currant jelly and pecans. Even if you're just entertaining your kids, they'll enjoy Sloppy Joes and Crunchy Peanut Butter Balls. Plentiful tofu and seitan recipes will satisfy vegans. There are chapters on "intimate gatherings," brunches, pizzas, risottos, and sweets and drinks, although no comprehensive beverage chapter. Main courses like Spaghetti with Green Olive Pesto and Spinach, Crunchy Chickpea, and Hazelnut Ragout are piquant yet easy to make. With sidebars on such topics as the great Turkey day conundrum, how to make inexpensive centerpieces and how to get people to help out, this is exactly what veggie hosts need in order to plan, execute and, most importantly, enjoy their own parties. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Emmons, author of the popular Vegetarian Planet, has cooked at a number of vegetarian restaurants in or around Boston and is currently chef of Veggie Planet in Cambridge. Here, she provides dozens of recipes and tips for stress-free entertaining. A diverse collection, her recipes reflect her favorite cuisines-Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indian, and French-and most are simple and easy to prepare. Most also include make-ahead notes, and in addition there are ideas for quick dishes, such as those that qualify for "Emergency Eating for Last-Minute Get-Togethers." Suggestions for streamlining party preparations, including "How To Clean Up Your Home in 30 Minutes," and other ways to make entertaining easy and fun are offered throughout. For most collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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7.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.06(d)

Read an Excerpt


To have patience with imperfection is almost to guarantee a good time.

In my experience, the most enjoyable gatherings are simple, unorthodox, and occasionally even botched. One of my favorites was a fiesta-style indoor block party to which I invited the entire neighborhood by tucking flyers into their mail slots. “Come me neighbors and tally me bananas!” I proclaimed to the twenty houses on my street. I cooked enough for sixty and patiently awaited the throngs. An hour after everyone was supposed to be there, only two people had shown up. But the food was spicy, the conversation lively, and by the end of the night, I unexpectedly gained a new best friend. Then there was the time I served gula malaca, a Malaysian pudding, for dessert. It came out viscous and gray. As I spooned it into bowls, one of my guests suggested that I rename it bronchitis. Although my ego was bruised for a moment, the jab was too funny not to laugh at, and the rest of the meal was a smashing success.
There are two essential ingredients for a successful party:

1. To feed people (yourself included).
2. To enjoy people (yourself included).

Whatever gets you to that place most comfortably is the key. Perhaps it’s being super-organized and making a masterpiece dish from Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook. Or maybe it’s not planning at all and cooking creatively from your fridge, or serving an entrée you’ve cooked many times before. Or it could be asking everyone to bring food while you supply the wine, or inviting people over for just ice cream. All parties don’t have to be perfectly planned, and they don’t have to make sense. The truth is, there are no rules.
Who says that you have to pass hors d’oeuvres, offer alcohol at a cocktail party, or serve a green vegetable at a dinner party? My friend Patti has a strict policy against appetizers. They’re too much work, and people fill up on them and have no room for dinner. She’d rather concentrate on making the meal, where everyone is seated around the table and can converse in something other than small talk. Another friend, Jane, has a similar rule regarding the end of the evening: no coffee. She hates leaving the table to rush around and brew a fresh pot, and she wants everyone to linger over wine and enjoy the evening. (One time I saw someone sneak in a thermos of coffee—which just added to the fun.) All the unspoken “shoulds” of entertaining can ruin a good time. Most of us love good food and look forward to being with others, but the thought of having people over makes us hyperventilate. We have a picture of the perfect party-giver in our heads. She or he has a gorgeous home, serves fab food without getting frazzled, and carries the conversation with razor- sharp wit. This TV image makes us freeze up. But my dining room doubles as my office, my “china” is from a thrift shop, and my significant other is a cat. None of this stops me from having friends over for a good time.
In this book, I want to lower the bar for entertaining and help get people to gather together more often. Sure it’s sometimes nice to spend half the day in the kitchen preparing a four-course meal, but a good bowl of soup or a cup of chai and some cookies make most people happy. Why not invite some friends over for creamed spinach over whole wheat toast and watch a favorite film? Or host a dinner party in your driveway, as one of my friends once did when she was faced with the problem of fitting twelve guests into her tiny studio apartment.

*** Manageable Meals for Friends

There are few culinary rights and wrongs these days when it comes to planning a dinner. Still, there is some advice worth heeding: • Strive for balance in flavors, colors, temperatures, and textures.

• Repetition does not appeal to the palate. For example, not every course should be pan-fried, and a pureed soup followed by a pureed sauce in the main course is a no-no. Another common error is using an abundance of cream and cheese throughout the menu. One exception: If you want to celebrate a special ingredient, say garlic or a bumper crop of zucchini, it can be fun to incorporate it into each course.

• Bypass convention if you don’t feel up to preparing a “fancy” entrée—serve soup, a substantial salad, and dessert. You can always buy dessert at a nearby bakery or ice cream shop.

• Keep it simple—have one complicated course and keep the rest relatively simple, both for your own sanity and for the well-being of your guests’ digestive tracts.

• If you feel uncomfortable about mixing and matching dishes from around the globe, stick to the same country or at least the same continent.

• Finally, on a more praactical note, don’t choose dishes that all require a lot of last-minute attention. Include some dishes that can be prepared ahead of time so you won’t be overwhelmmmmmed right before dinner.

Parties should be whatever you want them to be. Casual and spontaneous doesn’t mean boring and mediocre. If you’re relaxed, your guests will be too. Sometimes I end up inviting four or five extra people a few hours before a dinner party. I don’t spend a lot of time planning my menu. Usually I peruse my favorite cookbook of the moment for recipes that grab me. If one dish doesn’t fit in seamlessly, I’ll throw caution to the wind and make it anyhow. No one will care about the cohesiveness of the menu, and this way I’ll have more fun cooking. Chances are the food will taste better too. I find it exciting to mix and match dishes that aren’t normally served together when the combination makes sense to me. If you aren’t feeling up to making a fancy entrée, just serve soup, salad, and dessert.
This book is meant to inspire. It reflects my passions: Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indian and French cooking, as well as many other cuisines. The menus will satisfy both serious vegetarians and meat-eaters. More and more people are opting to serve vegetarian meals. Vegetarian eating is a way to help the planet, and entertaining helps us make connections and creates a feeling of community.
But the main reason I entertain is even more basic: to make the people I care about happy and to save them the time and trouble of cooking something for themselves.
This is No Big Deal Entertaining. Add a few friends, get ready for the unexpected, and learn that less than perfect is where the fun is.

How to Have Great Food on Hand

When a friend drops by and you’d like to make dinner but you don’t know what to have, a well-stocked pantry and freezer and a few good recipes on hand will pay off. The emergency entertaining recipes (see pages 166–167) should give you some good ideas.
Keep in mind that many of the recipes in this book—and of course others —can be approximated with ingredients that aren’t perfect substitutes. If you want to make Tofu, Broccoli, and Tomatoes with Curried Peanut Sauce and all you have is frozen tempeh and spinach, you can still make the dish. You’ll just have to free-fall and make an educated guess about whether tempeh and spinach should be cooked in the same manner as tofu and broccoli. You will soon become adept at adapting. Combine the ingredients you have on hand with your recipes and see if there’s something you can make with a substitution or two. No vegetable stock for a risotto? Use more onions and garlic and add a carrot or two. No fresh vegetables, but you have pasta? Mix the pasta with beans or lentils. Whatever you do, don’t run out of garlic. There’s nothing more depressing than a kitchen lacking this fragrant bulb.

*** Freezer Tips

• Double-wrap everything super-duper airtight in plastic (buy plastic wrap that is made for the freezer) to prevent freezer burn. Even in its advanced stages, freezer burn won’t hurt you, but it does impart a flavor that reminds me of wet feet.

• Delicate herbs such as basil, tarragon, and cilantro do not freeze well in their fresh state. If you have a lot on hand, the best thing to do is process the leaves (and stems in the case of cilantro) in a food processor with a cup or so of oil.

Freeze the mixture in a zip bag, and cut off bits with a knife to use in soups, pasta dishes, and the like.

About Freezing

I love my freezer. It’s nothing huge— just a conventional compartment on top of my refrigerator, but it holds a wealth of convenient supplies and emergency rations. Stashing some Asian noodles or spring roll wrappers in there saves me a trip to the Asian market when the need arises. If I buy one bunch of rosemary, sage, or thyme, I store what I don’t use in the freezer, where it can last for six months. Having frozen vegetables such as spinach, peas, and edamame on hand allows me to make dinner without going to the store—all I have to do is combine them with rice or pasta, garlic, and good olive oil or Asian flavorings. Many of the recipes in this book can be made with frozen vegetables in place of fresh.
Some foods keep in the freezer for six months or more, including nuts, lemongrass, and frozen spinach and peas. Breads and chopped herbs don’t keep for long.

Copyright © 2003 by Didi Emmons. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company.

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