We all have friends with dietary preferences, food allergies and those who we lovingly, but with a shudder, call "picky." Someday, one of these kinds of friends is going to come to your house to eat dinner. As always, our mantra when planning a dinner party is this: don't panic.
We've seen the idea of cooking for a vegetarian stop capable home-cooks in their tracks. With the constant flow of information linking increased meat consumption to health problems and environmental distress, more and more Americans are giving Meatless Mondays a shot. The truth is that you probably end up eating vegetarian meals sometimes without even realizing it. Here's what we want to avoid: there is nothing sadder than feeding a vegetarian guest a plate of sauteed vegetables while everyone else eats a steak.
Here are some ways to get creative with your vegetarian menu that include plenty of protein, different textures and lots of flavor. Imagine if, at your upcoming Labor Day barbecue, you were to serve a vegetarian guest a homemade veggie burger. Now, imagine that said veggie burger is so good, even the omnivores at the party will want to indulge.
So, again, don't panic and never, ever forget that cheese is usually vegetarian (some vegetarians avoid some cheeses because they use animal rennet in production -- before you go cheese crazy, make sure to check with your guests).
Warm Chickpea And Artichoke Pate
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/warm-chickpea-and-articho_n_1057589.html" target="_hplink">Warm Chickpea And Artichoke Pate</a> recipe</strong> Appetizers should be your lowest-stress point in terms of vegetarian cooking, because so many of them already are! This chickpea and artichoke pate is hearty, and will be best friends with some crusty bread. <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/26/vegetarian-recipes_n_1234014.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more hearty vegetarian recipes</a></em>
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/whiskey-cheese-fondue_n_1058790.html" target="_hplink">Whiskey-Cheese Fondue</a> recipe</strong> A fondue party is probably one of our favorites. Something about crowding around a bubbling cauldron of cheese inspires people to have an excellent time.
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.food52.com/recipes/8650_saag_paneer" target="_hplink">Saag Paneer recipe from Food52</a></strong> India boasts the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/03/world-meat-consumption_n_1475760.html" target="_hplink">largest number of vegetarians on earth</a> -- so trust them, they know what they're doing. We love Saag Paneer, because it's just another excuse to basically eat creamed spinach as a main course. <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/03/24-vegetarian-recipes-to-_n_831097.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more Meatless Monday recipes</a></em>
Quinoa Veggie Burger With Roasted Red Pepper Relish
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/saveur/veggie-burgers_b_1647016.html" target="_hplink">Quinoa Veggie Burger with Roasted Red Pepper Relish</a> recipe from <em>Saveur</em></strong> When we hear "veggie burger," we sometimes envision those sad, vegetal hockey pucks from the freezer aisle. Our kind of veggie burger contains cannellini beans and quinoa for protein and body, arugula for brightness and gets topped with a citrusy red pepper relish. Don't ever eat the other kind of veggie burger again.
Grilled Pizza With Pesto, Tomatoes & Feta
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/grilled-pizza-with-pesto_n_1048911.html" target="_hplink">Grilled Pizza with Pesto, Tomatoes & Feta</a> recipe</strong> Not only is pizza frequently vegetarian, you can also grill it, making it our favorite dark-horse for veggie-oriented summer feasting. <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/04/grilled-pizza-recipes_n_1567587.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more grilled pizza recipes</a></em>
Grilled Tofu Steaks With Piquillo Salsa Verde
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/grilled-tofu-steaks-with-_n_1058470.html" target="_hplink">Grilled Tofu Steaks with Piquillo Salsa Verde</a> recipe</strong> This grilled tofu dish is smothered in a salty, bright piquillo pepper salsa. You could toss this condiment on your steak, but we bet you'll love it on tofu just as much. <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/25/vegetarian-grilling-recipes_n_1625318.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more vegetarian grilling ideas</a></em>
Grilled Eggplant, Halloumi And Pesto Burgers
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.veggiebelly.com/2011/05/grilled-eggplant-halloumi-and-pesto-burgers.html" target="_hplink">Grilled Eggplant, Halloumi And Pesto Burgers recipe from Veggie Belly</a></strong> Halloumi, the chewy, salty grilling cheese of Greece is one of our favorite ingredients on the planet. The meaty texture of this cheese stands up to the grill, and combining it with eggplant and pesto as a sandwich means that even your most carnivorous friends will want to try it. <em><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/18/halloumi-recipes_n_1601001.html" target="_hplink">Click here for more amazing halloumi recipes</a></em>
Cheese Enchiladas With Red Chile Sauce
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/cheese-enchiladas-with-re_n_1062281.html" target="_hplink">Cheese Enchiladas with Red Chile Sauce</a> recipe</strong> We love enchiladas, and it turns out, so do you guys (you voted them <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/14/tex-mex-food_n_1773109.html" target="_hplink">the best Tex-Mex dish in our Deathmatch</a>). We'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that this is another great, vegetarian way to eat a lot of cheese. Enchiladas can also be filled with sautéed summer squash, corn, mushrooms -- we could go on forever.
Macaroni And Many Cheeses
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/macaroni-and-many-cheeses_n_1058531.html" target="_hplink">Macaroni and Many Cheeses</a> recipe</strong> The idea that vegetarian cuisine is inherently healthy is ridiculous -- macaroni and cheese exists! Don't feel like you have to serve your veggie friends health food all the time.
Potato And Corn Frittata
<strong>Get the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/17/potato--corn-frittata_n_1432337.html" target="_hplink">Potato And Corn Frittata</a> recipe</strong> Look, we love bacon too, but when a vegetarian comes to breakfast or brunch, you can still knock everyone's socks off with this hearty and simple frittata.
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