01/03/2013 11:33 am ET Updated Mar 05, 2013

Vegetarian Wedding: A Medley Of Fresh Produce

I often have clients asking me for a vegetarian option to be served at their wedding reception, and what immediately comes to mind for most people is some variation of pasta. It's easy, delicious, and comforting; what's not to love? However, if at all possible I try to leave traditional pasta off the menu. I take "challenge accepted" literally. Unless of course it's an Italian-inspired wedding or the bride and groom really love pasta. It's not as though you won't find it on my menus because I do love to make and eat it, especially in the winter. But when I build a menu for a client, I like to expose them to a world of vegetarian cuisine found outside this common Italian staple.

Cooking vegetarian cuisine gives you the opportunity to work with a wide variety of fresh produce that can be just as tasty and satisfying as meat. In order to build desirable vegetarian entrees, I bring in hearty vegetables like eggplant, mushrooms, cauliflower and squash accompanied by grains like rice, quinoa, faro, and polenta. These are some of my favorite ingredients to work with.

Being a local and seasonal farm-to-table catering company, time of year greatly affects what vegetarian items I offer on a menu. Not only because cooking seasonally means that I get to cook with ingredients at their peak of ripeness but also because different seasons evoke different feeling and emotions. For instance, in the fall and winter I naturally gravitate to heartier foods because people crave comfort foods that are filling and will keep them warm and bring back memories of seasons past. Whereas in the spring and summer, I tend to work with lighter and brighter fare. Something that is very visually appealing but will not make you feel heavy because there is nothing worse than feeling too full and heavy in the hot spring or especially summer.

In the Fall, I turn to warm comfort food, because that is what people crave when it begins to cool down, by creating dishes such as:

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with a Tomato or Carrot Ragu and Toasted Pine Nuts

Both are vegan, gluten free, dairy free, and soy free.

Turnip, Carrot, Celery, Onion, Napa Cabbage and Fennel Stir-fry with Roasted Peanut Dressing and Fresh Cilantro

Vegan, gluten free, dairy free.

During Winter I choose really festive, soothing items like soup or risotto. Items you may see on one of my handcrafted menu may include:

Creamy Lemon Grass Coconut Corn Soup

Vegan, dairy free, soy free.

Sage + Thyme Mushroom and Butternut Squash Risotto served in Acorn Squash.

Vegetarian, gluten free, soy free.

As Spring emerges I think people are looking for a little lighter and brighter. I will often assemble several delicious salads together and serve it as a complete dish, with something that looks like this:

Moroccan Carrot + Garlic Salad, Israeli Couscous Tabbouleh, Farro, Cranberry, Almonds, Onions and Celery.

Vegan, dairy free, soy free.

Israeli Couscous Stuffed Bell Peppers with Fresh Basil Pesto and Roasted Pepitas

Vegetarian, soy free.

And by Summer food should be fresh and inviting. Some of my favorites are:

Balsamic Eggplant, Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Stacks with a Fresh Basil and Goat Cheese Pesto

Vegetarian, soy free, gluten free.

Polenta Triangles with a Tomato, Onion, Caper Eggplant Caponata

Vegetarian, gluten free, soy free.

When it comes to vegetarian cuisine, the most important thing is to remain open minded. Vegetarian menus have the potential to be full of color, texture and flavor. Explore those creative juices and try a new, fresh approach to vegetarian food.

Below, photographs of some of Marlene's delicious creations.

Delicious Vegetarian Wedding Options

Credits: Photography// Randi Marie
Design// Laura Lorraine Design
Catering// Savour This Moment