I can't believe I haven't written a post about this before now!
It just hit me like a bolt of lightning: what is the biggest panic moment for most of us? (I know it is for me, even after years!) When someone wants to come over and you think: what the hell am I going to make?! How will I impress them with the brilliance of veganism? How will I ensure they don't look around longingly for a cheese slice?
Although I love cooking and sharing, it can be a panic because I'm so desperate to encourage people into this lifestyle. Food is a great way to do that, but it can go horribly wrong! I worry that I'm one dry vegan cake away from a friend never even considering making the change. I would just die if after taking a bite someone said: "sorry...cakes need eggs. OBVIOUSLY!"
We all dream of being that relaxed, kitchen goddess who casually stirs away, sipping (vegan) wine while chatting casually to her guests, looking so effortless. You can be this goddess, but I recommend: a) don't tackle something you've never made before and b) don't stress about impressing people with something crazy complicated. If you want to make an exciting meal - of course go for it, but I do have dramatic flashbacks to when I decided to invent vegan cabonara for my girlfriends at the last minute and...well...let's just not go there.
My favourite thing to do for casual get-togethers is: GRAZING PLATES! I've posted this recipe before and thought it deserved another shout-out in this context.
The best thing about preparing these is that a lot of it can be done ahead of time (less stress), it demonstrates how simple and plentiful vegan food can be and you can personalize the hell out of it. The basics are: a lovely loaf of fresh bread, olive oil, some guacamole, hummus and/or tahini dip and raw veggie sticks. After that: go crazy! Last time I made this, I did a mushroom, spinach and asparagus bowl and some sweet potato fries :)
If going for a "main meal", I would suggest making something you feel comfortable with and try to tailor for your guests. Think about who's coming - are they a health nazi, a reluctant veggie-eater, gluten intolerant? Whatever it may be (or a selection of people who are all different!) try to make something that you know everyone will enjoy.
Maybe start by preparing a few big salads to have in the centre of the table? I love having bread on a nice chopping board with some olive oil and dairy-free spread, too. Already the evening has a feeling of "abundance" and no one is going to leave this dinner party hungry and thinking that veganism = anaemia! I like one salad to be leafy greens and raw veggies so that the second one can be a bit more exciting! Maybe roasted rosemary potatoes, olive oil, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts? Mmmm!
Can you say SOUP!? Here's a really cute idea - serving a divine....oh....maybe pumpkin and coconut soup in a cute mugs for your guests to enjoy?
And when going for a main meal - make a dish you feel really comfortable with and I say: the simpler the better. Italian is always a lovely option, especially when trying to make it vegan. You can't go wrong with a delicious pesto pasta or a simple tomato, basil and garlic. Yum! I have also been to a lovely "make your own pizza" night which was great and if you want to provide cheese for your guests, that's a nice way to do it.
It goes without saying that the most important aspects of any enjoyable evening are the company and conversation. So, really, do whatever it takes to be the most relaxed and happy host you can be. I like doing a mellow playlist to have going in the background too!
Enjoy your night!
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