It’s funny, because when we’re eating by ourselves, we largely revert to vegetarian food–salads, easy sandwiches, pasta–but when we’ve got company coming we find ourselves veering towards meat. It’s sometimes hard to be both crowd-pleasing and veggie-centric. But by concentrating on presentation and texture, perhaps the biggest stumpers in vegetarian cooking, we’ve come up with impressive but simple dishes to serve as the main course when you’ve got vegetarians at your table, or simply when you’re the mood to go meat free.
(You might also like my list of pasta-free vegetarian main courses.)
1. Al Forno Conchiglie with Five Cheeses
The proportions in this dish turn simple pasta, tomato, and cheese (all five kinds) into one of the most satisfying dishes around. The preparation is incredibly easy, and the presentation is pretty and rustic. Read the recipe here.
2. Chickpea Burgers with Mint Raita
These burgers look adorable piled on a serving platter, and their slightly Mediterranean vibe is surprising and delish. Read the recipe here.
3. Decontructed Eggplant Parmesan
We spent a lot of time, in high school, eating Eggplant Parmesan with our vegetarian group of friends. As much as we love it, all that frying and assembly means it’s really not a small kitchen dish. However, this pasta, inspired by the old fave, is. Read the recipe here.
4. Oversized Mozzarella Arepas with Summer Veggies
You know how at street fairs, there are tons of vendors hawking “mozzarepas”? Yeah, well, we’ve never actually tried those. Our homemade version is filling and elegant, especially when topped with sauteed vegetables. Read the recipe here.
5. Parmesan Polenta Steaks with Heirloom Tomato-Corn Salad
We hear polenta used to be peasant food back in the old country, but honestly it’s hard to think of a vegetarian staple that’s more conducive to fancy twists. Plated individually, these “steaks” will please even the most upscale of your friends. Read the recipe here.
6. Red Wine-Braised Lentils with Veggie Sausage
Though it may sound humble, this meal ends up looking so elegant, we’ve even served it to dates. Toasted bread acts as the vehicle for lucious, rich lentils, stewed in red wine and flavored with herbs and vegetarian sausage (we like Field Roast). Read the recipe here.
7. Portobello Mushrooms with Parmesan-Herb Stuffing
These meatiest of mushrooms are stuffed with a hearty, flavorful set of ingredients. They stand up to carnivorous mains, and they’re a great choice for vegetarians on Thanksgiving. Read the recipe here.
8. Teriyaki-Dressed Soba Salad
The combination of sweet and slightly tangy ingredients in this sauce seems to satisfy everyone; We’ve never made this salad when the bowl was not licked clean. It’s hearty enough to be a centerpiece, but it also makes a winning potluck contribution.
Read the recipe here.
9. Udon Noodles with BGSK Peanut Sauce
We have our friend Jordana to thank for this dish’s permanent presence on our meal rotation. We (and she) could eat it every day. At catering events, we spoon small portions into take-out Chinese containers and serve each with a pair of chopsticks stuck in. Read the recipe here.
10. White Pizza with Ricotta, Sundried Tomato, and Scallions
Takeout slices of pizza may seem like they’re for the hoi polloi, but gussiedd-up homemade pizza is wonderful food for feeding friends. We usually make our own dough, but you can also go begging at the local pizza parlor. Read the recipe here.
P.S. Here are a few extra (read: newer) Vegetarian Main Courses!