Vegan Catering Tips: Your Meatless Dinner is served!

Posted on March 27, 2014

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vegan catering

Years ago, an upscale catered affair meant caviar, heavy, cream-soaked dishes, and prawn cocktails whilst the guests smoked the night away. If something wasn’t appealing to your particular taste buds, well, that was just too bad.

Of course, times have certainly changed, and the catering industry has changed along with them. Many people are requesting fresher, lighter and healthier fare, and today’s caterer acknowledges that tastes and lifestyles are widely varied, and will be able to create dishes that will tantalize his entire clientele.

The primary reason for hiring a caterer is to ensure everyone’s dietary preferences will be, well, catered to, so first things first: let’s nix the idea that vegetarians and vegans live only on salads! Of course, a beautiful, green, leafy salad can be enticing, but vegetarian and vegan dishes range from mild to spicy with a medley of interesting ingredients which can be tempting and delicious for all food aficionados, whether or not they follow the vegan guidelines.

Starting Things Off

Let’s take a look at the first course: Appetizers. Depending on the number of guests, you can set out a variety of dips, crostini topped with an olive tapenade, and meatless snacks such as phyllo-dough wrapped asparagus; a light and delicious treat for everyone, vegan or not. If you are serving vegan dishes, you must take care that all food is prepared without animal products such as eggs, milk, meat, cheese and butter. This may seem so daunting at first, but the use of spices and faux meats such as tofu and proteins such as beans and legumes are adaptable to many recipes. There is coconut oil or applesauce to use in place of butter when baking, and vegan cream cheese can be made into a delicious icing. Nutritional yeast, which is not the same as baker’s or brewer’s yeast, has a delightful, cheesy taste that makes it a nice replacement for dairy cheese.

If serving a soup, look beyond the standard vegetable broth and let your clients enjoy smooth purees such as pumpkin or squash, or perhaps a heartier fare with quinoa, tomatoes, and beans would be just as satisfying. Spices such as chili powder, coriander and cumin as well as add-ins like avocados, salsa, or onions will surely kick up the flavor and appearance.

The Main Course

For main dishes, restaurants often suggest that vegetarians and vegans should be satisfied with a soggy Portabello mushroom on a bun or pasta with a meatless sauce. A chef/caterer who is passionate about making certain his or her guests leave happy, however, will explore the many vegetarian and vegan options available for the main course, such as fire-roasted peppers or a sumptuous tofu lasagna. Indian and Thai food are very flavorful and zesty with levels of spiciness that are easily adapted for the crowd you are serving.

A Sweet Ending

Now let’s think about desserts. Since neither vegetarians nor vegans consume dairy products, ice cream and some sweets are off-limits. Imagine their delight when you can still present them with a luscious double-chocolate torte, a rich and buttery-tasting pecan cake, or a moist and tasty black-bean brownie! Nearly every recipe can be easily modified with vegan or vegetarian ingredients that will still maintain and in some cases improve its taste and texture. No matter what you serve, it can be delicious, light and healthy, and just right for anyone!

Vegetarian and vegan catering shouldn’t be a chore- creating delicious meatless dishes is easy and fun for the gifted catering professional. Just remember to use your creativity!

Molly Blair is a personal chef and catering specialist from Tucson, Arizona.

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