With the Holidays upon us, I’ve decided to open my Hostess Bag of Tricks and share them with you, lucky Possums! The real secret to being a Good Host is to relax, have fun, and enjoy your guests.
Having said that, there are a few life skills an experienced Hostess should always have in her arsenal. A few good Vegan dishes are essential.
Here's a little scenario that might have already played out at your house: You're just about to sit down to dinner, and your brother's new girlfriend announces that she's a Vegan.
A. Smile, pretend you didn’t hear her, and serve her the ham anyway.
B. Point to the mashed potatoes and green beans
C. Have a vegan side dish in your back pocket that you can whip up before she finishes her glass of pinot grigio?
HINT: the answer is C.
We live in Los Angeles, which is ground zero for every kind of food fad and legit dietary restriction. Hosting a dinner party here requires a certain fluency in vegetarian, pescetarian, dairy, wheat, soy, and gluten-free options. There are fruitarians here, too, but they are still widely regarded as fringe weirdos (at least until a Kardashian takes it up and then I'm sure it will be all the rage). Peel me a grape!
My husband, (Mr. Handsome) adopted a (mostly) Vegan Diet for health reasons years ago, but my boys regard anything involving kale as radioactive. I had to quickly adapt and find meatless dishes for Handsome that could also serve as a healthy side for my young carnivores.
Thankfully, living in California, we also have access to Trader Joe’s. TJ’s has saved my (turkey) bacon more times than I can count with healthy, affordable, prepared food that everybody loves. Not to mention, it's usually a pretty easy clean up. If you don't have one where you live, this dish is so simple that you can recreate it from almost any supermarket deli section.
Here's what to buy at Trader Joe's:
- 1 punnet of Tabouli salad
- 1 punnet Balela (chickpea + tomato + onion) salad
- 1 bag Quinoa Duo from the frozen section
- Optional: Canned or Frozen Lentils
- Pour the quinoa into a big ceramic bowl, cover with a plate and slam it in the microwave for 5 minutes.
- Allow the quinoa to cool and mix in the tabouli and Balela salads. If you're making it from scratch, you'll have to cook the quinoa (I use a rice cooker). Buy a can of garbanzo beans, drain and rinse. Combine with chopped onion, parsley, and tomatoes.
- Put the parsley and onions in a food processor and garnish with fresh-cut grape tomatoes.
- Boom! You're a Vegan chef and have just created a healthy, filling dish that will delight your guests no matter what they're into eating (or not eating).
FYI: It’s especially good with grilled Tofu, Beef, or Lamb kebabs and served with some hummus and pita bread. I'll be posting my best Vegan dishes once a week through the Holidays.