My in-laws are visiting this week, which means a couple of things:
1. Everyone in our house is about to get spoiled. (Because Grandma's bringing new toys and games, and Grandpa's bringing his tools to work on our house. Hurrah!)
2. I am going to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what to feed them.
That last is true because my parents-in-law are Midwesterners, through and through. You know, like the meat-potatoes-and-a-side kind. Pretty sure my husband didn't know what a vegetarian was until he met me. I'm your basic hippie. If you handed me a roast right now, I literally wouldn't know what to do with it. Let alone a steak. I shudder to think.
So when the in-laws come to visit, I do my best to serve vegetarian meals, without them actually noticing that they're vegetarian meals.
Here are the keys to this:
Make something familiar, only without the meat. Very few meat-lovers are going to love mint-pressed tofu over rice pilaf the first time they try. But Tex-Mex...that works.
Make sure you've got a good amount of protein in there to fill everyone up. This is not the time to serve salad, folks. Or even a vegetable soup. People are likely to get hungry again in an hour. And you want them so satisfied, they won't miss the meat.
Do NOT mention that your meal is vegetarian. This spurs some kind of strange defensive reaction in a meat-lover, and will cause them to automatically react against your meal on principle. The goal here is to get them to eat the whole meal, enjoy every bite, and then go to bed smug because you realize they just ate vegetarian, even if they don't. (I once sneakily served my father-in-law tofu manicotti this way, and he had seconds before I mentioned it was made with tofu.)
So here are some of my meal ideas.
1. This week, I made what I call my Beth's Favorite Things Quiche (pictured above), which was a huge hit. It's packed full of veggies, and my baby loved it too. You'll find the recipe below. Serve with rice flavored with fresh herbs and peas, and fruit for dessert.
2. How about homemade pizza and breadsticks? Personally, I'm a fan of artichokes, tomatoes, olives and arugula for toppings. Serve with a salad hefted up with chickpeas, berries, and sunflower seeds.
3. I stinkin' love this red lentil curry. It only takes 30 minutes to make, and it's so filling that meat-eaters won't miss the beef by the end of the meal. Serve with sauteed greens and pita bread or naan.
4. Vegetarian chili usually goes over well, especially if served with sour cream, cheese, green onions, and corn bread on the side. (Note: DO NOT serve vegetarian chili to a Texan. You will regret it.)
5. Our friends the Deckers served us this amazing Crock Pot Polenta Casserole, and I still salivate whenever I think of it. Plus it's a crock pot meal. Bonus.
Happy healthy cooking, everyone!
Beth's Favorite Things Quiche
1 pie crust
small handful asparagus (about 10 spears), chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
2 big handfuls baby spinach
6 mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 carton grape tomatoes, halved
1 c. milk
4 oz. feta cheese
salt and pepper
With something like this, I don't like to measure while I cook (it slows me down!), so the amounts are kinda variable. Breathe in the freedom, people.
Get the pie crust into a pie pan with the edges crimped first, so that's out of the way. Get the oven preheating to 375 F.
Next, give a large pan a good swirl of olive oil, and get the onions and asparagus cooking, until the onion is mostly translucent. Throw in the spinach and mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until the spinach has wilted. (Might wanna go light on the salt, since this recipe has feta cheese, which is pretty salty.)
Meanwhile, beat eggs, milk, and feta together in a small bowl. Give it a good shake of rosemary, enough to cover the mixture (1-2 tsp.) Stir.
Put the vegetables into a fine sieve and press out as much moisture as you can. Then dump the veggies into the pie crust. Top with tomatoes, then pour in the egg mixture.
Bake until set, about 45-50 minutes.