Our Readers' Favorite Vegetarian Dinner Party Dishes

Reader Intelligence Report

Last week we asked our readers what they cook and serve for a vegetarian dinner party. What are the very best main dishes for vegetarian dinner parties? The best center-of-the-table showstoppers? Here are a bunch of great vegetarian dinner party dishes, straight from our readers.

General Advice

• I know you're asking for entrees, and I'm listing lots (lots!) of my favorites below, but I think it's key to balance the menu, to provide lots of different flavors, textures, and colors: something rich or hearty, something crisp or crunchy, something fresh or tart. Lots of people assume "vegetarian dinner" is going to be a bowl of brown glop. Surprise them by serving an irresistible array of flavors and textures. - Elsa Macbebekin

• Just because someone isn't a vegetarian doesn't mean they live in fear of meals that don't have meat. I would think the best tip would be to know your audience. It seems like an unnecessary excess to prepare a vegetarian main dish and then go out of your way to include some kind of meat add-in. - ny2midmo

• The easiest way we found was to have everything vegetarian except for the meat only dishes. Example, we might have soup, risotto, salad and burgers. Then have the meat patties and vege patties (or portabello mushrooms) separate. - Bunny Eats Design

42 of Our Readers' Favorite Vegetarian Dinner Party Dishes

    Pasta & Noodles
  1. The Barefoot Contessa's mushroom lasagna. Decadent and easy to make ahead. - janparr
  2. I've made a lasagna with very thinly sliced sweet potatoes instead of noodles - very, very good. I re-created that recipe from something I had in a restaurant. - username26
  3. Spaghetti with vodka sauce, baked artichoke hearts, garlic bread/salad. Stuffed shells are always good if you're going for showy - alicelost
  4. Brussels sprouts + whole wheat pasta gratin - PrefessionalBakist
  5. This ricotta and dill mac and cheese is a favorite of mine, and can be baked in individual serving dishes for a nice, crunchy-topped presentation. - vizslalvr
  6. Butternut squash lasagna! It's rich and amazing — and different enough that no one feels like they're "missing" the meat. - ChicagoCook
  7. Vietnamese Rice Noodle Salads - full of different veggies, noodles, and complex/spicy flavors; love this one, and is easy to omit shrimp to make it vegetarian: Vietnamese Noodle Salad - Kristen @Batterlicker.com
  8. Lasagna - love butternut squash lasagna just like many other readers seem to, especially this one with a basil bechamel: Butternut Squash and Basil Bechamel Lasagna - Kristen @Batterlicker.com
  9. Homemade Tagliatelle with Brown Butter & Butternut Squash (definitely my favorite). Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arrabbiata Sauce (we use spinach instead of turkey). Tube-Shaped Pasta with Wild Mushrooms (so simple and so yummy!! we ended up using a mixture of shitake, chanterelle, and crimini because the chanterelles were so expensive.) - drewparadise
  10. Nuts & Other Proteins

  11. I once wrapped a cashew roast in layers of phyllo dough lightly brushed with olive oil, like a nut Wellington. It was a HUGE hit. (I prepped it the day before and baked it right before the big dinner - less stress.) Nut roasts are popular in the UK, so recipes abound. (Just make sure none of the guests are allergic to nuts.) - Stiletto
  12. Seitan is fun to make and is fairly customizable, and if your omni friends are worried about protein, then this will do the trick. Pound for pound, seitan has way more protein. I've made seitan sausages from Vegan Brunch by one of the Veganomicon authors, it goes really well with the vegan gumbo in the Veganomicon. - username26
  13. I'm OBSESSED with Jamaican jerk tofu with coconut black bean rice and a side of sweet potatoes. It's got iron, protein, vitamins, beta carotene = a complete vegetarian meal. - Smultronsoul.blogspot
  14. Ultimate veggie burger (we top these with carmelized onions, mushrooms, avocado, sprouts, bbq sauce.. whatever we have around) - drewparadise
  15. Vegetables!

  16. Imam bayildi! A Turkish stuffed aubergine [eggplant] dish that is so good that according to the name the Imam fainted when trying it. I haven't tried any online recipes, but there are lots out there. - fulinlin
  17. Giant popover with rosemary mushrooms - PrefessionalBakist
  18. Roasted aubergine (smeared with harissa or charmoula or something) with a beautiful jewelled pilaf in the summer... Tapas/meze is a really nice casual summer vegetarian meal which people don't even notice the absence of meat in. - Sian
  19. This stuffed poblano peppers are really delicious and also do-ahead friendly. - vizslalvr
  20. Eggplant Parmesan is always a good selection in my mind. It's hearty, easy to make a lot of it, and for the non-vegetarians, if they try it they will probably find out how good it really is. It also makes it easy to make chicken parm alongside it for the meat eaters. - shawnchasse
  21. Any kind of curry (especially Thai curries) served over rice - omit chicken in this one: Thai Pumpkin Curry - Kristen @Batterlicker.com
  22. My boyfriend is a vegetarian so all of our dinners end up being vegetarian and I don't miss the meat out of any of them!! Here are a few of our favorites: Broccoli Ginger Dumplings (makes a TON!!). Spinach & Ricotta Dumplings with Prawns & Mushrooms in Cream Reduction (without the shrimp).

    Beans & Rice

  23. It doesn't look too pretty, but I have a vegan crockpot red beans and rice that is pretty darn tasty. - actorsdiet
  24. Yotam Ottolenghi has been a huge inspiration for me in my part-time vegetarian kitchen. This is one of my favourites: Fried Rice Cakes with Creamed Leeks and Mushrooms. - LimeCake
  25. Vegetarian chili, toppings, cornbread. - alicelost
  26. Some bean enchiladas are great because they can be prepared ahead of time and thrown in the oven to heat. - vizslalvr
  27. Some of my vegetarian dinner favorites are: chili or some kind of bean stew with lots of toppings and different salsas; a paella made with chickpeas, roasted red peppers, peas, saffron, and tomato served with a green salad; sushi with filings like tamago, asparagus, cucumber, avocado, carrots, daikon, sweet potato, green beans; veggie pot pie; frittata or quiche; baked potato or French fry bar with lots of condiments. - vanessa.vichitvadakan
  28. My standby for lacto-ovos is an old Laurel's Kitchen recipe for Tennessee Corn Pone: some lightly spiced (cumin seed is good) pink or pinto beans (I like to have a little onion & celery in there too) on the bottom of a casserole dish with a layer of buttermilk cornbread poured on top and baked together. This makes everyone happy and goes with meat, with salad, with picnic food, with Thanksgiving, everything.
    - cmcinnyc
  29. I love making (from scratch!) falafel with all the fixings. I use this flatbread recipe and this falafel recipe and provide fillers — pickled red onions, yoghurt, tahini, feta, etc. A salad makes it a meal. - breezyslp
  30. The last time I had a mixed group I made chili and cornbread. Good filling food, and it was easy to put together, brown some hamburger in the bottom of a second pot, and then dump half the chili in it. - nchanceb
  31. Black bean soup I make sure to serve it with a garnish: chopped parsley or grated Parmesan or diced avocado or diced tomato or a spoon of sour cream or toasted pepitas. Any one (or more!) makes a great addition to the soup. I also serve it with plenty of sides: maybe roasted sweet potatoes, a spinach salad (or other flavorful green) with a tart lemon dressing, and plenty of bread. (There's a lickety-split recipe for beer bread at that link. It's fabulous.) - Elsa Macbebekin
  32. Lentils & Potatoes

  33. This mujaddara with spiced yogurt is to die for. - vizslalvr
  34. I am not vegetarian but like to eat that way periodically and I find that lentils are very hearty. Slap an egg on top and you have a tasty dinner. - theripetomato
  35. I love Deborah Madison's wine braised lentils covered with puff pastry. Lentil recipe here. I spoon into four oven-proof bowls, top with circles of puff pastry, and bake in a 400F oven until the pastry is done. - breezyslp
  36. Taylor's Roasted Potato Tacos with Creamy Dressing (quick and easy! and so yummy with some pico and avocado on top) - drewparadise
  37. Risotto

  38. Any risotto (love this Creamy Corn and Mushroom Risotto one) ... very satisfying and tastes richer than it is so you really don't miss the meat. - Kristen @Batterlicker.com
  39. For my vegan brother in law, I made asparagus and artichoke risotto on Easter - everyone else dug in too... - sara jane
  40. Pizza, Flat Breads, and Tarts

  41. I usually end up making a couple pizzas or flat breads and a couple different salads. It's not crazy creative, but everyone seems to like it. And it's easy for us. - eatlovedrink
  42. Just made a variation on this classic from the original Moosewood Cookbook last week. You can make ahead AND enjoy your company: A nostalgic veggie cheesecake inspired by Moosewood Restaurant cookbook. - Janet from Life Told in Recipes
  43. Pizza - Roasted Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onion, Pepitas and Arugula Pizza - Kristen @Batterlicker.com
  44. Crepes can be a simple yet elegant veggie dinner too. I love to do savory buckwheat crepes with sautéed spinach, Gruyere, and a fried egg, coupled with a tart salad. This recipe is similar to the one I use: - breezyslp
  45. I like to make gnocchi and tarts in general, including quiches. For a show stopper, I like this fried rice in the pinneaple shell. - pinkbites
  46. Grilled vegetables (peppers, onions, zucchini brushed with garlic oil, asparagus grilled and dressed with lemon, balsamic-marinated mushrooms) and bread (French, Italian, or pita) brushed lightly with oil and grilled. Summertime is coming! Mezze plate: hummus, baba ghanoush, feta, olives, dolma, cucumbers, tomatoes, pita bread. This is a summer favorite! Also, zucchini fritters. - Elsa Macbebekin
  47. Stuffed squash. A vegetarian variation on a recipe I found right her at The Kitchn. The trick The Kitchn taught me: bake it stuffing-side down for a crispy crust. What a difference! This is a marvelous cold-weather dish, and festive enough for a holiday! We might just have it next Thanksgiving. - Elsa Macbebekin

So, what did we all miss? What are your favorite vegetarian main dishes worthy of a dinner party?

Pictured above, clockwise from left:
Minty Pineapple Fried Rice at Pink Bites
Roasted butternut squash, caramelized onion, pepitas and arugula pizza at Batter Licker
Tube-Shaped Pasta with Wild Mushrooms at Saveur
Whole Wheat Penne with Broccoli and Roasted Pepper Sauce at Pink Bites

(Images: Pink Bites; Batter Licker; Christopher Hirsheimer/Saveur; Pink Bites)

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