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Weeknight Vegetarian for a Crowd


DanCole42
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So ordinarily when I have people over for food and fun, I prefer a Saturday so I can spend all day cooking. If I'm forced by circumstance to host people during the week, my usual go-to is some kind of slow-cooked meat: BBQ, chili... anything that can be cooked well ahead of time in *bulk* and then reheated with some quick sides.


But now I'm faced with a challenge: vegetarians. During the week. What can I cook for them that's delicious, fun, and be readily prepared ahead of time so that I can enjoy entertaining my guests and not rushing to get food on the table?


Oh, and Mexican is preferred. :)

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So ordinarily when I have people over for food and fun, I prefer a Saturday so I can spend all day cooking. If I'm forced by circumstance to host people during the week, my usual go-to is some kind of slow-cooked meat: BBQ, chili... anything that can be cooked well ahead of time in *bulk* and then reheated with some quick sides.

But now I'm faced with a challenge: vegetarians. During the week. What can I cook for them that's delicious, fun, and be readily prepared ahead of time so that I can enjoy entertaining my guests and not rushing to get food on the table?

Oh, and Mexican is preferred. :)

A pot of black or pinto beans for tacos or rice and beans.

Spinach and mushroom enchiladas can be made ahead and refrigerated, and then cooked at dinner time.

Gazpacho

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A pot of black or pinto beans for tacos or rice and beans.

Spinach and mushroom enchiladas can be made ahead and refrigerated, and then cooked at dinner time.

Gazpacho

Salsas too. What about a make your own taco bar?

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(points up at dcandohio's post) That!

And don't forget the guacamole.

I also make a kind of "Mexican lasagna" using corn tortillas for pasta, and layering beans, salsa, sauteed vegetables (mushrooms, squash, spinach) cooked, sliced potatoes and cheese. If you season the beans and vegetbles with cumin, garlic, oregano, and chilis the flavor profile is "Mexican." Don't use too much salsa or it will get goopy. This is always a huge hit. Just serve with additional salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

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At a restaurant last night my side dish was "black and black" posole: black beans, black-eye peas, and hominy. No idea what else was in it, but you're creative. I think it would good warm or cold.

Make a salad of black beans, corn, and jicama, seasoned with lime, cumin, cilantro, serranos, etc.

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I also make a kind of "Mexican lasagna" using corn tortillas for pasta, and layering beans, salsa, sauteed vegetables (mushrooms, squash, spinach) cooked, sliced potatoes and cheese. If you season the beans and vegetbles with cumin, garlic, oregano, and chilis the flavor profile is "Mexican." Don't use too much salsa or it will get goopy. This is always a huge hit. Just serve with additional salsa, sour cream and guacamole.

Rick Bayless has a recipe similar to this in his first cookbook. I'm recalling from memory, so don't quote me, but I think it used one of the basic chili sauces (ancho, pasilla, guajillo) and layered the tortillas with spinach and mushrooms. I've made it, and it was well received.

If you are up for it, tamales freeze beautifully after preparation, and they can be steamed the night of your event. Use half coconut oil and half a neutral oil in the dough along with a little baking powder (a nice trick learned from a Mexican friend) for good texture and no lard issues for your friends. I've also used olive oil when the flavor went with the filling. A southwestern-style slaw will whip up pretty quickly that night, and you can shred everything beforehand. Curtidos are meant to steep a few days, so that's also an option. Another good side is roasted or grilled cubes of sweet potatoes (cheat and start them in the microwave), then have a lime/chipotle crema for dousing.

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For guests, I'm a huge fan of the Rick Bayless enchiladas suizas recipe that features squash and mushrooms.Rather than face revolt, I forgoe the squash, and fill with spinach, mushrooms and beans. Both versions hold well -- assemble and either freeze or refrigerate before baking.

I serve with the usual accompaniments (sour cream, salsa, cilantro), and a side of some sort of slaw.

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When K was a vegetarian, I used to make a Mexican "lasagna" similar to what is described above, except I layered the corn tortillas (cut in half, with the straight edges out toward the sides of the pan) with cooked salsa verde (made with roasted tomatillos and poblano chiles) and jack cheese. That can be done in advance and baked or reheated just before serving. With vegetarian refried beans, red or yellow rice, guacamole, pico de gallo-- that would be a fabulous vegetarian Mexican feast, with only the rice, pico and guacamole made at the last minute.

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