Help! Last minute vegetarian!

gellchomFebruary 1, 2013

Arrgghh, I am so annoyed right now!

Tomorrow we are having dinner for eight. My husband and I are playing Tevye and Golde in "Fiddler on the Roof," and we've invited the director, choreographer, music director, and our stage "daughters" for a Shabbat dinner (some last week, some tomorrow). Because the directors aren't Jewish, I wanted to make as traditional a meal as I could.

When I invited them, two weeks ago, by e-mail, I specifically asked each guest if there were any allergies or aversions or if they were vegetarian.

You know what's coming.

Tonight at 10:00 pm, less than 24 hours before the dinner, after most of it is already cooked, one young guest (whom I see at rehearsals five times a week, including this evening) sent this email, as a response to the one I'd sent:

"Hi Gellchom,
I just realized that I never told you I'm a vegetarian! I realize this is extremely short notice, so let me know if you would like me to bring something or plan to eat at home. Sorry!

Now, I know a lot of you would love to be supportive and tell me not to do a thing to accommodate her and just let her eat around the meat dishes. And I do think I would be within my rights, so to speak, to do so.

But I want to be as good a host as I can, whether or not she deserves it, and I don't want to put a damper on my own party, no matter whose fault it is. I don't feel comfortable telling her to eat at home, and telling her to bring a dish can create kosher problems.

So I need your help. What can I feed her? For a main dish, anyway - tough luck on the appetizer (I guess she can eat the rye bread!) and soup.

Here is what I'm serving, so you have a basis. Of course, trying to go for heavy Eastern European Jewish got me to a very meat-y menu. Tomorrow I've got chopped liver (I bought that - could easily, and more cheaply, have chosen hummus if I'd known), challa, chicken soup with matzo balls (made with schmaltz), mock tenderloin, horseradish sauce, roasted green beans with garlic, kasha with bow tie noodles, tossed green salad, and for dessert mandelbrot and watermelon-lemonade sorbet. Everything is made already except the main course, and the meat is already seasoned.

Please remember I can't add anything with any dairy products, because of kosher rules. That means no cheese, which makes it even tougher.

And of course I have a pretty busy day tomorrow.

Any suggestions? Right now I am just too annoyed to think straight. All I can think of is pasta with sauce out of a jar. I need your help!

Thanks so much in advance.

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Could you buy some hommous and possibly some felafel to go with everything else?
In your place I'd be really annoyed too.

This post was edited by colleenoz on Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 0:26

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:25AM
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You have bread, green beans, kasha with noodles and green salad already, as well as dessert. If you think this is not sufficient for the vegetarian, how about getting one more ready made item when you go out tomorrow? Maybe a package of hummus. Under the circumstances it can be something not served to the entire group.


This post was edited by jimster on Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 0:30

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:26AM
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I think I would just tell her what you have that will be available to her as a vegetarian and ask if she would prefer something in addition. I'll bet she'll say "No, it sounds great." She will be fine and will learn (maybe) to be a little more considerate next time, if she feels the selection isn't right for her. That also will give her the opportunity to eat a bit at home before coming, if she feels she might not have enough to eat. Then you are the gracious hostess but don't have to put yourself out any further.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 1:12AM
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When the others are having soup, why not give her a bruschetta with peppers from a jar seasoned with s&p and garlic then with what you already have that's suitable, that should do.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 2:37AM
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I understand what you're saying and why you feel the way you do. I'd be the same way. Perhaps you don't feel you have enough for her because you didn't set out to prepare something specifically for the vegetarian. I don't eat meat and I can say you have plenty for me. I like islay_corbel's idea of the jarred bruschetta/tapanade or jimster's idea of the most. Don't go to any more trouble than that. There is plenty.

On another note, wow! I didn't know you and your husband had this talent! Enjoy the dinner! Everyone will love the meal and your efforts!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 6:02AM
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Maybe add hummus for the appy course and buy ready made vegaterian soup - Lentil would be a good choice. For dinner she can eat around the meat.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:14AM
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Store bought hummus for the rye bread. If the brushetta it to much trouble at this late notice don't worry about it. Every vegetarian I know will make due. Another thought if you are going to the store, Broiled portobello mushroom.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:17AM
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"----My husband and I are playing Tevye and Golde in "Fiddler on the Roof," and we've invited the director, choreographer, music director, and our stage "daughters" for a Shabbat dinner ---"

That sounds amazing!

Anyway, that reminds me that I have to come up with a few vegetarian dishes for Valentine.

For you, many restarants have vegetarian dishes. Just do a take-out.


Here is a link that might be useful: For your enjoyment :-)

This post was edited by dcarch on Fri, Feb 1, 13 at 8:54

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:35AM
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She will be fine. Her note sounds nice enough - things happen, sometimes you forget and she risked short notice over showing up and announcing that she is a vegetarian, which would have been a lot worse I think.

I've been a vegetarian for 14 years and I always expect to have to make due at dinner parties. It is my choice and I am okay with that. I actually prefer if the hosts don't make me a special dinner, especially if there is meat there already, because I can't tell you how many times I have seen a well-intentioned host or guest use the same spoon to stir the vegetarian dish that was already in the meat dish, or the same serving spoon, or add a splash of broth to the green beans or throw a veggie burger directly on top of the grill where a meat burger was or any other random thing that usually doesn't register for people who aren't a vegetarian but makes it so I can't eat the dish. Now that is super awkward because then I either have to go against my ethics and eat it anyway or offend the host who spent time and money making the dish for me and I don't eat it. It's not a fun spot to be in and it's happened to me more than once so I definitely prefer to just go and eat what I can and not make a big deal out of it. Or sometimes they will make me a dish that I just don't like - for instance, I can't eat raw tomatoes or bell peppers of any kind, and it's not an allergy but just an extreme dislike. But most vegetarian recipes features one or the other and I would never, ever give a host a list of things I don't like. And then there are the well-intentioned people who think they bought something vegetarian but at the bottom of the list of ingredients it says anchovies. That has happened as well! These are all very socially awkward situations for me and my hosts so I would much rather prefer to just eat what I can and what I like out of what is available rather than have something specially made.

It is very nice of you to want to accommodate her but I certainly wouldn't stress yourself out. If she has been a vegetarian for any length of time, she is very used to adapting.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:46AM
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I agree about maybe store bought hummus, but I wouldn't go out of my way to cook an extra dish for her. As someone mentioned, it wouldn't hurt to talk to her, as someone else suggested. I'm not familiar with Kasha - is it meatless? If so, it does sound like you have plenty to eat for her.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:12AM
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As others have suggested, I'd add hummus as an extra appetizer and let it go at that. I don't eat seafood, but I don't expect someone serving it to make me a different main course--I just eat sides and am fine with that (Personally, I like sides better than meat/fish anyway). I think she is going to be fine with eating what she can, and skipping the rest.

Oh, don't think I'd do the pasta/red sauce thing--it's going to totally take away from the whole point of your dinner--not to mention the mix of fragrances is going to be a bit confused.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:13AM
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Tell her to bring hummous and call it a day. I'm a veggie and I would have plenty to eat at the party. If you want to do something special for her, get some canned or boxed veggie soup for that course. I often have kasha varnishkes for a main course.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 6:01PM
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Fiddler! How fun! I'm sure the show is going to be fantastic, and I'm certain your dinner will be delicious.

Absolutely, you could add either nothing, or some hummus to the meal and still be the perfect hostess that we know you always are. Your menu certainly sounds lovely as-is, and there is enough to keep a vegetarian happy.

However..... if you do wake up tomorrow and feel like getting your hands dirty and mixing it up a bit..... how about one of these:

- eggplant dip in addition to the chopped liver
- roasted cauliflower
- rice and veggie stuffed peppers
- either couscous or quinoa with balsamic roasted vegetables
- pea or lentil soup
- focaccia topped with veggies

Lots of those things can be put together with store bought ingredients instead of cooking from scratch.

Enjoy your dinner, I'm sure your guests will!


    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 6:53PM
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Ah, yes, Fiddler on the Roof! Great show! You must be having a wonderful time with that.

A friend who worked for NASA and was a member of the employee's theater club played Tevye in their production of it. He had no training or experience in acting and singing that I know of. Yet, his performance was terrific IMO. It was a case of inspired type casting and strong motivation on his part. I'd jump at the chance to see it again.

Break a leg!


    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 7:30PM
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I like olychick's suggestion to just tell her what you have that will be available to her as a vegetarian, and ask if she would like something else. Since she did offer to bring something, she just may do so. Her note to you seemed apologetic and I don't think she expects you to go out of your way to make additional dishes for the party to accommodate her. So enjoy your party and it sounds like you have some delicious offerings!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:34PM
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I agree, your dinner sounds delicious and I think there are plenty of choices for your vegetarian guest.

If you really want to add, I'd also go for the hummus, mostly because I love the stuff and the garbanzos make a hearty enough dip that it could stand in for a main dish, at least for me. I also think the pasta/kasha dish is hearty enough to pass for a main dish.

Have fun and good luck on that production.


    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 11:44PM
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Don't worry everything will be alright as if you have time to make some cheese items or garlic bread then it will be fine else you can order some food from near by restaurant also.By this they will enjoy and you will be happy.
Keep smiling...:)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:35AM
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Thank you all so much! This was so helpful.

A lot of the great ideas had to be ruled out right away, however, because there was no chance for a trip to the store. The sink backed up the night before, so I had to have a plumber in - oh, and the builder was already there to re-anchor the dishwasher so we could use it. I couldn't cook while they were working, obviously, so I cleaned the house -- the housecleaner had called at 9:00 a.m. and cancelled because her uncle died -- and set the table then. As soon as they left, I had to go across town to get my laptop fixed.

One of those days! Good thing I'd done most of the cooking already.

Luckily, I had a box of Trader Joe corn & roasted pepper soup in the pantry, and it was parve. So I just heated it in the MW and gave her that when we had matzo ball soup. I didn't put out anything extra for her while we were standing around having chopped liver, and that was fine -- the other girls weren't much interested in it anyway.

The evening was a success, and I didn't feel like a bad hostess or as if this drew focus.

Thank you all so so so much for rallying to my aid and giving me confidence. I always feel like you are right there with me!

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:51PM
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Oh my gosh, I'd be a basket case if even one of those things happened to me when I was planning to entertain. I'm glad your party went well. It looks like you are a great hostess.


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 9:42AM
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gellchom, I'm glad the meal went well, it sounds like everything else pretty much fell apart, although you handled it OK.

It must be time for plumbing issues. Elery and I are waiting for the plumber this morning, Ashley hasn't had water for three days, and all the local plumbers are booked up through next week. I may be spending a couple of days at Amanda's....


    Bookmark   February 3, 2013 at 11:04AM
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