7 Vegetarian Side-dishes for a Stress-free Party

A vegetarian feast: Starting with fresh vegetables, recipes are prepared in less than 3 hours over two days!

vegetarianAlthough I love to cook, I do not enjoy cooking every day meals. I do however enjoy the planning, organizing and preparing of a enjoyable dinner party.

That is, before my guests arrive. Once the party starts, I don’t want to be in the kitchen, I want to enjoy the company of my friends.

So I always plan my menu with recipes that I can prepare way ahead, with a minimum of involvement required on my part just before serving. I usually leave only the meat or fish for last minute preparation.

I try to include at least 2 to 3 courses that require resting overnight, like a sformato or certain types of vegetable salads. For the other courses, I plan recipes that I can cook or prepare the ingredients a day ahead and assemble a few hours before the party.

Here I list 7 vegetarian side-dish recipes that can be prepared for a buffet or a barbeque, and I show how I plan my cooking so I can make it to the party stress-free:

1. Tabbouleh
2. Grilled vegetables salad
3. Roasted peppers
4. Potatoes salad
5. Greek salad
6. Red pesto pasta
7. Brown rice with carrots and apples

Once those servings are ready, the meat or fish is the only dish left to prepare, and it can be either cold, roasted in the oven or barbecued at the last minute.

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Shopping list

I always make sure I have all my ingredients the day before the party as that is when the countdown starts and time becomes the key to success.

I go to the Supermarket two days before the party with a detailed shopping list; you can see my Post on Apps for optimizing time through technology.

I want to make sure I have all the ingredients, but if I cannot find something, I still have time to run to another shop or replace the recipe.

If you plan to make any of these recipes for a party you will find below this post the Recipes Template that you can save, print and create your shopping list.

I would recommend you read this post first, and use the template to follow directions when you are cooking. The Template lists only the key steps, and some more general information might be missing.

Otherwise, if you would only like to try some of the recipes, you will find their own separate template under the recipes section.

The day before the party: preparing the vegetables

When I start cooking, I always try to combine two activities at the same time:

  • I. First I choose one or two activities that require supervising but not my full attention, like boiling potatoes or roasting peppers.
  • II. Then I choose another activity that requires my full attention but that I can interrupt every once in a while to check on activities in step I, like cleaning and chopping vegetables.

Tabule 9_12_1

If the Tabbouleh is on the menu, I will start with it immediately. Tabbouleh is a meal that needs resting as long as possible to give time to all the vegetables to marinate and flavours to amalgamate, especially the raw onions.

Once the couscous is covered with boiling chicken broth, I start roasting the peppers and boiling the potatoes setting the timer to 20 minutes.

Roasting the peppers requires supervision every 5 minutes as the grill burns the skin very rapidly. Once the skin is burned on one side, the peppers have to be turned immediately to make sure the flesh does not cook too much.  Make sure the skin is burned everywhere as it is hard to peel it off if it is not burned. (for more information see post on summer peppers)

Roasted peppers 4_14_1

Tabule 14_3_1

While the peppers are roasting, I get started with cleaning and chopping the ingredients for the Tabbouleh. Each time an ingredient is done; I check on the peppers and turn them.

Although I prefer to chop the vegetables with the knife, I rather mince the herbs with a food processor. For this purpose I use a Braun mixer which is small and handy to use. (For more information see Your Guardian Shop - Amazon affiliate program)

To save time, I mince some extra parsley that I will use the next day for the brown rice. The food processor has a plastic top, and the minced parsley can be stored in the fridge directly in the Braun container, removing the blades.

Once the peppers have been roasted, I set them aside as they have to be completely cold before I can clean them. Be careful if you decide to do it anyway, they will be steaming hot inside!

The potatoes have to boil for 20 minutes, so they are probably done around the same time as the peppers and the timer will make sure I remember. They also are set aside to cool.

So I finish combining the tabbouleh, covering it with a cling film and putting it in the fridge to rest overnight.

1. Tabbouleh done!

Buffet ideas number 2

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As my first 2 activities are now finished, I start the next two.

I cook the brown rice in the pressure pan with salted water for 10 minutes. Not only it reduces the cooking time, it also makes the brown rice softer and chewy. 

If you don’t have a pressure pan I recommend you cook it for 20 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, I start cutting the onions, aubergines and zucchini in slices so they are ready to be grilled. Once I am done cutting the vegetables, the rice will be ready.

You can use 1 or better 2 roasting pans, as there will be a lot of vegetables to grill for a dinner party.

Grilled vegetable 10_1_1

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This is when an outdoor Gas Barbeque comes in handy; it is hot in a flash and you can cook large amounts of vegetables at the same time. Not only do I save time, but I also avoid filling the house with burning smoke. 

You can save easily 30 minutes of cooking time.

 

While the rice and the vegetables are waiting to cool down, I start cleaning the garlic, lots of it!

At this point the peppers should be cold enough; I can clean them and put them in the serving dish ready to be seasoned.

I add garlic, basil, extra virgin olive oil and salt to both the peppers and the roasted vegetables and they are ready to rest overnight so the flavours will be nicely amalgamated, ready to be served the next day.

2. Grilled vegetables Done!

Buffet ideas number 3

3. Roasted peppers Done!

I can now start preparing the red pesto . As part of the Braun mixer set, I use the cup and the blend to prepare the pesto. The cup also has a top so I can store the pesto directly into the container to use the next day.

I usually make dessert the day before as well, but if I don’t have time I serve ice-cream or in some rare cases I buy a cake from a patisserie!


Braun Blender
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Potatoes salad 2_2_1

The day of the party

With 3 dishes done and most of the ingredients ready for use, the final assembly before the party is very straight forward.

First, I start with the potatoes as they also need to rest and combine with the rest of the ingredients. After peeling them, I prepare the dressing with mayonnaise, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and a tsp of English mustard, very strong flavour. Mix all together with the onion and chives and another serving is done. All this should not take more than 15 minutes, most of the time spent peeling the potatoes. Though, I would not peel them the day before, as potatoes tend to darken with time.

4. Potato salad: Done!

Buffet ideas number 5

The day of the party time is precious, so I will combine once again two activities: cooking the pasta Trofie while preparing the ingredients for the Greek salad: cucumber, tomatoes and feta cheese. That will be quickly done in 15 minutes.

5. Greek salad: Done!

Buffet ideas number 6

To make sure the pasta is not overcooked and remains “Al Dente”, I always put on a timer 1 minute less than what is written on the box.

Once the Trofie are boiled and drained, I mix them immediately with the red pesto so they will not stick to each other. I usually serve the remaining pesto in a separate bowl beside the pasta in case some guests want to add more.

6. Pasta with red pesto: Done!

Buffet ideas number 7

I prepare the brown rice last as the apples will tend to brown once they are cut.

The rice is already cooked from the day before and ready to be mixed, I quickly cut the carrots and the apples with a food processor, mix it with the rice and add the dressing (salt, virgin olive oil, lemon and parsley) immediately so that the lemon will stop the apples from going dark. With the help of the food processor it should take you about 15 minutes, mostly spent peeling carrots and apples.



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7. Brown rice with carrots and apples: Done!

Buffet ideas number 1

It is party time!

So, how much time did it take to prepare those recipes?

Most of the work was done the day before in about 1:45 minutes.
The day of your party, it should take you just over 1 hour to finalize the assembly of the vegetarian servings, leaving you with plenty of time to get the house organized and the table set.

All you have left to do is to focus on your guests and the meat.

I hope you enjoyed reading this post and you find it of interest, all the ingredients and the steps to follow are in the template below:

 

Vegetarian Side-dishes Recipe Dinner parties recipes rice with apple
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7 vegetarian side-dishes
Prep Time
3 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 3 mins
 
A vegetarian feast: Starting with fresh vegetables, recipes are prepared in less than 3 hours over two days! 
Course: Side Dishes
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 10 people
Ingredients
Tabbouleh
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cube chicken stock
  • 120 gr parsley Use leaves only
  • 20 gr mint Use leaves only
  • 1 lemon (Optional organic not waxed)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
  • 1/2 red Onion
  • 1 rep pepper
  • 3 long tomatoes
Grilled vegetables
  • 2 aubergines
  • 2 large red peppers
  • 3 zucchini
  • 10 leaves basil leaves
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 100 ml olive oil extra virgin
Roasted Peppers with Garlic and Basil
  • 4 large red peppers
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 10 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 tsp olive oil extra virgin
  • 1 dash salt
Potato Salad
  • 500 gr charlotte Potatoes
  • 1/2 red Onion
  • 20 gr chives
  • 1 tsp original English mustard
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • salt & pepper
Greek salad
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 large tomato coeur de boeuf
  • 200 gr feta Cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
  • salt & pepper
Pasta with red pesto
  • 500 gr trofie if you cannot find them Linguini or penne
  • 6 long tomatoes
  • 25 gr fresh basil Use leaves only
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese fresh
  • 60 ml olive oil extra vergin
  • 1 clove garlic optional
  • 1 tsp salt
Brown rice with apples and carrots
  • 250 gr camargue Red Rice
  • 3 apples
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp coarse salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
Instructions
The day before the party
  1. TABBOULEH: Pour 1 cup of couscous into a large bowl and season it well with the olive oil. Dissolve the chicken stock cube completely in 1 cup of boiling water. Add the stock to the couscous. Stirring with a fork every once in a while making sure the grains remain loose, Let it rest for 15 minutes. If needed add more olive oil.
    stock into couscous
  2. ROASTED PEPPER WITH GARLIC AND BASIL + GRILLED VEGETABLE+TABBOULEH: Wash and put the peppers in an oven pan on top of an aluminum foil or a baking sheet. You can also grill the pepper for the Tabbouleh. Turn on the grill in the oven and set the pan at the highest level making sure the peppers don’t touch the elements of the grill. Leave the door open and let the grill burn the skin of the peppers as in the picture below. See post on summer peppers for more information.
    turning peppers until burned everywhere
  3. POTATO SALAD: Wash and boil the potatoes in salted water (1 tablespoon of coarse salt) for 20 minutes.
  4. TABBOULEH: While the peppers are roasting, I get started with cleaning and chopping the ingredients for the Tabbouleh. First I cut the onion into very small pieces.
  5. EACH TIME AN INGREDIENT IS DONE; I CHECK ON THE PEPPERS AND TURN THEM.
  6. ROASTED PEPPER WITH GARLIC AND BASIL + GRILLED VEGETABLE:Turn the peppers around until all the skin is burned. Make sure the skin is burned everywhere as it is hard to peel it off if it is not burned. But don't cook them too long as the flesh should remain firm.
    grilled peppers
  7. TABBOULEH: Wash and dry the parsley and the mint and separate the leaves. Mince the parsley and the mint leaves in a small food processor as they have to be very finely chopped
    chop the parsley
  8. EACH TIME AN INGREDIENT IS DONE; I CHECK ON THE PEPPERS AND TURN THEM.
  9. TABBOULEH: Cut the tomatoes in small pieces making sure you keep all the juices. Cut the red pepper in the same size as the tomatoes and add all the ingredients to the couscous. If you have roasted the pepper for the tabbouleh, make sure it is cold before you clean it.
    tabbouleh mix all vegetables
  10. POTATO SALAD: At this point your 20 minutes timer for the potatoes will ring. You can pierce the potatoes with a knife to check if they are cooked. The knife should go through the potatoes smoothly. Do not cook them too much otherwise they will mash when stirring the salad. Once they are done, let them cool.
  11. EACH TIME AN INGREDIENT IS DONE; I CHECK ON THE PEPPERS AND TURN THEM.
  12. TABBOULEH: Optional: Grate the lemon zest avoiding the white of the lemon as it will taste bitter (Only do this with a non waxed lemon). Add the lemon juice and mix all with a fork making sure the couscous is nicely loose and mixed with all the herbs. Avoid lumps!
    tabbouleh
  13. ROASTED PEPPER WITH GARLIC AND BASIL + GRILLED VEGETABLES: Let the peppers cool down completely.
  14. 40 MINUTES: Tabbouleh done and peppers and potatoes are cooling down.
    vegetables party recipes taobbuleh
  15. BROWN RICE WITH APPLES AND CARROTS: Cook the brown rice in the pressure pan with salted water for 10 minutes. If you are using a pressure pan it should take approximately 10 minutes. For the pressure pan use 1lt of salted water making sure you do not pass 2/3 of the pressure pan capacity. If you don’t have a pressure pan, I recommend you cook it for 20 minutes.
  16. GRILLED VEGETABLES: While the rice is cooking, I start cutting the onions, aubergines and zucchini in slices so they are ready to be grilled.
  17. BROWN RICE WITH APPLES AND CARROTS: the rice is done, strain it and let it cool
  18. GRILLED VEGETABLES: Roast the aubergines and the zucchini in the grill or in an iron pan. You do not need to add oil as long as the grill or the pan is very hot. Once cooked the vegetables will detach from the grill or pan and can be turned easily. Turn them and cook the other side. If you are using the Barbecue grill it will take you only 20 minutes.
    grilled vegetables
  19. ROASTED PEPPER WITH GARLIC AND BASIL + GRILLED VEGETABLES: Peel the garlic cloves and cut them into thin round slices. Cut the basil leaves in stripes.
  20. ROASTED PEPPER WITH GARLIC AND BASIL: Clean the peppers and put them in the serving dish ready to be seasoned. Remember to add one pepper to the Grilled vegetables
  21. ROASTED PEPPER WITH GARLIC AND BASIL + GRILLED VEGETABLES: add garlic, basil, extra virgin olive oil and salt to both the peppers and the roasted vegetables
  22. 1 HR AND 40 MINUTES: Grilled vegetables done
  23. 1 HR AND 40 MINUTES: Roasted Peppers with Garlic and Basil done
  24. RED PESTO SAUCE: Wash and dry the basil and the tomatoes. Add all ingredients into the mixer cutting the tomatoes into quarters. Mix until it becomes creamy
    Making of red pesto
  25. 1 HR AND 45 MINUTES WORK
The day of the party
  1. POTATO SALAD: Cut the potatoes in half and add chive and onion. Prepare the dressing for the potatoes salad mixing the mustard, the mayonnaise and the lemon juice. Mix with the dressing and adjust salt and pepper if necessary.
  2. 15 MINUTES: Potato salad Done
  3. PASTA WITH RED PESTO: boil the salted water for the pasta and cook the pasta 1 minute less than what is written on the box.
  4. GREEK SALAD: Cut the tomatoes and the cucumber in cubes as in the picture. Crumble the feta cheese. Season with salt, pepper and virgin olive oil and mix.
  5. 30 MINUTES: Greek salad done
  6. PASTA WITH RED PESTO: Once the Trofie are boiled and drained, I mix them immediately with the red pesto so they will not stick to each other. I usually serve the remaining pesto in a separate bowl beside the pasta in case some guests want to add more.
  7. 35 MINUTES: Pasta with red pesto done
  8. BROWN RICE WITH APPLES AND CARROTS: peel the carrots and the apples and shred them with a shredder. Mix the rice with the apples and the carrots and season with the virgin olive oil, salt and lemon juice. It should take you 15 minutes with the electrical shredder.
  9. 50 MINUTES: Brown rice with carrots and apples done
Recipe Notes

7 veg dishes for a stress free party

 

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  5 comments for “7 Vegetarian Side-dishes for a Stress-free Party

  1. Anjie
    12th July 2015 at 10:12 am

    Congratulations on a very nice blog Laura.. I will be making the tabbouleh this week.

    • Laura
      12th July 2015 at 10:32 am

      Thank you Anjie, Let me know if you like it!

  2. Annette
    31st July 2015 at 2:36 pm

    I like the name of it : “7 Vegetarian Side-dishes for a Stress-free Party”. Who wouldn’t want a stress-free party! Will start today with the Greek salad as our kitchen garden is “exploding” with cucumbers and tomatoes. Super inspiring blog. Well done Laura!

    • Laura
      1st August 2015 at 4:34 am

      Thank you Annette…Great Idea! I might come to write a post about your home grown cucumbers!

  3. 28th June 2017 at 11:03 am

    Wow, great post Laura! You’re certainly know how to get organised for a large gathering. Something I should do more of so I can enjoy the company and not spend all my time in the kitchen. I love all these dishes…. but then, I never met a vegetable I didn’t like!

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