The Five Holiday Landmines for the Vegetarian
For those of you who loved “The Vegetarian and the Meat-Eater,” the guest blog by Almost Vegetarian, I have a special treat in store today. She has agreed to do another guest blog for us! Today’s post is part one of her “how to survive the holidays as a new vegetarian” guide, and part two will be featured tomorrow. Enjoy!
The Five Holiday Landmines for the Vegetarian, Part One
By Almost Vegetarian
So, you, vegetarian that you are, have been invited to holiday dinner at the home of a beloved but, alas, meat-eating friend. No worries, right? You can just skip the main dish and load up on all those yummy side vegetable dishes and desserts.
Well, that was my plan. At first. Until it dawned on me that, oh heavens!, there is meat gravy all over the mashed potatoes and the beans were sautéed in chicken stock and that pie is just stuffed with gelatin and…
Okay. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. No worries. We can manage this. And to help us do so, I have come up with the five worst food landmines waiting for every vegetarian this holiday season and ways to avoid them.
This isn’t everything that can sabotage you, but this is the worst of it. But if you are still worried, remember, you can never go wrong with a nice refreshing glass of water!
1. Pass the gravy boat.
Odds are, the holiday gravy is made with meat. Giblets, pan drippings, whatever—unless someone says otherwise, I’d just assume there is meat in there. Which means, if it is poured all over those lovely mashed potatoes, you are out of luck.
So what can you do? Well, you have two options.
First, you can ask your host, in advance, that if they are going to serve a meat-based gravy to please serve it on the side. And just a thought: A gravy boat makes such a lovely holiday present (hint, hint, nudge, nudge) to, erm, encourage your host to keep that nasty meat gravy away from those lovely potatoes.
Second, you can offer to bring the gravy. Personally, I go for a nice mushroom gravy. This is so easy—all you have to do is sauté a pound or two of sliced mushrooms with a handful of diced shallots and some fresh thyme for four or five minutes over medium-high heat, stir in a spoonful or two of cornstarch or flour (to thicken your gravy), and then add a good handful of minced dried porcini (for richness) and a cup or two of a good vegetarian red wine and simmer until it thickens. You can make this a day or two in advance.
(Of course, this isn’t an issue if you are invited to a Chanukah meal. There, the potatoes are normally served as latkes. If you’ve never had a latke, then you are in for quite the treat! Latkes are incredibly delicious fried potato pancakes that are never served with gravy. But even at a Chanukah meal, you still have to watch out for the main course, which is likely roast chicken!)
2. Stop the stock!
Those lovely beans your host simmered in turkey stock or tossed with beef stock or sautéed in chicken stock or somehow or other prepared with meat stock are going to be a problem. So ask how they were cooked. And if the beans, or any vegetables, were made with meat stock, then, next year, suggest an alternative, such as vegetable stock, cider, or vegetarian wine.
Of course, if you want to be incredibly elegant, you can always send your host a bottle of vegetarian wine a week or two in advance to help them make dishes you can enjoy too. Personally, I’ve never known anyone who wasn’t delighted, hic, delighted with a good bottle of wine.
To be continued…
Be sure to check back tomorrow for the three remaining tips. In the meantime, check out PETA.org vegetarian holiday guide for great appetizer, entrée, and dessert recipes!