What is a healthy vegetarian recipe I can serve a group?

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Answered by: Danielle, An Expert in the Easy Vegetarian Recipes Category
Whether you've invited a vegetarian over for dinner or you want to get more vegetables into your diet, vegetarian cooking shouldn't taste good only to those who turn up their noses at meat. Meals can be satisfying and delicious to everyone gathered around your table if you keep a few tips in mind.

*Roast your vegetables* Many omnivores find the generally cold and damp nature of vegetables to be unappealing as a meal. With a drizzling of olive oil, a sprinkling of salt and a quick roast in the oven, many veggies take on a rich flavor and crunchy texture. Try this with broccoli, asparagus or Brussels sprouts at 400 to 450º F.

Tomatoes and peppers also take on a phenomenal flavor when roasted and served over pasta.

To incorporate the roasting technique, try this healthy vegetarian recipe for roasted vegetable panzanella, or Italian bread salad. Combine roasted tomatoes, green beans and red peppers with crunchy, bite-size pieces of bread and mix up with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, chopped up fresh mozzarella and cannellini beans. This dish is so flavorful you’ll never miss the meat.

*Get soupy* Eating a bowl of soup with a meal has a two-fold aim: upping your intake of fiber and vitamins while making you feel full. A big bowl of soup made from chicken or vegetable stock blended with leafy greens and other veggies of your choice can serve as a meal in its own right, or can serve as a first course before you move on to a less-healthy entrée. Keep it as a broth-based soup or, if you have an immersion blender, puree up the ingredients to make a creamy-tasting concoction without the dairy. By the time you’ve finished the soup you won’t be able to fit the whole bowl of fettuccine alfredo.

*Make it a salad* Ever notice that most “salads” are just a seemingly random combination of ingredients that happen to taste good? Use whatever you have available to create a salad that tastes great and incorporates vegetables. Try mixing up cucumbers, avocado, lime juice and sea salt. The creamy, crunchy, tanginess will surprise you.

*Use eggplant or mushrooms instead of meat* If the idea of tofu, seitan and other meat substitutes leaves you or your guests a bit queasy, try substituting eggplant or mushrooms in your standby recipes. The texture and high moisture content of these two veggies allow them to fill in for animal products. Eggplant parmesan is a crowd-pleaser, but can be greasy and time-consuming.

For a heart-healthy version, place the slices of breaded eggplant on a baking sheet coated with olive oil and cook them in the oven, rather than frying, as most recipes call for. Then in a baking dish covered in tomato sauce, layer the eggplant with sauce, low-fat cheese and basil leaves to create a satisfying and delicious vegetarian meal. As a bonus, this recipe freezes well and tastes great as leftovers.

*Hide them* A number of cookbooks have appeared in recent years with special recipes that incorporate vegetables into everyday cooking. If you must have spinach in your brownies, by all means buy the books and learn how to do this without anyone thinking Popeye has invaded your kitchen. But if you simply want to sneak some veggies into food your family already loves, it’s not rocket science to create your own healthy vegetarian recipe.

Pureed butternut squash fades into the background when stirred into macaroni and cheese or other creamy pasta dishes. Sautéed spinach blends easily into pasta dishes or Mexican enchiladas. Just use whatever veggies you have in your refrigerator or freezer throw them in to the dish you’re already cooking to enhance the nutritional value without sacrificing taste.

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