Whether it’s a soggy ratatouille or a sad quiche, any vegetarian will be able to regale you with tales of terrible experiences when eating out. Though many restaurants, pubs and cafes remain stubbornly in a rut the more business savvy have noted this burgeoning market and targeted it accordingly.
Too many establishments wrongly assume that where meat-eaters require dozens of choices, vegetarians are sated by one or two. In fact, vegetarians have tastes as varied and eclectic as anybody else so what follows are two impressive dishes that would look good on any menu and may even tempt a few carnivores.
Fragrant Thai Curry
Replacing meat with chunky chopped aubergines works beautifully as the vegetable takes on the sauce and keeps the dish moist and flavoursome. The aubergines need to be browned in oil then drained on kitchen paper. Add Thai curry paste (yellow, green or red dependant on personal choice) and any extra spices desired, cook out for thirty seconds then add finely chopped onion and cook until soft and golden. Next, add creamy coconut milk an excellent source of protein in a meat free dish with some halved tomatoes and a cup of water. Leave the curry to simmer for half an hour before adding some chickpeas and returning the browned aubergines to the pan. Allow to cook for a final five minutes before serving with rice. The result is a light but creamy curry packed with flavour, bursting with colour and difficult to resist.
Beef Wellington has long been a gastro-pub and food service favourite but this vegetarian version which replaces meat with large flat mushrooms offers just as much taste at a fraction of the cost. Remove the stalk from the mushrooms, sautt whole and then drain. Fry crushed garlic in the same pan then add a bag of de-stalked spinach and cook until wilted. Make sure any excess moisture is removed from the pan and set to one side. Next is the pastry: roll it out onto a surface sprinkled with thyme leaves to a thickness of around a centimetre. Cut out circles of pastry at least five centimetres larger in diameter than the mushrooms. Place a handful of spinach in the centre of each pastry circle, followed by a slice of cheese, then the mushroom and finally a second slice of cheese. Once the pastry is sealed with egg wash, bake the Wellingtons for forty minutes before serving. This is a stunning dish which genuinely deserves the description ‘melt in the mouth.’
Whatever the format or style of food service on offer, providing a carefully sourced, well-planned and seasonal vegetarian menu can really make a difference in today’s competitive market by helping businesses to raise reputation and results alike.
Shannen is a food writer and critic. She writes regularly on a range of food related topics and guides small eateries in increasing their business and widening their customer reach. Her primary piece of advice when expanding into the vegetarian market is to find a reliable and cost-effective supplier. Sourcing superior ingredients is vital so to know more visit this site and discover how easy it can be to begin offering a quality vegetarian menu.