We had originally planned on having a get together with our dear friends Mark and Ksenija (who is an extremely talented photographer. You can check out her work here!) around Thanksgiving (hence the name “Friendsgiving”), but our schedules didn’t line up until now. It worked out because it gave me ample time to plan the epic menu. After we enjoyed an incredible vegetarian meal together at a vegetarian restaurant called Inn Season in Royal Oak, I was inspired to do a complete vegetarian spread. I thought it would be a great contrast to your typical heavy holiday dinners and a great way to start the new year.
We started with homemade hummus, and a vegetarian tapenade. I’ve made hummus a few times before but wasn’t too impressed with the recipes. But this one I found we really liked. I followed the recipe exactly and it was delicious.
The first time I had tapenade I wasn’t so sure I liked it. But over the past five years I’ve completely fallen in love with olives and really enjoy tapenade. And this recipe is ridiculously easy too.
Next up was carrot apple ginger soup with coconut milk. I’ve made this before and it’s really good. I’ve made a number of the recipes from her website and have been pleased with them. I’d recommend checking out her website. www.vegangela.com
The recipe I had the most trouble with was surprisingly the lentil chickpea salad. I started cooking the lentils the night before but I had overcooked them. And then when I cooked them again the next day, I almost did it again. Other than that it was pretty straight forward. But the effort was worth it because it turned out great! This was one of my favorites of the evening.
Another salad we made was a kale and beet slaw. Aya found this recipe on Instagram and has made it a few times. I realize it doesn’t sound extremely appetizing to some people, but we love beets. The rich colors help balance the muted colors of the chickpea and lentil salad. A nice spread has to have good color, it just does. This salad is much better the second day after all the juices and sauces steep overnight. I’d recommend making it the night before for optimized flavor and experience.
It seems no vegetarian meal is complete without quinoa. So instead of doing a quinoa salad, I decided on crispy quinoa cakes. You can use any dipping sauce really, but I opted for the recommended roasted red pepper cashew cream sauce. It sounded cool. And I’ve been really digging how you can make dishes creamy with cashews. This is completely new to me. Mine didn’t turn out as crispy as I hoped, but I also didn’t use as much oil as recommended. This could be a full meal in itself if served with a side vegetable. I got this recipe from www.ohmyveggies.com which I also visit frequently.
The final final main event was squash. Not just squash though, kabocha squash stuffed with not only rice, but a curried wild rice with kale and topped with pomegranate seeds! I love a good winter squash (it’s number one in my top three favorite vegetables), so when I saw this I knew I would make it for this dinner. I also love food that’s stuffed in other food. Salmon is good and crab is good. But stuff a crab in a salmon and it’s even better. The same goes for meat too.Even if it was going to taste bad, I knew it would look impressive.
I usually like making dishes I’ve never made before and I rarely try or taste anything while I’m cooking. I figure if it’s going to be awful, we’ll find out together and share the experience. I kind of like the surprise of not knowing how everything will taste until I sit down to eat too. I’m not going to lie though, this whole spread was pretty awesome and these recipes I gathered are all solid company worthy foods to serve. Combine that with lots of laughter, smiling faces, happy kids, oh yeah, and a black forest cake for dessert. It was a great evening. I’m hoping Friendsgiving becomes an annual event.
Kale and Beet Slaw