Page 62 - The Hunt - Fall 2023
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                 FOOD & DRINK
Feasting with Veggies
Meatless main courses for holiday meals can still have visual flair and a flavorful impact.
By Roger Morris
No Thanksgiving turkey? No Christmas ham? No turducken? For families consisting of mostly vegetarians, preparing
a traditional holiday feast has its challenges. Today, an estimated 6-10% of Americans identify as vegetarian. That number seems a bit low considering how many meat-free menu options
there are at local restaurants—a lot of them tasty enough to tempt meat-eaters. Also keep in mind that in the United States, 6% is about 20 million people.
Which brings us back to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even if you’re tasked with fixing a meal for a house full of vegetarians, you can still deliver something festive and traditional. Think in terms of a main course that’s a grand assemblage of tastes. In most cases, the animals we eat for food—beef, chicken, pork, turkey—come in large sizes that make them the meal’s obvious centerpiece. You can’t do anything spectacular with a single potato, a tomato or an ear of corn, but you can have a vegetarian main course that’s a striking mélange of flavors and textures. “I have a couple of vegetarian dishes that I’ve done like that—both rice dishes,” says Mark Eastman, owner of Chefs’ Haven in Hockessin. “One is wild rice with spinach, roasted Brussels sprouts, cipollini onions, caramelized
onion broth and fresh herbs. Another is brown basmati rice with roasted fennel, braised leeks, red wine sauce and white truffle essence.”
When it comes to visual impact, there are two rules: Make it big and make it colorful. Think one large dish with individual servings doled out by the host at the table, whether it’s a huge salad, a steaming pot
of soup or a fancy bowl of pasta primavera. One of my favorites is a goat-cheese soufflé baked in a colorful ceramic dish.
Whatever the dish or the format, colorful vegetables like fresh tomatoes, green beans, asparagus, and red and yellow bell peppers are great eye candy. Personal chef and Delaware wine importer Paul Cullen swears by his meatless frittata, with a yellow base of fluffy eggs served in a steaming iron skillet with milky cheeses, asparagus, multicolored small potatoes, bell pepper slices and tomatoes.
While a longtime vegetarian may no longer crave meaty flavors, what about guests who are still carnivores? “I use liquid smoke and soy sauce when I want something to taste like beef,” says Jason Barrowcliff, executive chef at Brandywine Prime in Chadds Ford.
People under 40 may not know that local mushroom houses only started growing those big, beefy portobellos in the 1990s.
60 THE HUNT MAGAZINE fall 2023
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