Don’t panic when a vegetarian stays over for dinner

Raymond Meester
7 min readOct 16, 2020


“Honey, I invited John and his wife for dinner. Oh, yeah, his wife is a vegetarian”. Tomorrow? Panic!

There are of course thousands, no millions of vegetarian recipes. Still, for non vegetarians when we leave meat out of the meal, what’s left? Often we desperately try to substitute it. So pasta with minced meat, becomes pasta with vegetarian minced meat. But wait, you can leave out the meat and its substitute altogether. Just pasta, tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes and some cheese. Simple as that.

You can also mix it. Make meat burgers and vegetarian burgers. But when you really want to be a good supporter, you eat the veggie burgers as well. There are plenty of varieties on the market, I’m sure there is one you would find tasty.

Yes, they are all beyond, impossible, sensational and other marketing terms. You really need to try it yourself. But for burger counts the same as for the pasta dish. Why not leave out the meat? “Do you mean, bread with lettuce?”. No, just substitute it for example with halloumi.

But even outside the land of burgers there are lots of vegetarian dishes from all over the world. I selected 10 ideas that I tried this year.

Recipes are from country in blue

Dutch pancakes (colored)

Dutch pancakes (Pannenkoek) are somewhere between scotch pancakes and crêpes. Basic ingredients are flour (plain, self-rising or both), milk, salt, and eggs. It can be served as main meal. Traditional combined syrup, but basically it can be combined with other ingredients like vegetables and cheese.

When your guest also has children (or you still have a kid inside you) you can also make the pancakes colorful. Just mix it with a drop of dye:

Mexican Enchiladas (Tapas-Style)

Like the pancake the tortilla is very versatile. You can fill it with cheese, beans, potatoes and vegetables. Enchiladas are corn tortillas rolled around this filling and covered with a savory sauce. Because you not always know what fillings your guests like make it tapas style. Put all the ingredients like cheese, beans, potatoes, guacamole and vegetables on the table and let them make their own combinations.

Polish Pierogi (Ruskie Style)

Pierogi is a style of dumplings that are popular in Poland and Ukraine. They do not come from Russia as the name may imply. Like pancakes and tortillas the basic ingredients are very simple: flour, water and salt (and sometimes eggs). The stuffing is made of cottage cheese and potatoes with salt, pepper and fried onion. I haven’t found people who dislike this dish.

Moroccan couscous

Couscous is dish of small (about 3 millimeters/0.12 inch diameter) steamed balls of crushed wheat. It’s eaten in Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. Traditionally its eaten with carrots, potatoes and turnips. Cooked in stew and sprinkled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar. Couscous can be made simple or haute cuisine. Pretty hard to let it look this, but give it a try:

Italian Risotto

For real Italian Risotto you need a little patience… It’s of course an art to get an excellent creamy consistency. Often the broth is made from meat or fish, but just as well from vegetables. In Italy, it’s usually served as the first course, but can just as well be served as the main dish.

Yemen’s Shakshouka

Shakshouka is a dish that becomes popular in Europe in the last few years. Originally it’s from Yemen (though other theories seem to exist). The dish is made of eggs poached in a tomato sauce with olive oil, peppers, onion and garlic and a lot of Arabic spices.

Indonesian Gado Gado

The Indonesian kitchen is rich with dishes like Soto, Sate, Nasi Goreng, and Rendang. The most famous vegetarian dish is Gado Gado. You can find it everywhere in Indonesia and also far abroad. The dish is made of steamed vegetables and boiled eggs and potatoes, fried tofu and tempeh and rice. On top is a spicy peanut sauce. It’s quite hard to spice the sauce the right way, but sometimes you can buy it in an Asian Supermarket.

Indian Red curry

Curries are all about the mixing the right spices. Some Indian sauces may be a little too hot. In an Asian market you can find Curry powder where the spices are already mixed. Not really a family recipe, but sometimes we shouldn’t be too strict with ourselves.

Arabic Eggah

Eggah, also known as the Arabic omelette is similar to frittata. What sets it apart are the Arabic spices similar to Shakshouka. Spices like cinnamon, cumin, coriander and nutmeg. Mostly it’s filled with vegetables like zucchini, onion, tomato and spinach.

Ethiopian Shiro

Shiro is a stew eaten in East-Africa. Main ingredient is Shiro powder made from peas, lentils, and chickpeas that are dried and ground into a fine powder. Often accompanied by sauces, onion, garlic and spices. In Eritrea And Ethiopia it’s an important dish which is also eaten at special occasions like Ramadan.

German Flammkuchen

Flammkuchen (literally Flame Cake) is a dish eaten at the German-France border. It looks a little like pizza, but it’s much thinner and tastes differently because the base is not tomato sauce, but crème fraîche. Still like good pizza it’s cooked in a wooden oven (not flamed). The toppings are mostly thin-sliced onions.

John and his wife

So, calmed down? Just cook. And let John and his wife come!



Raymond Meester