The Vegetarian Party Trend, Coming in 2010

It’s official, folks. Bon Appetit Magazine has announced their predictions for the food trends we will be racing to follow in the coming year. They even sent the photogenic Andrew Knowlton to CBS news to announce them. Yes, veg-heads, among the ten anointed trends was, drumroll please, Vegetarian Parties!

Whew, good thing it’s finally time. I guess that it is finally stylish to have some non-meat options on the appetizer spread, and high time. Of course, it’s kind of a mixed bag, with other trends embracing meatballs and New Austrian, but we will take what we can get.

So what on Earth will the Uber-hip NewYorkers that hang out at parties with Andrew Knowlton be serving? Well, on his TV spot he had a piece of polenta with tomato sauce over it, so I hope they put a little more effort into it than that. If you are going to be clinking martinis with the taste-setters, I’d think you could muster up some creativity.

For my part, I have always seen parties as an opportunity to put fun vegetarian food out for people. In my book, New Vegetarian, I lay out all the appetizers as recipes that a veg can take to a party with omnivores, and if there is nothing else good to eat, just hover by your own dish and call it dinner. For some reason it is more acceptable to the folks who insist that they need meat to nosh on apps without it. The same person who insists on a burger will accept wine and cheese, or beer and snacks, when it is eaten standing up.

According to Knowlton, what is fueling the new hipness of Veg cuisine is the interest in eating fresh, seasonal food. So, I’m guessing that come May, my recipe for Lemon Parmesan Asparagus Spears in Phyllo would be a good plate at a Manhattan soiree. And for right now, he would enjoy the Tibetan Potato Momos, which are fluffy steamed buns, stuffed with a homely potato and cheese mixture. And anytime of year, he could relish the Vegetarian Banh Mie, since he predicted that banh mie in general are a big trend this year.

It’s good to be part of a trend, for once. It’s always been cool, but the popularity of the meatless lifestyle sometimes shines just a little brighter. Trend is good, as long as it doesn’t become a fad, we are ok.

Try these pillowy, delicious momos, which I modeled after some I had at a now-defunct Tibetan restaurant in Minneapolis, where the chef was from the same hometown as the Dalai Lama.

Tibetan Potato Momos with Chili Dip

(from New Vegetarian, Chronicle Books, 2009, $19.95)

Makes   20

3             cups        unbleached flour

1/2           cup          wheat germ

1              teaspoon                quick rise yeast

1 1/4        cups        milk or soymilk

2              tablespoons           sugar or agave

1/2           pound     yukon gold potatoes

2              tablespoons           butter or oil

2              cups        onion      chopped

4              ounces   mushroom              chopped

6              ounces   dry jack or other aged cheese             shredded

1/2           cup          cilantro

1/2           teaspoon                paprika

1              teaspoon                szechuan peppercorn          coarsely chopped

1/2           teaspoon                salt

parchment paper squares    2 inch

1. In a stand mixer or large bowl, combine the flour, germ, and yeast. In a small pot, heat the milk or soymilk and sugar to 100 degrees, no hotter or you will kill the yeast. Mix the warm milk into the flour mixture and knead until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for an hour.

2. In a medium pot, boil the potatoes whole, then drain and mash. You can slip the skins off if you prefer, or leave them skin-on. In a large pan, heat the butter or oil and saute the onions and mushrooms over medium heat until the pan is nearly dry, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

3. Mix together the cooled potatoes, sauteed onions, shredded cheese, cilantro, paprika, szechuan peppercorn and salt.

4. Form the dough into a cylinder and cut it into 20 equal disks. From each into a round, then pat and stretch around the edges to make it about 3 inches across, and thick in the middle. Scoop a rounded 2 tbs of filling into the center and pull up the edges. Place each on a parchment square and put on a steaming rack or plate, and cover loosely. Continue filling momos until they are all formed. Let the momos rise for 30 minutes to an hour.

5. Put water in the bottom of a large pan or steamer, and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and put the momos over the steam and put on the lid. Steam for 15 minutes, until the dough is firm.

6. Serve hot with chili sauce.

4 Responses
  • Jan 25, 2010

    Although I’m a committed omnivore and my dinner parties generally reflect this affliction, many are mostly vegetarian and have been for years. There are many dishes in the French lexicon that are vegetarian by nature and not because someone was trying to create a “vegetarian” dish. If vegetarian dinner parties become a trend among non-vegetarians, I dread to think how forced they may feel.

    Peter Hertzmann Jan 25, 2010
  • Jan 25, 2010

    It sounds like it can be just as easy as yours were. Appetizers and snacks have always been relatively veg-friendly. It’s all food, after all!

    robin Jan 25, 2010
  • Jan 26, 2010

    Actually in a traditional multi-course french meal, vegetarian is simple except for the “plat,” the main course. It has been difficult to find a main course in the French lexicon that is truly vegetarian, and that’s looking back to the 14th century.

    Peter Hertzmann Jan 26, 2010
  • Jan 26, 2010

    We had an amazing plat in Paris, I wish I could remember the place’s name. A fried was living there and took us to a place where the former sous from a 4 star had opened his own place. There were quenelles of various vegetable based things and lots of vertical crackery things. It was very beautiful and good. My friend had filet mignon filled with calfs foot and an appetizer of sliced duck hearts.
    And he looked at ours with desire.

    robin Jan 26, 2010

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