How to host a vegan dinner party

I’m such huge fan of hosting a dinner party, whether it’s a small gathering of my nearest and dearest or a large affair with platters of food that go into the late hours. I’m what you like to  call… a feeder. And, with my soon-to-launch book, Rebel Recipes  (eeek) coming out soon which shows you how to create stand-alone dishes, sharing plates and delectable desserts with those you love – I wanted to give you even more tips on how to host a vegan dinner party, so you can do so without losing your mind this festive period!

The hardest part, for me, is getting the quantities correct! I have a tendency to always overcook, but that just means there’s leftovers… which I’ll use up in the following days by combining into curries, dips and stews, and always with toasted warm leftover bread to soak up all the goodness!! But to save this from happening, it’s important to always plan beforehand; never eye-balling the recipes; making sure everything is weighed out correctly. It takes a little bit longer to do so, but it saves throwing away food at the end of the night.

Espresso Choc pots

Another thing that takes a little bit of pre-planning, is timing. Create a timeline and do trial-runs of dishes on the lead-on so you know exactly how long everything takes to prep, cook and present, so that nothing is left waiting around to go cold, or your guests getting hungry. It’s all well and good checking the timings on a recipe, but different ovens and stoves take different times to cook, and your prep work may be faster/slower than someone else’s – these should always just be taken with a pinch of salt, and as a general guideline. I always create a timeline of dishes, and prep like-minded ingredients (even if they are for other dishes) at the same time to save time later on. Vegetables can take a little bit of time to cook, from washing, peeling, chopping and more – so make sure to shave off a few seconds when you can – and always try to wash up as you go. Have a sink full of hot soapy water, and when you are waiting for something to heat up or cool, quickly wash what you were using – this saves a lot of stress later on!

A lot of vegan dishes, or accompaniments to them can also be done in advance which is a technique I swear by. My Cherry Chocolate Espresso pots are very popular, and they can be made a few days in advance – popped in the fridge and then taken out 10 minutes or so before serving, to come up to room temperature. That’s one dish taken care off, that is sure to go down a treat – with vegans and non-vegans a like, so no need to make a second dessert for those with dietary preferences. Another thing that can be done the day before are the sauces – it actually enhances the flavours and allows your veggies to really shine. Create your sauces one or two days before – then just reheat before serving. This saves a lot of additional prep work and saves stove top space!

Heirloom Tomato Tart

It’s also super important to be aware of any allergies ahead of time, so you can prepare dishes suitable for your guests need. Speak to your guests a few weeks before the event, ask them about their allergies, and where possible create dishes that are suitable for all – this saves having to create a different recipes for every individual person. I always find that at dinner parties… it’s great to have lots of smaller dishes on the table centered around a nice showstopping piece. This way everybody can help themselves to the dishes they like, and it looks like a giant fantastical feast. I tend to create a large tart or baked stuffed squash that my guests can slice and enjoy – accompanied by three or four side dishes. It encourages gusts to try new foods and get involved with the rest of the table – creating a sense of community and love. 

A few of my other hosting tips include:
Try and use seasonal ingredients, they are packed full of flavour and really help enhance your dishes, without very little effort.
Order the food to arrive two days before the event, so you can make a start on the sauces and deserts the day before. 

Create a theme – this gives you something to work with and can help you find more focus around your dishes. 

One pot dishes and tray bakes are the perfect choices for feeding a larger group – think tarts, cakes, roasted veggies, soups, curries and stews. 

Three course, three different menus, all delicious:
SIMPLE AND QUICK

Starter: Creamy Parsnip and Rosemary Soup
Main: Heirloom Tomato Tart with a Walnut Base
Dessert: Blood Orange Cake

Soups are brilliant for dinner parties, as, like a lot of these recipes can be made ahead. Just re-heat and serve with fresh sourdough – make sure to always add some crunch on top for added flavour and texture. The second course is a great centrepiece that looks fantastic but is super simple to create – you can use any seasonal veg and serve with roast potatoes, warm roasted veggies, salads or dips (which can all be made ahead). This simple and quick menu is finished with a lovely moist cake that, yes, you guessed, can be made ahead and uses seasonal blood oranges, but you can use any citrus. Serve with a pre-made creamy cashew cream for a delicious show-stopping finish. 

Creamy Parsnip and Rosemary Soup
Parsnip Soup


A LITTLE BIT FANCY

Starter: Roast Cauliflower and Broccoli with Crushed Celeriac
Main: Roast Pepper and Aubergine Stack with Pesto and Roast Cherry Tomato
Dessert: Chocolate Cherry Espresso Pots

I love to layer my dishes and this combination of roasted soft veg with creamy dips and crisped flatbreads is a proper winner. My main is a homage to the caprese style – a classic fancy dinner party favourite, with a twist. Layered veggies with a sharp tangy pesto, which can be made to order, or made ahead and re-heated and my chocolate cherry pots may look fancy, but they are super simple to make, and can also be made ahead of time – so you can spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen, but without taste, texture or plating suffering. 


Aubergine & pepper stacks

AN ALL-TIME TRIED AND TESTED FAVOURITE.
Starter: Baked Mushrooms in a Rich Tomato Sauce with Cashew Cheese and Chickpeas
Main: Roast Cauliflower Baba Ganush with Spiced Harissa Chickpea Dukka
Dessert: Chocolate Ganache Tart

These dishes are all tried and tested and always come up trumps on my blog as the ultimate faves. Bake the starter in a large tray and serve with a crisp salad. The key to nailing the main course is layering the textures and flavours – it delivers big on both. Roast cauliflower always is a winner for a dinner party main! And lastly, my chocolate ganache tart is my renowned dish – it never fails to impress and you will always be on dessert duty after making it – it’s just that good! 

Roast Cauliflower with baba ganoush



If you are looking for more vegan inspiration, check out my brand-new book Niki Webster’s Rebel Recipes publishes December 26th (Bloomsbury). 

4 Comments

  1. mary on February 8, 2020 at 9:26 pm

    Wow what a beautiful line up of gorgeous dishes!! So flavorful, nourishing and delicious – everyone will look them:)

    • Niki on February 11, 2020 at 11:50 am

      So happy you like Mary!
      love
      Niki xxx

  2. Susan on February 13, 2020 at 9:05 am

    I bought your book. Loved the cover and I am a cookbook junkie. I was also doing vegan January and needed inspiration.
    Your book is pure joy. The food is easy and so so tasty. Also – best bit for me- it turns out exactly as the picture!!!!
    I made the tomato curry, roast veg and turmeric hummus with flatbread last night. Every bite was sheer joy .
    I am a dedicated follower…..
    when’s the next cookbook!!! ????

    • Niki on February 13, 2020 at 2:04 pm

      Thank you so so much Susan! So happy you like.
      he he hoping for another one.
      Lots of love
      Niki xxx

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