Food

5 Must-Know Tips for Vegan Party Planning

VN’s resident party guru dishes her favorite tips for hosting the perfect spring shindig.

With warm weather officially back in season and backyard cookouts on the rise, now is the time to brush up on your vegan party planning skills. The most important thing is to remember that people eat vegan-friendly foods every day—they just don't realize it. A backyard barbecue is the perfect occasion to let delicious, plant-based cooking speak for itself—don't worry; leftovers definitely won't be an issue. Here are some tips and tricks to hosting a vegan party so well that it will satisfy bellies, arouse taste buds, and maybe even change a few minds.

Eat first, label later
When inviting guests, don't emphasize that the barbecue is vegan. The mind has a funny way of altering our experiences based on perception alone. Let the food speak for itself. Plant-based cuisine is made up of the foods we already eat and love: vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, beans, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices. When we recognize that veg food is already part of our meals, we take the mystery out of the label. Plant-based cuisine contains all the flavor, texture, and color needed to satisfy our senses—taste chief among them.

Serve seasonal
Each season offers a bounty of veggies, especially in summertime. Heat up the grill and add Crispy Polenta Triangles, Grilled Potato Wedges, Portabello Burgers, corn on the cob, seasoned eggplant slices, and skewers of peppers, red onions, and summer squash. The spectrum of colors will not only dazzle your guests and create a visually enticing buffet, it will also leave them satisfied and clamoring for your recipes!

Give it a toss
Offer an array of summer salads made from beans, pasta, potatoes, tofu, tempeh, or grains. A simple, fresh Chickpea Salad tossed in orange vinaigrette dressing is an easy way to introduce texture and complex flavor combinations to party plates. Try beans tossed with seasonal tomatoes, fresh herbs, seasoned rice vinegar and a squeeze of lemon juice, or steamed tempeh and chopped crisp veggies mixed with your favorite eggless mayonnaise. For a down-home, savory side, treat guests to delicious vegan Potato Salad. Another tried-and-true party pleaser is serving red quinoa with corn kernels and green onions-the options are endless!

Familiar flavors
Most of the condiments we eat are naturally vegan, so use them to flavor or complement your dishes. Vinegar and lemon juice perk up veggie and pasta salads, mustard and barbeque sauce create tangy marinades, and non-dairy sour cream and eggless mayonnaise add texture to potato and tofu salads. Vegan ranch dressing, ketchup, pickles, and relish are classic condiments to top things off, and salsas and Guacamole are always nice to have on hand.

End with a bang
Once people taste decadent dairy-free desserts, they never again perceive vegan sweets as inferior. Cool down with silky Chocolate Mousse Cupcakes, Peanut Butter Cup Pie, or Coconut Chocolate Chews. If you're noticing a pretty strong chocolate theme, it's because chocolate is pretty much a foolproof ingredient when it comes to crafting must-have desserts. For fruity cool-down treats, try whipping up some Light Lemon Cake, Fresh Strawberry Pie, or Peach and Blackberry Parfaits.

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