(Above: Watch the video to see how to make stuffed swiss chard and then get the recipe below.)
We’ve been hosting Christmas Eve dinner for family and friends for many years. And because meat is usually featured prominently on Christmas Day, I try to stay away from serving any the night before.
This year’s menu would be considered vegetarian if it didn’t include the shrimp course. And it still can be if you elect to serve one of the alternate first courses listed below and refrained from serving the antipasti courses that contain meat.
Vegetarian does not necessarily mean light. And for better or worse, I guarantee you that Uncle Charlie won’t be able to leave the table after eating this without unbuckling his belt.
A few of these vegetarian recipes come from what was my favorite restaurant: La Zucca Magica in Nice, France: an Italian vegetarian restaurant that created rich dishes that didn’t shy away from butter, cream, and eggs.
My Plan: Meat is Over (if you want it)
Guests always have something to pick on as soon as they arrive at our home: something to nibble on with their cocktail or first glass of wine or beer.
- Pub Kettle Chips (skip if you want to go completely vegetarian or just omit the bacon)
- Bread Sticks Wrapped in Prosciutto (substitute marinated olives if you want to go completely vegetarian)
- Stuffed Pappadew Peppers
After about an hour or so, tell your guests it’s time to take their place at the table:
Shrimp Sautée: This recipe, from Joshua’s Restaurant in Wells, Maine, is quick and easy. Tip: Be sure to have all of the ingredients ready and measured out before you start cooking. This comes together quickly and should be served immediately.
If you want to keep the meal completely vegetarian, try serving one of these as the first course: Root Soup; Patata Ball in Tomato Sauce; or Tomatoes Stuffed with Pasta Salad.
Chard Stuffed with Risotto and Mozzarella: This recipe comes from an Italian vegetarian restaurant in the south of France. Rich, healthy and delicious, it makes a good first or second course before the main course.
Vegetable Lasagna Masterpiece: This is the best vegetable lasagna recipe. It’s something I perfected over several years. A creamy spinach mixture is cradled between silky ribbons of pasta and topped with a porcini-flavored tomato sauce. You can make this the night before and heat it up or cook it the next day.
Italian Christmas Pudding (aka: Pudding with the Red Stuff): This couldn’t be any easier to make. It’s my grandmother’s recipe and she served it at family dinners, including on Christmas Eve. It’s a quick and easy version of an Italian dessert called, “Zuppa Inglese.”
(Thanks for reading this far. To show our appreciation we’re offering this free eCookbook with “9 Recipes to Help you Relax and Enjoy the Holidays.” )