Catering for Vegetarians and Vegans with Caitlin Rudeen of Caitlin’s Healthy Homemade
Personal chef and menu consultant Caitlin Rudeen of Caitlin’s Healthy Homemade discusses how to cater for your vegetarian/vegan guests and how to serve a vegetarian/vegan meal to your meat eating guests. Caitlin gives advice on adding delicious items to your menu that your vegetarian/vegan guests will love and how to plan a vegetarian/vegan meal that your meat eating guests won’t stop raving about. Topics covered include working with your caterer, were to start when planning a vegetarian/vegan menu, whether/how to coordinate your meat and non meat menus and important considerations when serving raw desserts.
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Name: Caitlin Rudeen
Company: Caitlin’s Healthy Homemade
Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota
“Catering for vegetarians and vegans can be fun if you do not get hung up on the labels. Don’t think in terms of ‘vegetarian’ or ‘vegan’ food. Just think of delicious food.”
“It’s very important to talk to your caterer. Let them know that your vegetarian/vegan menu is as important to you as your non vegetarian/vegan menu. Otherwise, the caterer may offer a very standard, sometimes boring option.”
“It’s all about seasonality. Go to the farmer’s market and pick a fruit or vegetable that is in season. Then go to your caterer and tell them you want to work with that item. They will welcome the challenge to create something unique and delicious for your menu.”
“Get creative with it. Vegetarian’s love creative, interesting dishes.”
One of Caitlin’s favorite summer recipes (see the recipe on Caitlin’s blog for step-by-step pictures):
Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes with Bell Pepper, Olives, Feta & Herbs
1 cup dry Quinoa
1/2 large Orange Bell Pepper (red and yellow would also be great), diced
1 clove Garlic, minced
12 Kalamata Olives, slivered
2 Tb. Thyme, chopped
2 Tb. Oregano, chopped
Zest of 1 whole medium Lemon
1 Tb. Lemon Juice
3 Tb. Feta Cheese (I use local cheeses that do not include animal rennet) + more for topping (optional)
2 Tb. Olive Oil + more for drizzling on Tomatoes
Dash of Red Chili Pepper Flakes
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1) Preheat oven to 400 Degrees.
2) Rinse Quinoa thoroughly. Quinoa has a natural coating called saponin that repels insects and birds and can create a bitter taste. Rinsing with warm water removes the saponin. (Nature is amazing!) Add Quinoa and 2 cups of filtered water to pot and bring to a boil. Then remove lid and simmer for 10-15 minutes until chewy but not mushy. Remember, it will continue cooking in the oven.
3) In the meantime, in a medium to large size bowl, add the prepared bell pepper, garlic, olives, herbs, lemon, feta, olive oil and chili flakes. Refrain from adding salt and pepper until the quinoa is added. The feta and olives both add a good amount of salt so it may not need any.
4) When the quinoa is done cooking, rinse with cool water and drain thoroughly. Then fold into the remaining ingredients.
5) Now is the time to core your tomatoes. I like to use vine-ripened tomatoes. They are the perfect size and make for a beautiful presentation and delicious outcome (in Summer months only). Using a small, serrated knife, core the tomato and then gut it with a spoon, leaving a little remaining for yummy tomato flavor and moisture. When they are in the pan, drizzle a little olive oil for moisture.
6) Time to Stuff! You can use a spoon but let’s be honest, the best kitchen tool you have it your hands. So I say, GO FOR IT! Get in there and get dirty! Nothing can beat working with your hands and it is the most fun too!!!
7) Top with a little more feta before baking (optional).
8) Bake at 400 Degrees for 15-25 minutes until tomatoes are soft and feta is nice and toasty!
9) Serve with a salad or a side of garlicky Swiss Chard. Now sit back, pour yourself a glass of your favorite beverage (Iced Tea, Hot Tea, Wine, Mojito…) and enjoy your amazing meal that will nourish and take care of you…. You Deserve It!!!
Caitlin’s Favorite Vegetarian/Vegan Cookbooks (great places to find inspiration!):
Supermarket Vegan This is an awesome cookbook for go-to, easy meals. They can be used for simple weeknight meals or to entertain. And what’s even better, the recipes don’t have an insane amount of ingredients and most of the ingredients are one almost everyone will already know. This keeps it even more simple and easy!
Living Raw Food & Raw Food Real World Maybe I am biased cause I worked here for 2 years and love raw food, but these books are great! They will not make raw food preparation simple by any means, but when you are up for a challenge and have some time to spare, make something from these books, you will not be disappointed!