8 Healthy dinner party dishes your guests will love.

Morning friends,

First, I have to start by stating that I am not a vegan or vegetarian, however I can appreciate a great tasting health dish that happened to fall into the category of vegetarian.

A few weeks ago as I sat down with a potential client about her coming nuptial, I was busy taking down notes, when her cell phone rang.  She answered it and in the mist of her conversation, she had made the statement about having to come up with  "alternative" dishes or changing her menu for a family member who is a vegetarian.  Of course, my first thought was, "why was it so important to have separate dishes for one person?" and as if she heard my thoughts, she covered the phone receiver, lowered her voice, and said "it's my mother-in-law! (yikes).  My only reaction was an assuring smile and told her there were lots of options for healthier dishes.  Of course I could not come up with one atop of my head, aside from baked potatoes and a plain salad.  We concluded our meeting and I got to thinking. I may not have vegan friends and family but I do have plenty who are counting calories and carbs, what would I serve them if I was throwing a big bash. Perusing the web, I came up with some interesting mix, from "this could taste good" to "Oh, this is way outside of my pallets."

So since I appreciate my readers so much, I compiled a list of 8 healthy party dishes that you can incorporate in your event, which by the way will be a great hit at your party or reception.  Just below each picture and recipe, I included the source of each dish for you to directly link to and in some cases the author included step by step picture instructions.  

Linguine with Roasted Vegetable Ragu

For the roasted vegetables you'll need:
2 medium-large zucchini
2 medium-large yellow squash
1 small red bell pepper
1 small orange bell pepper
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbsp olive oil

For the ragu:
1 medium sweet onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cans [14.5 oz] fire roasted tomatoes
1 can [8 oz] basil, garlic, oregano tomato sauce
1 tsp dry Italian seasoning
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp oregano
2 Tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil
1 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley [flat leaf]
salt & black pepper to taste

To serve:
1 lb linguine cooked to al dente
4 oz shredded Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 450°F .  Spritz a baking sheet liberally with cooking spray. Cut the zucchini and squash into 1/2 inch quarters.  Slice the peppers.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of dry Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon of garlic salt and black pepper to your taste.  Spread the veggies in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Roast for 35-40 minutes or until golden, stirring once midway through cooking. 

While the vegetables are roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a stove top pot.  Add the diced onion and cook until the onion becomes translucent and is beginning to brown, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and saute for an additional minute.  Add the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon dry Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, sugar and oregano.  Season with salt and black pepper to your taste.  Simmer over low heat until the vegetables are done.

After the vegetables are finished roasting, add to the tomato sauce with the chiffonade of basil and chopped parsley.  I love saying "chiffonade."  It just means rolling the basil tightly and cutting into long thin ribbons.  Chiffonade sounds so much prettier, doesn't it? ☺Toss together until coated.

Toss the ragu with the cooked linguine and top with grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve immediately. Yield: 4-6 servings

Vegetable skewers with garlic and rosemary

Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette
4 Tbs. sherry vinegar
4 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 small shallots, minced (3 Tbs.)
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
⅔ cup olive oil
2 Tbs. chopped fresh rosemary

Vegetable Skewers
  • 6 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 24 sugar snap peas
  • 24 white or cremini mushrooms, stems removed
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into 12 rounds
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into 12 rounds
  • ¾ cup Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette
1. To make Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette: Whisk together vinegar, mustard, shallots, lemon juice, and lemon zest in small bowl. Slowly whisk in olive oil until mixture thickens or emulsifies. Stir in rosemary, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Set aside.
2. To make Vegetable Skewers: Cook potatoes 3 minutes in large pot of boiling salted water. Add sugar snap peas, and cook 1 minute more, or until sugar snap peas are crisp-tender. Drain vegetables, and rinse under cold water. Drain once more, and pat dry.
3. Toss potatoes, sugar snap peas, mushrooms, red bell pepper, red onion, yellow squash, and zucchini with ½ cup Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette. (Reserve remaining Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette for another use.) Cover, and refrigerate 1 hour, or overnight.
4. Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Thread vegetables onto 12 presoaked bamboo skewers, leaving ¼-inch space between each one to ensure even cooking.
5. Rub grate or vegetable grill topper with vegetable oil. Grill skewers 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until vegetables are slightly charred and soft. Season with salt and pepper, if desired, and drizzle with remaining ¼ cup Rosemary-Dijon Vinaigrette.

Mushroom spinach quiche

Basic Pie Pastry
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 ½ cups thinly sliced mushroom caps
3 cups firmly packed baby spinach
1 clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)
3 large eggs
1 cup milk, whole or reduced-fat
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. ground black pepper
¼ tsp. salt
1 ½ cups grated Gruyère cheese

1. Prepare Basic Pie Pastry, and set aside to rest 10 minutes. Grease 9&1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan. Preheat oven to 400°F.

2. Roll pastry into 12-inch circle between two sheets of wax paper or plastic wrap. Peel off top sheet; invert pastry over pie pan. Peel off second sheet, then tuck pastry into pan without stretching it, pinching overhang into an even edge. Chill 15 minutes. Smooth sheet of aluminum foil over pastry (it should fit like a glove); fill with dried beans or rice. Bake 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven; lift foil with beans from pan. Using fork, pierce pastry 6 or 8 times. Reduce oven to 375F, and bake 7 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Leave oven on.

To make Filling:
3. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms; cover, and cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in spinach and garlic; cover, and cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until spinach is wilted.
4. Lightly whisk eggs in mixing bowl. Whisk in milk, mustard, pepper and salt.
5. Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated cheese over bottom of pastry. Bake 2 to 3 minutes to melt cheese.
6. Spread vegetable mixture in pastry shell. Sprinkle with half of remaining cheese. Slowly pour in egg mixture, then sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly puffy. Transfer to wire rack, and let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Spinach Calzones with Blue Cheese

1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust
Cooking spray
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups spinach leaves
8 (1/8-inch-thick) slices Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 1/3 cups sliced cremini or button mushrooms
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled blue cheese

Preheat oven to 425°.
Unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; cut into 4 quarters. Pat each quarter into a 6 x 5-inch rectangle. Sprinkle garlic evenly over rectangles. Top each rectangle with 1 cup spinach, 2 onion slices, 1/3 cup mushrooms, and 3 tablespoons cheese. Bring 2 opposite corners to center, pinching points to seal. Bring remaining 2 corners to center, pinching all points together to seal. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until golden.

Note:We found that a pizza cutter works well for dividing the refrigerated dough into 4 equal portions.

Roasted Spaghetti Squash with Kale

1 whole Spaghetti Squash
Olive Oil
Salt And Pepper
2 bunches Kale, Stalks Removed And Torn Into Pieces
1/2 whole Onion, Diced
1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar

Preparation Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

With a sharp knife, VERY CAREFULLY cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise. (Stick the knife into the center of the squash, then cut down. Again---be careful!) Scoop out the seeds and pulp in the center and discard. Place the squash, cut side up, on a large baking sheet. Rub a little olive oil over the cut surface, then place the pan in the oven for 1 hour or until a fork is easily inserted into the squash.
While the squash is cooking, saute the kale: Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion to the pan and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to turn color. Throw in the kale, sprinkle in some salt and pepper, and stir to saute until the onions are golden about the kale is partly cooked, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

When the squash is cooked, use a fork to scrape the stringy squash out of the shell. Add the squash to a bowl. Mix together 1 tablespoon olive oil with the balsamic vinegar. Drizzle it over the squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add the chili powder. Toss to combine.

Add the squash to individual bowls, then top with a good amount of sauteed kale. You will have squash left over! (Or, you can toss all the kale and half the squash together.)

Vegetarian Enchiladas

1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup onion, minced
dash of garlic salt
dash of red pepper flakes
1-10oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and excess water squeezed out
1 cup fat-fat cottage cheese, drained
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
8 corn tortillas
1 14.5oz can red enchilada sauce
4oz shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté onion until tender. Add garlic salt, red pepper flakes and spinach. Sauté until spinach is warmed through, then remove the skillet from the heat.
Combine drained cottage cheese and Greek yogurt in a bowl. Stir in spinach mixture after it has cooled slightly.
Wrap corn tortillas in a paper towel and microwave for 40 seconds, flipping half way through. Add a scant 1/4 cup filling to the middle of each tortilla, roll and place seam side down in a baking dish.
Pour enchilada sauce over tortillas, top with cheese and bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbly.

Eggplant Parmesan Sliders

2 medium eggplants (about 2 1/2 pounds total)
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups Italian-style breadcrumbs
1 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced into rounds
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 cups tomato sauce, store-bought or homemade
2 dozen brioche slider rolls

Special Equipment: 3-inch round cookie cutter

Slice the eggplants lengthwise into ½-inch thick slices, then use the cookie cutter to cut out two rounds from each of the slices.

Place the eggplant rounds in a colander and toss them with 1½ teaspoons salt. Let them drain in the colander over a bowl in the sink for 45 minutes to remove excess moisture.

Bread the eggplant rounds in batches by coating them in the flour, then the eggs and then the breadcrumbs.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add enough oil to liberally coat the bottom of the pan. Pan-fry the breaded eggplant rounds in batches for 2 to 3 minutes, flipping them once until both sides are golden brown. Remove the cooked eggplant rounds and immediately transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate. Continue the pan-frying process, changing the oil as necessary, until all of the rounds are cooked.

Halve the brioche slider rolls and add 1 tablespoon of tomato sauce to the bottoms of the rolls. Stack an eggplant round atop the sauce, top it with another tablespoon of sauce and a piece of sliced mozzarella. Repeat the assembling process with all of the buns, transferring them to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Turn your broiler to high and carefully slide the cookie sheet under the broiler just long enough until the cheese melts. Immediately cap off the sliders with the tops of the buns and serve.

Caprese Salad Kabob

24 grape tomatoes
12 cherry-size fresh mozzarella cheese balls
24 fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

On each of 12 wooden appetizer skewers, alternately thread two
tomatoes, one cheese ball and two basil leaves; place on a serving
plate. In a small bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar; drizzle over
kabobs just before serving. Yield: 12 kabobs.

As a side note: even though I don't personally thank each author, I do appreciate their work in putting these recipes together for people like us. I'm not a chef and I love when I found easy to follow recipes with beautiful pictures that I can share with my readers.  And if you are a chef, I would love to hear about your recipes and dishes that I can share with my readers. Please email me at eventsojudith@gmail.com.

Thank you,
With love,

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