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How to host a vegan dinner party

Niki Webster of Rebel Recipes shares her tips for hosting a vegan dinner party without the stress

How to host a vegan dinner party
Niki is a feeder. She has built her following and career around food with her widely successful blog and Instagram. What's more, her soon-to-launch book, also called Rebel Recipes , shows you how to create stand-alone dishes, sharing plates and delectable desserts with those you love. Ahead of the festive period, Niki gives us her top tips for hosting a vegan dinner party, so you can do so without losing your mind!

Stuck on what to cook? Here are three different menus with three delicious dishes each...

1. 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, they can be made in advance. Just reheat the soup, 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, yet 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 menu is finished with a lovely moist cake that (yes, you guessed it!) can be made ahead. It uses seasonal blood oranges, but you can use any citrus. Serve with a pre-made cashew cream for a delicious show-stopping finish.

2. 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 crispy flatbreads is a winner. The main is a homage to the Caprese style – a classic fancy dinner party favourite, with a twist. The layered veggies, served with a sharp tangy pesto, and chocolate cherry pots may look fancy, but they are actually super-simple to make, and can be cooked ahead of time, so you can spend more time with your guests and less time in the kitchen.

3. 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. 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 is always 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!

Consider quantities: “I have a tendency to always overcook, but that just means there are leftovers, which I’ll use up in the following days by combining them into curries, dips and stews with toasted leftover bread to soak up all the goodness. But to save this from happening, it’s important to always plan ahead, rather than eye-balling recipes, and make sure that everything is weighed out correctly. It takes a bit longer to do so, but it saves you from throwing away food at the end of the night.”

Timing is everything! "Create a timeline and do trial-runs of dishes in the lead-up so that 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 get 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 – recipes should always be used as a general guideline."

"I always create a timeline of dishes, and prep similar ingredients (even if they are for other dishes) at the same time. Vegetables can take a bit of time to wash, peel, chop, and cook, so try to shave off a few seconds where you can. And always 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!”

Prepare in advance: “A lot of vegan dishes or accompaniments can be prepared or cooked ahead of time. Recipes like my Cherry Chocolate Espresso pots can be made a few days in advance, popped in the fridge, then taken out 10 minutes or so before serving, to come up to room temperature. That’s one dish taken care of, which is sure to go down a treat with vegans and non-vegans alike!, so there's no need to make a second dessert for those with dietary preferences.”

Another element that can be done the day before is the sauces, Niki says: "It actually enhances the flavours and allows your veggies to really shine! Create your sauces one or two days before, then just reheat them before serving. This saves a lot of additional prep work and saves stove-top space, too!

Be aware of allergies: “Speak to your guests a few weeks before the event, ask them about their allergies, and where possible, create dishes that are suitable for everyone – this saves you having to create 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 centred around a showstopping piece. This way everybody can help themselves to the dishes they like, and it looks like a giant feast.” Niki suggests creating a large tart or baked stuffed squash that your guests can slice and enjoy, accompanied by three or four side dishes. This encourages guests to try new foods and creates a sense of community and love.

General tips: Try and use seasonal ingredients, as they are packed full of flavour and really help enhance your dishes with minimal effort. Order your ingredients to arrive two days before the event, so you can make a start on the sauces and desserts the day before. Also consider creating 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 ideal for feeding a larger group – think tarts, cakes, roasted veggies, soups, curries and stews.

If you are looking for more vegan inspiration, Niki Webster's Rebel Recipes is published on December 26th (Bloomsbury). For recipes, visit:

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