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Easy vegan and vegetarian summer entertaining

Wow vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diners equally with a plant-based menu this summer.
Wow vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diners equally with a plant-based menu this summer. Sheryl Thompson

Wow your vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore diners equally with a plant-based menu this summer.

It’s summertime and the entertaining is easy. Or at least it should be. While many omnivores enjoy grilled veggies on the dinner plate, some balk at the idea of a full plant-based spread. Some may be downright hostile about the exclusion of meat or see the menu as an attack or challenge. A potluck with primarily meatless selections may not yield different results. While the abundance of vegetarian or vegan offerings may be plentiful, the focus may remain on the lack of meat. If you want to host a summer party but are unsure of how to create an omnivore-pleasing menu or an omnivore with vegetarian guests on the way, a selection of new and current cookbooks offer excellent recipe suggestions that you can mix or match or full menus that may please all.

Atlanta-based Alicia Simpson makes menu planning easy with Quick and Easy Vegan Comfort Food, Quick and Easy Low Cal Comfort Food, and Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations. Each book includes crowd-pleasing goodies such as baked beans, slaw, ice cream, cupcakes, and a killer Peach Cobbler. Simpson includes several menu selections in her books, so finding the right menu for your affair is painless.

John Schlimm’s Grilling Vegan Style includes burgers, sauces, and sides that will rock the socks off omni and vegan guests. The Garbanzo burgers are excellent on a bun with the usual fixings or naked with a little sauce.

Vegan al Fresco is a warm-weather host’s go-to guide. Recipes for soups, salads, entrees, and desserts are all designed to make outdoor entertaining a snap. Author Carla Kelly is called the Queen of Condiments for good reason. Her collection of sauces, dressings, and spreads are delicious and addictive. Her Jackfruit Crab Cakes make some of the pickiest eaters smile in satisfaction.

If your idea of entertaining does not include a grill, then how does brunch grab you? Vegan Brunch is the way to any food lover’s heart. Isa Chandra Moskowitz rocks the kitchen with coffeecakes, muffins, pancakes, waffles, sausages, casseroles, sides, and more that appeal to diners of all ages.

For desserts sure to knock it out of the park, make Kris Holechek Peters’ Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches your go-to guide. The variety of cookies and ice cream recipes are drool-worthy. This collection goes beyond the classic chocolate cookie and vanilla ice cream formula. Take advantage of South Carolina’s amazing peaches and make Pecan and Peaches Ice Cream. Serve it over grilled peach halves and watch diners swoon. Or wow your guests with Strawberry Italiano Ice Cream Sandwiches made with Strawberry Balsamic Coconut Ice Cream and Vanilla Sugar Shortbread Cookies.

If you have your menu set and just need a few entrée ideas, just keep it simple. Grab a few vegan burgers, franks, or dogs from the grocer’s freezer case and serve them along with meatless versions of traditional sides. Include a selection of grilled vegetables and fruit on your menu and you’ll make everyone happy.

Charleston weather is ideal for summertime entertainment almost anytime of year. For these books and others that make menu planning easy, swing by any branch of the Charleston County Public Library or anywhere books are sold. Happy cooking!