Thursday, September 5, 2013

Time to chow, girls & boys

This Fall, my fiance and I are tying the knot after five years together. In planning the wedding, we both agreed good food was a priority. What is it about sharing good food with loved ones? We also knew we wanted to offer an all vegan menu that would appeal to all palates. No small feat, right?

Thankfully Chowgirls Catering in northeast Minneapolis offers lots of vegan options and was the go-to caterer for several of our friends' weddings. After a few consultations, we went in for the tasting to seal the deal. To make sure the food wasn't just appealing to our foodie/vegan appetites, we brought along my parents and maid of honor to confirm crowd-pleasing options. Chowgirls' tagline and reputation described perfectly what we were looking for: "extraordinary, approachable food." 

It turns out catering gets expensive fast, and we were on a tight budget. With vegan being a newish concept to some of our friends and family, it seemed like a big gamble to go with an entree style meal. What if they didn't like the eggplant torte or tofu steak? For that reason, we decided to go the route of  a myriad of "appetizer" options to make a light meal. In the end, we didn't really save on the budget, but it does mean more options.

Simple salad with creamy green goddess dressing and rye croutons
 I must have crossed the salad off the list two or three times not wanting people to equate vegan with rabbit food and thinking it was "too simple." Ultimately, we had one extra spot on the tasting menu, and like a cat with nine lives, the salad was back. It turned out to be one of my favorite dishes with the fresh crisp lettuce and Chowgirl's own creamy fresh herbed dressing that made me rethink my disdain for green goddess dressing (sorry, Annie's it's just too much tahini!)

Carrots, mushrooms, asparagus, red bell peppers and broccoli
roasted to perfection and served with a side of balsamic reduction.

 Veggies meet heat in oven until browned = simple elegance and crazy good. 

Trio of vegan pates: ginger-sesame edamame; Indian-flavored cauliflower; and earthy mushroom
There was no way I was going to have hummus, guacamole or salsa at the wedding (even though I love all of them.) They're the go-to "vegan" foods at most restaurants these days. Come on, people, we can do better. These are definitely more on the foodie side, but should be fun for people to try new flavors. I know I had fun at the tasting with them.

Not pictured: These dishes made the cut too: quinoa pilaf with fall vegetables and a brown "butter" sauce and polenta bites with roasted tomatoes and a fried sage leaf. Yum!


Mushroom and wild rice "meatballs" with marinara
You could tell these were meant to be vegetarian with cheese or something to hold them together. We had to cut something from the tasting, and this was a no-brainer. If you want a good vegan "meatball", I highly recommend Gardein's meatless meatballs. 

Bruschetta with sun-dried tomatoes, olives and pine nuts
Holy flavor explosion, batman! The flavors were bold and delightful, but the price per toast didn't work with our budget. Too bad because they were really tasty, but I'm happy with our final menu.

Vegan macaroni and cheese

 The macaroni and cheese was really good and super creamy, but ultimately we decided against foods people would expect to taste a certain way.

Hoppin John- black eyed peas, rice and vegetables
I've had really delightful versions of this dish at New Year's celebrations, but this one was a little too basic for our menu.

Chili lime macadamias; herbed almonds and pecans
Curses! The almonds had honey which spooked my fiance. Otherwise, these delightful little tidbits of fun flavors and protein would have made it on the menu budget be damned. 

Mmm...these photos (and the love of my life) are making me excited for my wedding day! 


  1. Firstly, congratulations on your Fall wedding. I wish you all the best. Your menue selections sould wonderful. I am attempting to visit all the bogs on this years Vegan MoFo. I love the message and energy yours conveys. Again, good luck with everything. Tracy.

  2. I love looking at people's plans for vegan weddings... makes me wish (25 years ago) that I'd been vegan! Though I have to admit I have no complaints about the vegetarian buffet we did - (too bad the food was better than the marriage in my case)
    At any rate - best of luck, these nibbles look PERFECT and I think even non-vegans will find them lovely!!

  3. Your mac and cheese looks beautiful!

  4. Thanks everyone for your kind remarks! C. - I can't take credit for the mac and cheese. It was made by Chowgirls Catering,

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  6. It was really smart to have taken other people with you to the tasting, as well as deciding on a bunch of appetizers instead of a big meal. While people may accept your vegan lifestyle, they might not be ready to eat just like you. And looking at your choices, I'm sure everyone's bound to enjoy them when the day finally arrives. :) -Hildred @ Crystal Gardens