From light summer dishes to hearty soups, here are some inspiring ideas for vegetarian starters whatever the season.
Vegetarian food, whether you are veggie or not, is perfect in summer. It is naturally lighter than non-vegetarian food, and you can make use of all the wonderful fresh ingredients that are available at this time of year. However, vegetarian dishes can be just the ticket all year round. Whether it's light summer salads you’re after, or warming winter soups, iLoveMyGrub.com has some veggie-style inspiration when it comes to serving a starter with a difference.
- *Beetroot gazpacho:
*Beetroot is in season from July, and this beetroot gazpacho is a lovely light, refreshing dish, packed with healthy ingredients. Plus, it’s a beautiful dish to serve: chilled maroon gazpacho with a crisp golden granary roll... it appeals to all the senses!
- *Crunch-coated Aubergine and Mozzarella Parcels:
*If you’re after a more substantial vegetarian summer starter, this combination is perfect. Aubergines are in season from roughly the beginning of June until October, and grilled with mozzarella as they are here, they form part of a delicious starter that is ideal for the end of summer when you want something a bit more than salad. This recipe is simple to make, full of flavours, and looks great on a plate to serve to your friends, plus, if you are serving this dish to non-vegetarian friends, the mozzarella makes it substantial enough that they’re bound to love it.
- *Roquefort & fennel stacks with sherry syrup:*
This is a classy summer dish, and again, a bit more substantial than a classic summer salad. Fennel, such an underused vegetable, is in season all summer long, from June - October. If you’re craving something more than a plateful of leaves, this is a delicious alternative, with a complex and rich mix of flavours.
- *24 carrot gold roasted carrot, spinach and feta salad:*
The heartiest of summer salads, this dish is not only a colour and flavour packed starter, but also perfect for a light lunch that will keep you going. As well as a fabulous dish on its own, it is a perfect accompaniment to a summer BBQ. Plus, after a portion of this you’ll be well on your way to your five a day.
- * Courgette fritters with spicy carrotslaw:
*Courgettes are in season over the summer until October, and these crispy courgette fritters are a great early autumn starter, balancing fresh summery ingredients, with the warmth you need at the beginning of autumn.
- * Pumpkin salad with grapes and soft cheese:
*The regal purple and autumnal orange of this dish are truly the colours of autumn. There are so many great things you can make with pumpkin: soups, risottos, sauces – but this is a lighter option, and an unusual combination of flavours with the sharpness of the grapes.
- * Cranberry and brie tartlets:*
Brie and cranberries are a classic Christmas combination, and these tartlets ooze with Christmas flavours. They’re a great starter for festive dinner parties, or you could even make mini versions as Christmas canapés.
- * Mediterranean soup with Cavolo Nero:*
In the bleak mid winter, here’s a taste of summer. Peppers, tomatoes, olive oil: it’s as healthy as a summer salad and as hearty as a winter stew. Cavolo Nero is in season throughout the autumn and winter months, and the red of the tomatoes along with the green of the kale make this a bright and colourful dish.
- * French rarebit:*
Winter is very much a meat-eaters time of year, but cheese is just the thing to make vegetarian meals heartier and more filling to keep you going in the cold. Come New Year, when there’s nothing to look forward to except summer, this French rarebit is the ultimate comfort food. It’s so easy to make and uses ingredients you’ll probably have in the fridge anyway. A great boost on a cold day.
- * Cavolo Nero warm winter salad with beetroot & goats cheese:*
Beetroot is in season all autumn and winter and brightens up a dreary winter day. If you’ve overloaded on carbohydrates over the Christmas season and need a vegetarian New Year’s health kick, this salad is simultaneously the warming plateful you need in winter and a healthy post-Christmas detoxifier. It’s a light dish, but the beetroot makes it filling enough to keep you going in the snow. It also makes a great side dish to a main meal if you feel the need for a break from heavy portions of roasted winter vegetables.
- * Stilton soufflé:*
It’s not quite summer yet, so you might still want something more than a salad. These stilton soufflés are a lighter way to enjoy winter flavours. Make mini portions as starters, or even make a big one as a main course with, alongside the broccoli dish (below).
- * Warm Bellaverde brocolli with mint, goat's cheese and pine nuts:*
Ease into the summer of salad with this warm spring vegetable dish. It can be eaten as a starter, but it also makes a great accompaniment to main meals in both spring and summer.
<p>**Written by:** Emily Boyd</p>