If you are catering for a buffet or a sit down dinner for a mixed group, you might find yourself catering for vegetarians or vegans, in which case you are perhaps unsure of what to make. A vegan does not eat any animal products so that eliminates meat, fish, cheese, eggs, milk and cream.

If you are looking for vegan starter recipes there are plenty of dishes you can make. Fresh vegetables can be used to make tasty starters, as well as pulses, nuts, grains, fruit and more. You can make mushroom pate instead of meat pate or use tofu to replace fish, poultry or meat in other starter recipes. Big juicy portobello mushrooms can act as a meat replacement and you can grill or barbecue these to make really nice starters or main courses.

Portobello Mushrooms, Exotic Salads and More

In fact, if you are making hamburgers on the barbecue for the meat eaters, what about barbecuing whole portobello mushrooms for the vegetarians and vegans? They are so full of earthy flavour and amazing with salad, relish and cheese (even vegan cheese!)

A mixed salad is great as a vegan starter recipe and you can combine vegetables, fruit, nuts and even some vegan cheese or grilled tofu cubes. Marinate the tofu in a delicious sauce before grilling it and it will have an amazing flavour.

Vegan food never has to be boring and a little knowledge about what do vegans eat and what do vegans not eat means that you can make the most delicious vegan starter recipes.

Recipe for Vegan Empanadas

This delicious vegan starter recipe makes six empanadas. Whether or not you are catering for vegans everyone will love this recipe for vegan empanadas. They are baked rather than deep fried. These make a filling starter recipe or a delicious lunch or vegan snack.

You will need:

300g white flour

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

60g apple sauce

4 tablespoons soy margarine, in 1cm cubes

1 minced clove garlic

120g cooked black beans

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 chopped onion

2 chopped bananas (or peppers, spinach or corn)

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Non-stick cooking spray

Spicy tomato salsa, for dipping

How to make them:

Sift the flour with the chilli powder and salt. Add the margarine, rubbing it with your fingers until it is like fine breadcrumbs. Whisk the vinegar, apple sauce and 70ml water together in another bowl, then add this mixture to the flour mixture, combining it until you get a dough.

Add more water if need be but add it slowly. Knead the dough then form it into a ball, cover it in cling-film and put it in the fridge overnight or for an least an hour. Heat the oil in a frying pan and saute the onion for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and beans, turn the heat down to medium and cook them for 3 minutes. Stir in the cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and bananas and cook for a couple more minutes. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the hot pepper sauce and fresh coriander.

Divide the dough into 12 pieces. Spray the cooking spray on a baking sheet and roll out each dough ball to a 15cm round which is 1/2 cm thick on a lightly floured chopping board. Fill each one with 2 tablespoons of the filling and brush water on the pastry edges.

Fold the dough circles in half and crimp the edges with a fork to seal them. Put them on the baking sheet and chill them for 20 minutes in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Bake the vegan empanadas for 20 minutes then let them cool for 5 minutes before you serve them. You can serve some salsa for dipping with these vegan enchiladas if you want.