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Jan 11, 2005 12:02 PM

dinner for a crowd

  • e

I am looking for ideas for dinner for 12. It has to be casual, as we do not plan on having seats for everyone.

I want to do something other than spag and meatballs- any ideas?? But one pot dishes are a good idea.


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  1. We recently had nearly 30 guests for dinner, and like you wanted to keep it casual. Instead of buying deli trays I made my own. I went to the best grocer in the area and bought the specialty meats and cheeses, ordered a few varieties of rolls, and had an assortment of condiments. It worked out beautifully and was very easy. Doing it myself vs buying premade platters allowed me to get the nicer varieties for less money overall.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Mary

      You could also roast the meats yourself. A lovely buffet could be set up with excellent rolls and bread, a roast pork shoulder (a nice cheap cut), small roast turkey or turkey breast, bowls of mustards and relishes, some pickled vegetables (mushrooms!), a platter of nice cheeses, olives, and so on. I would do a very rustic dessert - free-form apple tart, maybe. Also, easy to eat with one's hands, and the roasting can be done the day before.

      1. re: curiousbaker

        Good idea about doing the meats ourselves. We did the entire dinner but guests brought the desserts, so at least I didn't have to think about that. It was a beautiful spread and was perfect for this particular group.

        We have done other dinners with upwards of 45 people, and usually I do lasagna and stuffed shells for those. We are in a new home though and I didn't want to chance red sauce/carpet, lol!

        1. re: curiousbaker

          I second the buffet. My standard is a baked ham, a basket of small rolls so people can carve their own ham and make sandwiches (have several mustards), a hot casserole such as baked beans or potatoes au gratin, and several salads. To expand this for a really large group, have a turkey at the other end of the table, do both hot casseroles, and have more salads. Unless your guests are all vegetarians you can't go wrong with this. For a group up to 12, I also like to do a Middle-Eastern buffet with a big pan of moussaka, dill rice or spanakorizo, and all the things like fattoush, hummos, baba ganooj, cucumber salad, pita, etc., and a pan of baklava for dessert. The idea of a buffet is to overwhelm everybody (and luckily for you, you can prepare most of it ahead of time and the leftovers are your reward for hard labor).

          1. re: N Tocus

            Yes, the make ahead and leftovers! Our kids were in heaven with the good sandwich items for their school lunches. Apparently they felt they were deprived before, lol!

      2. My parents have casual dinner gatherings pretty frequently. Main qualifications are not too messy and can be eaten without needing to simultanously use a fork and knife. Past meals have been:

        - Middle Eastern: hummus, tabouleh, baba ghanoush, kebabs, salad, falafel, etc.

        - A ham or roast beef with bread, cheese, salad, roast veggies

        - Paella (although that can be a messy one to eat if you are balancing it in your lap- rice everywhere.)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Meils

          I was going to suggest hummus, tahini, tabuleh etc. and for the main dish a mountain chicken pie - herbs, leeks, chicken and feta all wrapped in phyllo. Everything can be made ahead. If you are interested in the pie recipe let me know.

          1. re: AimeeP

            I'm interested in the recipe. Could you post it?

        2. sandwiches - pulled pork, curry chicken, grilled vegetables, braised beef, gyros (this was my menu this past new years eve)

          stews, curries, hotpots also work well.

          homemade pizza usually goes over well. just par cook and finish when ready to serve.

          pad thai,

          singapore noodles,

          stir frys,

          or diffent pastas with differnt sauces (maybe even a choice for your guests)

          good luck and update us as to what you end up doing.

          1. lasagna

            spinach feta pie (there is an easy and scrumptious recipe in the bareforr contessa cookbook)

            roast chicken

            have fun!

            1. last month i did baked ziti with turkey sausage and spinach for 14 guests and it worked very well - quicker to assemble than lasagne and easier to eat off a plate on one's lap than spaghetti. jambalaya is also easy to make for a crowd, if you want to do something different from red sauce italian.