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Foods that don't need plates

  • k

I am having about 30 people over for an afternoon party during July 4th weekend or the following weekend. I don't like to use paper plates and don't want to take china outside so I am looking for suggestions. I am already planning on hummus and pita, bruchetta, and white bean dip, salsa and olive tapinade with a variety of good chips and vegatables. Cheeses are out since some of the people are vegan. I appreciate any suggestions. Thanks

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  1. There are a lot of vegan cheeses out there these days. I haven't tried any, but others might have ideas?

    My guests enjoyed endives filled with a basic tomato/parsley/onion filling, topped with smoked salmon and capers. You would of course leave out the salmon, and maybe spruce up the filling with other veggies?

    Cupcakes for dessert seem like a good idea.

    1. ooo, I've always wanted to do this. Make some sort of Asian noodle salad, maybe with spicy peanut sauce and soba and serve them in individual Chinese take out boxes and disposable chopsticks!

      2 Replies
      1. re: Wendy Lai

        beautiful idea! wish I'd thought of it.

        1. re: Wendy Lai

          That is "the" appetizer dish served at every single cocktail party I have been to in the last year. Frankly, around here the novelty has worn off and the last pary I went to rarely anyone took one when being passed because they are over them and most caterers have dummed them down so much they don't taste like anything except skippy. Its too bad because I love good peanut (dan dan)noodles!

        2. Although I am guessing it's probably summer where you are (I'm in the Australian 'winter') you could use a baked and hollowed pumpkin as a carrier for the dips - or a hollowed cob loaf of bread.

          Springrolls would be good finger food as would wraps, mini-quiches (egg though...), and how about some baked potato skins or vege-filled samosas or pasties?

          1. How about potstickers or satay or some other type of skewers? Fresh fruit on skewers would be a cooling dessert.

            1. Veggie hand rolls or cut rolls are easy (and filling). I had various sauces (ponzu, sriracha, etc.) in small bowls with demitasse spoons in case someone wanted to add a kick. I've also made rolls with mango/papaya and daikon for a sweet/peppery roll that's a little different.

              1. I really think your guests are going to want plates of some sort. NO matter how finger-friendly your offerings are (and I think you have some great suggestions below), people will only be able to take one item at a time, and will have a hard time with all the different dips you are making. I'm visualizing people just standing around the table, eating off it as if it were a trough. I'm not sure that's what you want.

                I am sure your food will be delicious and I don't think people are going to want to grab one bite and wander away.

                What about going to TArget or Walmart (or frou-frou gift shops depending on your budget) and buying melamine dinner or salad plates in bright colors, and then pitch them at the end of the evening? I know you don't want that Walmart matching-tropical-fish-motif look for your party, but I think if you do just the plates, and mix them with real cloth napkins and table cloths, or other more elegant bits you can pull it off. What are you doing for glassware?

                3 Replies
                1. re: danna

                  I agree, you are going to need some sort of plate, that plastic Scrollware available at Sam's and Costco would be good. You can pitch it or wash and reuse if you want.

                  Of course you can have cheese and smoked salmon or anything your heart desires,it is your party amnd there is no point in punishing many of your guests because some are vegan. Just be sure the vegans know which foods they might want to avoid

                  1. re: danna

                    I think melamine plates are a fantastic idea because they're pretty and very lightweight. I wouldn't pitch them at the end of the evening, just because I'd be wracked with guilt over creating so much waste. If your concern is generating waste from paper plates, you could use the melamine, and keep them as your outdoor party set. Or, sell/donate them to a thrift store.

                    OR, get melanine bowls instead of plates and let guests fill them leftovers and cover with plastic wrap to take home. It just occured to me that this would work really well with the Chinese take out box idea as well; and you'd get a little more use out of them than paper plates that are tossed right away.

                    I agree that it's hard to eat plateless; you'll have a lot of food on the ground.

                    1. re: danna

                      I agree. You will have absolutly no flow of guests if you don't have plates. People who are hungry will have no choice but to stand around the food stations. Plus I assuming it is outside and not people might want to pick up a few samplings and then go sit in the shade.

                    2. i'd make vietnamese summer rolls. substitute seasoned tofu for the shrimp/pork. if you want a recipe, i'll post one, but it shouldn't be hard to find!

                      1. devils on horseback!!!

                        1 pit a bunch of dates
                        2 slip a sliver of garlic into the hole
                        3 wrap each date with 1/2 slice of good bacon
                        4 secure bacon with toothpick
                        5 bake at 325 or 350 until the bacon is "done" (i guess i let this go for about 10 to 13 minutes depending on a lot of factors)

                        the toothpicks serve as a convenient handle so people don't have to get greasy to eat them.


                        1 Reply
                        1. re: renee

                          um, put a sign up that the bacon is from piggies, or use the fake stuff if it comes in a vegan form. but it's really good, and I've never had a vegan person (many of my friends are) object to this being included in a spread for a mix of eating styles.

                        2. Thanks All! there are some great suggestions and I now have lots of ideas including cupcakes and fruit skewers for desert. I think I will just get some melamine plates and use them for outside. Thank you all for your suggestions!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: kass

                            Might be too cutesy for you, but I saw melamine plates at the Disney Store. $1.99 for either of two sizes (about 10" and 7"). They're squares with rounded edges, and of course have Disney characters on them. I thought they'd be adorable for someone who throws a lot of kids' parties. Urban Outfitters has some plain ones on sale, but Target always has them cheap and in summery colors and patterns.

                          2. What if you made edible plates? Two examples could be large squares of a sturdy bread like foccacia or fry some torillas for bowls (like for taco salad). It would be differant and no paper waste.