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Help with Easy Sunday Lunch Menu

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HI Everyone. I am having some really close friends over for lunch on Sunday. All are bringing their kids - we will have 4 under 18 months old running around. I would like a menu that I could make ahead as much as possible since I also have an 18 month old son. It also needs to be easy and casual. I was thinking of a really nice entree salad and maybe a berry trifle for dessert. Any suggestions? I live in a rural area but am going to a very nice grocery store on Saturday and should be able to get any ingredients necessary. Thanks!

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  1. Well, how about some lettuce wraps? Serve leaves of boston lettuce with grilled chicken, shredded carrot, cabbage, bean sprouts, thin rice noodles and a peanut sauce. Your guests can make their own and you can either put everything on one big platter, or make individual plates. Everything can be made ahead of time.

    Or maybe an antipasto? That's a great spread that you can do ahead of time as well.

    I love the idea of a berry trifle. My mom makes one with raspberries. You could also do a simple mixed berry deal served with sweetened cream.

    Sounds like a wonderful lunch, no matter what you have to eat!

    1 Reply
    1. re: QueenB

      I love lettuce wraps! I serve them with grilled shrimp, mango salsa and avacodo-like tacos. Also sometimes I make lobster (or chicken for the kids) tacos-you can get cooked lobster meat at the market, prepare all the other ingredients, chopped onions, shredded cheese, salsa (buy a good prepared version), tomatoes, etc. All room temperature. Very easy and delicious. Very cinco de mayo.

      Something else I make which is very easy and extremely wonderful is a "sun cooked" tomato sauce over pasta served with grilled lamb kebabs or any kind of gourmet sausage. I take a few pounds of plum tomatoes, halved and seeded, throw them on a roasting pan, add a whole head of garlic, drizzle the whole thing with some olive oil and pop in a hot oven (400-425F) until tomato skins are falling away and everything is sizzling.
      Let tomatoes cool and remove skins (the skins will be barely attached. Chop the tomatoes, garlic cloves (will be like a paste, Add to a bowl, add 1/4-1/2 good Ev olive oil, salt, pepper, and shome chopped basil. Cover in plastic wrap and set out in the sun (if the sun is out). I often do not bother with this step and find the results are still great.
      To serve, cook some pasta (usually spaghetti in my house). Toss the hot pasta and a little of the pasta water with the room temp sauce and serve immediately with lots of grated parmesan cheese.

      Lamb kebabs-you can get lamb bits for stewing (not sure if that is the shoulder or some other part). Prepare a marinade of olive oil, garlic, rosemary sprigs or dried, lemon zest, salt and pepper, I put in in a big ziploc bag, toss the lamb in and marinate overnight or in the morning. All you have to do is string the morsels on a wooden skewer (or a rosemarly twig to be fancy) and grill with some red onion slices. Sometimes I will stick a sprig of fresh rosemary in the last morsel on the skewer so it loooks impressive but I did not have to struggle with rosemary twigs.

      I can think of nothing lovelier to follow than trifle-a family favorite and so beautiful to look at. I also like pavlova, which is very easy to prepare also and looks and tastes fantastic filled with whipped cream and berries or chocolate mouse and whipped cream.

      Enjoy your time with your friends.

    2. Soups and quiche are also always nice for a casual Sunday lunch, and can be made far ahead of time. Most are also easy to put together and light on the budget.

      1. Couple simple ideas --

        Salad-wise, a go-to favorite for me is chicken, walnuts (toasted), apples, goat-cheese and current salad with lime and olive oil dressing. Salad-green-wise I like mixing it up -- lettuces, dill, parsley, taragon, etc. Very satisfying and you can easily leave out the chicken if you have non-chicken-eaters in your midst. Not sure the little ones would like it -- but they'd probably like the chicken and some of the other ingredients if you kept them separate.

        Pesto-pasta-salad with tuna and pine-nuts could be another good one. Perfectly servable cold and lots of people like it.

        If you felt more ambitious, you could also make some biscuits the night before and pop in the oven before serving. And possibly a vichyssoise or chilled cucumber soup...

        1. If you can get your hands on some nice tuna, a salad nicoise would be great.

          1. Really good oven baked mac 'n cheese. It's all do-ahead, very yummy, and the kids might even go for it.

            1 Reply
            1. re: chloe103

              Sounds good with some creamy tomato soup, a mixed green salad w/ vinegarette and some crusty bread... though this does sound a little heavy for lunch, at least to me.

              A prep-ahead, bake the morning of strata again w/ salad, and maybe a side of roasted veggies; for dessert I might consider grilled fruit.

              Soup, salad, and mini sandwiches might be fun and appeal to the youngsters as well.

              You might also look to the crockpot before you head to bed, to make something like chili to be served with salad and cornbread.