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Dinner party for 10--easy. Make ahead?

I'll be having a dinner party for 10 in mid-June and would love your recipes for easyish dishes. Seasonal suggestions are good, and I live in a multi-ethnic area so I have access to a wide variety of ingredients. (I don't have really great access to seafood, though.) Even better if dishes can be cooked in advance. Thanks!

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  1. My go-to dish is paella. You can prep it ahead of time and throwing it together before the guests arrive only takes a couple of minutes.

    1. I recently (finally) did the famous chicken marbella for a dinner party. Super easy and everyone loved it...and leftovers were fabulous. Attached is the version for boneless breasts, which I used, but the original recipe uses chicken parts--google silver palate chicken marbella for the original recipe.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Marge

        I've clicked on this link and my computer froze both times. Is there another way to get to this recipe?

        1. re: Joebob

          Google Joan Nathan chicken marbella.

        2. re: Marge

          I'm not sure that everyone loves chicken Marbella. I for one find it nauseating and I am always horrified when it shows up at a dinner party. It's got a huge amount of sugar in it and prunes and olives. Yeech. What a combo. I hate sweet food.

          1. re: roxlet

            I dislike sweet food as well, which is why I used just a sprinkle of raw sugar when I made this dish. I don't find prunes and olive "yeech" though...although the recipe initially looked strange to me, with all the raves throughout so many years, I had to try it, and was glad I did (as were all of my guests, none of whom were "horrified".

            1. re: Marge

              Well, a "sprinkle" of sugar is certainly not part of that recipe (I believe it calls for a cup of brown sugar!!), and I fear that most people follow it to the letter.
              For make-ahead for a crowd, what about a lasagna, or crespelle filled with the freshest, most delicious ricotta? It is simple to make ahead, and is fabulous with a nice green salad, and some bruscetta to start. For the crespelle, I make a simple crepe recipe from any cookbook. These can even be made ahead and frozen. For the filling, look for a cheese ravioli filing, and use that. I make a very simple marinara sauce, and pop it in the oven about 40 minutes before dining. It also has the virtue of being meatless, for those surprise vegetarian guests...

              1. re: Marge

                The recipe looks strange, until you taste it. I, too, lower the sugar called for. I don't tell people what's in it unless they ask; I just say it is a Mediterrannean chicken marinade.

                I know it's silly, but I really don't like the name. It sounds like cafeteria food.

          2. I second the chicken marbella. It is lovely.

            1 Reply
            1. re: sarah galvin

              the version i've had wasn't that sweet. i don't like food sweet at all. it had a nice sweet-salty balance with the capers/olives.
              never made it myself though.
              but it might not go over for picky eaters. i love coq au vin for a party but don't think of it as very summery. is great with a nice salad and your choice of potatoes or noodles or just crusty bread.

            2. Moussaka: easily made ahead and easy to reheat.

              1. Hi! I think you can get some great brainstorming ideas from this link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_mo Many different recipes for dinner parties, and I noticed one indeed was entitled "make ahead dinner party". There are also links for paella recipes, per Sarah's great suggestion.

                For me, I love coq au vin. It tastes even better day # 2. You can easily adjust this recipe for 10: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Tehama

                  so funny - hadn't read yours yet when i posted above! everyone loves coq au vin. chicken and bacon - what's not to like?

                2. Thanks so much for these great suggestions! Any desert and side dish recs, too?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

                    Just recently, I made the Pancetta-Wrapped Asparagus with Citronette and the Limoncello Gelee from the Bitten Word blog. They were both divine! Go to http://thebittenword.typepad.com/theb... and scroll down page for the photos and recipes for both.

                  2. Lasagna or pasta with a variety of sources that can be warmed up on the stove.

                    1. I had a dinner party at the beginning of the month and made the following:

                      Pesto stuffed Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breasts-

                      Tiramisu- http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                      I served the chicken with a side of roasted veggie pasta, and a skewer of marinated bocconcini. All were very very good. I made the chicken, skewers, roasted veggies, and Tiramisu ahead, and then just had to heat up the veggies, cook the pasta, and throw the chicken in the oven when the guests arrived. The tiramisu was particularly good. I changed the recipe though, and skipped the gelatin step totally, and served made it in individual parfait glasses. I totatly recommend it :)

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Finsmom

                        Yum! Everything is better wrapped in prosciutto.

                        I will definitely make the tiramisu. Would it be okay made in advance?

                          1. re: Henrietta Stackpole

                            When I make a tiramasu, I use Barefoot Contessa's recipe. It has less eggs, and its pretty foolproof. I would advise your guests that there are raw eggs in the dish. Some people have compromised immune systems and can't handle that.

                        1. I always try to use my crock pot if I'm cooking for a crowd. Pulled pork tacos are my go to recipe there. I've also had great success with lasagna or baked ziti when cooking for groups. Chicken and 40 Cloves is easy to make and looks and smells fantastic too.

                          Great side dishes are tossed salads, roasted or grilled veggies (these can be cut the night before),

                          Strawberries marinated briefly in balsamic vinegar and black pepper over ice cream, and served in a wine or cocktail glass makes an elegant and surprising dessert.

                          1. The tiramisu can totally be made a couple days in advance. Let me know how it goes for you! It is soooooo incredibly good. I topped mine with chocolate curls - which looked cool and were fun to make!

                            1. We just had a dinner party for 9 and needed something easy. We went with build-your-own soft tacos. I used a modified version of the Epicurious Crispy Pork with Avocado Salsa http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... for the meat filling. I made that the day of because it requires so little effort. The day before I made some black beans and then we used the cooking liquor for some rice. I made a really delicious tomato sauce from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (the one that goes with the Spicy Pork Buns recipe--I simplified it a bit). I mixed this with some of the black beans, leaving some plain for those who don't like spicy food. We had guacamole for garnish and could have had other items if we'd thought of it. Served with a large green salad (including the miners' lettuce we found at the farmers' market). Finished it up with homemade mixed berry crumble (two packages frozen mixed berries heated with sugar and thickened with cornstarch. crumble topping from Fannie Farmer called something like Oat Crisp topping--we don't pre-cook it, just add it raw to top of crumble) and homemade cinnamon ice cream. Could easily do a crumble with seasonal fruit from farmer's market or just do fruit with ice cream or shortcake or something. Made the berry filling, crumble topping and ice cream base the day before. Churned ice cream day of.
                              Everyone seemed to enjoy the meal and it wasn't very hard to put together, especially since so much could be made ahead. (We didn't make our own corn tortillas.)

                              1. One of my favorite dinner party menus (and a big hit, too) was adobo-marinated pork loin with mango salsa (Cooking Light recipe as I recall). I served it with black beans and rice. A nice tomato/avocado salad is a nice accompaniment also. Spicy/cooling flavors. The pork loin was grilled after guests arrived, but everything else was made ahead.

                                Another big hit with a crowd was a dijon-marinated london broil grilled after guests arrived. We served it with a wonderful make-ahead panzanella salad (we added mozzarella and kalamata olives to the panzanella.)