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Italian bbq menu for 20 tomorrow help please

My DH is having 20 or so colleagues(not to mention higher-ups!) in tomorrow and has decided the main dish is bbq'd Italian sausage (from Spolumbo's for any Calgary people reading this)... so I need to come up with a casual menu working around his main.

So far:

starter: prosciutto wrapped melon
crostini (any ideas other than a tomato bruschetta?)

side: tomato and boccocini salad
what else do you serve with sausage on a bun?
any ideas for a vegetarian option that can be grilled?

dessert: I'd like to try making a semifreddo but it might not be the best fit for this event. Ideas? DH also wants to serve a fruit platter...but I thought there should be something else... mini cannolies maybe?

As you can see I'm all over the place. I just sent 8 houseguests home Thursday morning... I think I'm too tired to focus. As always any suggestions you have will be very much appreciated. Thanks in advance! :)

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  1. You could grill up some veggies as a side. Some zucchini and eggplant sliced lengthwise and grilled with some olive oil and herbs would be yummy. Onions might work nicely too.

    Whenever we would have a big party, my mom would make a big container's worth of tiramisu. Make it the night before...so there's one less thing to think of the day of!

    1. serve some grill-wokked or sauteed bell peppers and onions with the sausages. you can pick up storebought polenta in a tube, slice it & grill *on well-oiled grilling surface.* (note that you can sic your "DH" on these items, taking pressure off of yourself). if you saute some fava beans or baby limas with fresh herbs and seasonings, you can pour them over the polenta with the peppers and onions, and there's your vegetarian option. non-veg folks can enjoy it as a side dish with or without the beans.

      given the time frame and that its your DH's colleagues and higher ups, i don't think it's out of line to buy a quality premade dessert or italian cookies/pastry from a local italian deli or bakery. that way you can get the rest you need & you'll still have time to get everything ready.

      1 Reply
      1. re: soupkitten

        Thanks soupkitten, I bought DH a grilling basket last Father's Day - I think the peppers and onions would make good use of it plus he'll look like a hero doing veggies on the grill lol. I think we'll test drive grilling polenta tonight :)

      2. You could do some sort of chicken liver crostini. Sounds like a good menu - good luck!

        4 Replies
        1. re: MMRuth

          Great idea! Chicken livers are great on the grill- my family does them on skewers with a bay leaf between the livers, all squashed together so that the leaf touches the liver. The result is subtle but a definite presence- that bay leaf really does make a difference. Cut them in half (or, heck, just leave them whole) and put them on the crostini- maybe with even a silght drizzle of reduced balsamic.

          Another crostini idea, and vegetarian friendly, would be some cannelini spread.

          1. re: MMRuth

            Thanks MMRuth, would you do the semifreddo or the cannolies? I can cheat and buy cannoli "shells" at the local italian market... the semifreddo is er intimidating in that if it doesn't turn out then I'm running to the bakery the morning of plus it seems overly formal for a bbq..or maybe it's me?

            1. re: maplesugar

              I agree - it sounds like the cannoli might be the way to go for this. I'm actually not a big fan of either, but that's a personal texture thing! I'd keep it easy for dessert - sounds like you have enough else to do!

              1. re: MMRuth

                lol I do, and what's funny is DH is not worried one bit. I think, since you mentioned the texture thing, I'll get some treats from the bakery so there's some variety...and a bit less work for me :)

          2. Panne cotta served from a large glass bowl with a fruit coulis for topping indivudually. You can do this in advance and it is both stable (if its hot) and less fussy.

            1. I love Cassata Cake for dessert. And my recipe is kind of a cheat - you layer angel food cake peices with sweetened ricotta filling, then frost with a boiled white frosting. It might be a little more work than you are looking for, though.

              1. I'd serve an assortment of Italian bakery cookies for dessert, with coffee.

                As for the crostini, this one serves 20

                Artichoke Crostini

                5 (6 ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
                15 green onions, chopped
                1 5/8 cups grated parmesan cheese, divided
                5/8 cup mayonnaise
                salt and pepper
                60 slices French baguettes (1/2 inch thick)
                1In a bowl, mix together artichoke hearts, green onions, 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, salt, and pepper to taste.
                2Place baguette slices on a baking sheet.
                3Broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until slightly browned.
                4Spoon approximately 1 tablespoon artichoke mixture on each baguette slice and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
                5Broil 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.

                1. Some delicious crostini recipes:

                  Mushroom Pesto Crostini

                  -= Ingredients =-
                  1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
                  8 ounces white button mushrooms ; quartered
                  1/2 cup walnuts ; toasted
                  2 garlic cloves
                  1 1/2 cups fresh Italian parsley leaves
                  3/4 cup olive oil
                  1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan
                  Salt ; to taste
                  Freshly-ground black pepper ; to taste
                  36 slices baguette bread, 1/2" thick

                  -= Instructions =-
                  Place the porcini mushrooms in a bowl of hot water; press to submerge. Let stand until the mushrooms are tender, about 15 minutes. Scoop out mushrooms, being carefully not to stir any dirt that may have sunk to the bottom of the water. Discard mushroom water.

                  Combine the porcini mushrooms, button mushrooms, walnuts, garlic, and parsley in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the machine running, gradually add 1/2 cup of the oil, blending just until the mushrooms are finely chopped.

                  Transfer the mushroom mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste. If not using mushroom pesto right away, cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent possible discoloration of mushrooms.

                  Preheat a grill pan to medium-high heat. Arrange the bread slices on pan, cut-side down. Brush the remaining 1/4 cup of oil over the bread slices. Cook until pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

                  Alternatively, you can toast the bread in the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Arrange the bread slices on 2 heavy large baking sheet. Brush the remaining 1/4 cup of oil over the bread slices. Bake until pale golden and crisp, about 15 minutes.

                  Spread the mushroom pesto over the crostini. Arrange the crostini on a platter and serve.

                  This recipe yields 3 dozen.


                  -= Exported from BigOven =-


                  Recipe By: Castroville Artichoke Festival
                  Serving Size: 6

                  -= Ingredients =-
                  6 whole artichoke hearts ; preserved in olive oil, coarsely chopped
                  4 grape leaves in brine ; stems removed, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
                  1/2 cup imported green olives, such as picholine ; (3 oz) pitted
                  1 garlic clove ; minced
                  1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
                  1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
                  1 tablespoon lemon juice
                  Salt ; and freshly ground black pepper
                  1 long baguette ; sliced diagonally in 1/2" pieces, toasted or grilled Lemon wedge

                  -= Instructions =-
                  You can either cure your own artichokes or buy them already cured. To cure them yourself, pare them to the heart and stew them in a combination of olive oil, water, and lemon juice until tender. Or you can just buy 2 (6-oz) jars of either marinated artichoke hearts or bottoms or those in water (if they're in water, then add some olive oil to the mixture. Combine them with grape leaves, olives, garlic, and lemon and spread on grilled or toasted bread. Serve with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc.


                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Nancy Berry

                    Your crostini recipes look deelicious thanks for sharing Nancy! :)

                  2. I love a Tuscan white bean spread on crostini. A little more filling for vegetarians since their meal will be lighter.

                    1. WOW Thank you everybody! The responses were sooo quick! I'm in awe and I appreciate the time and effort you took to answer my post. This is why I LOVE this board! (time to write my list and go shopping!) Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! :D

                      1. I like the idea of a big antipasto platter because it's quick, easy, but still delicious and pretty...

                        Second the sausage w/ peppers and onions idea...I'd reserve one of the sausages, pan-fry it, and use the remaining fat to cook the peppers and onions in it. Might also want to add a little tomato sauce when making the sandwiches...

                        For dessert, I think figs would go well w/ your italian theme and who doesn't like tiramisu?

                        1. I spent this morning at the emergency dept of Children's for DD#2 for a playtime accident and she's fine, we were just erring on the side of caution...except that caution ate up 4+ hours of prep time... so my menu was a bit abbreviated.

                          Starters: baby cucumber, grape tomatoes, carrots, etc served with (rather un-italian but at least medeterranian) hummus and tzatziki

                          Sahale snacks soledad nuts, & cashews, fontina, dubliner(DH is partial and although not italian made for a nice contrast to the fontina) and raincoast crisps

                          Prosciutto and melon - So quick and so easy! I've always had this out somewhere and never put it together at home...this will be in regular rotation on our party menu!

                          Arancini - because I made the risotto yesterday and HAD to try making it I stuck with it even though I was pressed for time...and fun, delicious but TIME consuming. Make again yes, but not for every get together. I found a recipe for homemade mozza sticks for game night that looks like a lot less work...

                          I didn't get to the crostini but we had plenty of apps and there just wasn't time... definitely bookmarking this thread to make each and every crostini in the near future though.

                          Main/sides: No vegetarians in the crowd so we just served sausages(2 varieties) & buns with the onions and peppers which people seemed thrilled with - they were getting 2nds(and the odd 3rds) My dear husband looked like quite the pro grilling those veggies lol(so cute, and so proud hehe).

                          Tomato & Boccocini salad: beautifully simple and I have half a ball of boccocini to enjoy with the colavita evoo - again one of those things I've had in a resto but never served myself - not anymore.

                          Dessert: I took the get pasteries at the bakery advice and picked up mini cannolies, sicilan cannolies and some mini eclairs and cream puffs, and served them with a platter of fresh berries. Again, simple and delicious ...the fruit, small desserts and prosecco were a nice way to end the meal without being too heavy. I still want to try making cannolies myself soon...today just wasn't the day.

                          Once again Thank You everybody - guests were talking about two things it seemed: golf (3rd round on TV at the request of a guest) and the food - and I'm still smiling. :D

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: maplesugar

                            If it ever comes up again, I just returned the new Mario Batali book to the library, called Italian Grilling or something like that. It was a really really nice book with lots of interesting and easy recipes, several of which I'll be trying soon: grilled artichokes with mint and chiles, grilled porcini with vin cotto, monkfish in proscuitto with pesto fregola, grilled lobster with lemon oil and limoncello, fennel with sambuca and grapefruit, etc etc. Just in case your guests invite themselves back ;-).