HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Please help me plan for a grill dinner party!

Hounds, I turn to you as I know y'all are much more capable than I coming up with menu ideas. The sitch: I need to "cater" a dinner for my parents and a "VIP" guest. They'd like it to be a grilled sort of meal as it will be eaten outdoors. They want the food to be impressive but also able to be enjoyed in a casual setting. I don't believe there is a preference towards seafood or red meat, but my mother does not eat poultry so I think that should be out(don't want to be cooking different things for everyone). So I am looking for a complete menu: Hors d'oeuvre, appetizers, main, side dishes, dessert(fruit based would be best as we've got some great fruit around right now). I might not do everything, but the more ideas I have the better so as to choose from. TIA CH'ers!!

Edited to add: BTW the dinner will be this Saturday. Not much time to plan and organize! I might be in trouble here.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I am willing to play. What is your budget per person?

    1 Reply
    1. re: smtucker

      No budget, smtucker. Thanks everyone, I'm seeing lots of good ideas that I'm liking. We've got some good corn, so I'll definitely work in a salad using that(though that corn soup sounds great too...). Still ruminating on a main. And I think I'm leaning towards a cobbler of sorts with some good vanilla ice cream as it is freakin' hot here in So. CA! Would love even more suggestions.

    2. B,
      You're right, time is a tickin' The thread regarding grilled pork loin would come in handy, should you choose to go that route. Makes a great presentation, takes very little prep and grilling is virtually done by itself. Try the pineapple salsa, it would be wonderful. Sides are easy, maybe grilled veggies, and a nice orzo salad. End it all with a nice fruit cobbler. (Nectarines, peaches and blueberries make a great combo.)

      1. hors doovers:
        Sliced toasted baguette with bruschetta topping
        Same sliced toasted baguette with cheeses
        melon wrapped with prosciutto (cantaloupe is getting good)

        Appetizers: no. Or think of your own

        Grilled ribeye slices (with a sauce if you must)
        Grilled fish (I'd vote for lake trout if you can find it) with a simple mango salsa.

        Grilled zucchini, grilled mushrooms, grilled asparagus grilled potatoes.

        Berry cobbler, and good vanilla ice cream. If you have an interesting gelato haunt, maybe some good gelato. Wanna get a tiny bit funky witth it? Reduce some decent balsamic vinegar, and drizzle on top.

        Keep it simple with EXCELLENT ingredients. Makes life so much easier when the food can speak for itself. Easier for you as well.

        1. I don't have an entire menu for you - but something i have recently done that met with great reviews is grilled avocado. Halve a few avocados and place cut side down in some olive oil and lime juice and salt. Grill avocados for just a few minutes moving the position just once to get some nice grill marks - also have prepared a cherry tomato and herb salad to spoon onto the avocado half and serve.

          1. Cold crab with lime, fish sauce and chopped bird's tongue chile on endive leaves

            Grilled eggplant soup with red pepper cream, or
            Chilled corn soup garnished with olive oil and shredded basil

            Grilled asparagus dressed with lemon and olive oil (and garnished with chives and crushed hard-cooked eggs if you like), or
            Shrimp marinated in berbere spices, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil, grilled, served on grilled radicchio and topped with baby greens

            Grilled butterflied leg of lamb, served on arugula or baby spinach
            Baby new potatoes, bacon chunks, chopped garlic, fresh thyme and bay leaf (add a truffle if you want to take it over the top) drizzled with melted butter, wrapped in foil and grilled
            Grilled eggplant if not used for soup

            Grilled apricots, peaches or nectarines with ice cream (almond, vanilla or pistachio), or
            Cherry clafoutis, or
            Strawberry shortcakes, or
            Bitter almond semi-freddo with sautéed strawberries deglazed with balsamic vinegar

            2 Replies
            1. re: carswell

              Ina Garten's Roasted Vegetables with Orzo Salad

              Nigella's Watermelon, Feta Salad

              Ina's Grilled Butterflied Lamb

              Also, I have a roasted corn, black bean, avacado salsa recipe. It's a great app. Let me know if you want me to post it.

              BTW, I have been hosting parties for 40 years. I wore myself out in the beginning years, learned to have fun these past ten! Don't wait that long. ; )

              1. re: mcel215

                Would love the corn, bean, avocado salsa recipe. Thanks!

            2. I posted this recently: I made a recent fantastic salad that was on a grilled portobello mush. - mix fresh tomatoes, red onion, celery, 1 or 2 portobello chopped, chopped stale bread, handful of fresh parsley, fresh grated parm - lemon juice and evoo for dressing. just pile onto grilled port mushroom that was grilled with evoo and some rosemary. Delish and nice company to tenderloins or a grilled pork tenderloin with a berry balsamic reduction sauce.

              1. Hors d'oeuvres
                Lump crab with avocado-wasabi creme in sesame wonton cups
                Endive leaves stuffed with blue cheese and walnuts
                Smoked salmon on rye toast points with dill and caviar
                Bread bowl of ajvar and cheese

                Roasted red pepper soup with goat cheese swirl
                Watermelon gazpacho

                Morrocan-spiced butterflied leg of lamb
                Hickory smoked pork butt with a rum-chili rub
                Red curry-rubbed steak
                Argentinan parillada (flank steak, chorizos, morcillas, sweetbreads) with chimichurri

                Roasted corn with tequila lime butter
                Couscous with roasted vegetables
                Baba ghannouj
                Roast vegetable panzanella
                Napa cabbage slaw with sesame-rice vinegar dressing
                Watermelon and feta salad

                Grilled pineapple with ginger-rum glaze atop Haagen-Dazs honey ice cream
                Homemade avocado and corn ice creams (try it! they're suprisingly good!)

                1. Impressive and expensive...grilled seafood (lobster, scallops, tiger shrimp)!

                  1. I recently had a grill party for 6 I went with almost all kabob theme and the main was served on baby greens with delicious dressing.

                    Fresh fruit tray- strawberries,blackberries, green and red seedless grapes, watermelon and cantelope. Was a perfect way to start on a hot day

                    Appetizer - Tiger Shrimp with an Asian/ginger hoisin sauce, and grilled pineapple-(grilled pineapple was loved by everyone)
                    Grill rib eye steak kabobs and chicken
                    Main was the a salmon wrapped with cilantro, mint and a brushed with a ginger/rice vinegar, garlic, and ginger glaze, Was easy to portion and then placed warm on baby greens with grilled asparagus and served with the warm dressing.

                    Dessert was homemade starwberry ice cream and cookies.

                    1. Here are some suggestions using seasonal produce, you may not want to do all of them:

                      Apps - Pimento cheese dip on grilled ciabatta toasts, chilled jumbo shrimp with ravigote dipping sauce, Italian antipasto tray with assorted salamis, prosciutto, cheeses, nuts (almonds, pecans), mussels marinara (sit down appetizer)

                      Salads - spinach, strawberry & red onion with sherry vinaigrette, tossed greed salad with homemade green goddess dressing, chilled orzo saladwith grilled salmon and grilled veggies (more of main course salad)

                      Nains - love the grilled butterflied leg of lamb, grilled tri tip/flank stea/skirt steak with chimichurri sauce, marinated grilled veal chops (you said budget was not issue!), skewers of marinated shrimp and sea scallops with red, yellow & green peppers

                      Side dishes - roasted corn, black bean, bell pepper & onion salad with vinaigrette, room temp grilled ratatouille, grilled zucchini stuffed with cheese, room temp white & wild rice with veggies,

                      Desserts - s'mores made with quality cookies, 70% semi-sweet choc, better quality marshmallows (ever made your own? yum!), Ina's lemon curd bars, peach & blueberry cobbler/crisp/galette

                      1. I recently made this warm potato, shrimp salad, which is incredibly simple & tasty:


                        Red potatoes, small
                        Jumbo uncooked shrimp
                        Asparagus spears
                        Olive oil
                        Rice vinegar
                        salt, pepper

                        1. Microwave red potatoes, about 5 minutes, so par-cooked.
                        2. Cut potatoes in half & place on skewers. (Or leave unskewered but easier to turn if skewered).
                        3. Thread peeled jumbo shrimp on skewers.
                        4. Coat potatoes, shrimp & asparagus with olive oil.
                        5. Cook potatoes, shrimp, and asparagus spears on medium, high grill for about 6 minutes, turning 1/2-way through.
                        6. Remove from grill. Slice potatoes in 1/2 (ie. so they are now quartered). Slice asparagus into bite size pieces.
                        7. Place potatoes, asparagus & shrimp in serving bowl. Season with rice vinegar, more olive oil, salt & pepper to taste.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: masha

                          masha, love this grilled salad idea. A little different and I guess one could add galric, herbs to their liking. I love potatoes cooked and used in a salad with vingar dressing. Great idea!

                        2. Appetizers:
                          grilled pizzas, guests can make their own, or you can choose two or three combinations that are pre-selected. If you have a pizza place that will sell you the dough, this is easy.
                          bowl of olives
                          maybe a little hummus with raw veggies

                          grilled boneless leg of lamb, or Alton Brown's gyro recipe
                          serve with grilled eggplant salad [eggplant, tomato, herbs, olive oil, lemon juice]
                          orzo salad with grilled veggies or grilled corn succotash
                          greek salad with some feta cheese

                          grilled fruit tarts with home made [or other high quality] ice cream

                          lemon/ice tea with or without some alchohol

                          1. Texas - cowboy steak, 2 ribs cap on. Mash with garlic, rosemary , pepper crust and marinate in tamari marinade, Med Rare slice it on a bias