HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Request for make-ahead recipes for serving room temp, buffet style...


I'm trying to do food for my wedding...only 26 people, so it should not be insane. Also, only a light lunch.

I want to do it vegetarian, simple, and things that can be served at room temperature...Any thoughts?
What kind of veggie dips have people had good luck with in the past? [dips for veggies or dips for chips...]
Also, anyone have a fool proof baba ghanouj recipe? I've tried 3 or 4, and have failed each time sadly...
Or a truly amazing chickpea or somesuch salad?

Thanks in advance =)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. frittatas and/or quiches with a variety of veggie fillings are terrific make-ahead room temp dishes

    some grain salads (e.g. quinoa, tabbouleh, barley) are also good at room temp

    my black bean dip recipe has garnered a stamp of approval from many fellow CHers:

    and there have been tons of discussions here on CH about baba ghannouj. you might want to read through some of these threads to see if any of the recipes appeal to you:

    oh, and congrats on the upcoming nuptials!

    1. Something simple - grill up a bunch of veggies such as zucchini, different colored peppers, shrooms, even slices of potato. Brush with a good quality olive oil, sprinkle with salt and grill either on a BBQ grill or on a grill pan on the stove.
      Another thing I make big batches of is hummus . . . my only ingredients are cooked garbanzo beans, lots of fresh lemon juice and good olive oil with any type of herb, a fair amount of salt. A cuisinart makes short work of it, but I blend a LOT and use Lots of lemon and oil - comes out fluffy and delicious.

      1. kiarrith,

        loubieh is a mid-eastern dish of green beans in olive oil, with tomato, garlic and onion. it is very savory and perfectly vegetarian. if you can use "pole beans" instead of just regular green beans, you'll be very happy. but regular green beans are very good, too. i just like the texture and heft of pole beans in this dish.

        here's the recipe: http://almashriq.hiof.no/general/600/...

        note: you don't have to use a pressure cooker, just cook till soft -- like southern beans ;-).

        it's best at room temp, and there's nothing to spoil if it is out for a while! plus, it is better if made ahead. you can't do any better than that. ;-).

        ratatouille would be good, as well.

        1. The Thomas Keller Biyaldi (the base for the dish in the movie Ratatouille) is beautiful, vegetarian, and holds well at room temp. You can get various various versions off Google. It's a pain to make without a mandoline, though.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Richard L

            keller uses a mandoline for "biyaldi"? i guess then i don't know what "bayildi" is...

            i know imam bayidi is stuffed eggplant.

          2. Marinate cooked or canned rinsed chickpeas in a garlicky vinaigrette overnight, then add A TON of chopped flat leaf parsley, really lots. You can add halved cherry or grape tomatoes or chopped black olives if they are not redundant with the rest of your meal but not necessary. Sounds too simple to be good but it always goes fast.

            1 Reply
            1. re: GretchenS

              a lemony, garlicky vinaigrette. the mid-east spice sumac is a nice addition, too.

            2. here is another delicious recipe from lebanon -- stuffed vine leaves in oil. there are meat versions, but this one is vegetarian: http://almashriq.hiof.no/general/600/...

              and how about spinach turnovers: http://almashriq.hiof.no/general/600/...

              and here is a recipe from the same source for baba g: http://almashriq.hiof.no/general/600/...

              1. There is a wonderful recipe in the Sunday Suppers at Lucques cookbook for First-of-the-Season Succotash Salad which I have made many times and served at room temp. I searched the board for the recipe, but could only find a discussion. I'm not at home, but if you want the recipe I could post it this weekend.
                Briefly, it is summer squash, diced and sauteed, corn off the cob, sauteed, lima beans (I use frozen edamame) and I forget what else, with a lemony dressing served over watercress. You can do all the veggies ahead of time, separately, then toss together with dressing before serving. It's easy to adjust the quantities for a crowd...nothing needs to be really precise. Let me know if you want me to look up the recipe, or maybe you can search for it on line.
                I also recently posted a recipe for pineapple cucumber recipe that is nice at room temp and can be prepped ahead of time.
                I have also had some nice salads at recent potlucks that were made with Israeli couscous. I don't have a particular recipe, but you could easily find something on epicurious.com or this board. It makes a nice base for a vegetarian salad without being a "pasta"salad.
                Falafel is good, and can be made well ahead and frozen.

                1 Reply
                1. re: pcdarnell

                  pc, that succotash sounds fabulous! i love edamame.

                2. First, congratulations on your impending nuptials!

                  A roasted red pepper dip is excellent for vegetables or toasted pita chips - http://smittenkitchen.com/2007/08/dor... Brush the cut pita pieces with oil and sprinkle some ground sumac over them before toasting.

                  Small skewers of small mozzarella balls, fresh basil, and oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes then drizzled with the oil from the tomatoes would be easy to leave out for people to pick up.

                  Spicy couscous-stuffed cherry tomatoes would be easy to pick up and pop in your mouth as well.

                  1. Imam Biyaldi is not stuffed eggplant. it IS a wonderful eggplant, onion, tomato "stew" spiced with cinnamon, allspice and cloves.

                    Mostt vegetarians that I run into as a Personal Chef/caterer are sick and tired of hummus this and hummus that. Try Tabouli or Bulgar Pilaf (bulgar softened in tomato puree mixed with diced red onion). Stuffed zuccini rounds; stuffed mini bell peppers. BLY Stuffed Roma Tomatoes are good too.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: KiltedCook

                      well, i call this a stuffed eggplant: http://hande.wordpress.com/2007/06/28...

                      and i cite clifford wright as an authority about imam bayildi: "Imam bayildi is an eggplant slashed down the middle and stuffed with onions, garlic, and tomatoes and then simmered in olive oil to cover." http://www.cliffordawright.com/caw/re...

                      and i don't see these recipes containing cinnamon, allspice, or cloves. i'm sure there are variations in regional versions of the dish.

                      1. re: alkapal

                        yah, agree w/alka. it's stuffed eggplant, stuffed with generous amounts of garlic, thus the name (the imam faints). great eats, not good make-out food '-)

                    2. two great salads are fattoush http://www.boston.com/ae/food/article...
                      and of course tabbouleh. i like the tabbouleh on the heavy-parsley side.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: alkapal

                        I also like tabbouleh heavy on the parsley and without mint. While it's not authentic tabbouleh, I usually substitute small black lentils (Trader Joe's carries them already cooked and shelf-stable) for the bulghur/cracked wheat. It's delicious and makes an attractive presentation. Any firm lentil will work, but the black ones look the best. DH, who is not much of a fan of parsley or lentils, loves it.

                      2. I've linked to an old NY Daily News article that has the recipes for two of my favorite vegetarian dishes. Chickpeas with Brown & Wild Rices In Moroccan-Flavored Dressing and Oil-Free Wheatberry Salad. Both are from Pamela Morgan, a NY caterer. These dishes go over quite well with my omnivore friends too. Both are served room temp, and both benefit from an overnight in the fridge, so you can make them ahead.


                        Muhammara, a Middle-Eastern roasted red pepper dip, is fabulous. No dairy or mayo. If you go to the Leite's Culinaria web site and search on "muhammara," you'll get Paula Wolfert's recipe. There are others on-line as well. I serve it with toasted pita chips.

                        Last year, when Claudia Roden's "Arabesque" was the cookbook of the month here, a number of people were quite taken with her Orange/Ripe Olive/Red Onion salad. Myself included. I rather like the thought of a refreshing citrus dish in the mix, and the interplay of colors is visually pretty stunning, a nice touch on a party table. If you're interested, I'll post the recipe.

                        Congratulations on your wedding!