Inspiration requested for appetizers--Italian Dinner for the Boss
So it turns out we're hosting quite a few people on Friday night (11 adults, 13 kids), including the boss and his wife. I'm in a flurry of house cleaning and grocery shopping and desperately need some inspiration for starters.
We'll be making Neapolitan pizza in the wood fired oven I built in our backyard, so that takes care of most of the food. This isn't the most precise technology, as you might guess, so it's hard to know exactly when the oven will come up to temperature and we'll be ready to make the pizza, so I like to have food on hand to munch on until the main event.
When it's just a casual Friday night with friends, I don't worry much about what I'm serving. Hummus and pita bread, veggies and dip, chips and salsa--it's all about what's yummy and easy and I don't go to the trouble of making all the elements of the meal make sense as a whole. But this is different. This is the boss. My husband doesn't understand why I'm suddenly obsessed with finding tablecloths and enough seating and appetizers that make *sense*.
Here's the plan so far:
Pizzas made to order with a huge array of toppings
salad (one of the guests insisted on bringing something, and my husband said "yes." No clue what it is, but I'm sure it'll be tasty.)
Nutella, mascarpone, and brown sugar dessert pizza
pear, honey, and mascarpone dessert pizza
biscotti and coffee
We do a great fresh rosemary and sea salt grilled flat bread, but that seems a little too heavy and bready when most of the food that will be eaten is pizza. What else could I do? Bonus points for items that can be made ahead of time or in the WFO as it's coming to temp (like spinach artichoke dip).
I run a small business and have a tiny dictator (4 month old), so don't get too ambitious on me!
I learned this super quick, easy and delicious appetizer at a cooking class in took.
All it is is the phylo shells in the frozen dection of the supermarket. (The come 15 to a pack) Then, spray a pan with Pam, put the shells on tha pan and put inside brie cheese, and dollop with a specialty jam. I make some with a triple fruit jam, then the rest with a mango chutney.
Bake them in the oven at 400 for about 15 - 20 minutes and Voila! Easy , delicious, and can be made a little ahead of time. These appetizers FLY when I make them.
This isn't italian but has italian type ingredients and is best at room temperature. It's a provolone pesto terrine. I wouldn't have made it if I saw the recipe but a friend brought it to a potluck and it was the first thing to go--much better than the parts and a pretty presentation.
Superb ideas, thank you so much! I'm heading over to the Italian grocer to pick up supplies for a nice antipasti plate.
Anyone know how far in advance I can wrap the melon with prosciutto? I love prosciutto wrapped asparagus, and once tried to prep it the day ahead. It got rather wet and weepy overnight (I assume because of the salt in the prosciutto). How soon is too soon?
If you have a good Italian deli near you, I suggest a "tasting" of sorts - several different kinds of salumi, cold cuts, different kinds of cheeses, bowls of assorted olives, roasted peppers in different colors, roasted eggplant & zuchini in vinaigrette. You can really make several platters and decorate them beautifully. You can buy all of this or make your own roasted veggies. Serve with assorted crackers, flatbreads, etc.
Since there is little meat in the meal then you could consider spiducci. (AKA spiedinni). You would have to cook them then and there but they are relatively quick and will go with the salad. Don't try and make them yourself.
Ahead of time you can make some frittatas. Both of these are relatively child friendly.
We do the same pizza thing as you except the guests make their own from prepped ingredients.
If it were me, I'd definitely go the antipasti route. Prosciutto/melon, cheeses, olives, artichokes, grapes, other fruits, roasted red peppers, etc. So easy since you can buy everything pre-made for the most part (i.e. no need to roast your own peppers) and can even set up platters ahead of time to just pull out as guests arrive. You'd maybe just want to make sure there isn't too much overlap between your pizza toppings and your antipasti.
I considered that, but the selection of ingredients are similar to those you would be putting on the pizza, with the possible exception of fruit. (I actually like fruit pizzas).
Hummus, taramasalata, cerviche, cold soups etc are too non-italian and not very kid-centric. The Italian egg-drop soup works well cold. Can't remember the name of it but it means little rags.
Polenta is also a vehicle for many things.
One of my favourites is arancini, but they can be a bit filling. For some reason children seem to like them if they are small. Tends to be a lot of work though.
Sliced chilled lasagne.
I like Anne's suggestion of the prosciutto and melon.
You already have plenty of bread-product in the menu with the main-course and dessert pizzas. You also have salad of some sort covered by what your guest is bringing. I wouldn't do something cheese-based, but only because I'm assuming cheese(s) will available to top the entree pizzas. I think that light and refreshing element of the melon would be welcomed and the prosciutto makes it "grown-up".
And I honestly think the Caprese salad and one other item, whatever you choose, will be enough--because that looks like a terrific, fun menu and if I were attending, I'd want to save room for it. Especially those two dessert pizzas. ;-)
That's exactly what I was going to say.
you can do the traditional antipasti tray and stash in the fridge till folks come over.
you can do the cute little endive leaves (or whatever kindof boat or roll you want to make) with a sweet little bruschetta mix inside, and that gets rid of the bread.
Get some cheese, get some fruit and put it on your wood chopping block.
I also have a dictator at home (4 years old, so he can actually talk to order me about), so I always turn to pasta with raw sauce... you could do your favorite cold pasta salad just use bowties or penne to keep things manageable and less dinner-y.
You could do a fennell and citrus salad, it's fruity, it's yummy, easy to eat.
You could get your husband to saw away at some frozen beef for a while and do carpaccio (yeah you can make it at home and keep your husband out of your hair...)... you could make a nice artichoke appetizer and serve with butter, pesto, whatever you like. Just cook them ahead and serve them room temp or a little warm from your WFO. Alright I gotta stop now! I'm hungry!
also your other ideas sound fine... a lot of people are suprised at how nice a simple and healty snack is like your hummus and fresh veggies. I like olive oil dip with veggies, too. You can make it work, don't worry! It'll be fab!