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May 25, 2010 08:54 AM

Menu Advice Please

Some friends will be over for dinner Saturday night and I'm obsessing on the appetizer, sides/salad, and dessert. The only part of my menu that has been settled is the main dish, Pasta a la Greque. That an old stand-by of mine. A mixture of cooked shrimp, diced tomatoes, feta cheese, and sauteed onions is prepared in advance, chilled, and, then, allowed to come to room temperature. This mixture is served over freshly cooked hot pasta.

When you're making suggestions, you do not have to deal with dietary restrictions. The most important criterion is ease of preparation. In fact, I'm even open to assembling food rather than preparing it (e.g. a salumi platter as a starter).

Thanks in advance!

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  1. As an appetizer, why don't you do mezze like houmos, taramasalata, tzaziki and baba ganoush all served with pita triangles? It would continue your Greek theme. I prefer a salad after the pasta as opposed to a side dish.

    1. since you have a nice pasta dish as your main meal - I would do a nice panzanella salad or maybe a spinach salad. maybe a nice bruschetta bar for a hearty app. I'm not a dessert person at all but love those pretty layered desserts - trifles.

      check out this one:

      1. As an app (or even a salad), I would roast some asparagus and drizzle with EVOO and top with some kosher salt.

        As a dessert, if you can find some fresh blueberries or blackberries, I would make a simple blueberry or blackberry pie and top with some creme fraiche, or just serve as is.

        Bottome line, I would look for what's in season in terms of both veggies and fruits and then prepare them as simply as possible. You get the benefits of both worlds -- fresh vibrant tastes of seasonal foods and ease of preparation.

        1. roxlet beat me to the mezze suggestion for appetizers - you can make everything a day or two in advance - things like that taste even better when the flavors have had a chance to meld - and just take them out of the fridge about an hour before you want to serve.

          for a side dish, i like ipse's roasted asparagus suggestion. other options would be some version of horta (warm greens), green beans, or grilled zucchini.

          for dessert, it doesn't get much easier than good-quality Greek yogurt with honey and crushed walnuts or pistachios.

          1. For an easy summer dessert:
            Fold fresh whipped cream into an smallish container of sour cream and add brown sugar to taste. Whomp a bunch of it in a melon slice and top w/ a generous handful of the berry of your choice. It's pretty, easy and tastes good.