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Too many guests coming to Homemade pizza party; need an idea for other dishes

I have a problem: Too many guests are coming to my pizza party to serve with my double oven. I expect to have both ovens going full time on the afternoon of the party and I will still need extra capacity.

I was expecting to do something simple with pizza and a simple green salad.

So anything baked is out- I need stovetop, grilled, or cold dishes to supplement it.

One idea is pasta - that would be simple and easy. Others have suggested heavy dips like hummous/artichoke dip but I'm not sure about this.

Any ideas?

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  1. Why aren't you sure about dips? They're quick and easy to throw together. I'd put some dips out with some cheese and crackers, crudites, and other nibblies for guests to snack on while everyone is still arriving and before the pizzas are ready. That way they will need less pizza.

    I guess it's getting warm where you are now? (I'm in Australia, so I have no idea what it's like in CA). Make a few more salads than you were planning - pick some that can be made ahead of time, maybe a pasta salad, potato salad... you get the drift :)

    1 Reply
    1. re: ursy_ten

      You can make a huge, enormous, antipasto platter without any cooking...artichoke hearts, cherry peppers(stuffed or un), gherkins, cornichons, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers, little fresh mozzarella balls, cubes of parmesan, salami, cubed provelone...arrange it all fancy- pants (google images for inspiration), and serve it with some crostini or breadsticks. You can get everything from any Italian market. It can be pricey or not-so-pricey, depending on what you use.
      Alternately, I have been mad for roasted haricots verts lately...I get them at Sam's Club,but in a pinch you can use green beans,too. They need only a little trimming of the ends, and you can pat them dry, sprinkle on some olive oil and salt, and roast them in the oven for 10-15 minutes as high as you dare (I usually go about 525 degrees...) When they are dark green with the thinner beans actually getting quite brown and shriveled a little, toss a tiny bit of lemon juice,or good-quality vinegar, throw in a big handful of parmesan, and let cool to room temperature. Dump them on a platter and treat like finger food.
      And a good-looking bread basket is always welcome.

    2. sounds easy enough to fix.
      I'd do a big crock pot full of flavorful meatballs.
      I'd make them from scratch but you could always do them from frozen, with a bottled/jarred sauce.
      A big salad with lots of veg in there and a big bowl of cut up fruit too.
      You'd be done

      1 Reply
      1. re: iL Divo

        I still like the idea of cut up fruit pieces, all about the same size with skewers standing up in a pretty glass, tongs could serve to grab the desired fruits and they could skewer their chosen pieces. You could have (say 3) dipping sauces in bowls for each guest to drizzle over their fruit. Fun to do, takes up time, people can converse while stabbing fruit, and could cause an impromptu giggle fest. Drizzlers=
        1. OJ/ginger/honey/tiny bit soy sauce/couple drops hot pepper oil, stir
        2. Hershey's dark chocolate syrup/a tiny bit dark rum/tiny bit maraschino cherry juice/pinch coarse salt, stir
        3. Champagne vinegar/finely chopped basil/tiny bit raw sugar/olive oil/course salt/black pepper/tiny bit parm cheese, stir

      2. How about dates stuffed with goat cheese and wrapped in prosciutto. No cooking required.

        * 1/4 cup (2 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
        * 1/4 cup (2 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
        * 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
        * Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
        * 16 (12 ounces) Medjool dates, pitted
        * 8 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise

        * Special equipment: 16 toothpicks or cocktail picks

        Directions

        In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses and basil. Season with salt and pepper.

        Gently pull the dates apart and spoon about 1/2 teaspoon cheese mixture inside. Close the dates around the cheese filling. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each date and secure with a toothpick.

        Arrange the stuffed dates on a platter and serve.

        Or olive tapenade with belgian endive leaves. Recipes abound on the Web. Also no cooking required.

        Or devilled eggs. Not many people make them anymore, but pretty much everyone loves them.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Euonymous

          .^^^as good as it is or would be that's a lot to take on.

          1. re: iL Divo

            How so? They all seem pretty easy to me.

          2. re: Euonymous

            I think all those sound terrific and can be done ahead.

          3. Have you considered moving your pizzas to your grill? If you have a grill, you can even do the doughs ahead of time, par grill them a bit, then you can hold them, have guests do their toppings, then just grill them on the uncooked side. We did a party like that last year, and it worked really well. Then your ovens will be free for other dishes, like a lasagne, or for roasting some vegetables.

            If not, I like the other ideas here for a pasta salad, an antipasto platter or a crock full of meatballs. You might also want to consider a show stopper dessert, if pizza & salad is about all you want to serve. I think we did an ice cream sandwich cake, or something like that.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Phurstluv

              I think par grilling the dough first is a great idea - the pizzas will take less time to cook on the day, and you'll be able to put more through if that's what you want to do.

              1. re: ursy_ten

                I'm leaning towards the pasta salad idea. It is probably the easiest way to serve lots of people. I'll probably also set out a small platter of antipasto for the really early arrivers.

              2. re: Phurstluv

                Great idea PL......or make your own sundaes could be fun too, that way they do it themselves.

              3. I've served a large number of people with focaccia pizza if you want to go that route. I premake them all (dry toppings on them, wet just before baking), refrigerate. Let them come to room temp before baking. With a double oven, you can bake four half sheet pan size pizzas at once, depending on the size of your ovens.

                1. You should actually be fine with two ovens, you just can't serve everyone at once. Guests can eat a fresh piece, then chat for a few minutes, then get another fresh piece a few minutest later. As long as a new pizza can come out every fifteen minutes or so it's fine. I actually prefer serving pizza in courses like this; people get to eat the freshest pizza and the most variety this way.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: pepper_mil

                    To put this in perspective, I invited 21 people, expecting a yield of seven, each bringing an average of 2 people, for a total of 14. Instead, I have 24 guests so far and another 7 possibles. This is a problem because I probably really only have room for 20 comfortably...I've done as many as 40 but that involved way too much work - grilling for three hours straight on the Weber. These are mainly younger people in their 20's and 30's, so they eat a lot - only two children in total. As more responses come in, I think that I probably will have to make an antipasti platter as well - it's the easiest way to serve lots of people and prep time will be limited.

                    I need to think about how much I can deputize my guests to do some of the labor intensive prep work.

                    1. re: BankofJosh

                      You can have pizza dough ready to roll out. Pass out sheets of parchment to groups of guests (family is a good way). Each group can roll out and assemble its own pizza, making sure to write name on the paper in a Sharpie marker. It takes only 5-7 minutes to bake each pizza so you pop each pizza in, on its parchment, pull out, move on. It'll be very casual and not everyone will eat at once but people come at different times anyway. Have them lined up in a row. It's an easy assembly line.

                      1. re: chowser

                        I am with pepper-mil in that if you can keep them rolling out every fifteen minutes or so, you should be fine, except that you won't spend much time actually at your own party! I would think that if you cut the pizza into really small pieces everybody will get to try every kind and they'll always have a new piece to reach for. St. Louis style is cut into squares, you can get lots of pieces per pie that way...) When we did a birthday pizza-party many years ago we borrowed a couple of oven racks from friends with the same-size oven, and doubled our oven's pizza-cooking capacity.

                    2. re: pepper_mil

                      When we used to live in Oregon there was (still is) a terrific pizza place that cuts their pizza in a unique way. Instead of traditional slices, they cut it crossways several times and then down several times. You wind up with lots of 1 and 2" squares and rectangles of pizza. More people get to have a little bit at a time. I've been doing that at home also.

                    3. 30 people for homemade pizza? That's a minimum of 60 slices. Might consider ordering out from a top-notch pizzeria and supplementing with homemade salads, antipasti, that sort of thing. Or change the menu... or make appetizer pizzas and expand the menu extensively. I love frittata .. it's kind of like a pizza, can be inexpensive, and served at room temp. If you have a small place like I do, 30 people is a lot... I serve small bites and buffet style for those occasions.

                      1. 1. You'll need a dedicated pizzaiolo who knows what he/she is doing.

                        2. House beer (bottles) in a tub of ice, house red in small jugs.

                        3. Antipasti (hot and cold).

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: steve h.

                          Thankfully, the wife knows what she is doign- she's the dough expert and whips up a batch in about five minutes in the Kitchenaid. I just chop vegetables and make the toppings. I'll make pasta salad with about 3lbs of pasta, plus a big caesar salad and an antipasto platter. I should be fine. If not, well, I can send someone out to buy Pizza, I guess...

                          Other concerns:

                          I'm concerned about the amount of fridge space as well- you know counter depth doesn't hold as much!. I expect to put some of the guests to work chopping and cooking .

                          I'll be serving white Sangria in pitchers and bottled beer.( Not much red wine....to many issues, although I've learned to keep a stack of old towels handy. I keep them on the fireplace surround. I also keep a couple of rolls of paper towels stashed around the first floor selectively...)

                          1. re: BankofJosh

                            Most of your ingredients can be prepped ahead ( chopping vegs, shredded or slicing cheese and making the sauce) and stored in ziploc bags, with the air pressed out to conserve space in your fridge. You can do the same with your romaine for Caesar - wash leaves, tear into pieces, then wrap in paper towels, roll up & store in ziplocs. Your pasta salad can be stored the same way, in several baggies, since you want it to sit and meld flavors anyway. Then all you have to do is dump them into your large serving bowl(s) about an hour before the party, again, letting it come up to room temp, then taste it and add any more seasonings or dressing to it, since the pasta tends to soak up a lot when sitting overnight or for a few hours.

                            And your pizza toppings should be about at room temp anyway when you start preparing & baking them, which will help to get them in & out of the oven faster. Sounds like a fun party, have a great time!

                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              We had a party for about 50 a few years ago and one of the things I did was a "salad bar." For the greens I bought a new, green, plastic dish pan. I had nothing else big enough.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                No doubt!! Great idea, though! Gotta love those restaurant supply houses for something like that!