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Dec 10, 2012 08:39 AM

Good dinner party menu?

We are hosting a dinner party and I want to make sure this menu is appropriate/balanced. I love to cook, and have made the lasagna this too much cheese? We're vegetarians so I don't know where to add meat.

Cocktail time
Baked goat cheese topped with pomegranate seeds
crostini to dip
slices of salami
variety of olives

Salad of mixed greens, roasted beets, walnuts, and grapefruit supremes (I usually would add gorganzola, but might be overkill with the cheese)
Butternut squash and kale lasagna
Roasted asparagus
citrus herb compound butter

homemade salted caramel ice cream brownie sundaes (thinking of topping "slutty brownies" with the ice cream, but wondering if that's a bit TOO much? so maybe just brownie sundaes with homemade ice cream and homemade fudge sauce)

Am I missing anything? Can I serve the salad WITH the dinner, or should I do a different plating? Do I have too much cheese?

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  1. Are you serving family style or plated? I always plate for parties under 10 or so, but lasagna screams family style.
    Anyway, I would do the salad as a separate first course. Or provide a salad plate if you do everything at once. I think you could 86 the asparagus, personally. To me it's a weird combo with the very Fall/Winter lasagna and salad toppings. But whatever--I love asparagus so I'd definitely be in. If no asparagus, everything family style on one plate would work.

    Why do you feel compelled to add meat? I think it sounds great. We're veg intense meat eaters. You'll probably never satisfy the married to meat entree people anyway, so there's no point in worrying about it. OR, if you don't point it out, they might not notice. If anything, it sounds dairy-intense for me. You could do a hummus or tapanade for cocktails if you're worried about the cheese thing.

    11 Replies
    1. re: splatgirl

      Should I pick another green vegetable? Maybe roasted brussels sprouts?

      It's just one other couple - I'll probably put everything pending room.

      I was thinking of adding endive to scoop the baked goat cheese along with the crostini to give a light option, but I didn't want too much for appetizers just because it's a school night and it won't be a late night!

      What do you think about the dessert? Should I not do ice cream? I could nix the brownies and do ice cream and fruit/tea cookies.

      1. re: Jeserf

        Brussels sprouts make more sense to me and I happen to love them, but most people don't. You're much more likely to score a hit with the asparagus, IMO, seasonality be darned. I am always in favor of more veg vs. less, but given the apps and the circumstances, I think you could just do the lasagna, salad and bread and everyone will be happy.
        Maybe a sliced pear or two to go with the apps to lighten it up? Endive is another one of those veg that doesn't get much love. I've served it a lot of different ways, and almost no one eats it, ever (besides me). Plus I'm rolling a pear and goat cheese bender lately :)

        1. re: splatgirl

          the pear is a great idea! Endive isn't a big deal to include if the store has it, it's a nice scooper.

        2. re: Jeserf

          just 4 of you?

          i'd nix the baked goat cheese for cocktail time. personally think that cheese before a meal deadens the palate and it is very filling, as well as easy to overeat. perhaps another kind of cured meat, like prosciutto, and just some olives and spiced nuts. truffled popcorn or home-made potato chips would work too.

          assuming there is cheese in the lasagne, i would skip the cheese in the salad. americans tend to rely on cheese overly so and it's just not needed on all plates and all courses.

          since it is a weeknight, i'd serve the salads with the main course, but would probably plate it myself and bring to the table that way.

          i love brussels and have made lovely salads with them raw and shaved, that even haters enjoy, but you have the beets going already. could offer roasted green beans instead of asparagus.

          the brownie sundaes seem heavy after the lasagne, but fun. you know your guests better than i do. me? i'd be totes fine with some crisp cookies and fruit after this meal.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I think I'll do the fresh salami (I can buy a handful of slices), but since we don't really consume meat in our house, having extra would be a downer. The nuts are a good idea - I have a recipe for spiced pecans.

            Dessert does sound, but heavy. I like to make ice cream for guests because it's impressive and fun - I could do just that with some tea cookies and fruit. Or I could just do sorbet, like an apple cider sorbet.

            1. re: Jeserf

              If you want some meat try wrapping the asparagus in prociutto instead of having salami.

              1. re: Berheenia

                This is a great idea - should I roast the budles with the meat, or have different prep of the veggie for the meat eaters?

                Would panchetta wrapped bundles be too much? I was thinking the crisp salty panchetta would be a good pairing with the sort of sweet/nutty lasagna for our guests. Thanks everyone so much for your help - you're really making me think this through so it's more successful :)

                1. re: Jeserf

                  Panchetta is like bacon- not cooked and porky greasy yummy but I wouldn't try it in this recipe myself.

                  I suggested Prociutto, a cured paper thin ham that is traditionally wrapped around cooked asparagus. Google the food network or Martha for recipes.
                  Even us meat eaters confuse them so just think ham, not bacon.

                  1. re: Berheenia

                    oh, I know the difference - was just thinking crispy and salty vs. melty to contrast the texture. But if panchetta won't go well, I'll use procuitto!

                    1. re: Jeserf

                      A friend of mine used to make a wonderful proscuitto wrapped asparagus that was dipped in a light batter and then fried. Served with honey mustard for dipping it was great.

                      1. re: Jeserf

                        I believe generally each spear is wrapped not each bundle but I could be mistaken.

        3. For serving, what works well for me is a combination of plated service and buffet serving. With your menu (which, by the way, sounds wonderful), I'd plate the salad in the kitchen, put the salads at each place on the table, and then invite your guests to the table. The salads are beautiful, and make an inviting 'splash' to start the meal.

          The lasagna and vegetables can be sitting by on a sideboard with their serving utensils, with the dinner plates stacked by them. When you're done with the salads, invite guests to help themselves to the main dish food (while you take the salad plates in to the kitchen). It's relaxed, people get as little or as much as they like (and can get seconds if desired), and you don't do much extra work once the dinner's begun.

          I agree with someone above about dropping the baked cheese appetizer, not primarily because of heaviness, or too much cheese -- but because it adds a last-minute job and timing issue. Much more relaxing to have the pre-dinner bites all be non-time-sensitive, no-labor items.

          Have fun!

          Update: oh yes yes yes, to the apple cider sorbet.

          1. I may be the lone soldier here, but from someone who has hosted more than one dinner party for vegetarians, I think your menu is absolutely perfect as is. :)

            1. It sounds like a casual dinner party with friends?

              Your dinner sounds lovely. If you have the salad with the lasagna, you might consider skipping the cheese on the salad or make it very spare - like mixed in the dressing sort of spare so there is a hint of it. I understand wanting the gorganzola though. Not sure about the grapefruit supremes. That would be my one and only quibble. But I would not be unhappy to see it on my plate.

              So friends - salad with the lasagna. Formal - you could serve it separately. I prefer my hostess to not have to run about - so we can enjoy her and I am always happy to have my salad to munch on to relieve my palate with a heavy pasta dish.

              A slutty brownie? LOL I like it! The goat cheese with the pom is a nice, festive touch. Lucky guests.

              Make sure hubby gets shower well before guests arrive. Mine likes to wait until ten minutes before the party. Grr.

              1. thanks for the suggestions - is there any other recommendation for a light appetizer that isn't hummus and vegetables?
                Crostini seems heavy.
                Is just olives, spiced nuts and wine/beer enough?

                As for the salad - the gorganzola with the grapefruit is delicious, but I'll probably skip the cheese because of the main course. I might skip the supremes but use the juice of one (or clementine) in the dressing and the zest in the compound butter.

                The apple cider sorbet is a definite idea - but I was also considering an apple/pear/cranberry crumble because of the season. I could do individual servings and scoop ice cream at the table.

                Our friends have excellent taste (the husband is an art dealer, for example) which is why I am trying to make it nicer than normal!

                4 Replies
                1. re: Jeserf

                  You have a pretty hefty main and dessert. noshing on some salami and cheese should set their palate.

                  If you wanted something holidayish - you could mull some wine or do some cider.

                  I have it on good authority that art dealers like what you are serving and it is the company that counts.

                  Save the sorbets for summer. No need for fussiness.

                  Clementines can be offered along side the sundaes. If people prefer something lighter, nothing is better.

                  1. re: Jeserf

                    < is there any other recommendation for a light appetizer that isn't hummus and vegetables? >

                    Jeserf, you're local to DC, right? Have you ever had the endive, goat cheese, toasted almond, and chive vinaigrette tapa at Jaleo? It's my absolute favorite, and I think it would really wow your guests and compliment the other flavors:


                    I think your salted caramel ice cream sounds wonderful. What about serving it over a more subtle slice of cake? Maybe the buttermilk loaf in the latest (January issue of) Real Simple magazine? Or you could make a scaled-down version of this cake, which is fabulous and very "adult":

                    1. re: ChristinaMason

                      hm, the endive looks good - instead of a salad? or with cocktails?

                      That cake looks good, but I'm a terrible baker, which is why a crisp or whatnot is probably more foolproof for me! Apple/pear/cranberry crisp with salted caramel ice cream will be the dessert - I can get the apples and pears at the farmers market :)

                      1. re: Jeserf

                        Maybe instead of the baked goat cheese, with cocktails.