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Next Saturday I'm going to a friend's house to make dinner for her and her husband. She is about to have a rather important surgery so I'm going there to hang out and spend girl time, and I want to give a good meal to her and her husband.

There's only 3 of us and I want to keep it fairly simple since I'm not used to cooking in her kitchen... so probably no apps. If I do them it'll just be a cheese plate.

I'm planning on making this lemon chicken recipe: http://www.inspiredtaste.net/18649/ea... and this baked risotto with asparagus, peas, and pancetta: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-baked... I've made the chicken before, but not the risotto, so I'm open to other ideas on that.

Dessert will most likely be Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake, probably with some kind of ice cream since my friend is an ice cream fanatic.

Where I'm getting stuck is the dinner part. I feel like I need to do one more item to make it feel like a complete meal. I originally thought of some kind of garlic bread but with the risotto, that's a pretty carb heavy meal...but maybe that doesn't matter I was thinking maybe another vegetable of some kind... maybe green beans? I don't know.

What would you fine Chowhounders do?

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  1. I would simply do a nice tossed salad with a homemade vinaigrette.

    1. IMO risotto is too finicky for a maiden dish in an unfamiliar kitchen. If you want rice, I would do pilaf and a simple green veg or salad.

      1. I agree with Pika that a simple crisp salad will round your meal nicely. I also looked at serving suggestions in the chicken recipe and it says: "Serve with rice and vegetables or with mashed potatoes. Pasta, even." I think it will go very well with orzo. I love serving it because you can cook orzo a night before, toss it with some butter, minced garlic (a bit), parsley or basil, and parmesan; put into a serving dish that goes in the oven and warm it up as the chicken is cooking. Super easy and very tasty. Even simpler but good is short grain brown rice - it is nutty and chewy and nutritious.

        2 Replies
        1. re: herby

          I agree with the orzo idea, but perhaps a bit more of a fancier one, but just as easy.

          Aaron McCargo's Lemon-pepper orzo is so easy and delicious. Here's the link.

          http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/aa...

          And I 3rd the green salad idea.

          www.saffron215.blogspot.com

          1. re: mcel215

            A friend of mine does an orzo with asparagus tips and fresh peas. Very nice.

        2. salad would be a good additional course. You may want fruity kind of sald since have some vegies in the risooto. Also be sure to check with friend about any dietary restrictions. For ex some docs still insist on restricting green vegies before starting to take blood thiners others just want to maintain status quo so if friend typically eats lots of green vegies then no reason to change.

          1. In the spring, I love to do a medley of petit pois, hericot vert, and asparagus tips. Frozen peas and beans work beautifully, if you have to. Cook separately, then toss in butter to warm all before serving. S&P.

            Save the asparagus stalks for soup or another use.

            Would go great with that chicken recipe. Then you could do the garlic bread with no worries about the risotto.

            Everything else sounds like a great match.

            Good friend.