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Critique my menu.

I'm having a dinner for 6 tomorrow evening. One is a vegetarian, one eats chicken and fish, the rest of us eat anything. I don't want the menu to revolve around any meat.

Fried zucchini and goat cheese toasts with drinks

1st course Cold corn and coconut milk soup

Main course -- served on large platters
Rabe pizza with Romano--fresh out of the oven
Falafel with tahini sauce
Sauteed peppers/onions
Roast asparagus with Parmigiano
Green beans
Fresh tomatoes on arugula
Roasted little potatoes
Pesto
Proscuitto
Italian bread

Dessert will be cherry clafouti

What do you all think?

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  1. sounds lovely, but I do feel I would miss some meat, any chance of some nice Italian sausage in with the sauteed peppers/onions? could be done separate, or choose a chicken sausage so all but the veg could enjoy? You are making the chicken/fish eaters vegetarian that night, are they ok with that?? I would also love some fresh buffalo mozza with the ripe tomatoes and arugula, but that is just me at this time of year!

    1 Reply
    1. re: cleopatra999

      I have never worried about meat eaters having to be vegetarian for a night but I have included proscuitto for those who have to have some meat.

    2. The falafel seems a little out of place. Is there a special reason for it? Is it your protein?

      8 Replies
      1. re: Violatp

        i thought that too, but it would be nice over the arugula.

        1. re: Violatp

          I agree. My husband suggested it to have something kid of "meaty."

          1. re: escondido123

            Something with mushrooms would give you something "meaty" too.

            1. re: escondido123

              As mentioned elsewhere, I would do a chicken Italian sausage instead. There is plenty of food to satisfy the vegetarian and a chicken Italian sausage would both fit the menu and be something everyone else can eat.

              1. re: Violatp

                lol, except i have never had a delicious chicken sausage. sorry.

                1. re: hotoynoodle

                  Ha! Yes, pork is better, but one does what one must. :-)

                  1. re: Violatp

                    The Premio brand spicy Italian chicken sausages are really pretty good. For chicken sausage, I mean. :)

                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                    I have.

                    Smokehouse in Norwell.

                    I'd add it to the platter as well.

            2. what is the pesto for? just the bread?

              since 5 out of 6 eat fish, i'd offer some poached salmon or roasted shrimp or something. you could top either with the pesto.

              with pizza and bread, i don't know that you "need" potatoes too, but you know your guests better than i do.

              19 Replies
              1. re: hotoynoodle

                The pesto is for the potatoes--one of my favorite--and my husband is not really fond of fish, esp. salmon and shrimp. So you guys think I need a protein?

                1. re: escondido123

                  yes, i'd serve a real protein, since even the meat eaters will likely only eat a few slices of the prosciutto.

                  another option is paula wolfert recipe: fry some cumin and dried ginger; add that to lots of lemon juice and yogurt and marinate chicken pieces for 3-4 hours. no more or the chicken will get weird. roast at 400. very delicious. or a simple rosemary/lemon rub would work too.

                  1. re: escondido123

                    I'd be totally happy with what you propose but if you do decide to add a meat, I like the idea of chicken sausages sautéed along with the peppers. Cut them into chunks and put on the same platter.

                    I'd want some pita to stuff with the falafel, potatoes, and pesto but I do see you have plenty of other bready things already.

                    1. re: tcamp

                      I fully understand that idea but I don't really like to serve a fully prepared food--like chicken sausage--that I would never serve otherwise.

                      1. re: escondido123

                        Ah. Hmm. Is a different chicken dish an option? Don't get me wrong; I love falafel! But something a bit more Italian would fit better...

                        1. re: Violatp

                          I always struggle with adding meat to a vegetarian menu since I don't want to make it the star. And this will be a cool menu for a warm night and so my struggle continues.

                          1. re: escondido123

                            how are you serving all this? on big platters? or plated? if the former you have lots of options and only 1 would be the chicken, so hardly the star.

                            roasted chicken can even be cooked ahead and served room temp. i do that often for summer parties.

                            1. re: escondido123

                              Okay then. But you did ask our opinion, right? If an Italian menu with falafel is what you want, then great! Falafel is delicious and I'm sure it will be eaten right up. It's incongruous but if you and your husband are happy and your guests are happy, then all is well.

                              If it was me, and adding a meat dish was out of the question, I'd drop the falafel altogether. You've got a hearty, extensive menu w/o it and it won't kill anyone to not have a specific protein for one meal. (I'm not counting the prosciutto as that;s just little bits of a meat.)

                              1. re: Violatp

                                Oh yes I am interested in opinions. As I have said, I find the falafel odd but if I put that on a platter with the tomatoes, maybe some feta and a tahini sauce that could be the Middle Eastern platter and the other Italian?

                                1. re: escondido123

                                  I like that idea. Do you have an eggplant dish that you can add to the Middle East Platter? Or add some olives? Make it more of a 50/50 split between Middle East and Italian?

                                  1. re: viperlush

                                    Good idea. Both lend themselves to meze (sp??) and antipasto styles.

                                    Ha - I am suddenly really craving falafel. :-)

                                    1. re: viperlush

                                      I got two eggplants at the Farmers' Market Tuesday--great idea!

                                      1. re: escondido123

                                        Deborah Madison's Stir-fried Roasted Eggplant is hearty, delicious, and vegetarian. Leftovers are versatile; they can be a cold side, hot pasta sauce, bruschetta topping.

                                        Though it contains some Asian ingredients, it also has tomato paste and chopped tomatoes.

                                2. re: escondido123

                                  I'd marinate chicken breasts in a lemon vinaigrette. I sear it on both sides and then roast it for 20 minutes. You can serve it sliced and cold and it tastes wonderful. This might be pricey but if you fry Halloumi in a dry nonstick pan, and then drizzle some evoo and chopped chilies, that makes a "meaty" vegetarian dish.

                          2. re: escondido123

                            The proscuitto is more than enough as a "protein". The falafel does seem like an odd pair with the pizza and the rest of the menu feels italian...maybe a more italian feeling bean dish like those gigante beans in tomato sauce or a lentil salad. Or poched eggs are lovely with asparagus. With the pizza and rolls the potatoes feel duplicative, maybe the pesto can be a dressing for the green beans?

                            1. re: Ttrockwood

                              I realized as I read comments that I plan on this being a summer menu as much as possible. I just was at the store. Asparagus not in season so $4 pound, will stick with the green beans. I'm going to split this into two platters, one will be Italian with the pizza, beans done with garlic aioli, roasted peppers and onions, the potatoes and proscuitto. The other will have the falafel, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, arugula and some tahini sauce. Plate of Meyer lemon wedges to use as desired.

                              1. re: escondido123

                                roasted green beans can be served room temp or chilled too.

                                have fun!

                                1. re: hotoynoodle

                                  I will serve them room temp tossed with the aioli. I've also decided to add a wedge of feta to the Middle Easter platter. Oh, and there will be lots of wine.

                          3. The only thing that's missing is my invitation to your dinner party. It sounds great, just the kind of eclectic menu I like!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Isolda

                              Thanks so much. These are people I have never cooked for so I'm trying to provide all sorts of seasonal flavors without anything too heavy.

                            2. I agree with the posters about maybe adding chicken sausage. Or adding more cured meat and possibly some cheeses to go with the proscuitto? Maybe add a sauteed mushroom topped toasts to go with drinks?

                              But really it does sound wonderful as is and I wouldn't be disappointed.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: viperlush

                                Please remember that most chicken sausage is in a pork casing, unless it's skinless.

                                1. re: critter101

                                  Very good point critter101, did not think of that.

                                  Braised chicken thighs might be a good sub that would still work nicely with the peppers/onions.

                              2. That is a great appetizer spread.

                                1. i didn't see the corn/coconut soup before? that really doesn't seem like it goes with the rest of the food.

                                  coconut milk and then romano cheese?

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    Odd I know but the soup is already prepped and it is wonderful.

                                    1. re: escondido123

                                      The soup sounds delicious. What about doing it shooter style rather than bowls since you have such a bounty to follow?

                                        1. re: escondido123

                                          Can you post the recipe for it? It sounds perfect for a hot evening.

                                          1. re: viperlush

                                            To serve four: Lightly boil 4 ears of corn. Cut kernels off cob and scrape out milk. Make corn stock using cobs, a white onion and a carrot. Save a quarter of the onion and the carrot, add kernels to stock and stir for a minute. Whir in blender along with carrot and onion. Sieve and return to low flame for five minutes. Add 3 T. coconut milk and 1 t. of chipotle sauce (from can) plus s & p. Chill overnight, adjust seasonings before serving.

                                          2. re: escondido123

                                            Agreed that this soup sounds delicious!

                                          3. re: hotoynoodle

                                            I agree, the soup seems out of place and doesn't go with the rest of the meal. Other than that it looks super yummy.

                                          4. I am a huge meat and fish omnivore. And I would be overjoyed to be invited to this dinner without any changes. But thanks for the opportunity to provide input.

                                            1. It all sounds wonderful, and personally I don't think meat is needed (but it depends on the guests... if my dad was coming i might suggest a chunk of meat...). My only input is that it's a lot of different things... I wouldn't have enough room on my plate to try everything! With the apps, soup, and dessert, I think 3 things ... Pizza, salad, veg would be plenty!

                                              1. I agree with some of the other posters that the falafel seems out of place.
                                                Possibly you could make chicken meatballs, since they are a finger food they won't take over the spread as the star.

                                                1. Nice antipasto -- what's for dinner?

                                                  2 Replies
                                                  1. re: rjbh20

                                                    I've made variations on this menu many times. When I went to a more standard menu once the couple asked why I hadn't done the platters. So it works for my group of friends.

                                                    1. re: escondido123

                                                      I'm a really big fan of this style dinner and it's been the most successful for me when serving large groups. Everyone can have what they like and not what they don't without being uncomfortable or it being an issue at all. Plus, it's still really warm out here on the lower left coast, most people aren't looking for anything heavy.

                                                  2. We've decided to eliminate the proscuitto and add a nice piece of olive oil poached tuna on a separate plate with lemon and capers as well as a chunk of feta on the Middle Eastern platter. Thanks all for you comments and suggestions on this. Will report back over the weekend.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. Reporting back on dinner. Weather was perfect with great company. Started with wine and the bite-size zucchini toast--big hit. Sat down to the cold corn soup--everyone cleaned their bowl. (Coconut milk and chipotle made it a more complex flavor without being strong.) Then everything else. Rabe pizza was gone first. Green beans turned out very flavorful (I tossed with with Trader Joe's mustard aioli while hot and it made a very mellow sauce) The tiny roasted potatoes with pesto were also a big hit. The olive-oil poached albacore with capers was one of the least favorite. Only forgot one item--the feta for the Middle Eastern platter.

                                                      The clafouti was yummy--I served it with whipped cream. All in all a very successful evening with great conversation--people lingered until late.