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Jan 17, 2014 05:39 PM

Spaghetti at a dinner party?

Is there any pasta dish fancy or special enough to serve at a dinner party?

While I have had success with homemade fettucini and DO know that that degree of preparation leads to delicious and pleasing results, I'm really hoping to find a use for some of the Barilla spaghetti rigati I was sent in bulk. Can it be jazzed up, or should I just explore other (slightly less convenient) avenues?

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  1. pasta with a nice lobster sauce can be good. Fancy and special dont have to be the same thing. there is a big difference between a spaghetti dinner held in a gym by the cub scouts and a pasta dinner prepared lovingly for guests with good wine and fabulous conversation. Heck a milllion Itlian Grandmascant be wrong

    7 Replies
    1. re: girloftheworld

      I had a wonderful linguine with lobster at Street & Co. In Portland, ME.

      There was a whole lobster in that dish though so it ain't cheap.

      1. re: girloftheworld

        I so agree with you--it helps to be in the company of loving friends.

        Unfortunately I'm cursed with a shellfish allergy so I will never know the joys of lobster sauce :(

        1. re: cooktease

          Your shell fish allergy is really unfortunate cooktease. If you're also serving salmon do you want a pasta side dish or main dish?

          How about a spaghetti in an alfredo dill type sauce with the salmon lightly mixed into the pasta? With lots of dill (and of course garlic too) and freshly grated parmesan? One of my favorite pastas.

          1. re: Jeanne

            I'm confused. OP didn't mention salmon. ???

              1. re: coll

                Oops, obviously I didn't read everything. Then forget the rec for carbonara also. OP is obviously look for a side dish.

            1. re: Jeanne

              I love that idea! Thank you, I think I'll go that direction!

        2. At times to make things "special enough" for a dinner party, you might just want to take the simpler route and be a little more soignée with your plating. Or at least more than I did the last time I served Barilla with some ramp pesto.

          1 Reply
          1. Somebody boycotting Barilla send their already-bought pasta to you? Happily, I only had one box to chuck, and the squirrels ate it once I mixed it with peanut butter.

            Seriously, though, if I were serving spaghetti to guests I'd make it known ahead of time, and make it clear they should feel free to dress down. No reason to ruin a favorite article of clothing with a fatty splash of tomato or other sauce. I'd serve Spaghetti Carbonara and call it Thanksgiving a la Trillin (google it).

            8 Replies
            1. re: greygarious

              One of my faves is Hazan's carbonara. A little arugula salad with OO and vinegar and shaved Parm. Some bread. Sparkling rose' (a rec from the Wine board a few years ago). Simple but everyone always seems to think it's special. And no tomato-splashing :)

              1. re: greygarious

                Seriously? You would warn your social circle? You're worried about 'ruining' things? I didn't specify tomato sauce in the initial post, but even if I had, I'm glad I'm not surrounded by people as fussy as you. That's no party at all.

                1. re: greygarious

                  Your friends are that uptight (and clumsy) that you have to *warn* them when serving tomato based dishes? I assume you also don't serve red wine, beets, dark sauces or gravies? only clear based soups and liquids?

                  Never mind that a traditional carbonara can really leave a stain, especially on silk. Would you tell the men to leave the ties at home and the gals to wear washable cotton?

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    How about lobster bibs, and be done with it!

                    1. re: coll

                      LOL! Somehow I think that grey would consider any kind of bib to be gauche.

                      1. re: foodieX2

                        Retro/fun would be my take. Start the party off on the right foot! .

                        1. re: foodieX2

                          Not at all - ponchos all around, for all I care! Plenty of people - including CH posters - mention consideration of what they're wearing before choosing a restaurant cuisine or before making their menu choice. Unless you're klutzy, you can probably manage wine, gravy, etc. But stringy foods splash and drip more. If I know there's going to be wet strands of food, I'm not wearing something light-colored that can only be dry-cleaned.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            My apologies for implying otherwise.

                  2. Do you have a sauce or prep in mind? Some are more "fancy" and easy to pull off than others. And how many are you serving? And what else is on the menu? This would n help me give you suggestions.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      I'm happy to go in any direction with sauce or preparation.

                      Other things being served: a coconut curry butternut squash soup, broiled salmon and I've made a simple syrup with fresh ginger that'll probably go in bourbon based cocktails.

                      1. re: cooktease

                        Ok, then I would do a simple pasta sauce like an aglio olio (oil & garlic) or butter and herbs if serving it with the salmon. You don't want to be competing with the fish with a tomato or meat sauce.

                        If serving it as a separate course, then you can be a bit more adventurous with ingredients & flavors.

                        1. re: cooktease

                          My thought was something like this sauce served on the pasta with your broiled salmon on top (not shredded and mixed in). Sometimes I add peas or capers. Just not sure how it will work with a coconut curry soup as the starter.


                          Or this:

                          Or how about something like this, but maybe cut down on the jalapenos ?

                      2. I'd make Cacio e Pepe and serve it as a second dish in small and elegant portions. It takes a bit of practice, but once you've got it down (took me 3-4 tries), it's delicious and elegant.