Dinner party for 10 with wide variety of diets: GF, vegan, and meat eaters. Menu suggestions?

The dinner party is for 10 people. I'm the vegan, therefore need a fool proof recipe for a meat dish (that will serve 8 of the 10 people). Was thinking of the spatchcocked/braised chicken from Amanda Hesser as it seems simple and straightforward. Any other ideas? I was looking for an overall elegant, yet easy menu. I believe I took on a very daunting task hosting this dinner party! Thanks in advance!!

  • Posted by: Jodi
  • May 29, 2014


Dong June 5, 2014
Hey Jodi, Thankyou.
Summer O. June 3, 2014
Having been a vegetarian for 25 years the first piece of meat I cooked (and for a dinner party) was rack of lamb. Very elegant, very easy. For that many people you will need 2 racks. This is the recipe I used and still use. It turns out perfectly. You may want to double the herbs. I serve it with seasonal vegetables. http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Rack-of-Lamb-with-Garlic-and-Herbs-1222178
dinner A. May 30, 2014
Since you're the host and vegan, are you sure you have to prepare meat at all? It would be a very demanding dinner guest who would expect food that the host him or herself doesn't eat. Especially if it's something festive or special in some way, only the most stick in the mud carnivores would object. I think the idea of serving mezze several people already mentioned is great. A few favorites from my own rotation that suit the restrictions you mentioned:

Ottolenghi's roasted butternut squash and onions with tahini -- this would go well with a few other mezze, or with a salad and a rice pilaf

risotto -- asparagus, peas, and other spring vegetables can make this particularly exciting. It works well to cook the risotto about halfway in advance, and then you only have about 10 minutes of stirring that you need to do right before eating.

paella: I like including artichokes, steamed until close to tender, cut into wedges and set into the paella like shellfish in a seafood paella.
dinner A. May 30, 2014
Here's a link for the Ottolenghi butternut squash recipe:
1hotkitchen May 30, 2014
Go Grill! Serve grilled artichokes (with kosher salt and lemon--no dip needed) with chilled corn soup. Add salted shrimp at the bottom of the soup for those needed some flesh. Make an arugula salad with lemon/truffle oil and lightly toasted hazelnuts. Easy and elegant. For dessert, gluten free galettes made with strawberries.
London_Eats May 30, 2014
Hi Jodi - just did something like this, catering for 30 people for four days. We did four meals - Indian, Spanish, Italian and Middle Eastern mezze. I would opt for mezze - you can make lots of dishes, a lot of them ahead of time. Many recipes are naturally gluten-free (and even dairy-free) and you can easily add one of two simple recipes that include meat. A bit of googling on Turkish and Lebanese food should throw up some tasty ideas.

Being practical, the best part is many mezze dishes are best prepared ahead of time, and allowed to rest for flavours to develop, so you can sneak off and transform from kitchen guru to glam host! If you have your dishes ready on serving plates, you can bring them in in waves. People love being able to try lots of things, and passing plates makes the whole process quite fun, especially if not everyone knows each other.

Some ideas to try:

* Feta, date and nut salad with rocket leaves
* Babaganoush
* Hummus
* Falafel
* Tabbouleh
* Fattoush
* Borek (filled with cheese)
* Kofte (meatballs)
* Spanakopita
* Dolmades
* Swooning Imam (an amazing aubergine and tomato dish, cooked slowly in too much olive oil – utterly delicious and people struggle to believe it is 100% vegan!)

For dessert, things like baklava are good (but watch for butter if buying), Turkish Delight, walnuts in syrup, simple fruit salad...and finish with strong Turkish coffee!
Kristen W. May 30, 2014
Agree about the importance of make-ahead. Another possible way to go would be a build-your-own taco party:

For meat-eaters:

chorizo mixed with chopped cooked shrimp mixed in (very simple, but flavorful and sufficient when combined with other fillings that can add moisture, crunch,etc).

For the vegetarian/vegans:

a pot of black beans, with the following salsa mixed in at the last minute:

Also, some guacamole and pickled red onions

Some sliced, charred pepper(s) of your choice (maybe charred onion slices too)

Corn tortillas

Other condiments/sides:

A bowl of question fresco (or any cheese you like)

Maybe a crunchy slaw with a lime-cilantro dressing (you can make that vegan or not).

Green salad with some kind of vinaigrette.

Most of it is make-ahead, it's all pretty simple (but tasty) to make and it offers possibilities for all the dietary restrictions. Good luck, whatever you decide to make!

Sam1148 May 29, 2014
Go Mediterranean. Skewers of veggies...and skewers of seasoned meats..

Or Two Tagines...one with veggies and one with meats.
And a gluten free couscous.

A tabbouleh salad (with optional feta cheese in bowls). And use some purposed cauliflower couscous from the above link to sub for the bugar wheat.

And use pita bread...and have some GF flat breads. (use a GF pizza mix to make up a couple--coat with olive oil and add some spices like a "Zartar" blend. http://mideastfood.about.com/od/middleeasternspicesherbs/r/zaatar.htm
(You can get that most middle east store--sub lemon zest for sumac if you can't find it).
A non-vegan tazaki sauce for and cucumber slices.
Stuffed grape leafs---which can be made the night before; with a tomato, cinnamon, allspice, sauce with raisin soaked in brandy as an addtion garnish for the stuffed grab leaf.

Raw veggies and dipping sauces like Hummas, babaganoush.

For desert...you can do pomegranate ice with mint, and baklava squares--getting those from a baker with some middle eastern cookies is perfectly fine.

Most of these things can be made in advance. The tagines, or make the skewers ready to grill (or broil), the base mix for the tabouli and add the 'couscous' at last moment. The Humas and babaganous can be done 2 days ahead. With a little wisk and and touch of lemon and oil right before serving.

You can keep the spatchcocked chicken and give it a bit of lemon, oragano rub to 'middle east' it and serve with the couscous.
Westcoasty May 29, 2014
Hi, Jodi,

I think a lot of making your menu "easy" is going to lie in choosing other menu items that can either be made ahead the day before (like your chosen dessert, perhaps), or that do not require a lot of supervision and/or preparation. Roasted fingerling potatoes, for instance, in three colours (white, red and "blue"), tossed in olive oil and fresh rosemary would likely be my carb of choice if my oven could fit the potatoes as well as the chicken (but I admit that I am not a sophisticated home cook - still, who doesn't love roast potatoes?). A salad of fresh local produce and vinaigrette made ahead separately that day, then combined when the chicken is ready to serve, would also help ease up the pressure while still letting you serve something delicious.

Also, if I were hosting on my own (which you may or may not be), I would want all my preparations done by the time guests started to arrive so that I could entertain them while the chicken was roasting. And I'd be ready to put a drink in their hands as soon as they arrived, whether by pouring a glass of wine or by serving them from a pitcherful of one of the wonderful cocktails on this site.

I hope this helps. In my experience, "easy" dinner parties take a lot of advance planning! But it pays off on the day itself. Good luck! I hope you will tell us how it turns out.
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