Looking for dinner menu ideas to include a starter and main dish for a summer gathering of 8. Make ahead would be great too.

  • Posted by: Vicki
  • July 3, 2016


PHIL July 5, 2016
You can make a cast iron chicken which can be done inside or outside. Melissa Clark has a great video on it: http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1018118-grilled-roast-chicken-with-spinach-ricotta-crostini It was great. Or you can do some nice ribeyes on the grill with a chimichurri sauce on the side. to go with either I would make a warm German potato salad using an assortment of baby red/ white or baby yukons and a big green salad of your choice Since your guests are bringing appetizers a cheese board and some charcuterie to start which you can prep ahead. For desert have some ice cream and whipped cream to accent the deserts your guests are bringing. By the way , the price of everyone's advice is to let us know what you actually make! Good Luck
Vicki July 13, 2016
Phil and everyone, thanks for all your good advice and suggestions.

I do agree with you Phil that there should be a price to pay for tapping into these great culinary minds, so while I still haven't nailed down what to serve, here are some things I'm considering:

Cream of Celery and Stilton Soup
Crunchy Grilled Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Grilled rib eye or fillet

Oven roasted potatoes and onions
Sarah Leah Chase's Scalloped Tomatoes

Pan-roasted green beans

I love the scalloped tomato recipe and think it would go well with steak, but one of the guests often brings appetizers that include tomatoes, so I'm not sure on that one.

The cream of celery/stilton soup is a really refreshing summer soup, but I also feel roasted corn salad would make a great starter.

Luckily, I've still got a couple of weeks to get over my analysis paralysis and make up my mind, so we'll see. I might do a complete flip and build a menu based on scallops!
Aliwaks July 5, 2016
Here's one idea for an Italianate kind of summer dinner.

Grilled English peas with tarragon
Nectarines anbd/figs 9if you can get them)with prosciutto olive oil & marash pepper (or burratta)
Mixed grill - Sausages, calamari, lamb ribs, wild mushrooms (if there are vegetarians) + salsa verde & bagna cuda
Grilled radicchio, red peppers, asparagus & zucchini with reduced balsamic
Warm pasta (orchiette??) with pesto & charred corn
Fresh goat cheese with black berries
Dark Chocolate semi freddo with olive oil & smoked salt + a coookie of somesort
Imogen July 4, 2016
I'm having a dinner party for a similarly sized group this weekend. I'm doing:

Prosciutto wrapped melon
Watermelon and feta bites
Grilled snap peas
Nicoise salad
Halibut with lemon gnocchi, beurre blanc, mint oil, peas and radishes
Baklava cheesecake
Watermelon rosemary lemonade
BerryBaby July 4, 2016
Starter, Shrimp Cocktail served in Martini glasses lined with leaf lettuce. Place homemade cocktail sauce on the bottom, shredded lettuce, shrimp and lemon slice on top. Main dish, Steak salad, which can be made ahead of time. Toss greens together, I use Red Leaf and Romaine and add colorful carrots, peppers (red, yellow, orange), shredded red cabbage, and a bit of sliced red onion. Grill the steaks a day ahead of time and refrigerate for easy slicing. Skirt steak or sirloin are my choices. Before serving add black olives and marinated artichoke hearts to the salad. Usually I serve this with and Italian dressing that you drizzle around the serving bowl, not directly onto the salad. This prevents the lettuce from becoming 'too heavy' with dressing. Top with the sliced steak and big, crunchy croutons. For dessert I'd make a Fruit Tart. This is the most requested dessert by guests and always, always, delicious. (see photo)
My F. July 4, 2016
A cold soup is a great make ahead starter for summer. Depending on whats available in your area I'd suggest a melon based "gazpacho", potato-leek, or (if you have a great blender and/or the patience to sieve) watercress soup.

For a main: pesto noodles, with tomatoes if you can get any yet, and whatever protein you feel confident preparing. If it were me I'd make chicken thighs, depending on my guests either a) boneless cutlets, fried OR b) whole thighs cooked very slowly, skin side down first to render the fat and then flipped and baked until they fall apart.

A separate thought for the main: something egg based like a frittata with optional grilled/broiled steak, especially you have vegetarian AND omnivorous guests.
Sam1148 July 4, 2016
A black bean and corn salad is great. Many variations. And they're better made the night before. Black beans (rinsed) corn (Either roasted and moved off the cob, or bagged frozen corn).
Then...you can riff around that.
Green onions, Parsley (or cilantro), Tomatoes, Cucumber cubes.
And a dressing: Lime and Olive oil...
A salt: Salt...or feta cheese and less salt.

ktr July 3, 2016
A little more info might help narrow down the suggestions you get: Are you looking to grill or cook inside? Is this a casual get together or more formal?
Vicki July 4, 2016
I'm open to grilling or inside preparation. It's my turn to host my dinner club group so is a little more formal. Other guests will bring the appetizers and dessert. I have an outstanding recipe for gazpacho so that is one starter I'm considering which could be followed by something either grilled or pan seared such as a prime cut of steak, or scallops - perhaps with some grilled bell peppers?
Nancy July 4, 2016
Vicki - two ideas in reaction to your description of the evening.
If you like smooth gazpacho (some do, some don't) maybe make gazpacho shooters, with vodka, gin or tequila.
The gazpacho and tequila suggest grilled fish or tacos as a main.
Maybe a taco bar (everyone garnishes to taste) with either fish or steak as the protein.
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