It has been a while since I threw a dinner party for some friends, but last Saturday I threw one again. My plans had to be altered slightly because I had been sick for 2 weeks. Friday was the first day on which I felt better and when I cook dinner for 4, I have to start a day in advance to do the first round of prep work. Since I wasn’t up to spending 1.5 days in a kitchen making everything from scratch, I decided to keep things very simple. With the help of a colleague I got the idea to throw a tapas style dinner with different dishes, snacks and little bites to eat. And it was a success! It required prep work, but was delicious at the same time. I combined store bought products with a few simple dishes I threw together an hour before my friends showed up. Here’s what I served.
I decided to make a big salad. I took some assorted lettuce, fresh spinach, sun dried tomatoes, olives, capers and feta cheese and whipped up a quick and easy salad. I chopped up the spinach first, then put the lettuce in my bowl together with the spinach. Then I drained the olives, capers and the sun dried tomatoes and added those as well. Lastly, I chopped up the feta cheese and sprinkled it on top. I combined everything with my hands and set it in the fridge so the flavors could combine. Because the sun dried tomatoes come in an oil, I simply used that as a dressing.
Dates & bacon:
A very yummy bite to eat that is also quick and easy to be make are dates rolled in bacon which have been grilled in the oven for a bit. I bought dates with the pits removed to make my life a little easier. Then I took half a slice of bacon and wrapped it around a date and continued until I ran out of bacon and my oven dish was filled to the brim. I lined the bottom of my tray with grease proof paper just to be on the safe side. I put them in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for just over 10 minutes. Mine could have spent some more time in the oven or at a higher temperature, but they tasted good nonetheless.
I also made some salad wraps, which is a snack my mom makes for almost every party she throws. They are quick and easy and absolutely scrumptious. You simply take a wrap or small soft tortilla (or lettuce leaves if you try to stay away from gluten/ wheat/ carbs). Then you spread some garlic butter onto the wrap, but some sliced salmon on top and then add a thin layer of pesto. Roll it up and cut into even pieces. I added some left over lettuce to fill up the whole in the middle of the plate.
I wanted to make sure to serve some more fish, so I decided to make this super easy, yet effective snack. You take your cucumber and slice it in half lengthwise. Take a teaspoon or melon scoop and scrape out the seeds in the middle so you are left with a space to add your filling. I also sliced some of the bottom of the cucumber so it wouldn’t roll over. I then drained the can of tuna (I used water based) and added some mayonnaise and a dash of pepper. Mix it up and spread it along the indentation of the cucumber. Cut into pieces and serve.
Bread with spreads, olives and stuffed peppers:
This I didn’t make myself, but I enlisted the help of some lovely people who sells their wares at the local farmer’s market. There are always lots of Turkish food stands and they sell the best spreads, olives and other such snacks. I went with garlic olives and stuffed pepedew peppers at one stand and I also bought some flat bread from them. I then went to a stand with Greek spreads and bought a black olive spread, an artichoke/ feta/ garlic spread and tarana (a spread containing fish eggs). I also bought some garlic bread from the supermarket to accompany this.
Marinated chicken wings:
I also wanted to serve some meat, so I bought some pre-marinated chicken wings. I fried them up in a large pan with a generous amount of butter according to the instructions on the packaging.
‘Pigs in a blanket’:
These aren’t true pigs in a blanket, but it seems to be the one thing that comes close. Where pigs in a blanket use a hot dog type sausage in the middle, these contain a soft sausage roll instead. They simply sell these in stores as well, so all I had to do was pop these into the oven and bake them according to the instructions.
There you have it: a few ideas if you ever have people coming over and want to serve a delicious meal without the hassle. It only took me about an hour to prepare the things I made myself and then there’s the few times I had to watch the oven or the chicken wings as they were cooking. But all in all it was a super easy dinner and another good thing was that I had far fewer dishes to do the next day as well. Mission accomplished!
What would you serve if you had to cook for 4?