Food has a huge social element. Coming together around a table with good company feeds more than just our bellies - it’s food for our soul!
Entertaining guests while serving up health, but super delicious meals, may appear daunting - but it doesn’t have to be! Today we’re chatting how to win your friends over at dinner parties, and a few fresh ideas to keep up your sleeve in the kitchen.
When hosting a dinner party, there’s a few key consideration to keep front of mind to help make everything as easy breezy as can be! Try to:
Prep ahead. Do groundwork in advance to relieve pressure in the lead up to hosting. Look into some meal ideas, and then put together a plan of action for preparation (i.e. the flow of the eve - what needs to be prepared first? Second? Do you need to prepare anything the day before?). Once you’re guest have arrived aim to be assembling meals, rather than being chained to the kitchen, so you can enjoy the special time with them!
Keep meals simple. You don’t need to whip up a super fancy dish to impress. Stick with meals your comfortable cooking and enjoy eating - your guest will love them too! Simple, quality ingredients paired well can equate to a big flavour punch. Aim not to prepare anything for the first time - use a dish you’ve tried, and enjoyed, before.
When hosting someone with a special diet (e.g. gluten/nut/dairy free, vegetarian, vegan…) it’s always good to chat with them if you have any concerns over what is safe to prepare for them to eat. Try cook a meal that everyone can enjoy, rather than preparing something separate - you might be surprised at all the wonderful recipes that can accommodate those with different dietary preferences.
Guacamole and fresh salsa with corn chips
A colorful platter loaded with veggie sticks, dips, crackers, fruit and cheese
Cucumber slices topped with a dollop of cottage cheese, smoked salmon and chopped dill
Homemade seeded crackers - if you’re feeling fancy!
Kombucha mocktails with fresh fruit slices (simply add to a jug kombucha, orange juice, orange slices, a few springs of rosemary and ice - mix, then leave to infuse!)
Classic roast chicken with roasted root veggies and homemade gravy
Pesto crusted salmon served with herbed potatoes and brocollini stems
Oven baked salmon and fresh salad leaves dressed in olive oil and vinegar
Slow cooked lamb shanks served with green veggies and mash
Slow-cooked curry paired with rice, poppadoms and zesty lemon yoghurt
Prawn kebabs with lemon parsley couscous and a fresh leafy salad
Chocolate dipped strawberries - roll the dipped strawberries in chopped peanuts, coconut or seeds then leave to set. Yum!
Summer fruit crumble - or substitute for whatever fruit is in season.
Ambrosia - toss berry yoghurt with whipped cream and fresh berries!
Loaded seasonal fruit platter with dark chocolate
Easy Avocado Chocolate Mousse - serve with a dollop of yoghurt and fresh/frozen defrosted mixed berries.
How to: create a killer platter
No matter whether you’re hosting a dinner party or are a guest at another residence, a killer platter loaded with colourful nibbles is always a welcomed addition at social gatherings. It’s a relaxed and sociable way to eat, and perfect for both fancier and low-key events. Here’s our tips on creating a killer platter:
STEP ONE: select your base and tools
Consider crowd size. If smaller use a small to large serving board. If larger use 1+ large serving boards or a table lined with parchment paper.
For a rustic set-up, go for wooden boards or parchment paper. For a contemporary feel, marble is great.
Collect small bowls, cheese knives and toothpicks for serving.
STEP TWO: load it up with nibbles
For a healthier platter aim for foods that are minimally processed, and load up on plenty of colourful produce, nuts, dips and protein-rich foods, like smoked salmon or cheese. Aim to include at least one item from each section below:
The vehicle (things to dip into dips/load other items onto):
Fresh veggie sticks
Crackers e.g. oat or rice crackers
Quality bread, thinly sliced
Olive oil with dukkah
Seafood e.g. smoked salmon, oysters...
Cheese e.g. blue, brie..
Smoked/quality deli meats
Marinated or pickled veggies e.g. peppers, gherkin, olives, artichokes
Fresh seasonal fruit
Dried fruit e.g. apricots, prunes, figs…
STEP THREE: build your board!
Place large items down first e.g. cheese, bowls of dips. Fill in the gaps with smaller items.
Group like-items together e.g. chocolate and fruit, dips and crackers.
Keep it practical! Keep items bite-sized for guests.
Get artistic! Swirl your crackers, garnish your dips - have fun with it!
It’s true, we eat with our eyes! Here’s tips to create eye-catching dishes:
Go for colour. Not only is colourful food appetising, but it’s also indicative of different nutrients.
Add fresh green herbs to bland-coloured dishes to really make them pop!
Consider your serving dishes. Go all white for a simple, fresh look, wooden platters for a rustic-vibe, or mismatch brightly patterned plates and bowls for fun!
This blog was written especially for our friends at Westpac NZ, who we’re excited to be assisting with their workplace wellbeing this year. It’s thrilling to see a company go the extra mile for their staff!