We love our friends and would like to see them more often, but there is already not enough weekend left for family and hobbies. So you are waiting for an invitation for a weeknight? Maybe everyone is waiting for everybody else. You could be the first to wing it and start a regular thing. Don’t believe just because you are working you won’t have time to prepare everything. I help you out: I put on my think hat and here are my two cents:
Team up with another friend and share the party preparations (half duty but double fun).
Be prepared, many things can be done ahead of time: shopping for groceries, setting the table and cleaning your home, cooling the drinks. You should make a plan, I believe in lists. Consider your time realistically. You got one hour? Lasagna is not going to happen. Think more: couscous, pasta… also low maintenance.
This is not the time for testing new recipes. The key is a fool-proof recipe, one you did several times successfully, a simple one is the best idea. You make hands down the best French fries in town, great this will make you look good. You are not going to impress anyone with mushy Duchess potatoes.
Make sure to hand your guests their first drink, I might be old fashion but I think it’s a duty of the host to welcome and clink glasses with every guest. After that they are on their own. Put wine and water bottles on the table or nearby, and encourage everyone to self-service but keep an eye on the coy ones, you don’t want them to dry out. Introduce your friends to your fridge. It’s totally fine to let them grab their own beer. After all you have worked all day. It’s your party and it’s time to have some fun.
Don’t be ashamed to use store bought dips like hummus. Pimp it up with a drizzle of good olive oil and dust with cumin and smoked paprika powder. This looks stunning on a nice platter. And your guests have something to nosh while you are busy in the kitchen. Bread and butter is a classic and on the table in a minute.
Make ahead: some dishes taste even better reheated like goulash. Compound butter can be made weeks earlier. It freezes well and upgrades a chicken breast, salmon, veggies, baked potato. There are tons of easy and mouthwatering slow cooker recipes out there.
For cold days: soup party! Serve a basic soup for example: consommé (or any clear soup), potato soup, tomato soup, pumpkin soup etc. Serve with a variety of add-ins and toppings for this soup: croutons, rice, bacon bites, pesto, eggs (cooked and chopped or poached), black or pinto beans, sour cream, avocado, cubed ham, grated cheese, herbs, green onions, barley. Place it in small bowls on the table and everyone can mix and match to his liking.
For hot days: salad party! Works basically the same like for soup. Make a mixed green salad and provide a nice selection of ingredients: bell pepper, cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, butter beans, chicken strips, red onions, sun dried tomatoes, olives, crumbled feta. I don’t know about you, but if I want to turn a simple salad into a whole meal, I just add beans and top it with an egg, and I am happy as a camper. Offer two or three different dressings: creamy like ranch dressing and tangy like vinaigrette.
Both options are easier on you when you feed guests with allergies, vegans or vegetarians. Most leftovers make a great stir-fry or stew the next day.
The most important thing is YOU! If you are a hot mess when your guests arrive, they won’t enjoy this evening. They are visiting you and want diversion from their working day. Make sure you are peachy, relaxed and ready to party. Have yourself in order and don’t worry about the food. Your friends will be happy to help in the kitchen and it’s fun. You don’t have to be finished with the meal at their arrival but you should have upgraded yourself and smile. If nothing helps, pour yourself a glass of wine and breath.
- about 500 g / 1 lb. pizza dough
- 3-5 Tbsp pesto of your choice
- Reheat your oven to 200 C / 400 F and place your pizza stone inside the oven (if using otherwise grease a baking sheet).
- Transfer your pizza dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll out dough into rectangular shape. Spread pesto evenly on top of the dough. Roll up the dough from the long side, form a snail, tuck under the beginning and the end.
- Place into the oven and bake 25 – 30 minutes.
- Remove from your oven and let cool 10 minutes before slicing.
You can make your pizza dough and pesto from scratch. If your pesto contains a lot oil, use just 3 Tbsp, so it won’t squeeze out so much. Cilantro and smoked almond pesto works great, is less liquid (so you can use 5 Tbsp) and vegan.