One of my very very favourite things in life is throwing a dinner party. I find that the best way to catch up with friends is with an intimate group of between six and ten, sat at the dinner table with good food and wine (and maybe a silly game or two thrown in for good measure!) talking into the early hours of the morning. Yet somehow every time I commit to having one, I have a last-minute panic about what to make – something that’s fairly easy to throw together but still impressive enough and something that will please everyone! My mind draws a blank every time.
As a rule of thumb, I’ve found that the easiest way to please all tastes and appetites is to choose a roast as the main event – a roast ham, lamb, or beef – and to make plenty of different side dishes and salads so that there is plenty on the table for everyone – including the vegetarians!
Sometimes it can be quite fun to just have bowls of different ingredients dotted around the table and have guests assemble their own fajitas / wraps, Greek gyros, tacos, homemade burgers etc, but at other times if you’re looking for something a bit more formal or prepared, then a roast never disappoints.
If you’re making a roast lamb, this is delicious served with rosemary potatoes, thyme tomatoes, a Tabbouleh salad and Tzatsiki. For any other roast, the thyme tomatoes and rosemary potatoes are still perfect, but then just replace the Tabbouleh and Tzatsiki with other side dishes like roasted vegetables (butternut squash, onion, bulbs of garlic, parnsip and carrots), side salads, or even brussel sprouts cooked with onion and bacon.
Make sure you also have some nibbles to offer for when guests arrive – they don’t have to be anything complicated, just some bowls of olives or some cheese and biscuits is better than nothing!
If you are looking for a starter that’s delicious but not too filling, then a crab and avocado cocktail, some Gravad Lax or a simple salmon ceviche is perfect!
To drink, offer a few bottles of wine but don’t be shy to ask your guests to bring some too! Make sure you also have plenty of jugs of water on the table – add some fresh lemon, lime, mint leaves or cucumber ribbons (with a vegetable peeler) to sex it up a bit.