Dinner Party Tip: Cook by Color

There are only so many ways to approach a dinner party. You can plan out a traditional menu using recipes you're excited to cook, you can plan more of a potluck gathering or barbeque outside in the warmer months. You can order in. This fall I had a soup party (which will be an annual tradition) and I often do make-your-own-pizza parties. But when it all starts feeling old and tired, there's nothing like looking to color for inspiration. Last week I stumbled upon the most recent issue of Whole Living magazine which had a piece highlighting recipes that celebrate the brilliant colors of the season. While they were more focused on a health-conscious approach to the "eat your colors" diet, there were a variety of pretty, inspiring dishes like Beet Pasta (purple) or Roasted Sweet Pepper and Carrots with Orange and Hazelnuts (orange).

In addition, a blog on my regular reading rotation, The Year in Food, just posted a new feature entitled Color Studies. In it, Kimberly Hasselbrink reserves two posts a month to explore color "rooted in the fruits and vegetables of the season," resulting in a beautiful recipe relying on the bright produce she's selected for that month.

So next time you're staring down a dinner party and stuck in the planning stages, think colorfully. It will force you to reconsider dishes you've made dozens of times and to think more seasonally when you select your fruits and produce. Plus, each dish will just look darn pretty set out on your buffet or dinner table when guests arrive.

Related: Colorful Cooking: How to Make Colored Pasta

(Image: Kathryn Hill)

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