Good Question: Dinner Party Menu for Ten?

Here's a doozy of a Valentine's party question from Jessica. Well, she never actually says that there will be 10 for Valentine's, but we are imagining a sit-down dinner for 10 in romantic candlelight. Quite the dramatic picture! Check out her request and see if you can help.

I just moved in with my boyfriend and we are having a dinner party for his parents and siblings and my parent and siblings. In total there will be 10 people. Can anyone suggest a menu we can use that will partially free us up to entertain yet not seem too simplistic?

Jessica, we love cooking for this number of people; it lets us make a larger amount of dishes (which is interesting) but the group size is still not too big. For a group this size we could go a couple different ways.

If it is a group that appreciates ethnic and spicy cooking, we might make a large lamb or beef curry, with a saffron rice pilaf with peas and cashews. (Recipe for that coming next week.) We'd have some yogurt raita with cucumber and a pinch of cumin for cooling off the heat, along with a simple salad of bitter greens and pinenuts with a basic vinaigrette. All of these things can be made ahead; the curry is better made a day in advance. We'd have Lemon Rice Pudding for dessert, spooned ahead of time into individual cups and refrigerated with a dollop of whipped cream on top. When your guests arrive, the curry and rice are on the stove, the salads are plated on the table, and all you have to do is quickly broil some frozen Indian naan from Trader Joe's, put it in a basket, and open the wine.

A more traditional and basic menu would involve Slow-Cooked Pork Roast, browned well then cooked all day with no attention needed from you. You can make the dough for No-Knead Bread a day in advance, then bake an hour before your guests arrive. You can also make Creamy Cheesy Potatoes the day before, as well as a simple spinach or winter salad. Add Acorn Squash and Roasted Garlic Strudel as an appetizer, and a rustic Apple Galette for dessert.

Here are a few other places where we've addressed similar questions:
Casual Dinner Party for Twenty
Comfort Food Dinner Party Menu
Hot Buffet Ideas for Christmas Dinner

Readers' turn - what would you make for a casual yet elegant dinner party for ten?

(Image credit: Stationers' Hall)

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Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.

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