Dinner parties don't have to be grand, formal affairs. Nor do they have to center around a big platter of meat. This easy, vibrant vegetarian spread feels special without the need for culinary fireworks. All you need is a few friends, a few chairs, and a free evening to bring everyone together.
No need to wait until someone's birthday or an anniversary to get together. No need to even wait for a free Friday night! This whole menu comes together pretty quickly, and is most easily shared between four friends.
Making It Happen
This menu is basically an extra-fancy weeknight meal. Because it has a few extra components, a little planning ahead helps — but you could also certainly pull this all together in the hour or two before your friends come over.
Make the dessert first. A bread pudding like this can sit for a little while before going into the oven, and is all the more custardy and delicious for it. You could even make it in the morning and let it chillax in the fridge in the hours before the party starts.
Next up, make the pita. I'd recommend making a double batch of the recipe above and using half the pitas to make the za'atar chips for the appetizer. The dough can also be made a day or two ahead and kept in a covered container in the fridge. The fresh pita breads and the za'atar chips are both at their very best baked within an hour or two of when you plan to serve them.
The couscous recipe is easy and foolproof. Make sure all the ingredients for the couscous are prepped ahead, but you can wait until just before your friends arrive to cook it. You can hold it over low heat until you're ready to sit down for dinner. If you'd like, the chickpea mix can be made a day or two ahead and reheated before serving.
Oh, and that asparagus salad? Make that whenever you have a free moment. It can be made a few hours ahead and kept refrigerated, or prepared while the chickpea dish is cooking and served immediately.
Do you ever host casual dinner parties like this? What are your favorite easy, but crowd-pleasing dishes?
(Images: See linked posts)