Dinner parties are great; they combine all of life’s best pleasure into one moment–good food, good people, good music. But if you don’t plan well or bite off more than you can chew, dinner parties can easily become quite stressful.
The biggest source of that stress usually is the actual dinner. What to prepare? We asked friend of Enjoy Flowers and celebrity chef Vanessa Cantave, what menu she’d design for someone throwing their first dinner party or looking for an easy dinner party menu to prepare.
Vanessa put together a casual dinner menu below. “It’s an easy to prepare menu that still packs some ‘wow’ factor,” she says. “The asparagus and pasta can both be served family-style, leaving time for the host to enjoy their guests. The dessert is also very easy and a light citrusy finish to the rich pasta dish. Have fun with it. Entertaining shouldn’t be stressful. Add whatever touches time will allow for including florals, candlelight, wine selection, chinaware/flatware. Always remember that love is in the details.”
Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan
- 2 lbs fresh asparagus, trimmed
- grapeseed or canola oil
- kosher salt and fresh pepper
- parmesan-reggiano, for garnish
- Heat oil in a pan over high heat just until you see a puff of smoke.
- Add the asparagus, and cook over high heat for 2-4 minutes, turning at least once.
- Remove from heat and place directly onto serving platter.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Garnish with freshly shaved parmesan-reggiano.
Cavatelli with Bacon and Spring Peas
- 1 lb Cavatelli
- 1 lb slab bacon, large dice
- 1 ¼ cup diced yellow onion
- 1 ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup frozen baby peas
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup grated parmesan-reggiano
- Cook cavatelli in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid then, drain pasta in colander and set aside.
- Meanwhile, add bacon to large sauté pan and cook over medium-low heat until fat is rendered and bacon is slightly crispy. Remove bacon and set to the side. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the rendered bacon fat.
- Add onions and red pepper flakes to sauté pan and cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes until onions are soft. Return bacon to the pan along with the peas and cream. Stir for 2-3 minutes more.
- Add drained pasta and reserved cooking liquid to the pan and stir until combined.
- Serve in individual bowls or one large platter for family-style. Garnish with grated parmesan-reggiano.
Easy Meyer Lemon Mousse Cups
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
- 8 oz cream cheese, softened
- 2 teaspoons almond (or vanilla) extract
- zest and juice from 2 meyer lemons
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups fresh berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries all work well)
- In a large bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
- Add cream cheese, extract, zest, juice and sugar in a separate bowl and mix with electric mixture until fully combined.
- Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.
- Divide into individual bowls or jars and garnish with fresh berries.