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Quick & Simple Menu Plans

Jen G on 21st Jul, 2014

A rite of passage for everyone as a proper grown up is the dinner party.

Once you have any space you call your own its natural to want to assemble friends in it and celebrate, and as we get older that replaces nights out more often, especially when you start throwing children into that grown up mix, heck I can only just manage a few pot  plants but I prefer staying home to entertain anyway. Cheaper, quieter, no waiters to deal with, no reservations and complex menus to navigate and no shoes required!

Quick & Simple Menu Plans

We all need to start somewhere and if you are new to entertaining, want some simpler ideas to try if you are already a pro, or just want inspiration, here are some quick and simple menu plans.

Nice and easy, with each one you will pull off an effortless dinner every time, I've structured them into three courses that go well together, won't overwhelm prep wise, have you reaching for that take out menu or sobbing in a corner half way through main course, but feel free to mix and match, it’s your party! (cry if you want to)

Entertaining at home can be everything from an informal curry, beer, a movie and mates or three restaurant quality courses, with added carefully chosen music and your best china. Here at thedinnerset we aim to be there from everything from the planning, shopping, cooking, presenting, eating, wine matching and we even aim to help get the wine stains out of the carpet later.

Happy entertaining!

Menu 1 – Asian flavours

Vietnamese summer rolls with dipping sauce

These don't just work for dinner entertaining, you can also use up leftover stir fry and such and pop them in a picnic basket or your work lunch box, make extra and take them to the office and make everyone jealous!

Lime seared tuna with mango and papaya

Perfect summer food, avocado also works well with these flavours, lean and healthy alternative to heavy meat dishes to wow your guests.

Coconut and caramelised pineapple rice pud

The perfect end to any meal that contains spice, especially Asian flavours. Containing more lime and lemongrass it marries with the flavours in all your other courses making you look like a smart chef with a savvy palette.

Menu 2 - Vegetarian

Broccoli and spinach soup with a kick

Green like the hulk and will make you feel just as mighty! The soup is a much maligned thing. It's been a dumping ground for sad neglected ingredients, paired with no thought, and over boiled for way too long. Reclaim it with this super soup. Sets you up for a great meal to come.

Vegetable tart 

A good tart is a wonderful thing, crispy flaky pastry, easy to prepare in advance so perfect serve after you've indulged in a glass or two. Smart looking and a crowd pleaser. Pair with a crisp leaf salad for crunch and presentation va va voom

Strawberries with Pimms and cream

What doesn't sound good about that? All the flavours of Pimms paired with strawberries and cream. As easy as can be, prepared in advance and gobbled with abandon, again a good picnic pud too.

Menu 3 - Mediterranean

Easy hummus

Everyone loves hummus, it lines shelves and shelves of every supermarket in so many varieties but nothing tastes as good as homemade, and this super simple one is easy to whip up in moments. Serve it with buckwheat bread or Herby Almond crackers for it’s a gluten free starter to have over drinks. And…. feel virtuous.

Spanish pork casserole

The paprika in this adds colour and depth and goes so well with the hummus in the previous course, succulent and easy to prepare ahead, I challenge anyone not to love these flavours.

Vanilla bean crème brûlée (a bit like a Crème catalana)

Pairs with the pork casserole above, the French and Spanish versions are not much different, but shhhhhh, we won't tell anyone.

Menu 4 – Summer-loving recipes

Minty green bean and goats cheese salad 

Fresh and summery, this salad is easy to prepare but looks like it was more work than it was, very pretty and the creamy goats cheese cuts everything and makes it a substantial starter. You could beef this one up with bread and some canned butter beans or chickpeas to make a quick main course too.

Parma cod parcels with balsamic roasted vegetables

The salty Parma ham is a good match with the cod but would work well with any other meaty white fish too, switch it up with coley, pollock, tilapia, or even salmon or monkfish. These vegetables will become a family favourite, toss them through some steamed couscous for a bigger meal.

Lemon posset 

So easy a child could make it, set it in your poshest glasses for a classy look, top with a few berries such as raspberries, or my favourite blueberries, throw in a shortbread biscuit and you’re all done.

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