The secret to entertaining and still having a good time?
Steal my very best springtime entertaining ideas that will guarantee you have just as much fun as your guests with these main course salad ideas!
While March isn’t quite marching away from winter, I feel Spring in the air.
Easter is right around the corner and with vaccinations occurring rapidly, families and friends may start gathering to celebrate a new season.
I have a theory about entertaining. I like to keep my eye on the prize of enjoying my party as much as my guests do. I must admit that I usually accomplish this goal!
The secret to making it all happen is to plan, plan, plan. If you spend the time preparing before-hand, when it comes to party time, everything will be ready!
Putting these two ideas together, I have a party plan to share with you for your right-around-the-corner Spring get-together. My book, “At Home Entertaining” (If you don’t find it on your shelf, you can still find it on Amazon), contains a plan for a Sunset Picnic Supper.
This party plan was one that our catering company created when we were asked to design a party to go with a groundbreaking ceremony on the lot that would eventually house a four-story office building. The lot was vacant, so we erected a tent and set each place at multiple tables with individual picnic baskets that held the guest’s china, linen napkins, glassware, and even a stem vase with a single fresh flower.
The meal was presented family-style with servers offering platters of main course salads. We prepared all of the pieces of each salad in advance and keep them refrigerated, assembled the dishes on-site, right before serving.
The party was a hit and I’ve served these main dish salads again and again over the years.
I used that party plan to create one for this year. It includes these dishes:
Grilled Flank Steak With Roasted Onions, Sliced Tomatoes, Blue Cheese and Poblano Pepper Vinaigrette
Here’s how: The day before I’ll pound the flank steaks with the rough side of a meat mallet and place them in marinade overnight. I’ll roast the poblano peppers and add them and a handful of spinach leaves to my favorite vinaigrette recipe to create a deeply colored, subtly spiced sauce. This I’ll chill in the fridge.
I’ll roast small (palm-size) white onions, cut into quarters, in the oven until they are golden and syrupy, and store these in the fridge as well.
On the day of the party, I’ll grill the steaks to just medium-rare. I’ll wrap them in foil and refrigerate until about an hour before the party. Removing the steaks, vinaigrette, and onions from the fridge, about an hour before gives me the time I need to bring everything to room temperature. (I like the way food tastes at room temperature instead of chilled from the fridge.)
To assemble the salad, I cut ripe, beefsteak tomatoes into slices and lay them around the outside of a large platter. Then I’ll top these with chunks of blue cheese. I’ll lay the onions inside the ring of tomatoes.
Then I’ll slice the steaks into thin strips and pile them high into the center of the dish. I’ll drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the top of the salad and serve the rest on the side. And
I’ll do all of this before the first guest arrives! The salad will be good-to-go for several hours.
Poached Chicken In Tuna Sauce
This is a dish based loosely on a dish called Vitello Tonnato (veal with tuna-caper sauce) and is perfect for this party because it is made the day ahead. Whole chicken breasts are poached in wine and broth with veggies and herbs.
Then these are sliced and layered onto a platter and covered in a rich sauce made with tuna, anchovies, capers, lemon juice, and mayo.
I’ll refrigerate the dish overnight which allows the slices of chicken to absorb all the flavors of the sauce. All I have to do is remove the platter from the fridge and garnish with lemon slices, capers, and fresh parsley.
I’ll add a ring of baby artichokes around the edge of the platter…. just because I can!
Roasted Salmon In the Grass With Cucumber Mint Sauce
This is the secret to perfectly roasted salmon….Shhhhhhh… don’t tell!
….It’s brown sugar.
Yup, I spice my salmon with brown sugar. I mix the sugar with everything else in my spice drawer and then rub it all over the salmon. Twenty minutes of roasting in a hot oven and you have the most delish salmon that you can easily serve at room temperature.
I’ll lay the salmon over barely sauteed spinach (the grass) and drizzle it with a sauce made from fresh cucumbers, sour cream, and fresh mint. Oh boy!