This Chef-Approved Dinner Menu Will Seriously Wow Your Guests

Pro chefs share their go-to dishes for feeding a crowd.

photography by TWIN FARMS


Fall Root Vegetable Salad and Champagne Honey Vinaigrette by Chef Nathan Rich of Twin Farms
“This fall salad is quick and simple to create, making it the perfect addition to any dinner. The dish showcases the best of Vermont’s seasonal produce.”

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 celery root (approx. 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 golden beet
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 radishes
  • 2 oz. crème fraiche (whipped till soft peaks)
  • ½ oz. sesame seeds (toasted)
  • 1 orange (cut into segments)
  • As needed fresh petit herbs: basil, mint, amaranth, chervil, chive
  • 2 oz. champagne vinegar
  • 6 oz. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 oz. honey
Directions
1. Wash and peel all the vegetables. Once clean, carefully slice on the mandolin as thin as possible. Roll each of the vegetables into a consistent form.

2. In a bowl whisk together vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

3. For plating, on the bottom of a bowl place the whipped crème fraiche. Place the rolled vegetables into the crème fraiche. Drizzle with the champagne vinaigrette and then lightly garnish with the petit herbs. Finish with the citrus segments and toasted sesame seeds.

photography by ANGELINE CAVATELLI


Fresh Ricotta Cavatelli by Chef Michael Symon of Angeline
“Our fresh ricotta cavatelli is one of my favorite pastas at Angeline. We have it as part of our large format Sunday Supper feast because it works really well as a family-style dish. Hand-rolled cavatelli, Sunday sauce and fresh ricotta—who wouldn't want that at their dinner party?!”

Serves 8

Ingredients
Ricotta Cavatelli

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading (about 1/2 cup to 1 cup)
  • 16 oz. fresh ricotta (strained)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Olive Oil
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes (halved)
  • 4 cloves garlic (sliced)
  • 1 cup basil leaves (lightly packed and torn; plus more for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (plus more for garnish)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Directions:
1. In a standing mixer, with the dough attachment, combine the ricotta and eggs. Pulse until combined. Add the flour one cup at a time. Pulse until the dough begins to pull away from the sides. It will be wet.

2. Remove from bowl and begin to knead with additional flour for 10 minutes. Place in a well-oiled bowl and set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature, or in the refrigerator overnight.

3. On a lightly floured surface, cut the dough into six pieces, and roll the dough into ropes, about 1/4-inch in diameter. Cut the rope into 1/2-inch pieces.

4. Using your thumb or the dull side of a butter knife, press on each piece of dough and pull across the length of it. Continue this until all your pasta dough is used. Transfer finished cavatelli to a floured baking sheet. Allow to dry at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

5. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop pasta, cook for 3-4 minutes, or until pasta floats to the surface. Reserve one cup of pasta water when draining.

6. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add a few tablespoons of olive oil to coat the pan. Add the tomatoes, and cook until they burst, about 8-10 minutes.

7. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Toss in cooked pasta with basil and cheese. Add reserved pasta water, as needed, to create the sauce. Serve garnished with more basil and freshly grated cheese.

photography by 1901 AT ACEBOUNCE


The Little Stinker Casserole by Chef Rick Gresh of 1901 at AceBounce
“When I’m entertaining, I like to cook things that don’t require too much attention so I can enjoy time with friends and family. That said, the meal still needs to be delicious and feed a crowd. I like to cook things like a beef rib eye roast or maybe a dry roasted short rib—low and slow. One of my favorite sides to make is The Little Stinker…who doesn’t love a cheesy potato casserole? This is a fun one because you can change up the cheese for more or less pungency and play with the flavors. It’s easy to make, can be reheated and travels well. Plus the next day it's delish with a fried egg and a cup of coffee for breakfast—a bonus if you have overnight guests!”

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
Casserole

  • 3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons thyme, chopped
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 3 oz. washed rind cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 oz. gruyere cheese, shredded
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • As needed, vegetable spray
Breadcrumb Topping
  • 1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 oz, unsalted butter
  • 2 teaspoons aleppo pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
To make the topping:
In a sauté pan, over medium low heat, melt the butter, add salt and pepper. Add breadcrumbs and stir to combine while lightly toasting in the pan. Remove from heat and pan. Drain on paper towels for 30 minutes.

To make the casserole:
1. Spray casserole dish with vegetable spray, set aside. Slice the potatoes into 1/8-inch thickness and put into a large bowl. Cover with cream and thyme. Season well with salt and pepper, making sure that the potatoes are well covered.

2. Lay two layers of shingled potatoes into the casserole dish. Top with a sprinkling of the cheeses. Add another two layers of potatoes and then the cheese. Continue with this until you have used all the potatoes and cheese. The cheese should be on the top layer.

3. Pour the cream into the casserole dish to fill it up, pressing the potatoes down. The cream should just cover the potatoes. Place casserole onto a foil-lined sheet pan. This will catch any cream that boils over and makes it easier to clean up. Bake in a 300 degree Fahrenheit oven for 40 min.

4. Insert a knife to check the tenderness of the potatoes; the knife should go in and out fairly easy at this point. Top with the breadcrumb mixture and continue to bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly. 

photography by THE SMILE + SMILE TO GO


Olive Oil Donuts with Strawberry Glaze by Rossella Rago, Author of Cooking with Nonna
“These donuts work perfectly for a crowd because each piece is smaller than a piece of cake (and they don't require cutting!), so as a host, they’re easier to serve. There’s also less guilt because they’re packed with heart-healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil.”

Serves 12

Ingredients
Donuts

  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Botticelli extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
Glaze
  • 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 fresh strawberries (washed and hulled)
  • 2 teaspoons heavy cream
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two, six cavity donut pans with non-stick spray. Set aside.

2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl or standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the oil, eggs, sugar, and lemon zest. Using a sharp knife split the vanilla bean lengthwise. Scrape out the paste and add it to the bowl. Mix on medium speed until combined. Lower the speed to low and begin adding the flour mixture a little at a time alternating with the buttermilk. Mix until just combined. Do not over mix.

4. Spoon the mixture into the donut pan or fill a pastry bag or plastic zipper bag with the batter and snip off one end (this method is a bit easier). Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops of the donuts are slightly springy. Cool on a wire rack completely before glazing.

5. To make the glaze: combine the confectioners sugar, strawberries, and heavy cream in a blender and purée until smooth. Spoon over cooked donuts. 


Related reading: 
How to Host a Low-Stress, Bohemian Dinner Party
Must Have Essentials for Your Next Dinner Party
Game Day Eats You Can Make Ahead of Time

Published on September 21, 2017 - 5:03pm EDT

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