Summer should be all about easy. Easy time with friends with easy to procure foods that are a pleasure to easily enjoy (i.e. no fork required) while conversing and connecting with friends. This gathering was all about easy. I am a little sad I missed it, but plan to copy this farmer’s market/greek inspired menu in the very near future. Thanks Stacie for sharing!
When Michael and I received a call last Saturday from his best friend Rob, who lives in Dubai, asking if he could host a gathering of his extended family at our house one week later, of course we said yes. Rob, his wife Penelope and their son James stay at our house when in the US and I want them to feel it as if it is their home too. I’d like to say we immediately started brainstorming a menu, but we decided to wait for our hosts/house guests to arrive on Friday. Yes, this was one day before the party.
Normally I’d be in a mild state of panic not having all the details worked through well in advance of 20-30 people showing up to my house expecting to eat. In this case, however, I knew we could plan a simple menu with minimal prep required at the last minute with a little help from the local Farmer’s Market. Enter a Grab and GO Snacking Menu: easy to eat foods that don’t require utensils, so people can grab a bite or two and continue conversing and catching up!
Our simple menu consisted of three courses all served buffet style.
- Starters: Vegetable Crudité, Olives & Artichoke Hearts, Assorted Dips and Spreads
- Mains: Lamb Lollipops, Grilled Chicken Pieces, Grilled Vegetable skewers and Spanakopita (made by Penelope)
- Dessert: Blueberry Cake and Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I started by taking my chefs, Michael and Penelope, to the Hingham Farmer’s Market. We picked up assorted vegetables for dipping, zucchini and onions for skewering, chicken for grilling, and a handful of locally made dips and spreads to round out the buffet. We followed that up with a stop at the grocery store for everything we needed that was not at the Farmer’s Market. It was a surprisingly short list: lamb, olives, lemons, limes and frozen filo dough sheets.
For the starters we presented a colorful crudité platter: broccoli, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber, radishes, carrots and blanched green beens. For the dips we served tatziki and a cilantro and mint chutney, both from the Farmer’s Market.
The Dips and Spreads were served with wedges of Syrian Bread. We had two hummus options (spicy or mixed with feta and spinach) and two Feta options (spicy or with olive oil). Olives and artichokes rounded out the assortment. Using good quality, prepared foods was a major time saver!
Our menu expanded when our friends Paul and Colby showed up with tuna they caught earlier in the week! The tuna belly sashimi and tuna tartar were quickly added to the buffet as well…
For the Mains, Michael manned the grill. The chicken legs and thighs were marinated in Ken’s Italian Dressing. This is our go to chicken marinade, super tasty and easy too! We picked up a rack of lamb that was already trimmed back, Michael then sliced the lamb into “lollipops.” The lamb was marinated with olive oil, crushed garlic, salt, pepper and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.
For a healthy side dish we had a platter of vegetable skewers: slices of yellow squash, green peppers, zucchini and small spring onions, sprinkled with olive oil, salt and pepper, all on a stick for easy grilling, serving and eating.
Penelope made her signature Spanakotyropita. Similar to a Spanakopita, but stuffed with spinach and cheese instead of just spinach. She sautéed the spinach with leeks, scallions and dill then drained it, mixed it with feta cheese, and layered it between well buttered filo sheets. It went into a 350 degree oven and baked until golden and crispy.
For dessert, we had a platter of chocolate chip cookies and a blueberry cake that was so tasty, it was gone before I could get a picture.
In the end, the party was a great success. Everyone could grab a bite and go on with the merry making. Easy food, easy conversation and lots of FUN!