Spring Dinner Party Menu and Tips
The weather is warming, so it's time to lighten your wardrobe and your meals. Here are ideas for a refreshingly light dinner party that's a welcome change from those heavy winter menus. We've got suggestions for decorations, the meal and dessert. Call it a Spring Green bash.
The landscape is turning green, so reflect the color in your decorations. The first flowers of the season make perfect centerpieces. Grocery stores and home improvement stores have bulbs like crocus, tulips and daffodils in pots and blooming. Also check local greenhouses. These flowering bulbs also make perfect gifts for your guests.
Another great idea for a spring centerpiece is a tray of grass. It's simple and definitely says spring! Check with your local greenhouses to see if they have any flats of fescue for sale.
Nothing says spring like an organic green bar with a variety of spring vegetables, cheeses and toppings. It's a main course that's healthy and easy to prepare. Choose baby greens of endive, mesclun, watercress, arugula and dandelion for the best flavor because the larger, more mature leaves have a bitter taste.
Offer an array of toppings for your salad buffet, like:
- pine nuts
- sunflower seeds
- fresh strawberries
- fresh orange slices
- fresh asparagus tips
- fresh sugar peas
- fresh sprouts
- fresh avocado chunks
- grape or cherry tomatoes
- grilled salmon or chicken
Don't forget the bread! Offer bread sticks, freshly baked rolls or Melba toast.
Treat your guests to their choice of homemade flavors. Serve the dressing in individual bowls so guests can try a sample of each. This also allows them to control the amount of dressing they put on their greens.
A great salad calls for a great wine. Pairing your spring greens with an herbaceous Sauvignon (or Fume) Blanc complements the crispness and nuttiness of a salad. For a moderately priced selection, try the Californian 1997 Chateau St. Jean La Petite Etoile, although at times it's hard to find. For a more affordable, but no less wonderful selection, try the Chilean 2006 Arboleda Sauvignon Blanc.
Finish your spring salad meal with a dessert featuring simple flavors, like this one:
Strawberries and Cream
2 pints of fresh strawberries, cleaned and halved
2 cups half and half
1/2 cup sugar
In a saucepan, combine half and half and sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat and refrigerate mixture overnight.
Place 1/2 cup of strawberries in each of 6 dessert dishes. Pour 1/4 cup of half and half/ sugar mixture over berries. Serve immediately.