Recipes for a Casual Dinner Party
Not all dinner parties have to be swanky affairs with place cards and dessert forks.
You can organize a "come as you are" dinner party perfect for summer evenings, featuring quick and easy dishes plus casual footwear suitable for such a soiree.
Susan Spungen, contributing food and entertaining editor for Weekend magazine, recommends the following recipe.
Features all the ingredients of minestrone soup -- fresh vegetables, potatoes and pasta -- without the soup. Instead of a vinegar dressing, the salad is dressed with pesto. The salad can be tossed together on the morning of the party, just add the pesto right before you serve. Can also be served warm.
Bring potatoes and cold water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from water, spread on a baking sheet and let cool. Slice into 1/2-inch coins.
Bring a large saucepan of water and 1 tsp. salt to a boil. Add green beans and asparagus and cook until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and place in a bowl of ice water until completely cool. Drain, pat dry.
Toss together potatoes, pasta, pesto, green beans, asparagus, cannellini, peppers, and salt and pepper to taste.
In a blender or food processor, blend basil, pine nuts, garlic and salt until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil. Pour pesto into a bowl and mix in the cheese with a wooden spoon. Makes about 1 cup.
More Info: Vegetarian