There’s nothing like providing a wonderful, easy, home-cooked meal for loved ones—and saving money in the bargain. In fact, this lavish and healthy spread will reflect your special efforts and good taste, not your budget. An added bonus: You’ll have time to relax and enjoy the evening because much of the meal is prepared well in advance, leaving you time to set a stunning table and spiff yourself up before the doorbell chimes. Who says entertaining friends and family in style need cost all your free time—or a fortune?
- Veggie Juice Hot Shots | Herbed Goat-Cheese Puffs
- Carrot Salad with Arugula and Mustard Greens
- Chicken and Pasta in Brodo
- Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Compote
Herbed Goat-Cheese Puffs
Makes 24 / Once you experience how easy making this pastry is, you’ll cook up these bite-size appetizers again and again. Ingredient tip: To save even more money, use savory whipped cream instead of goat cheese; simply whip 6 ounces cream until it holds a peak, then add 2 teaspoons fresh basil, one bunch chopped chives, zest from two lemons, and a pinch of salt. Prep tips: Juice the zested lemons for the Veggie Juice Hot Shots. View recipe.
Veggie Juice Hot Shots
Serves 6 / Couldn’t be simpler. Prep tips: Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to suit your tolerance for heat. Vodka is optional! View recipe.
Carrot Salad with Arugula and Mustard Greens
Serves 6 / Prep tips: If you can’t buy Osaka mustard greens (also called red mustard leaf, often included in spicy salad mix) loose or at a farmer’s market, a bag of mixed salad greens is a fine substitute. For a heartier salad, add frozen and thawed edamame. View recipe.
Chicken and Pasta in Brodo
Serves 6 / Your dinner’s centerpiece. The simple homemade chicken broth (brodo) is the basis for the deeply satisfying flavor. Ingredient tip: Choose an unusual pasta shape, like fusilli, for visual appeal. Using whole-grain pasta is delicious here and doesn’t feel heavy in so much broth. Prep tips: Cooking in advance and letting the broth set for a day makes it taste even better. Serving tip: Crusty bread with this course would be nice. View recipe.
Olive-Oil Cake with Citrus Compote
Serves 12 / An unusual and healthy alternative to other baking fats, extra-virgin olive oil lends its characteristic fruity aroma to this satisfying cake, similar in texture to a pound cake. The slightly bitter peels lend a not-too-sweet, sophisticated taste. View recipe.
2 days ahead
Shop for groceries
Soak beans overnight; cook
Cook chicken; pull meat off bones
1 day ahead
Prepare chicken broth
Make sweet onion dressing
Prepare citrus for compote
Soften goat cheese; add herbs and zest
Remove eggs (for puffs) from fridge to bring to room temperature
Clean salad greens
Prepare citrus sauce for cake
Shred carrots and mix with dressing
Stuff cheese puffs
Cook pasta, drain, and lightly oil
Set out chicken broth mixture to bring to room temperature
Set up appetizer buffet
Spiff yourself up!