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Dinner Party Menus

Planning a dinner party? We've paired party themes with recipe suggestions. Let the fun begin:

Cool Ideas

Light, chilled vegetarian dishes are easy to prepare ahead of time. Here’s a sample menu:

First course: Insalata caprice

A simple salad of fresh tomato, basil and mozzarella is the perfect prelude to a light, flavorful meal. Try Epicurious' basic recipe or one of their variations, including a pasta salad and a version that includes three-herb pesto.

Second course: Chilled soup

Check out About.com’s Busy Cooks’ Cool Summer Cooking feature, which offers summer cooking tips, a variety of no-bake desserts and an extensive listing of sources on chilled soups. Try the recipe for classic gazpacho or link to Conscious Choice’s Cool Summer Soups for Vegetarian Vichyssoise and Iced Cucumber Soup with Yogurt and Dill, among others.




Main course: Summer sandwiches

The Online Chef’s Caponata & Fontina Sandwiches on Sliced Ciabatta feature eggplant and fontina cheese with green and red bell peppers. In a Vegetarian Kitchen offers recipes for olive oil-lemon and teriyaki marinades that can be used to grill mushrooms and other vegetables for flavorful sandwiches.

Dessert: Strawberries

This classic fruit is the perfect finale for a cool summer meal. For tips and recipes, visit the California Strawberry Commission. Try serving a dessert soup like the Internet Chef’s Scrumptious Strawberry Soup.

Ethiopian/African

Feeling adventurous? Cook an Ethiopian feast at home. One warning for the uninitiated: Ethiopian fare is traditionally served without utensils, so get ready to use your hands.

The African Cookbook by Beatrice Sandler offers recipes from a number of African countries. The selection on Ethiopia includes an explanation of how to serve and present a homemade Ethiopian dinner, recipes for a full-course meal and a shopping list for eight. Vegetarian recipes are also available, and this site offers alternative recipes for injera, the essential Ethiopian flatbread.

Whatever theme you choose, check out the Webtender Online Bartender for creative drink ideas. And no matter what happens in the kitchen, remember that guests make a party.




   --- A. Harris

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