Sharing is caring: how to organise a dinner for friends without dying in the attempt

15 May 2017

It’s time to say goodbye to those interminable formal dinners with appetiser, starter, main course and dessert, which would inevitably leave hosts exhausted and guests bursting at the seams. A far better idea for getting friends together around the table without dying in the attempt is to make some informal snacks and nibbles. Here are some ideas:

Cold tapas

Cold food is a great idea, as hosts don’t have keep dashing off to the kitchen. So, select Iberian cured ham is better than croquettes (which have to be fried just before serving), and a good selection of cheeses trumps a brochette. Olives, good-quality tinned food and cold seafood are great options for whetting people’s appetites without having to slave over a hot stove. Easy-to-make hummus and guacamole dips with crudités never fail.

Vegetable crisps

There’s nothing easier and more impressive than vegetable crisps. Simply fry a selection of thinly sliced vegetables (such as carrots, beetroot and the like) in plenty of very hot extra-virgin olive oil.

Star tart

You can make hot or cold star-shaped puff-pastry tarts with lots of different ingredients, such as tomato and cheese, ham or your favourite vegetables. If you make it the day before, that’s one less thing to worry about.

Fruit brochettes

Although some might prefer to bring them out at the end of the meal for dessert, when it comes to snacks and nibbles, it’s often best to leave them out with all the other dishes so that people can eat them when they want. If you do opt for the dessert option, a drizzling of melted chocolate on top is always a classy touch.


It’s never been easier to step up a notch from a classic mixed salad. How about some fennel and orange, with a drizzling of extra-virgin olive oil and apple vinegar? Or a good burrata with rocket and green pesto on a bed of basil, extra-virgin olive oil and almonds? Or a pasta salad with sundried tomatoes and a fancy balsamic glaze? The possibilities are endless, and if you’ve invited a big group, why not make two or three salads? If you really want to push the boat out, you could even serve them in individual glasses.

Exotic snacks

Wasabi balls, kale crisps (simply bake some kale in the oven for half an hour and bingo!), edamame and fried banana are original snacks that drive people wild.


Cold cuts, peppers, salmon, prawns, Spanish omelette, mini-burgers… There are endless ways of making mouthwatering canapés to arrange enticingly on the dinner table.

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