Entertaining guests for dinner is fun for all kinds of reasons. It’s a good chance to catch up with people you’ve not seen in a while. It’s a good way to celebrate good news. And of course, it’s a great time to show off.
Now I’m sure you’ve picked out a nice wine, the best plates and you’ve got a fabulous main course planned – but a fancy dinner party isn’t all about the centrepiece. You’ve got to make sure your side dishes match the main attraction. Fortunately we’re here to help. Here’s five side dishes that look super posh while requiring practically zero effort to make.
Deep Fried Courgette
This recipe turns the courgette into one of the greatest snack foods known to man. To make this you’ll need a couple of courgettes, 150 grams of plain flour (seasoned with a bit of salt and black pepper), 150ml of milk, 290ml of vegetable oil for the fryer, and some more salt for seasoning, our favourite is Maldon.
Cut the courgettes into long, thin matchsticks, and add them to the bowl of flour. Toss the strips until their coated, then one by one dip the courgettes into the milk before returning to the flour and tossing again.
Use a deep, heavy-bottomed pan to heat up the oil. You’ll know it’s ready when you drop a bread crumb in and it sizzles. Make sure you don’t leave it unattended!
Carefully add the strips of courgette one by one, and fry until they take on a lovely golden colour. Using a slotted spoon, fish them out of the oil and place on kitchen towels to drain. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, and then serve in a bowl.
If deep frying seems a bit ambitious when you also have a main course to prepare and a house to make presentable, there are even easier options available. Something as simple as a packet of McCain oven chips can become a delicacy in the right hands.
Simply stick them in the oven as usual, but when they begin to brown take them out and sprinkle with a healthy dose of parmesan before returning them to the oven. Keep an eye on them until they’re well browned and the cheese has melted and caramelised – this should take around 6-7 minutes. Chop up some parsley to sprinkle over once cooled and there you have it, an extra-special side dish!
Guacamole has to be one of the most popular dips and it’s a cinch to make as well! You just need two avocados with the peel off and the stones removed, a small red onion, a clove of garlic, a tomato, a lime and a dash of Frank’s hot sauce. Mince the garlic, juice the lime and chop up everything else (make sure the red onion is particularly fine).
Then simply mash up the avocados with a fork, stir in the finely chopped ingredients, the lime juice and a dash of the hot sauce and then add salt and pepper to taste. It couldn’t be easier!
While all garlic bread is delicious, not all garlic bread is equally delicious, and this recipe will produce mouth-watering slices of garlicky, buttery bread every time.
The trick is to cook the garlic first. Preheat your oven to 190°C and put a head of garlic, chopped in half, onto a square of aluminium foil. Next, drizzle it with about one tsp. of olive oil and fold up the foil so the garlic doesn’t roll away. Leave it there for about an hour, by which time it should be a gorgeous golden brown colour.
Unwrap the foil and leave the garlic to cool for five minutes while you mix one tbsp. of dried parsley, one tbsp. of dried thyme and one tbsp. of dried of olive oil together in a small bowl. At this point, take the garlic cloves out of their paper husks and put them in the bowl. Then mash the whole lot together with a fork until you’ve got a delicious garlic spread.
Spread this over your bread of choice (ciabatta works well) and sprinkle a little parmesan and salt over the top. Then stick it in the oven for a couple of minutes until it begins to brown. Leave to cool, then serve!
Garlicky Minty Peas
Of course, it’s always good to have something green as well, and garlicky, minty peas are a fantastic addition to any meal. All you need is 450 grams of sugar snap peas, 450 grams of fresh or thawed frozen peas, two cloves of garlic, one tbsp. of canola oil, 100 grams of fresh, chopped mint leaves, half a tsp. of sugar and half a tsp. of salt.
Firstly, bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and throw in the snap peas for 3-4 minutes, drain and rinse. Next, fry the garlic in the canola oil over a medium to low heat. Throw out the garlic (or use it to make some more garlic bread) and stick the sugar snap peas in the oil, also adding the rest of your peas. Cook for another 3- 5 minutes then take off the heat before adding in the mint, sugar and salt. All that’s left to do is serve up while explaining that it’s actually quite a tricky dish to make, honest!
What’s your favourite side dish to prepare when you’re entertaining and what’s always a hit with your guests?