In my head I often picture myself hosting elegant dinner parties. Multiple courses of elegantly plated food, soft jazz music, napkins, candles – the lot. However while I have managed to achieve this for a few special occasions, it’s certainly not the norm and can sometimes be far too stressful to enjoy.
In reality it is always much easier and more enjoyable to go for simple food which doesn’t require too much cooking on the day. This means that I can actually enjoy spending time with my guests rather than playing hostess.
In the autumn and winter one of my “dinner with friends” staples is pumpkin, roasted garlic and goats cheese lasagne. It’s a dish which I can prepare in advance (you can even chop and roast the pumpkin a couple of days ahead of time) and then leave in the fridge ready to pop in the oven once people arrive!
I love using pumpkin or squash and this is a dish in which they get to shine and be the star of the show. While this is a vegetarian dish, it has a lot of oomph and I’ve never had any complaints, not even from hardened carnivores.
I recently made this when I had some friends around for a nice cosy relaxed evening. I also made a dessert – Anjou Pear Cake – which I think may become my new favourite (at least while pears are still in season). I enjoyed it so much I’ve already made it again (for just myself this time 🙂 )
With about half its volume being pears this cake is actually fairly healthy for a dessert (the recipe I based it on claims it only about 200 calories per slice!). In addition to being really tasty it was also ridiculously quick and easy to make. Another great dish for relaxed entertaining.
With the pears ensuring it stayed moist it kept really well and, as it’s not too sweet, I ate the left overs for breakfast later in the week.