Easy Lunch Menus
November 13, 2004 9:10 PM   Subscribe

What's a good, simple lunch to make when hosting a few guests? I'm looking for something nicer than sandwiches, but not something that's going to seem like dinner fare. [mi]
posted by rorycberger to Food & Drink (12 answers total)
posted by ascullion at 9:13 PM on November 13, 2004

I'm having my parents over for lunch tomorrow and have no idea what to make. I've got a reasonable array of cookware, but no grill (except foreman), and most basic utensils but no special tools, electric mixers, food processors, etc. Any ingredients that can be found at the grocery store are fine, and though I'm no chef (obviously) I'm willing to try cooking most anything and can follow instructions pretty well. As I mentioned in the post, I don't want it to be a full-on dinner style meal, but something beyond just throwing together sandwiches would be nice. Thanks in advance.
[on preview: fajitas sound good...how do i do that?]
posted by rorycberger at 9:17 PM on November 13, 2004

Just chop up some veg (primarily onions and lots of peppers) and some meat (chicken is probably best) (although it can be totally vegetarian if need be). You'll need some guacamole and sour cream to spread on the wraps. Buy a pack of fajita seasoning and some wraps from any grovery store. Fry the onions and meat, then add the veg, add the seasoning, heat the wraps, and let people serve themselves. Done.
posted by ascullion at 9:30 PM on November 13, 2004

The fiance, who lacks a login at the moment, suggests a stir-fry over rice or soba noodles.

Sandwiches can be nice if you go for the gusto, tho. The fiance has made some nice pulled pork-ish sammiches out of Cooking Light recipies. Check out their site if you can for easy ideas (Or the Food Network recipie site).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:06 PM on November 13, 2004

Narrow down your choices - pasta, really great sandwiches, quiche, soup/stew, etc. What do you and your folks like to eat? Start with a small fresh green salad.

I love hearty green salads with sliced broiled chicken or steak, parmesan, and maybe some boiled potatoes marinated in Italian dressing. Garlic bread on the side if you want it to be more filling.
posted by theora55 at 10:13 AM on November 14, 2004

A good hearty stew, meat or veggie, or bean soup served with some hot crusty bread [you can buy this, salt/rosemary loaf complements stew nicely] and a spinach salad with toasted walnuts and some hot fruit tea poured over ice to drink. Apples and honey for dessert, or sherbet, something easy and light by comparison. Easy meal to sit and talk over, and easy to prepare mostly ahead of time.
posted by jessamyn at 10:18 AM on November 14, 2004

quiche is easy to make, sort fancy, and very lunch-y, plus you can choose whatever you like to throw in there (I love fresh spinach and feta, but mushroom, tomato, ham, any kind of cheese, etc, all are commonly used.)

mexican does work well for tapas-style food, too. Or a homemade thin crust pizza?
posted by mdn at 1:51 PM on November 14, 2004

I also recommend the quiche. You don't even have to own a pie pan. Buy the pre-made crusts and throw away pans at the grocery. You can even buy frozen quiche mix there too. Just add your own ingrediants to the mix, some examples: brocolli, bacon, ham, spinach, chedder cheese, swiss cheese, peppers and the list goes on and on.

Sandwiches could be okay if you use focaccia bread. Serve soup on the side.

Or, how about going to a good deli and buying: assorted olives, tapenade, good cheeses, prociuto, salami, crusty bread, grapes, and apples. Set these items out in a nice presentation (fan the cheese if you slice it, slice the apples, etc) and let them pick what they like.
posted by Juicylicious at 2:38 PM on November 14, 2004

Quiche is a good lunch food--especially if it's an early lunch. If you make two, you can go for wildly different tastes.

But my favorite casual but nice lunch is: curry chicken salad, popovers, fresh, cold salad, grapes, oranges, and pears. Very easy to prepare, very elegant, and the curry is a nice surprise. Cookies for desert, especially if you bake them yourself--but also, pudding or sorbet work great too.
posted by josh at 2:50 PM on November 14, 2004

A tart for lunch, supper or a party, from Nigel Slater's 'Appetite':

onions – 6 small to medium
butter – a thick slice, about 50g
puff pastry – 200g or thereabouts
Taleggio, or similar semi-soft cheese – 120g
thyme – enough leaves to make a little pile in your palm

1. Peel the onions, cut them in half from stem to root, then into thick segments. Put them into a shallow pan with the butter and leave over a moderate to low heat until they're soft. Let them take their time. They need to be translucent, golden and sticky. This only comes with slow cooking and it is pointless to try to hurry it. The actual timing will depend on the type of onion (some contain more water than others) but you can expect them to take a good 30 minutes.

2. Set the oven at 220C/425F/gas mark 7. If you're using a sheet of ready-rolled pastry, simply roll it on to a lightly floured baking sheet. If you're using a block of pastry, roll it out into a rectangle (or square or round) no thicker than a 10p piece. Score a border 2cm from each edge and prick all over with a fork.

3. Tip the onions on to the pastry, pushing them almost, but not quite, to the border. Brush the rim with some of the onion butter. Slice the cheese quite thinly, then break it up into small pieces, tucking it in among the onions. Scatter over the thyme.

4. Bake until the pastry is golden and puffed and the onions browning – 15 to 20 minutes.

And more...

A leek and Taleggio tart. As above, but with leeks. The essential point is not to let the leeks colour too much – they turn bitter when even slightly charred, so you may find you need a little more butter. I find it helps to put a piece of greaseproof paper and a lid over the leeks while they're cooking, to stop them browning.

An onion and camembert tart. I have used Brie, too. Both work and give a deeply savoury, melting result.

A tomato and basil tart. Something for summer and autumn. Spread a thick layer of pesto on the puff pastry, then cover it with thin, though not too thin, slices of tomato. Crack over lots of black pepper and sea salt, then bake till crisp and golden.

A pancetta and onion tart. I think there are two ways you could go about this. I've added chopped pancetta – about the size of Dolly Mixtures – to the cooked onions as the tart goes in the oven but I've also had success (if that's what you call it when every last crumb gets eaten) with scattering thin slices of pancetta, cut into pieces the size of a postage stamp, over the onions before I tuck in some Camembert or Brie.

A red onion and Parmesan tart. You get that wonderful sweetness with red onions so redolent of contemporary Italian cooking, and they work well, as you might imagine, with the depth of savour you get from Parmesan cheese. Cook the onions as above, spread them over the pastry, cover them with a thick layer of grated Parmesan (some thyme would be good here too) and bake as above. Be generous with the cheese.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:15 PM on November 14, 2004

I realize I am posting too late to help, but for the future, try taco day! Every Friday is taco day for us and I can usually get it to the table in under 10 minutes. I brown a little ground beef and season it with salt, garlic, paprika, cumin, red pepper and a pinch of sugar. Meanwhile, the oven is heating and I put in the store-bought hard shells to warm up. If we are eating soft corn tortillas they go directly on the burners-- 20, 30 sec each side. Grate some cheese, and then start ferrying stuff to the table:
black olives
sour cream
avocado mashed or sliced
chopped tomato
an array of salsas
hot sauce
taco sauce
con queso
refried beans
cheddar cheese
Monterey jack cheese
a pitcher of margaritas/beer
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:54 PM on November 15, 2004

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