Gather round the table for a relaxed and cozy dinner party
Family-style meals create an instant mood of intimacy. This menu brings comfort, elegance, and ease to the table. First up, we have a stunning roasted salmon. We couldn’t get over how delicious and silky-rich this salmon is, or how foolproof the recipe is.
Don’t be thrown off by the total time it requires: Think of it instead as a great make-ahead dish, where all you have to do the night of the gathering is pop the fish in the oven for a short time. What you’re doing in step 1 is making homemade crème fraîche. It’s easy to do; it just takes some time. We love the creamy texture and luscious tang of homemade, but you can substitute purchased crème fraîche or full-fat sour cream. Look for a 3-pound side of salmon with even thickness. Avoid the thin tail end and buy two thicker (1½-pound) pieces if you need to. The dill sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week.
This salad is simply chock-full of all kinds of good stuff–sweet, tender beets; the crisp snap of zucchini; fennel’s anise crunch; and chewy-tender farro. You can make it up to two days ahead; just leave out the watercress until shortly before serving.
To get a head start, prepare the recipe through step 2 up to two days in advance. Shortly before serving, place asparagus on pan with roasted asparagus, and proceed with step 3.
Here’s a dish of straightforward comfort, a crave-worthy combo of softened onions and leeks in a creamy sauce. Make the dish through step 2 up to a day ahead, and then reheat the next day in the baking dish.
Chef Khalil Hymore introduced us to the idea of a crunchy quinoa crust with a savory tart he developed for us; we take the notion to a sweet place here. The tart holds well overnight, so make it the day before, and serve chilled right from the refrigerator.
Up to 5 Days Ahead
• Make sauce for salmon
Up to 2 Days Ahead
• Make salad (add watercress just before serving)
• Roast artichokes
Up to 1 Day Ahead
• Make casserole, minus panko topping
• Make strawberry tart
• Spread topping on salmon
An Hour Ahead
• Bake casserole with panko topping
20 Minutes Before Serving
• Roast asparagus with preroasted artichokes on bottom oven rack
• Roast salmon on top oven rack
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Luckily, these recipes pair beautifully with both white and red varietals, so there will be something to please all guests. To bring together all the menu’s springy “green” flavors, try a grassy, citrusy sauvignon blanc. For a red wine, try a Beaujolais. Light in body, it won’t clash with the menu’s vegetables while embracing the sweeter flavors of salmon and onions. —Jordan Mackay
With a few simple swaps, you can make this menu work for a casual Passover gathering with friends.
Salad: Omit farro; either replace the farro with quinoa, or double the watercress for a straight-vegetable salad.
Salmon: Omit the sauce; the fish is so flavor-packed, it can stand alone.
Casserole: Replace butter with oil. Sub vegetable stock for milk, and use 3 tablespoons potato starch in place of flour. Use matzo meal in place of panko.
Artichokes: Replace butter with flavorful extra-virgin olive oil.
Dessert: Sub in Sponge Cake with Orange Curd and Strawberries.
Three party tips from our Executive Food Editor Ann Taylor Pittman:
1. Share the Menu: Guests appreciate knowing what delights are coming their way. At my house, I scribble the menu in chalk on my pantry doors, which are painted with chalkboard paint. At your house, you can simply print a few copies of the menu on card stock and scatter them around the table.
Nothing makes guests feel more cared for than little touches specifically catered to them. Make a playlist featuring their favorite artists or songs; set out little party flavors like these Berry Lemonade Bars labeled with each guest’s name; or simply decorate by arranging one bloom of a different type of flower at each place setting.
This menu is designed to serve 8 people. If you end up with 10, though, don’t assume that these amounts will work for that many people. Nothing kills the joy of a party faster than running out of food (or drink, for that matter).
But be careful when scaling up; it’s often tricky to do by small amounts. For example, if serving 10 people, I advise making one and a half times each recipe in this menu. (Just multiply each ingredient amount by 1.5.) you may have leftovers, but you’d rather have that than the alternative.
One exception: Don’t attempt to make half a tart. Either cut smaller wedges to get 10 slightly smaller servings, or make a second tart. (You can enjoy a slice as a breakfast treat the next day.)
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