You don’t need a show-stopping roast to impress guests at a dinner party! A meatless menu can be just as elegant and special as any other. Our tip: focus your efforts on one dish that takes a little time and effort to prepare, like the fresh pasta that takes center stage in this menu. Then, round it out with other dishes that come together quickly, or that you can make ahead. With the bright, fresh flavors of citrus and greens that winter brings us, who needs meat?
Start off the evening with an hors d’oeuvre that looks beautiful but is a snap to prepare. These marinated olives can be made ahead, then re-warmed just before serving — and a homemade marinate will set them apart from the store-bought varieties. Pair with a couple of cheeses, sliced fruit, and thin, crisp crackers.
For your first course, serve a colorful, lively salad that celebrates winter, like our radicchio, orange and hazelnut salad. Follow it with the main event: a classic Italian ravioli, filled with pumpkin and dressed with lightly browned butter and fresh sage. Though it takes some time, you’ll be rewarded with a dish that you and your guests will never forget. On the side, offer roasted broccoli seasoned with red pepper flakes and garlic.
Finish the meal with a finale of coffee crème brûlée, with a silky smooth interior and crunchy caramel topping.
- Up to 1 week ahead: Make the coffee crème brûlée, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- 2 to 3 days ahead: Make the ravioli and arrange, not touching, on rimmed baking sheets, then wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (Alternatively, the ravioli can be frozen for up to 3 months. Freeze on the baking sheets until firm, about 1 hour, then transfer to resealable plastic bags and freeze. Cook ravioli directly from the freezer.)
- 1 day ahead: Marinate the olives.
- Just before serving: Make the broccoli and the radicchio salad. Finish and reheat the olives. Broil and finish the crème brûlée.
This meal begs for a rich, medium-bodied white wine. Need a recommendation? Try the 2010 Valdemar Inspiracion Temperanillo Blanco from our Williams-Sonoma Wine shop. We like serving wine in stemless glasses for an casual, intimate dinner party.
While most pastas can be served family style, delicate ravioli are better suited to individual plating. Spoon the ravioli into painted pasta bowls and drizzle the brown butter-sage sauce over the top. Pass a big piece of Parmesan cheese and a grater around the table so everyone can top their own bowls — getting people involved makes them instantly feel at home.