Fall has arrived, and there’s no better time for a dinner party. Showcase the new season’s bounty with a relaxed, comforting meal that’s perfect for sharing with friends. We’ve created a menu that’s simple but elegant, featuring a mix of prep-ahead dishes and those that come together on the spot. Pour a glass of wine, and linger at the table on a crisp fall night.
Greet friends with a bite that celebrates a seasonal gem: figs! These crostini are topped with fresh sliced figs, gorgonzola and arugula for an ideal balance of flavors.
Serve soup as a first course — it’s warming and cozy, unlike all the juicy, ripe summer foods we’ve been enjoying. A pureed fennel soup is light and subtle, with just a handful of ingredients. Pancetta-wrapped pork chops make an unforgettable centerpiece to the meal; ours are paired with fresh shelling beans for a special touch. On the side, try this deliciously hearty roasted pear salad, with bitter endives and mesclun.
End the meal with a rustic galette filled with sweet-tart apples; a dollop of whipped cream is the perfect topping.
- 1 to 2 days ahead: Toast the bread for the crostini. Make the soup, let cool, and refrigerate. Make the dough for the galette, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- Day of: Roast the pears and toast the pumpkin seeds for the salad. Wrap pork chops in pancetta and shell the beans. Finish and bake the galette.
- Just before serving. Finish the crostini. Reheat the soup. Cook the pork chops and beans.
Mix up your serving styles with a plated first course and family-style entree. Serve the soup in big, inviting bowls, and include a few fennel fronds for garnish. Then, pass around the pork and beans and on a serving platter and the salad in a wooden bowl, allowing everyone to help themselves.