Bowl food is an incredibly popular choice for parties I cook for. It’s a delicious half way house between canapés and a full sit down meal. I thought as a chef myself, it might be helpful to talk you through bowl food as an option for parties and how to go about serving it.
There is no need for bowl food to always be restricted to parties where you hire a cook. You can easily do it yourself! Well, it isn’t necessarily easy, but I am going to show you how you can make it an easy option!
I love having people round to supper and serving bowl food, and people really love it! It means they get to taste a little bit of everything, which I for one, am strongly in favour of. You can also have more people round, as you don’t need everyone to sit down. It takes a little bit more prep work but is very do-able. You can hire the bowl food bowls, AND the best thing of all? You can send them back without washing them, as the hire companies do it. MAGIC.
If you do want to serve bowl food, I recommend choosing mainly cold options to make your life simpler, unless you are lucky and have lots of helping hands at…hand. And then having a hot option which you can make ahead and then scoop out into bowls with relative ease. Good options for hot bowl food include something like a risotto, or paella, or tagine with cous cous. Sausages with my cauliflower puree is always a good option, and so easy to prepare!
Ideally you want to serve dishes that can easily be eaten with a fork, so that’s something to bear in mind when you are choosing what to serve.
To give you an idea of the sort of thing you can serve, here is the menu for the event I cooked for this week:
Seared tuna with coriander pesto on courgette and carrot noodles
Chickpea and fava bean falafel with greek salad and beetroot tzatiki
Slow cooked shredded shoulder of lamb with giant cous cous with garlicky tomatoes, and yogurt dressing
It seemed to go down pretty well! It’s important when you’re planning a party or thinking about a menu to think about whether you are covering all bases in terms of ensuring there is something for everyone to eat.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself when thinking about what you will serve:
- Is there a dish vegetarians will like? EVEN if you think you know for certain there are no veggies coming, I can guarantee you someone will arrive and declare that they aren’t eating meat…but hadn’t thought to mention it. To save you a moment of stress, just pre-emt this by making sure there is something they can eat
- Is there a good balance between light, fresh dishes, and more hearty, filling dishes? If you’re serving booze, then it’s never a good idea just to serve salads. You want to make sure people have enough to eat, and won’t rush home early to devour a sandwich. And for the sake of your house, it’s a good idea to try and line your guests stomachs.
- It may be a sexist thing to say, but its worth thinking about if there’s a dish that is going to keep the typical man happy?? Sexist maybe, and a total generalisation, but typically in my experience, it does makes sense to ensure there is something meaty.
- Will it be easy to prepare ahead? You’re the hostess/host, but that doesn’t mean you want or need to be shackled to the kitchen. I often plan different menus when I’m entertaining my friends to when I’m cooking for my job – as the priorities are different. I don’t want to feel like I am at work, when I’m meant to enjoying a party!
- Is there a dish that people who don’t eat Gluten and bread-y things will enjoy? You never know what people will or won’t be eating that week, and it’s a good idea to make sure there is a light dish that isn’t drowning in breadcrumbs
- It’s never a bad idea to have a whole load of crudite and a bowl of humous on standby to make sure there is something that literally everyone can have.
Ultimately, you want to serve delicious food, but you also want to make it as simple as possible for yourself when you’re hosting. I would really recommend making up all the cold bowls before your guests arrive. You can always add a drizzle of olive oil at the last minute of a few finishing touches, but it is SO much more relaxing to do that without also having to make conversation!
The seared tuna always gets gobbled up at the speed of light, so if you opt for that, it’s worth making a few extras! Seared tuna is such an easy way to impress people….it is ridiculously delicious and it’s also surprisingly simple to make. That’s a winning combination in my book.
My tuna with coriander pesto is always an incredibly popular canapé, and so turning it into a dish for my bowl food menu seemed like a no brainer! The method to this is very similar to a recipe I posted a little while back, it’s just a different way of serving it!
So, if you’re planning a party, or even if you weren’t when you starting reading this, I hope this has given you for for thought!
As always, I’m here to answer any questions! xx