Planning a Springtime Buffett | A No-Fail Menu for Springtime Entertaining
Springtime bursts with opportunities to gather friends and family in celebration of spring holidays! Do not fear: a delicious and light buffet can be your answer to stress-free springtime entertaining. Easy, make-ahead recipes allow the host to enjoy the celebration too and all of these can be doubled or tripled to serve a crowd.
SPRING TRIFLE SALAD WITH CITRUS VINAIGRETTE
serves 4–6 This salad is quick and easy to assemble! Vinaigrette can be made and pecans toasted the day ahead. Swap out the ingredients however you like, feta for goat cheese, strawberries for raspberries, almonds or walnuts for pecans. Butter lettuce and romaine hold up well to the weight of the fruit; more delicate greens wilt fast on a buffet table. This salad is a feast, first for the eye and then for the palate.
- 1 or 2 heads butter lettuce, trimmed and torn
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries
- 6 ounces fresh blueberries
- 6 ounces soft goat cheese
- 2⁄3 cup pecan halves, toasted
- Juice of one navel orange
- Juice of one lime
- 1⁄3 cup olive oil
- 1⁄4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
- Salt to taste
Place half of the lettuce in the bottom of the trifle bowl (or any glass bowl) and top with half of the raspberries, blueberries, goat cheese and toasted pecans. Top with the rest of the lettuce and another layer with the remaining salad ingredients.
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the orange juice, lime juice, olive oil, pepper and salt until it is emulsified. Serve in a bowl on the side. Adapted from Angela at Seasonal and Savory
FRENCH POTATO SALAD
serves 4–6 Mayonnaise-based potato salads are not the best idea if a buffet will be sitting out for awhile. I love this recipe because the vinaigrette is light and the fresh herbs sing with spring flavors! The variety of potato used makes a difference—waxy is better than starchy; stay away from russets as they will not hold their shape.
- 2 pounds peeled and cubed Yukon gold potatoes or tiny red potatoes
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons chicken stock
- 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 3⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
- 10 tablespoons olive oil
- 1⁄4 cup minced scallions (white and green parts)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
- 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons julienned fresh basil leaves
Cover potatoes in cold water and bring to a simmer on high to mediumhigh heat. Cook until a sharp knife slips easily into potato. Drain in a colander and place in a medium-size bowl.
Toss the potatoes gently with the wine and chicken stock. Allow the liquids to soak into the warm potatoes before proceeding.
Combine the vinegar, mustard, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper and slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Add the vinaigrette to the potatoes. Add the scallions, dill, parsley, basil, 1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Serve warm or at room temperature. Adapted from Ina Garten
SLOW COOKER BRISKET AND CARAMELIZED ONIONS
serves 6 Brisket is a traditional Passover dish which tastes even better if made a few days in advance. This dish is perfect for entertaining, especially with the ease of a slow cooker.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 large yellow or red onions, sliced into half moons
- 3 1⁄2 pounds beef brisket Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Heat the oil in a large, deep saute pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat, frequently stirring, until the onions have caramelized lightly, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the brisket.
Pat the brisket dry with paper towels. Season generously all over with salt and pepper. Heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the brisket and sear, flipping once, until the crust forms a golden brown. Transfer to a 6 quart or larger slow cooker fat side up. Sprinkle the minced garlic over the brisket.
When the onions are ready, pile them on top and around the meat. Mix the broth, Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce together and pour into the slow cooker.
Cover and cook until the brisket is very tender, 6 to 8 hours on the Low setting. Switch to the Warm setting and let rest for 20 minutes.
The brisket can be sliced or shredded immediately and served with the onions and juices, Or, let the meat cool, then refrigerate overnight. Before reheating, scrape away and discard the layer of fat that has formed around the meat. Brisket is easier to slice when it is cold.
To reheat: Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Transfer the brisket, juices and onions to a baking dish and cover tightly with a lid or two layers of foil. Warm in the oven for 1 hour or until warmed through. Arrange on a platter with the onions piled on top. You can serve alongside slider-style buns or rolls, with store-bought coleslaw and pickles, as well as barbecue sauce.
If you don’t have a slow cooker, cook the brisket in the oven in a baking dish covered tightly with foil, at 325 until very tender, 3 to 4 hours. Adapted from Faith Durand from thekitchn
INDIVIDUAL HUMMUS AND VEGGIE CUPS
Hummus and vegetable cups don’t really require a recipe. Just add a heaping spoonful of your favorite store-bought hummus to a small plastic cup and finish with a little drizzle of olive oil. Cut sturdy, raw veggies such as carrots, English cucumbers, zucchini and sweet bell peppers into thin sticks a bit longer than the length of your cup. Arrange one or two of each vegetable in the cups and garnish with one radish and leaf of parsley. Place them together on a platter for a colorful display.
ASPARAGUS WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO
serves 8 Easy and elegant and tastes just as good at room temperature as it is piping hot.
- 16 spears asparagus, trimmed
- 16 slices prosciutto
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each asparagus spear in a spiral fashion, starting at the bottom of the stalk.
Lay the wrapped asparagus on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Roll the spears around to coat all sides. Spread them out in a single layer and bake for five minutes. Remove them from the oven and roll them over; return to the oven and cook until asparagus is tender and prosciutto is crisp—about five minutes.
Store-bought items can fill out your buffet table nicely. A charcuterie board with assorted meats, cheeses, olives, fruits and crackers is always a hit. Check out Pinterest or Instagram for ideas. Purchase some good quality bread or rolls and make a lovely flavored butter by stirring strawberry jam (or maple syrup, or honey and cinnamon) into softened, salted butter. It’s quick and easy but looks and tastes special. Purchase some bakery items that don’t require utensils, such as mini brownies and lemon squares. ✦