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4 Fail-Proof Dishes For Any Fab Dinner Party

Recipes you can make quickly, easily and inexpensively.

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Photographs by Danielle Sykes (Food Stylist: Sheila Jarnes; Prop Stylist: Suzanne Lee)
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The invites are out and the date is secured. You’re hosting a dinner party but have no idea what to serve your guests. You need dishes you can cook quickly, easily and inexpensively that everyone will love. We asked some of our favorite chefs for their suggestions.

Shrimp Ceviche

Danielle Sykes

Serves 8

Irene Mercadal, a Chilean chef and food blogger who recently moved to Georgia, loves this recipe because you can prepare it ahead of time, it’s inexpensive (smaller shrimp work better than big ones for ceviche), and it tastes like a treat.


1 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion peeled and finely diced

½ red bell pepper finely diced

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 large avocado peeled, cored and diced

1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

⅓ cup mayonnaise (optional)

Salt and white pepper to taste


If the shrimp are raw, submerge them in boiling water for 5 minutes or until they turn pink. In a large bowl, add the lemon juice to the shrimp and stir before letting stand for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and refrigerate for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve cold.

Pasta Primavera

Danielle Sykes

Serves 4-6

This dish is sure to be a crowd-pleaser — it’s a flavorful and versatile classic, says Joyce Rodriguez, a chef at, a site that promotes women in the culinary industry. The vegetables, which add a freshness and crunchiness that balances the pasta, can be customized based on what’s in season. Since it’s vegetarian, it’s a great option for diverse dietary needs. And it’s a one-pot dish, making clean-up easy.


1 pound spaghetti

2 carrots, julienned

1 bell pepper, julienned

1 zucchini, julienned

2 cloves of minced garlic

1 cup of frozen peas

½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

A handful of fresh basil leaves, torn


Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, bell pepper and zucchini to the skillet, and cook until they are crisp-tender (about 5 minutes). Add the peas to the skillet and cook until they are heated through (about 2 minutes). Drain the spaghetti, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the skillet, along with the Parmesan cheese, and toss well, adding some of the reserved cooking water if needed to make a light sauce. Season the pasta with salt and pepper to taste, and garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.

Turmeric Chicken Rice

Danielle Sykes

Serves 6

This just takes 30 minutes to prepare, and only one pan is needed. Plus, with only seven ingredients, it’s inexpensive — but provides a pop of color to your dinner presentation, says Natalia Thompson, CEO and recipe creator of Flavorful Home.


1 tablespoon ghee

½ sweet onion, diced

3 chicken breasts

1 cup Jasmine or Basmati rice

2 cups water

2 teaspoons turmeric

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

1 cup frozen peas


Heat a large Dutch oven on medium-high heat and add one tablespoon of ghee. Add the diced onions and fry until slightly golden. Slice the chicken into bite-size pieces, add them to the pot and stir for 2 minutes until they’re lightly browned but not completely cooked. Rinse the rice until the water turns clear. Add the rice, water, turmeric and salt. Stir once, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the peas and stir well.

Coconut Panna Cotta

Danielle Sykes

Serves 4

“One of the keys to success with my dinner parties is always to keep the food simple, flavorful and no fuss, and easy recipes that can be made ahead of time are perfect,” says Liz Mincin, a recipe developer at Waiting for Blancmange. This recipe is dairy-free and can be paired with fresh fruit or any other favorite sauces for topping.


7 ounces of sweetened coconut condensed milk

14 ounces of coconut cream

2 teaspoons powdered gelatin

1 ½ tablespoons water


In a small bowl, sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the top of the water, and set aside to soak for about 5 minutes. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the coconut condensed milk with 10 oz of the coconut cream. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the remaining 4 oz of the coconut cream over medium heat until simmering. Then remove from heat and slip the softened gelatin into the warmed cream, stirring until smooth, and gelatin is dissolved. Slowly pour the warmed cream into the large mixing bowl of condensed milk mixture while whisking continuously until combined. Decant into molds or serving glasses, and chill for at least 4 hours or overnight until set.

What's your absolute go-to dish to make for a dinner party? Let us know in the comments below.

Follow Article Topics: Lifestyle