Complete Healthy Dinner Party Menu
Dinner parties can be a time when healthy eating goes right out the window. The good news is healthy, nutrtious meals can be equally as delicious as their more unhealthy cousinss when you use lots of natural flavour enhancers such as herbs and spices instead of artifical ones such as MSG. This complete dinner menu gives you a full four-course recipe guide that will wow your guests, while not breaking your healthy eating plan. There is a meat-free main option for your vegetarian guests.
This menu is designed for a party of six, but you can adjust the quantities according to the number of guests you are having.
Starter - Spicy red pepper and roasted tomato shots
Makes 12 shots (I suggest making 2 per guest)
2 red peppers, roasted (or 190g roasted peppers, in a jar)
275g cherry tomatoes, halves (or canned, same weight of canned cherry tomatoes)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp ground almonds
crème fraîche, to serve
fresh chives, to serve
Halve and de-seed the peppers, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 mins until the skin starts to peel away. Leave to cool. (Alternatively use 290g peppers from a jar).
Put the roasted red peppers in a blender with the cherry tomatoes, garlic, vegetable stock cube, 100ml water, paprika, olive oil and ground almonds. Blitz until smooth.
Season well and heat until piping hot before serving. Serve with a dollop of crème fraîche and chopped chives.
Main Course - Chicken and butternut squash tagine with feta and mint
4 chicken breasts
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, 1 roughly chopped, 1 sliced
50g ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp turmeric
1 tbsp each ground cumin, coriander and cinnamon
1 large butternut squash, deseeded and cut into big chunks
600ml chicken stock
2 tsp xylitol
2 tbsp red wine vinegar 100g dried cherries
1 small red onion, finely chopped
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Handful mint leaves, torn
Zest of a lemon
Season the chicken breasts.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan, then brown the chicken on all sides. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Whizz the chopped onion, tomatoes, chopped ginger and garlic cloves into a rough paste.
Fry the sliced onion in 1 tbsp olive oil in the pan until softened, then add the turmeric, cumin, coriander and cinnamon, and fry for 1 min more until fragrant.
Add the paste and fry for another few mins to soften.
Return the chicken to the pan. Add the squash, chicken stock, xylitol and red wine vinegar. Bring to a simmer, then cook for 30 mins until the chicken is cooked through.
Lift the chicken out and stir in the dried cherries.
Continue simmering the sauce to thicken while you shred the chicken into bite-sized chunks.
Stir the chicken back into the sauce and season.
Garnish with a mix of the finely chopped red onion, lemon zest, mint leaves and crumbled feta cheese.
Serve with cauliflower rice.
Vegetarian Main Course - Aubergine bake
2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato purée
Large handful fresh basil, chopped
4 medium aubergines, cut into medium chunks
100g Parmesan, grated
Heat half the oil in a large pan over medium heat and gently fry the onions for 10 mins, until softened. Add garlic for the last 2 mins.
Add tomatoes, quinoa, tomato purée and 600ml just-boiled water. Simmer for 20min, until quinoa is tender.
Stir through most of the basil.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a separate pan and fry the aubergine for 15 mins, until softened.
Do this in batches if you need to. Add a splash of water if the pan looks dry.
Preheat grill to medium.
Empty quinoa mixture into a large ovenproof dish. Top with the aubergine, then sprinkle over the Parmesan.
Grill for 3-5 mins until piping hot and golden.
Garnish with remaining basil and serve immediately.
Salad - Spinach, avocado and pomegranate
200g bag fresh spinach
2 medium avocados, sliced
1 pomegranate (seeds only)
50g sunflower seeds
1 medium sweet potato
For the dressing:
Juice of a lemon
90ml olive oil
Chop the sweet potato into chunks and boil in a medium pan of salty water for 10 mins, or until just tender.
Drain, rinse under cold water (to prevent them cooking further), drain again and set aside.
For the dressing, combine the lemon juice and olive oil and whisk with a little salt and pepper.
Arrange the spinach and avocado on a plate.
Toss with the dressing.
Slice the chunks of sweet potato. Sprinkle over the pomegranate and add the sunflower seeds
Dessert - Healthy silken chocolate mousse
200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
350g silken tofu
1 tbsp vanilla extract
50g desiccated coconut
Handful of toasted coconut flakes to garnish
Place the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until melted then allow to cool slightly.
Place in a food processor with the remaining ingredients, except the toasted coconut flakes. Process until smooth and creamy.
Spoon into shot glasses or espresso cups and decorate with the toasted coconut flakes.
Chill in the fridge until needed.