by: Beth Rotto, Cheese and Bakery Buyer
It’s spring, a busy season for graduations, weddings, anniversaries, confirmations and gatherings of many kinds. What happens when you are the host? Although you could put on an elaborate spread, remember that you want to enjoy the celebration and not be stressed by a menu that requires extra effort at the last minute. Want some suggestions? Prepare party platters. Try some of my recipes below, or order some food from the Oneota Co-op Catering menu – now online.
Popular ingredients on party platters include sliced cheese, cold meats, fresh fruit, vegetables and dips. You’ll want a selection of crackers or breads to serve with your platters as well.
Arrange a tray with frilly lettuce, kale or parsley. Alternate sections of the tray with food of various colors or shapes. Include olives and hard-boiled or deviled eggs as well as carrot sticks, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, radishes, etc. Our produce department is sure to have very fresh and delicious organic and local options. Have you checked out our large selection of olives? We have an impressive olive bar where you can choose from a dozen different olives and olive mixes. We have even more in our deli grab-n-go cooler, and still more on the grocery shelves.
Select from the great cheeses we carry at Oneota Co-op. I suggest choosing three or four kinds. Cheese can be presented as whole pieces, making a knife available for each type. Alternately, cheese can be pre-sliced into rectangles, squares, or triangles. Choose types that appear visually different and have different taste profiles. For example, you could serve a brie, a cheddar, and a swiss type. Oneota Co-op Fresh Mozzarella can be served as well. If you choose the marinated Mozzarella Bocconcini, serve it in a shallow bowl with bread beside so people can soak up the scrumptious herbed olive oil. Allow most cheese to warm up to room temperature before serving. Salted nuts pair well with cheese and can be served nearby. Thinly sliced meats can be rolled into slender tubes and placed on the cheese platter, or on it’s own plate, as well. Be sure meats stay refrigerated until serving time.
Choose grapes and berries and cut-up strawberries, pears, pineapple, melons, dates, etc. Place a small bowl of Creme Caramel, made at Oneota Co-op and found in the deli grab-n-go cooler, in the center. Or, instead of a fruit platter, prepare fruit salad from my recipe!
As you know, you can purchase a great selection of bread and crackers at the Oneota Co-op. Did you know that we have crackers both in the grocery aisle and also by the fresh bread? Pick up several kinds. It’s nice to provide one gluten free cracker for people with that common food allergy. Be sure that the gluten-free crackers are served in a bowl by themselves. My favorite gluten-free cracker are the Hazelnut Nut Thins. Also, our bulk section has a wonderful assortment of nuts and snacks. Some of my favorites are from Tierra Farm such as Curry Cashews, Salted Mixed Dry Roasted Nuts and Tierra Trail Mixes. Don’t forget the ever popular Chips and Salsa or try the recipe for Super Nachos below. And finally, be sure to sample the wonderful fresh-made Guacamole by Mattias, also found in the deli grab-n-go cooler. Remember to call the Co-op in advance with your order. This will ensure there is an ample supply for your next gathering.
Here are a few suggestions to help with your next celebration:
• Make yourself a list of things to do and serve. It’s disappointing to prepare a food and later find that you forgot to serve it.
• Locate and set out plates, dishes and utensils you will use for serving ahead of time.
• Choose foods that can be prepared ahead of time.
• Enlist help. Ask someone to alert you when the punchbowl gets low. Show someone else where the extra supplies are, etc.
I served this at a Co-op staff party and replaced the parsley with Microgreens from Root River. It was delicious!
In food processor, pulse 2 cloves garlic and 4 scallions
Add 1/4 c. parsley. Pulse.
Add 2 c. pecans. Pulse.
Add 3 T. tamari sauce, 3 T. apple cider vinegar, 10 oz. extra firm tofu.
Process until smooth. Serve with crackers or raw veggies.
Nice crackers for this dip include Pita Chips, Crostinni, Crunchy Crust, or triangles of warmed pita bread.
Other good dips available, fresh, at Oneota Co-op include Gorgonzola Mascarpone and plain and flavored Hummus. These are found in the deli grab-n-go case.
Spread two or more cans of refried beans in a shallow, ovensafe pan that can be used for serving. (If desired, mix sauteed onion with refried beans.) Top beans with 1 small can of chopped, green chilies. Sprinkle with a thick covering of shredded Monterey Jack, Cheddar, or Colby cheese. Pour 3/4 c. prepared taco sauce over the cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Garnish with 1 c. pitted ripe olives. Mound guacamole in center of pan, then top with a dollop of sour cream. Tuck tortilla chips around the edge of the pan. Serve warm with extra tortilla chips.