In December, before heading down to Florida for the holidays, I took four final exams, completed one take-home final, and a final project. It was an intense few weeks, but somehow, in the week leading up to my due dates and exams, I felt compelled to have two dinner parties. They were back to back – one with friends from school, and the other with my cousins and brother. One on Sunday evening, one on Monday. While all of the work hovering over my head was important, it was the season for gatherings – and I wanted to have a few, too.
I thought about having a traditional holiday menu – with vegan options for sweet potatoes, butternut squash soup, and a beet salad. But, what I really wanted was Mexican food. So, I turned to my Spork Online membership and printed out the recipes from last May’s Mexican Fiesta class:
Green Salad with Grilled Corn in a Creamy Chipotle Dressing
Black Bean Tortilla Soup
Roasted Red Peper and Spinach Enchiladas in a Zesty Tomatillo Sauce
And then, I decided to make the same meal twice – on Sunday and Monday. While I was really excited to have company over, I had to accept that I was in the middle of exams – and so shopping for double the ingredients and preparing a very familiar menu on a second night (for a completely different group of people) would be a big help. (Thankfully, my husband could eat Mexican food every night of the week, so there was no problem there, either.)
I loved working with this menu because every course required simple, whole ingredients, and had components that I could prepare in advance, which made entertaining easy.
For the salad, I prepared the dressing, the greens, and the corn separately. I just kept the corn in a sautee pan and reheated it on the stove for two minutes (while I tossed the crisp greens with the dressing) before serving it over the salad.
The soup was totally done – I just kept the crisp lime-and-salt-flavored tortilla strips separate until it was time to serve them in individual bowls.
I rolled the enchiladas in advance and kept them ready to bake. When I served the soup, I spooned the zesty tomatillo sauce over the enchiladas and popped them in the oven for twenty minutes – just the right amount of time.
None of my guests were vegan – and many times, when non-vegans think “vegan” they prepare themselves to feel like they are missing something. Based on the comments and clean plates from my dinner party, I don’t think anyone missed a thing. The food was delicious, filling, flavorful, complementary, and immensely satisfying.
For those of you planning gatherings during busy times, I highly recommend this menu – which you can access through the archives on Spork Online. (A monthly membership is $7.95 – well worth the quality of the recipes, menus, and videos you’ll get!).
Special thanks to Reema Doshi for the lovely photos!