I’ve had several nights of entertaining in a row, and while I’m freshly tapped out of original recipes, I thought I’d share what fed the throngs of visitors we’ve had recently. All of these menus were relatively simple and I doubt anyone would even miss the grains or sugars. Also have to apologize for the lack of photos, but I felt weird whipping out the camera in front of guests.
So here’s my formula: pick a main, throw in some veggies, and have a lovely Primal-friendly dessert.
You may notice a pattern here—meat grilled with only salt and pepper, then served with a vinaigrette-type sauce. This is my go-to technique for no-fail flavor on the grill. After years of trial and error and a deeply-rooted perfectionist streak, I have given up entirely on marinading. The flavors simply don’t hold up to flames. You can either toss the cooked meat with the sauce before serving or serve the sauce alongside the meat.
- Pork Loin Chops w/ Chimichurri Sauce: Simply throw 1/2 cup parsley leaves, 1/4 cup lime juice, 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1/3 cup olive oil, 2 garlic cloves, 1 Tbsp. dried oregano, and 2 tsp. salt in a food processor or blender. Serve with grilled pork chops or tenderloin, but the sauce also pairs well with beef, chicken, and fish.
- Greek Chicken Skewers: In a bowl, mix juice and zest of 1 lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp. oregano, 1 garlic clove minced and smashed with some salt (to mellow it out), 1 Tbsp. mint, 2 tsp. thyme, S&P to taste. Serve with chicken thighs cut into cubes, skewered with a few cherry tomatoes and onion chunks, and grilled. Sprinkle feta on top if you’re feeling fancy.
- Foolproof Grilled Chicken: This is my blue-ribbon recipe. This was the first meal I ever cooked for my in-laws. This is what I make when I want to hear raves at a party—it’s that good. Disregard the long list of instructions. I’m not sure what they were thinking, because all that talky-talk is intimidating. The recipe is actually quite simple: Grill chicken (either bone-in or boneless) and toss with a Thai-inspired vinaigrette of lime juice and zest, fish sauce, garlic, mint, cilantro, pepper flakes, and olive oil. I’ve even skipped the brining step and not missed it.
Grill ‘em with the meat. You can’t go wrong. Asparagus is my favorite for it’s simplicity and lovely looks, but there’s a long list of grill-compatible veggies: bell peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, sweet potatoes, onions (green onions are particularly good), corn (if you dare risk being kicked out of Paleo town). I’ve even seen broccoli and carrots, so apparently your imagination is the limit.
If you’re serving them with a recipe from the above list or a more complex entree, keep it simple. Often, I only use salt and pepper and olive oil. I once made a gorgeous grilled salad with asparagus and zucchini tossed with Parmesan and basil, and my guests couldn’t believe the ingredient list was only 4 items long. When you’re working with quality, you don’t need to gussy it up.
For social occasions, I have no trouble breaking out the substitutions. Elana’s Pantry is the place to go for great recipes that your family and friends will never know aren’t SAD compliant. I just got her almond flour cookbook, and there are some gems in there, including Peach Blueberry Crumble and Apricot Tea Squares. My personal favorite is the Chocolate Chip Banana Cake, to which I add about a 1/2 cup of shredded coconut. Also, for all recipes, I sub either butter or coconut oil for the grapeseed oil and honey for the agave syrup, and they turn out great.
If you’re staunchly anti-substitutions, don’t fret. Grill some fruit—pineapple, peaches, plums, apricots, and bananas do well with some fire. There are recipes out there for coconut milk ice cream or sorbets. Melt your favorite dark chocolate and drizzle it on fruit or nuts (then sprinkle some shredded coconut!). Or simply serve some seasonal berries with a dollop of whipped heavy or coconut cream.
Tell me, what are your favorite entertaining dishes?