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Small group cold buffet luncheon ideas

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I've got an small casual event happening in a week. I'll have about 20-25 people to feed. I won't have any time for about 2 hours prior to service and with the weather, I don't want to do anything hot anyway.

Right now, my plans are to buy some quality breads and layout a sandwich bar. I'd like to encourage them to make multiple small sandwiches to try some different combinations. I feel satisfied with this part of plan.

Beverages on ice in a large cooler.

I'll have some local melons for fruit.

Olives too; pickles will be part of the sandwich bar.

But I'm wondering about side dishes. Potato salad is common, and I think I'll have some but I'm looking for some other ideas here too. I've debated a rice salad, but haven't ever had one I thought was memorable. A tabbouleh would be fun, but I don't think they'd eat a lot of it. Maybe a small one. I'd appreciate a good recipe recommendation though.
Or other good sides too.

I've got a good coleslaw recipe, but I've served that to them before. Something new would be nice. Some chips for the younger crowd and the older people too.

I'm leaning toward letting the fruit be dessert. There will be some who want something more, so I may make some cookies or something.

post #2 of 14
How about gazpacho? I also had a really nice tomato/cucumber/fried rice noodle salad someone made that was very good.
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
What a relief! To find out after all these years that I'm not crazy. I'm just culinarily divergent...
post #3 of 14
One of my go-to potato salads is from Julia's The Way to Cook -- a French version: cook the sliced potatoes; drain; while they're still warm sprinkle with chopped shallots, a little chicken stock or some of the potato cooking water, vinegar, S&P, chopped parsley and toss gently; let steep about 10 minutes, then sprinkle with olive oil (optional) and toss again. If you make ahead and refrigerate, let warm up at room temp for 30 minutes before serving. I love to add different chopped herbs, too. This is a good one if it has to sit out unrefrigerated -- no mayo.

Can you do some grilled sliced vegetables ahead of time, then either serve them as is (with a little balsamic vinegar, maybe), or chop them for a salad?
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
They would probably enjoy that. Good suggesion.

I'll need a good recipe for that too. (The gazpacho that is, as Suzanne posted while I was confessing: See Below.)

Confession time. I don't really like tomatoes. Oh, they're good in certain things, (burgers, sandwiches) but I've never really liked them as the focus (exception that proves the rule is a topped bruschetta). So, I've never made gazpacho and have not narrowed down a quality recipe.

Similarly, I don't like avocados. According to everyone else, I make a great guacamole, but I don't like it myself. My wife is very picky about guacamole and she prefers mine above all others.

post #5 of 14

Soutwhwestern Tabouleh


8-oz medium bulgar
3/4 cup canned tamarind nectar
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup light olive oil
2 Tbs grated lime zest
1 med tomato, peeled, seeded, diced
2 serrano chile peppers, diced, stems, seeds and vein removed
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger root
½ tsp ancho chile powder
½ tsp New Mexico chile powder
4 - 6 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro leaves
4 - 6 Tbs chopped fresh mint

Soak bulgar in tamarind/lime juice for about 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed Add olive oil, lime zest, tomato, serrano, ginger, chili powders, cilantro, and mint. Refrigerate 1 - 2 hours before serving
post #6 of 14
Do a two potato salad. Use sweets and some other potato.

Rice and Lentil

Couscous and raisin

Green bean salad

Any Bean salad

Many bean salad

Jicama slaw
post #7 of 14

"Greek" Chickpea Salad

Greek Chickpea Salad
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup minced scallion
3 medium cloves garlic, pressed
1 medium ripe tomato, seeds removed and chopped
3 medium ribs celery diced about 1/2 inch pieces
3 TBS fresh lemon juice
2½ TBS chopped fresh mint
3 TBS chopped fresh parsley
extra virgin olive oil to taste
*(optional) ¼ cup feta cheese
1 small head chopped romaine lettuce, outer leaves removed, and discarded
salt & cracked black pepper to taste

  1. Mix all ingredients except lettuce and cheese in a bowl and season with salt & pepper to taste.
  2. Serve on bed of chopped romaine lettuce and sprinkle with feta cheese. Serves 4
post #8 of 14

Almond Shrimp in Endive Leaves


1/4 cup sliced almonds
½ lb shrimp, chopped
1 Tbs finely chopped celery leaves
1 Tbs finely chopped scallion/spring onion shoots
1 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs white balsamic or white wine vinegar
1 tsp evoo
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 Belgian endives

Toast and cook almonds in skillet, set aside to cool
Combine all the other ingredients in a small bowl and then add the cooled almonds Arange endive leaves on a serving tray, spoon about 1Tbs almond shrimp mixture into each leaf
post #9 of 14
The original Silver Palate Cookbook has an outstanding rice salad in it. Beautiful.
post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
The mention of gazpacho stirred a memory of a recipe I wrote down but haven't tried. A salad soup. It scared my wife but kind of intrigued me. It's based on a leftover dressed salad.

Salad Soup
4cupsleftover salad greens, dressed
1/4cupsour cream
1tablespoonslemon juice
1clovegalric, minced
1tablespoonfresh dill, minced
6tablespoonswater Vary liquid as needed for texture
3/4cupdiced tomatoes
Puree salad in food processor or blender
Add buttermilk yogurt, sour cream lemon juicde, dill and water. Puree smooth. Add tomatoes, serve chilled.
add more lemon juice if not dressed with a vinaigrette.

What do you think?

post #11 of 14
Man I don't know about buzzing those salad greens. What about using cucumbers instead?
post #12 of 14
Dzik (pronounced Zeek), you need a cold meat salad.

Boil 1 flank steak in spices for about an hour
shread the meat
mix with tomato, jalapeno, onion, radish and cilantro.
post #13 of 14
Also, greek salad, village style (no lettuce), is always a favorite.
post #14 of 14
And you should have California rolls.
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