As our lives got busier, we lost some of the simple pleasures of life. Lunch is one of them. Lunch boxes and microwaved food dominate the afternoon meal. But, how about bringing back the homely and comfortable lunch back from the dead. Dinner parties are the norm these days. How about breaking the trend and throwing a lunch party. Invite your friends over or plan a family luncheon. Imagine a long and lavish lunch followed by a longer siesta. But, what’s the ideal food for party in the afternoon?
Watercress and Rocket Soup
What better way to start a five-course luncheon than a soup. Watercress and Rocket Soup is a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Packed with different greens, it is healthy and light. The soup is usually prepared with watercress, arugula and baby spinach. But, you can make it with other green vegetables as well. Sauté the greens in olive oil and add soup stock once they have wilted. Puree the mixture and sip on this comfy soup to your heart’s delight.
A healthy beginning allows you to indulge in some guilty pleasures. Though not quite British, Vegetable Frittata is still an ideal food for party at midday. This egg dish is quick and easy to prepare. Eggs, garlic, onion and cheese come together in a delightful harmony that your guests will simply love. You can add other vegetables as well. Just chop them into small pieces and them to the frying egg. Cut the Frittata into slices and serve them with a salad.
Sandwiches are normally not served at lunch parties and chickpea sandwiches are definitely a left-field option. But, your vegetarian and vegan friends will thank you for this. Sauté onion and garlic in oil before adding canned chickpeas. Add sultanas and curry powder and cook till you smell the aroma of the spices. Mash the mixture after cooling the mixture. Add mango chutney, mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste. Place the mixture between two slices of bread. Placing lettuce and onion is a good idea as well.
Pineapple Cucumber Salad
Anything with pineapple is golden. Adding pineapple to any salad instantly upgrades the salad. This earthy salad requires pineapple, cucumber, lime, cilantro, salt and pepper. Toss all the ingredients and the salad is ready in less than 10 minutes. And at 100 calories, it leaves enough room for other dishes. Consider adding some dressing and cheese if you want to add more jazz to this simple salad.
Chicken Tikka Masala
An Indian dish invented in the UK but loved through the world. What’s not to like? Marinate the chicken in a yoghurt, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, ginger and salt marinade for a few hours. Discard the marinade and grill the chicken. Sauté some onions in oil and add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, curry powder, tomato sauce and cream. Cook for a few minutes before adding the grilled chicken. It goes best with naan bread and Basmati rice. Keep your afternoon free as you will need ample time for an afternoon nap after eating this satisfying dish.
One of the classics, Shepherd’s Pie has been part of traditional Sunday lunches since time immemorial. A mouthwatering mélange of lamb, potatoes, onions and carrots. Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and beef stock lend tantalizing flavours to this pie. Add dried thyme and rosemary for some earthy aroma. Shepherd’s Pie is comfort food at its best. Add a long afternoon nap to the menu.
Bangers and Mash
No British lunch is complete without potatoes. And, Bankers and Mash is the classic British lunch dish. This homely baked dish takes only 50 minutes to get ready. Boil the potatoes and add butter, milk, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Bake the sausages for 20 minutes. Serve the sausages on top of the mashed potatoes.
Bubble and Squeak with Corn Puree
Since we are on potatoes, we have to add another dish that can be easily prepared using the previous night’s leftovers. Mix mashed potatoes, leftover stuffing and turkey in a bowl. Make patties with your hands and fry them until golden brown (5 minutes). Heat leftover corns and vegetable stock in a pan before pureeing them. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sauté some spinach for a couple of minutes. Place the puree on a plate and top it off with spinach. Put the patties on top of the spinach. This three-layered bonanza is packed awesome play of flavours.
It’s always tough to decide what drinks to serve for a lunch party. You have to consider the schedule of the rest of the day. One simple and sizzling option is Pimm’s Cup. This simple cocktail quenches the thirst without giving too much buzz. Mix one part Pimms No. 1, two parts ice-cold lemonade and two cups of cucumber juice and pour in a highball glass. Add cucumber and apple for the eyes. A splash of club soda provides just the right fizz.
How do you round up the heartwarming lunch party? How about some Mess? At the annual cricket game, Eton College serves a Mess of crumbled meringues, whipped cream and freshly cut sugar-coated strawberries. Hence the name. Eton Mess is a simple, quick and sweet dessert that perfectly complements aforementioned dishes. The play of colours, the white of whipped cream and red of strawberries, is a visual treat.