Fall marks the beginning of the coziest time of year. Richly colored leaves, a crispness in the air, Halloween and Thanksgiving – it’s a wonderful time to gather with those you care about. Fall dinner parties can make for some of the best memories. Here are some creative recipes you can try at your next dinner party and even ideas for some special touches.
Creative fall dinner party recipes
1. Butternut squash mac-n-cheese
This recipe is delicious, extremely season-appropriate, and gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when eating it. Great on its own or as a side, this recipe is a classic with a fall twist that feels like a hug.
Ingredients for 6 servings:
- 1 Butternut squash
- 336g of dry macaroni
- A tablespoon of butter
- About ¼ cup of milk (or milk alternatives)
- 1/8 tsp of thyme, oregano, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic powder (or to taste)
- ½ cup each of cheddar, mozzarella, and gruyere cheeses.
- Cut the butternut squash into large chunks or slices and roast at 400F (or 200C) for about half an hour or until the fruit’s flesh is soft and cooked through.
- Just before the squash is done, begin cooking the macaroni.
- Once the squash is done, let it cool slightly before cutting it into smaller chunks and then blending them (skin included) with the spices and milk.
- Add the puree to a pan on medium heat. Alternate adding pasta water and cheese until you’re happy with the consistency and flavor.
- Add in the macaroni, serve, and enjoy.
2. Pan-roasted chicken with grapes, garlic, and rosemary
This dinner dish is elegant, simple, and interesting. Crispy chicken with a tantalizing sauce and a whole lot of aroma? Yes please.
Ingredients for 4 servings:
- 1 (4-pound) whole chicken (cut or pulled into 8 pieces)
- 1 large garlic head (about 15-20 cloves, peeled)
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium bunch (or about 2 cups) of red seedless grapes, washed, dried, and then divided into small clusters
- 4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 (½ ounce) bunch of fresh rosemary
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F (or 200C). Season the chicken with the salt. Heat 1 ½ tbsp of oil in a large skillet that’s oven proof on high.
- Add the chicken skin side down and leave until the skin is brown and crispy (about 10 mins). Remove the skillet from heat and move the chicken to a plate.
- To the skillet, add the garlic cloves, grapes, and rosemary. Stir and scrape up whatever browned bits the chicken may have left.
- Return the chicken to the skillet, placing the pieces between and on top of the grapes. Drizzle the remaining oil over.
- Roast in the oven until you insert a meat thermometer into the chicken and it shows 155 F (around 22-25 mins). Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes, then sprinkle the black pepper onto it.
- Serve and enjoy.
3. Pork loin braised with mushrooms and wine
Herby and fragrant, this dish perfectly encapsulates fall. It’s both comforting and interesting, vibrant and rich with seasoning. You’re definitely going to want seconds for this one.
- 1 (2-pound) boneless, center-cut pork loin, tied with kitchen twine
- 1 pound white button mushrooms, quartered
- 3 large garlic cloves, smashed
- 3 rosemary sprigs
- 6 thyme sprigs
- 8 (3-inch) orange peel strips
- 8 small white spring onions (about 10 ounces), trimmed, white parts only
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ½ cup (4 ounces) Corsican Muscat wine
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 ½ tsp coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Cooked polenta for serving
- Preheat oven to 400F (or 200C). Sprinkle the salt and pepper evenly on the pork. Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof skillet (or Dutch oven) at medium-high heat.
- Add the pork to the pan, cook undisturbed until golden-brown (about 3 minutes). Turn the pork over and repeat until each side is browned (about 12 minutes in total). Remove the pork and set aside.
- Add the garlic, onions, and mushrooms to the pan and cook on medium-high heat. Stir often until the mushrooms have released their liquid and it has evaporated (about 8 minutes).
- Add wine and cook, scraping up browned bits from the pan, until the wine is reduced by half (about 5 minutes).
- Add stock, rosemary, and thyme and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes.
- Add the pork back into the pan. Cover and then transfer to the preheated oven. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the meat shows about 130 F (about 30 minutes).
- Remove from the oven, let rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add orange peel strips to the mixture in the pan and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue to boil the sauce until it thickens slightly (about 3 minutes). Discard the orange peel strips, thyme, and rosemary.
- Remove and discard the twine on the pork. Carve the pork, slicing against the grain. Serve over polenta with the mushroom sauce.
There are many special touches that you can add to your fall dinner party. Here are some ideas.
- If your party is close to Halloween or Thanksgiving, then you might consider making it on theme for either of these holidays. Have a costume party, or maybe a turkey.
- Have your guests join in the festivities and make dinner with you. It can be a fun bonding activity.
- Play silly, spooky games like having a haunted house maze in your house. An easy way to do this without actually setting anything up can go like this: people pair off, one person is blindfolded and has to be lead by their partner around the house while everyone else tries to make it as spooky as possible. This can be done by brushing them lightly (like a ghost might) or making creepy noises.
- Have a caramel apple decorating activity (or competition!).
- Roast marshmallows over a small fire in the backyard.
- Set up a projector and watch movies in the backyard.
Fall in love with your next dinner party!
Whatever the occasion or lack thereof, make your fall dinner party a memorable one with these recipes and ideas. Even on the off-chance things don’t go to plan or you find yourself disappointed with any aspect of your party planning, don’t despair. Remember that it’s all about spending quality time with the people you care about!