Impromptu dinner parties can make for the most fun, relaxed evenings. A night-in watching Netflix suddenly transforms into a fun and tasty evening spent with your most loved family and friends (because hopefully no one you don’t know well is going to turn up at your front door unannounced). However, the matter of providing dinner for these surprise guests can be challenging. You’re reluctant to order takeout, but can’t think what you could make with the current contents of your refrigerator. Next time a dinner party springs itself on you, these quick and easy meals are here to help.
There are a few requirements for these improvised dinner party dishes. Firstly, the dishes need to be made either of ingredients you already have on hand, or that you can buy from the tiny grocer with a very limited food supply around the corner. Secondly, they need to be quick to make: No guests want to hang around for hours waiting for dinner to be served, even if they did turned up uninvited. Thirdly, they need to be fairly hands-off. Your guests will have either already arrived, or their arrival will be imminent when you start cooking, so you can’t spend an hour constantly chopping, mixing, blending, and stirring in the kitchen, while they sit and wait for you to be free to talk to them.
Obviously, to make hosting an impromptu dinner party easier, you should try to always keep a well-stocked pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. But you should also try to always have your favorite ingredients on hand too: Parmesan will add the perfect amount of umami-packed flavor to almost every pasta dish, bacon can be fried and sprinkled on top of everything in need of an extra boost of taste, and wine should always be ready to be drunk, and used in your favorite dishes. Perhaps the most important part of your kitchen in this emergency dinner situation is your freezer. Having items such as ice cream, peas, shellfish, or shop-bought ravioli readily available will make your unexpected dinner party as good as it would have been had you had weeks to plan it.
Read on to see the best quick and easy dinner party dishes, which you can whip up when those unexpected guests next turn up to surprise you at your door.