Simple Catering Side Dishes for Your Next Party

easy catering side dishes

I’ve been brainstorming some new items for the catering menu at Mortadella Head. I think it’s really important to keep coming up with creative ideas on how to feed large crowds.

When I am working on a new menu, my favorite part of the process is coming up with new side dishes. The main course is an important part of a catered meal, but the side dishes allow your guests to sample a variety of different things that maybe they have never tried before.

It’s kind of like when I go to a nice steakhouse for dinner. Of course I love a nice big ribeye, but getting a bunch of different side orders to share at the table is the fun part.

When I help plan a catering menu I like to keep the side dishes simple and fresh with seasonal ingredients. A variety of side dishes keeps things interesting.

Below are some ideas you can use for your next catered party. If you want to stay up to date and learn about any new side dish recipes we create let me know. Just leave your email address here and I’ll send you some great recipes.

Here are some simple catering side dishes you can make for your next party.

Bean Salad

a bean salad in a bowl, ready to be served as a catering side dish

There are so many recipes for bean salads to choose from. I believe that simple is better. Toss together some green beans, red beans and white beans with olive oil, red wine vinegar, sea salt, black pepper and thinly sliced red onion.  Add some fresh herbs if you have them.

Peperonata

the ingredients for peperonata on a working surface

This simple stewed pepper dish goes well with just about everything. Saute some peppers and onions with a little bit of tomatoes. I love a nice red pepper and yellow bell pepper in my peperonata. They are much sweeter than green peppers.

Cook everything low and slow until the peppers get nice and soft. Serve it at room temperature with just about anything.

Potato Salad

In the warm months a potato salad is a great side dish. Try making a traditional potato salad with the addition of cheddar cheese, sour cream and finely diced green onions.

If you really want to make it something special, cook some crispy bacon, crumble it up and add it to your potato salad.

Roasted Vegetables

roasted vegetables

Roasted vegetables are such an easy side dish and it lets you keep things fresh with seasonal produce.

At the end of the summer you can cook things like zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and corn.

In the colder months you can roast off some root vegetables, brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes.

When I roast vegetables I like to dice everything up really small because it allows it to become caramelized on all sides much easier. This brings out more flavor.

First I take a julienne vegetable and then chop into shorter pieces of about ½ inch square.

I toss the diced vegetables in olive oil, salt and pepper and bake them in the oven at 400 degrees or until they are finished.

You can also include parmesan cheese and fresh mushrooms when you roast the vegetables. This adds a ton of flavor.

Pasta Salad

You can get really creative with pasta salad. There are lots of different shapes of pasta to choose from.

Lately, I have been making pasta salad with orzo. I like to take grape tomatoes and cut them in half. I always think you should cut your grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes in half when you make a salad with them.

Other good ingredients for a pasta salad are thinly sliced red onion, baby spinach, roasted red peppers, celery and artichoke hearts.

Toss everything together with a simple balsamic vinaigrette and feta cheese and you have a great catering side dish.

Green Beans

green beans on a side plate

Green beans or haricot vert are a nice side dish for a catering job. You can simply toss them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast them in the oven until they start to brown.

My favorite way to prepare green beans is to simmer them in a tomato sauce made with garlic, onions, crushed tomatoes and a little white white. Let them cook until they become some and the sauce reduces to about half. They are best served at room temperature.

Greek Saladgreek salad

 

The simple classic Greek salad is always a big seller for catering jobs. I make it with some mixed greens, Iceberg and Romaine.  I add halved cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumbers, Kalamata olives and banana peppers.

Toss everything with a red wine vinaigrette, feta cheese and some dried oregano.

Caesar Salad

For a good Ceasar salad you only need a few ingredients.

I love making our homemade creamy Caesar dressing with anchovies and grated pecorino Romano cheese. You also need really good croutons. Make your own with olive oil garlic and some more grated Romano cheese.

Caprese Salad

This salad is always a big seller.  It’s best when tomatoes are in season.

You need good tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil and olive oil. Use a good extra virgin olive oil if you can get it.

This dish is simple, fresh and delicious. If you’re curious, check our caprese salad recipe!

Mashed Potatoes

mashed potatoes

You’re probably thinking, “What’s the big deal with mashed potatoes?”  That’s because you’ve never had mashed potatoes the way I like to make them.

You can use any potato you like.  I usually use red potatoes and leave some skin on.  The secret to getting really creamy potatoes is to use a potato ricer.  You won’t get any lumps and the potatoes will be smooth as silk.

I like adding roasted garlic, cream, grated parmesan cheese and Gorgonzola.

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