Tag: Guests’

3 Easy Pasta Dishes That’ll Have Guests Asking for Seconds

This article was created in partnership with Barilla® as part of Together at the Table.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re planning a dinner party. Do you play up your skills and cook something trés fancy? Do you make multiple entrées to satisfy every diet preference? Yes—but you do it the smart way and make pasta!

Pasta is one of those simple, universal foods that everyone loves. It pairs perfectly with all kinds of ingredients and flavors, and is the ideal staple of any plant-based diet (vegans, pescatarians, and Mediterranean diet lovers, rejoice!). Not to mention it’s super easy to get on the table, even on a weeknight.

Since our friends at Barilla® know a thing or two about pasta, we teamed up with Barilla’s executive chef, Lorenzo Boni, to create three delicious, crowd-pleasing recipes that don’t require hours in the kitchen. In fact, these can all be made in 30 minutes or less (Monday night dinner party, anyone?). Pick your favorite, make them all, or get more recipe inspo here. Then sit back and enjoy all the happy faces around the table asking for seconds.

1. Rigatoni With Meatless Bolognese

Barilla Rigatoni Vegan Bolognese


1 box Barilla® Collezione Rigatoni
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white onion, chopped
12 ounces brown lentils, cooked
2 cups cremini mushrooms, ground
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Almond flour, toasted (optional)
1/4 cup Italian parsley, chopped


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for one minute less than indicated in package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until softened.

3. Increase heat to medium. Add brown lentils and stir frequently, until heated through.

4. Add ground cremini mushrooms and tomato paste, and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Stir cooked Barilla® Collezione Rigatoni and reserved pasta cooking water into the lentil-mushroom mixture, and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes, until heated through.

6. Remove skillet from heat. Sprinkle with toasted almond flour (if desired) and garnish with Italian parsley before serving.

2. Thick-Cut Spaghetti With Lobster, Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Bottarga

Barilla Thick Cut Spaghetti With Lobster


1 box Barilla® Thick Spaghetti
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup garlic, sliced
12 ounces lobster, cut into small pieces
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
2 cups zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons bottarga (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for one minute less than indicated in package directions, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

2. Meanwhile, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until softened.

3. Increase heat to medium-high. Add lobster and cook, stirring frequently, until opaque.

4. Add cherry tomatoes and zucchini, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

5. Stir cooked Barilla® Thick Spaghetti and reserved pasta cooking water into the vegetables, and continue cooking for an additional 2-3 minutes, until softened.

6. Remove skillet from heat. Sprinkle with grated bottarga (if desired) and garnish with fresh basil before serving.

3. Quick Seafood Paella With Orzo

Seafood Paella With Orzo


1 box Barilla® Orzo
4 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 white onion, diced
1 quart vegetable broth
6 ounces shrimp
6 ounces mussels
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup red pepper, diced
1 pinch saffron
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta for one minute less than indicated in package directions. Drain Barilla® Orzo when it has finished cooking.

3. Meanwhile, heat extra-virgin olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened.

4. Pour vegetable broth into skillet and add cooked orzo.

5. Reduce heat to low. Add shrimp and mussels, and cook until heated through.

6. Stir in cherry tomatoes, red pepper, and saffron. Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven until thoroughly cooked, approximately 10 minutes.

8. Allow to cool and garnish with fresh basil before serving.

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31 Potluck Recipes That Will Blow Guests’ Minds (and Only Take You 15 Minutes)

Problem: You’ve signed yourself up for a potluck get-together but your cooking expertise extends to boiling eggs and slapping together PB&Js. There’s nothing wrong with that, but we’re pretty confident you can do more. And it’s much easier and way less time-consuming than you think.

Solution: This roundup.

You could be a total novice in the kitchen or an amateur chef extraordinaire, but either way, there’s no need to stress over what you’re bringing to a gathering with these healthy, crowd-pleasing ideas. Whether you’re in charge of an appetizer, entrée, or a dessert, we’ve got you covered. Here are 31 recipes that each take only 15 minutes to make (from start to finish) and are guaranteed hits at any party. Your friends are already drooling.


1. Skinny Beet Dip

Photo: Spinach 4 Breakfast

Ain’t nobody got time to steam raw beets, but don’t let that stop you from eating them. Pick up the super-convenient precooked beets at the store to whip up with tahini for this scene-stealing, ready-for-its-close-up dip.

2. Rainbow Guacamole Dip

Photo: Simple Vegan Blog

Regular guacamole is addictive enough, but throw in crunchy bell peppers, juicy cherry tomatoes, and a fiery red chili for a guac that’s off-the-chain good. Make a double batch of this 10-minute recipe—it’ll go fast.

3. Spicy Mexican Hummus

Photo: Veganosity

The unmistakable kick of jalapeño and a dash of cumin give regular hummus some south-of-the-border flavor, while a little tomato helps mellow things out. Serve this one with tortilla chips or pita bread—both go perfectly.

4. Garlic Feta Dip

Photo: Well Plated

Garlic and cheese: The match made in (stinky) heaven gets even more out-of-this-world good thanks to healthier swaps like Greek yogurt and light cream cheese, plus a sprinkling of mixed herbs. It’s like a cheese plate in dip form, and you seriously can’t go wrong.

5. Broccoli Pesto Dip

Photo: A Healthy Life Forr Me

Pesto isn’t just for pasta; it’s fantastic as a dip too. Plus, if you’re dunking carrot sticks into a bowl of this broccoli-based version, you’re getting in a serving of veggies without even trying.

6. Buffalo Chicken Dip

Photo: The Garlic Diaries

Greek yogurt and reduced-fat cream cheese go halfsies to lighten up this party favorite. Packed with shredded chicken and served with veggie sticks, it’s a sneaky yet delicious way to get in a generous dose of protein.

7. Easy Walnut and Lentil Dip

Photo: The Cook's Pyjamas

It’s hard to believe that a dip this creamy has no dairy in it whatsoever, but the walnuts and lentil combination can be pretty amazing that way. Packed with healthy fats and fiber, a few scoops of this will keep you full and happy—just make sure you leave room for the main course.

Veggie & Protein Salads

8. Kale and Carrot Salad With Chili Lime Peanut Dressing

Photo: Chef De Home

Weary of kale? Drench it in a peanut-based dressing and watch your worries fade away. There is so much flavor going on here, from the nut butter and sesame oil; don’t be surprised if this salad outshines your main meal.

9. Raw Radish and Corn Salad

Photo: Veggie Inspired Journey

Fresh corn works best for this simple, six-ingredient salad. The sweet kernels are paired with tangy cumin and lime for a fun combination of flavors, and sliced radishes add some extra crunch. With no cooking, fancy equipment, or long prep time required, it’s perfect for your next potluck.

10. Tropical Chickpea Salad

Photo: Veggies Save the Day

This salad gets its tropical twist from the cubed mango, which goes surprisingly well with the savory flavors of avocado, chickpeas, and cumin. A one-step recipe that makes a large batch and keeps well for days, this salad is ideal for potlucks.

11. Avocado Dill Tuna Salad

Photo: Little Bits Of

Mayo haters, unite! Avocado, the reliable swap for mayonnaise, gives this tuna salad a heart-healthy upgrade without sacrificing taste. With cucumbers and pickles thrown into the mix too, eating “green” was never so easy.

12. Crunchy Sesame Chicken Slaw

Photo: The Honour System

Pick up a bag of shredded cabbage to make this chicken salad easier to put together. Dressed in olive oil, vinegar, and coconut sugar and a handful of almond slivers, it may not be your regular mayo-laden slaw, but it also might just become your favorite.

13. Deviled Egg Salad

Photo: Simply Recipes

Sometimes you just need a good ol’ classic, and this one sure delivers. It’s got all the traditional ingredients, from the celery to the Dijon mustard and even the mayo—though slightly less of it than what you’d find in conventional recipes. Consider your craving satisfied.

14. Hot Shrimp, Corn, and Basil Salad

Photo: Heather Christo

A simple basil, corn, and tomato salad gets an extra punch of protein from seared shrimp. With so many colors, nutrients, and textures in one serving, it can be served as a main dish just as easily as it can be a side.

15. Healthy Edamame Salad

Photo: Stuck on Sweet

Even if you count the cooking time for the edamame, this recipe comes together in five minutes flat! If that’s not enough reason to make this salad, you can get excited about the fact that between the beans, the juicy cranberries, and the salty bite of feta, it’s a fantastic coming-together of tastes.

Pastas & Grains

16. Grilled Peach Panzanella Salad

Photo: A Simple Pantry

Not your regular bread salad, this one adds a fruity touch with chopped peaches that were heated up on the grill (so they’re even sweeter). The bowl of baguette chunks is then topped with almonds and goat cheese—it’s like a deconstructed, jazzed-up panini.

17. Summer Orzo Salad With Asparagus, Cherry Tomatoes, and Feta

Photo: Healthy Recipe Ecstasy

Thanks to its rice-like shape, easily scoopable orzo makes a perfect pasta option for big gatherings, especially in this vegetarian recipe. Joined by crumbled feta, tomatoes, and asparagus, the mixture is lightly dressed in olive oil and lemon for a fuss-free but filling main dish.

18. Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad

Photo: Simply Quinoa

It looks like a simple quinoa salad, but a closer look at the ingredients reveals a much more exciting dish, thanks to the sweet and tangy peanut butter dressing coating the veggies and the grains. Ready in just 10 minutes, it’s a speedy way to put something special together.

19. Greek Yogurt BBQ Chicken Pasta Salad

Photo: Once Upon a Cutting Board

With just a tablespoon of brown sugar and a fraction of the barbeque sauce, this recipe is the perfect example of making a dish healthier without sacrificing flavor. Just note that while it takes 15 minutes to make, you may need to allot some extra time to get it to room temperature for serving.

20. Minted Watermelon Salad With Bulgur

Photo: Foolproof Living

Not familiar with bulgur? Here’s a good place to start. The quick-cooking, fiber-packed grain gets an unlikely but delicious companion in watermelon in this salad. It’s also drizzled with a honey-kissed olive oil dressing to further highlight that sweet and savory combination.

21. “Caprese” Quinoa Salad

Photo: Simply Quinoa

The typical mozzarella and tomato appetizer gets veganized here, with chickpeas standing in for the balls of cheese. It also gets some carbohydrates from the quinoa to bump it up to entrée status—but don’t worry, the basil and olive oil drizzle keep that unmistakable caprese flavor.

22. Israeli Couscous Salad With Salmon

Photo: Two of a Kind Cooks

Given that couscous takes as long as pasta to prep, it’s just as quick and convenient a potluck option. In the time it takes to cook the grains, grill up your salmon and prep your veggies. When the couscous is ready, just toss everything together and you’re done.

23. Nectarine, Chicken and Quinoa Salad

Photo: Power Hungry

You do need to have precooked quinoa and leftover chicken for this dish to come together within the 15-minute window, but don’t let that take away from how easy the recipe is to make. Plus, there’s so much to love here: From the nectarines to the goat cheese, you’ll forget it’s a gluten-free dish.

24. Tuna White Bean Pasta Salad

Photo: Simple Living and Eating

This one-dish meal is the epitome of the Mediterranean food pyramid, packed with fish, olive oil, beans, herbs, and spinach. If the studies about the happiness benefits of this diet are true, your mood is bound to get boosted after a few servings.


25. Coconut No-Bake Cookies

Photo: Minimalist Baker

The nut butter in these treats make them taste kind of like Peanut Butter Patties, while the cocoa and coconut give them that Samoa vibe. Two Girl Scout cookie flavors in one with a healthified bite? Sign us up.

26. Peanut Butter Banana No-Bake Energy Bites

Photo: The Cookie Rookie

Just as perfect for a pre-workout snack as they are for a potluck gathering, these versatile, oat-based bites are a wholesome way to approach dessert. They make two dozen in just 10 minutes too—such an easy way to satisfy a crowd.

27. Honey Basil Fruit Salad

Photo: With Salt and Wit

End your potluck on a fruity note with this simple salad topped with a light basil and honey dressing, which takes it from a plain bowl of berries to a dessert-worthy dish. It’s a perfect way to still get in a sweet ending after an indulgent meal.

Who needs 15 minutes when all it takes is two to whip up something this good? Between the lightning-fast prep time, the ingredient list of just three items, and the insanely delicious end result, we don’t know where to begin raving about this recipe.

29. Snickerdoodle Dip

Photo: Chocolate Covered Katie

Dip for dessert? Why not! Especially when it’s cookie-flavored. This recipe may start with chickpeas, but once you add nut butter, applesauce, and cinnamon, you’ll forget that this batter-like blend has a bean-base.

30. Healthy No-Bake Brownie Bites

Photo: Making Thyme for Health

If you believe that no meal is complete without chocolate but you don’t want to send your entire party into a sugar coma, this is your recipe. Dates are the secret naturally sweet ingredient behind these butter- and egg-free brownie balls, with cocoa and chocolate chips in each bite. Healthy dessert success.

31. Coconut Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Photo: The Bewitchin' Kitchen

Hollowed strawberries are the ideal vehicles for these bite-size cheesecakes. Not only do they look adorable, but the fresh, juicy berries are also a perfect complement to the denser cream cheese filling.

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