No Fuss Party Foods

Sarah Grueneberg takes a break from her job as executive chef of Spiaggia, a celebrated Chicago restaurant, to share some of her favorite party ideas.


Mouthwatering roasted Cerignola olives served at Spiaggia in Chicago.

Courtesy of Rick Aguilar

Shuck-your-own oysters: Cover a table with newspaper and provide one or more kinds of oysters on a large tray with crushed ice, oyster knives and perhaps a protective glove or two. Set out a few oyster anointers, such as lemon wedges, horseradish, hot sauce and Prosecco mixed with minced shallots and chopped fennel fronds.

Roasted olives: Combine large, meaty olives, such as Cerignola, Gaeta and Alfonso, with olive oil, garlic, fennel seed and orange zest. Roast for about 10 minutes in a 400°F oven.

Crostini bar: Set lightly toasted baguette slices out with toppers, such as fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, baby arugula, salumi (soppressata, mortadella, salami, coppa, prosciutto di Parma, etc.) and a good olive oil. Invite guests to assemble their own crostini.

Deep-fried vegetable peelings: After removing the ends and skins of root veggies, like butternut squash, carrots and parsnips, keep forming strips with your peeler. Deep fry until crisp. Drain and season with a mix of sugar, salt, cumin and ground red pepper.

Baby biscuits and ham: Drop petite globs of buttermilk biscuit batter on a baking sheet. Split the hot biscuits after baking and fill with baked ham and a touch of Creole mustard. Pickled veggies, such as okra, peppers and onions are great with these.

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