It’s actually happening: People are having parties again, with food and drinks and everything. And the secret to being everyone’s favorite guest is bringing some good party food. While there are the old standbys and fan favorites—we’re looking at (and crowding around) you, cheese platter—you can also branch out and bring some modern takes (aka plant-based, vegan, or gluten-free) on party food and all-star sides. We spoke to the culinary goddesses behind Okonomi Kitchen, a plant-based Japanese-inspired blog, and Meera’s Made from Scratch, a blog specializing in dairy and gluten-free meals, to figure out exactly which foods you should bring along to the next party.
Level up ye olde onion-soup-and-sour-cream concoction and show up at the party with the mega umami flavor bomb known as spicy eggplant and tomato dip from Lisa Kitahara of Okonomi Kitchen. After you make it, be sure to keep it covered and well refrigerated, and add color and crunch by serving it with sliced raw vegetables. Bonus: It’s so colorful, it pretty much doubles as a centerpiece on the table…until it disappears and gets gobbled up. Be
And dip is just part of Kitahara’s party food trifecta: “Three favorite foods I love to bring to parties are dips, salads and vegetable dishes, and pasta bakes and casseroles,” she says. “They’re all easy to make ahead of time, in a big batch.”
Take everything you know about the caramelized yumminess of roasted veggies, then deepen the deliciousness even more. These roasted potatoes, beets, carrots, and onions have all the flavors—umami from the miso, sweet from maple syrup, creamy tang from tahini—and can be made ahead, and easily reheated in a warm oven.
If macaroni ’n’ cheese and guac had a bouncing, beautiful baby, this would be it. (But make it
fashun vegan!) “Pasta bakes and casseroles are easy to make a large portion of and reheat well in the oven, too,” Kitahara says. The trick to getting all the textures and flavors to truly sing is in having the ooey-gooey cheesy part hot…and the guac cold. That’s why Kitahara recommends adding it just before serving. “Prepare all the add-ins in a bowl and then simply mash the avocado at the party,” she says.
Nothing says “party food” like wings—and these babies really do fly off the platter, so consider doubling (or tripling?) the recipe. “The five-spice wings add so much flavor and heat,” says Meera Bhogal of Meera’s Made from Scratch. “The dish is aromatic yet super simple to put together.” Handfuls of coriander, lime, and spring onion add a zesty lightness to the meat, while the sesame seeds add appetizing texture and crunch. Be sure to make enough portions—these will fly off the plate fast!
Street food comes to the party with crispy, savory falafels. These little chickpea-forward flavor bursts are versatile, too: “Falafels are so tasty and can be made ahead of time, eaten hot or cold too. These work really well with a mint and yogurt dip at a party,” Bhogal says.
If you’re one for theatrics, pause for dramatic effect when you tell a partygoer that a certain green fruit is responsible for the creaminess of this dessert. Because yes indeed, avocado is the secret to Bhogal’s silky smooth mousse. “This vegan mousse has a rich chocolatey taste, so a small amount is all you need to get that chocolate hit for a quick and easy party dessert!” she says. “They look so pretty when served in little cups. And If you’re busy in the lead-up to the festivities, the mousse can be made ahead and keeps well for a couple of days.”