What Are Some Good Menu Ideas for a Casual Dinner Party?

Some good menu ideas for a casual dinner party include pork ragout, cannelloni and Chicago-style pizza. Other options are zucchini soup with creme fraiche and cilantro and garlic-and-rosemary roast pork loin.

To make pork ragout, cook 4 ounces of hot turkey Italian sausage at medium-high, and crumble it before removing it from the pot. Saute 1 cup of chopped onion in the sausage fat, and stir in 1 pound boned pork loin. After five minutes, add the sausage back to the pot along with 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, 3/4 cup of chicken broth and 3/4 cup of dry red wine. Bring the mixture to a boil for five minutes, add 1 28-ounce can of Italian tomatoes, and bring everything back to a boil.

Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook the mixture for 30 minutes before serving it over penne pasta. Serve the ragout sprinkled with 1/4 cup of grated fresh Romano cheese and rosemary sprigs.

To make zucchini soup, cook 1 thinly sliced leek and 1 thinly sliced poblano pepper in 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil until the vegetables are tender, and then add 5 cut zucchini, 2 sliced garlic cloves, and salt and pepper to taste. After six minutes, stir in 1 quart of chicken broth and 1 small Parmesan cheese rind, bring the soup to a boil, and reduce the temperature to a simmer for 15 minutes.

After removing the cheese rind, add 6 ounces of cilantro, and blend the soup until it is uniform and smooth. Return it to the pot along with 1 cup of creme fraiche. Season it with salt and pepper as needed, and serve it garnished with cilantro leaves.