Plan a green couple’s party with these 6 recipes and tips

Mar 1, 2009 at 10:48 a.m. ET

Show your eco-spirit by throwing a green couple's party. Those friends of yours who think being green means sitting on grass mats and eating lentils will be in for a surprise when you present them with a table spread of delicious eco-friendly food. Here are some quick tips and recipes to make your eco-friendly dinner party a hit.

Green Placesetting10 Tips for a green dinner party

From invitations to clean up, you can make eco-friendly choices.

1. Forgo paper invitations

Send your party invitations online. There are a number of e-invitation websites or you can simply create your own and email them.

2. Buy local and seasonal

Comprise your dinner party menu with foods that are easier on the environment. Buying in season, locally-produced foods will reduce your food consumption carbon footprint. Visit your local farmers market or join a CSA to get the freshest in season and locally-grown foods.

3. Serve a mostly plant-based meal

Not only do fruits and vegetables exert a smaller impact on the environment, a plant-based or mostly plant-based meal is healthier than meals high in meat. Fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and nuts offer many mouthwatering possibilities for your dinner party menu.

4. Design your menu around fresh foods

Fresh is best. Commerically frozen foods require more energy as do processed, packaged foods.

5. Opt for grassfed and/or organic meats, poultry, fish and eggs

Serve modest portions of animal protein and buy grassfed and/or organic varieties. Also, make sure the fish you choose is sustainable.

6. Choose organic foods

Though a totally organic meal may be out of your price range, including any organic foods is an eco-friendly move. Watch for sales at your local co-op or supermarket and design your dinner party menu accordingly.

7. Serve organic wine

Choose wines – preferably organic – that are produced locally or as close as possible. And if you do decide on a wine from another country, opt for fair trade certified wines.

8. Buy in bulk

Buying food and food-related products in bulk will cut down on packaging wastes as well as save you money.

9. Set your table with eco-friendly dishware

Stock your kitchen with sustainable kitchenware, such as cutting boards and utensils, and set your table with sustainable or biodegradable dishware.

10. Clean your kitchen with eco-friendly products

After you've enjoyed your eco-friendly dinner party, reduce your exposure to chemicals by using nontoxic and biodegradable kitchen cleaners and dishwasher detergent.

Green dinner party recipes

Artichoke Walnut Bruschetta

Makes 24

Creamy and flavorful, the artichoke spread contrasts nicely with the crisply toasted bread. Look for goat cheese produced in your locale or substitute another locally-made soft white cheese. Save energy by toasting the ciabatta while you are roasting garlic for the fettuccini entrée below.

1 loaf ciabatta bread, locally baked
Olive oil
16 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup organic walnut halves
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 to 10 fresh organic basil leaves

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice ciabatta into 24 slices, about 1/2-inch thick. Rub with olive oil and place on a large baking sheet. Toast in the oven until lightly golden and just crisp – not too hard.

2. While ciabatta is toasting, place artichokes, goat cheese, and walnuts in a food processor and pulse until a thick spread forms. Season with salt and pepper and add basil leaves. Pulse until well combined. Spread on toasted ciabatta sliced and serve.

Broccoli Citrus Salad

Serves 8

Chockfull of nutrients and flavor, this salad also has side-dish eye appeal. Depending on the season or availability in your area, you can substitute ruby red grapefruit, tangerines, or another similar citrus for the oranges.

3 organic oranges
Half of a red onion, thinly sliced
4 cups organic broccoli florets, lightly steamed until crisp tender
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons minced, fresh organic parsley, divided

1. Using a sharp knife, cut a thin slice off the top and bottom of each orange. Set them up on a cutting board, cut side down. One at a time, use the knife to remove the peel, slicing from the top to the bottom, following the shape of the orange. To segment, hold orange over a large bowl and use a sharp knife to cut in between the membranes, releasing each segment into the bowl. When all the segments are in the bowl, squeeze the membrane to extract all the citrus juice. Use a slotted spoon to transfer segments to a plate and set aside.

2. Whisk the olive oil, salt, black pepper and 1-1/2 tablespoons parsley into the orange juice. Add broccoli and onion and toss to coat. Add orange segments and gently toss to coat. When ready to serve, toss again and divide mixture among 8 dinner plates. Garnish with remaining parsley.

FettucciniFettuccini with Herbs and Roasted Garlic

Serves 8

Hearty with flavor - yet meat-free - this pasta is a mouthwatering star for your eco-friendly menu.

1 pound dried fettuccini
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed out (recipe below)
16 ounces sliced organic mushrooms
Salt and freshly grated black pepper, to taste
1/3 cup chopped fresh organic parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh organic basil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. In a large saucepan, cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions until al dente. Strain in a colander, reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Set pasta and water aside.

2. While pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the roasted garlic and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 5 to 7 minutes or until mushrooms are tender.

3. When pasta is cooked and drained, add it to the skillet along with pasta water and the herbs, tossing to combine. Add the grated cheese to taste. Serve warm.

Roasted Garlic

Makes 1 head or more

Roasted garlic exudes a toasty, wonderful, earthy flavor when pureed and added to dips, sauces, dressings, soups, and stews and is quite remarkable eaten right out of the oven. Your guests will love the depth it lends the Fettuccini with Herbs and Roasted Garlic dish. Roast more than one head and keep it refrigerated for use all week.

1 head of garlic or more, if desired
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel off the garlic's outer layers of papery skin, keeping the individual garlic cloves intact. Use a sharp knife to cut the top 1/8- to 1/4-inch off of the head of garlic, exposing the top of the cloves.

2. Place garlic root-side down in a small roasting pan or ovenproof bowl. Drizzle with a little olive oil, coating the cloves and the outside of the garlic head. Sprinkle with salt. Cover with foil and roast for 30 minutes or until garlic cloves are buttery soft.

3. Remove garlic from oven and let cool, uncovered, until cool enough to touch. Break head of garlic open, releasing the toasty cloves. Squeeze individual cloves with your fingers to extrude the roasted garlic.

Fresh Fruit, Yogurt Cheese and Dark Chocolate

Serves 8

Fresh fruit has a special affinity for creamy accompaniments, such as this rich, thick yogurt cheese. Yogurt cheese is easy to make, is lower in fat than whipped cream and traditional cheeses, and provides a healthy dose of probiotics. Make extra and keep it on hand for breakfast with fruit, a sandwich spread mixed with herbs, or pureed into a dip for a tasty snack.

4 cups fresh organic fruit in season, sliced and diced into bite-sized pieces
2 cups yogurt cheese (recipe below)
Locally-produced honey
1 ounce fair trade certified dark chocolate, grated

Place fruit in 8 dessert bowls. Top with 1/4 cup yogurt cheese. Drizzle with honey. Garnish with grated chocolate and serve.

Yogurt Cheese

Makes 2 cups

Yogurt cheese is an excellent source of protein and requires no energy from cooking, as do traditional cheeses. As a rule, start with twice the yogurt as the amount of yogurt cheese you want to make. Four cups yogurt will yield two cups yogurt cheese.

1 quart (4 cups) organic wholemilk plain yogurt

Place 2 to 3 layers of cheesecloth into a colander set over a bowl. Pour yogurt into colander and refrigerate overnight. The liquid will drain into the bowl leaving a thick yogurt cheese in the colander.

Note:Let nothing go to waste – use the liquid in smoothies to boost their nutritional value.

More tips and recipes for an eco-friendly dinner party

Eco-friendly tips: How to eat to save the planet
Eco-friendly recipes featuring eco-friendly cheese
Additional tips for throwing an eco-friendly dinner party
More on Going Green