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An Early Spring Small-Bites Menu for a Crowd

There are people who delight at the thought of grazing over small bites, no fork required, and others who want to fill a plate, sit, and enjoy it. I am the latter, but sometimes the little bites have a place… As was the case for the fundraiser for one of our local government superstars that we hosted on a chilly early-spring afternoon. 

For this at-home event, the menu needed to check a few boxes. We wanted it to be:

  • Comprised of small nibbles, and be substantial. No guest would leave hungry. 
  • Fancy, but not fussy. 
  • Mostly vegetarian and vegan.
  • Scalable for a crowd yet executable without a team of servers and dishwashers. 
  • Homemade. Because when people are coming to give you money, you don’t offer cheese and crackers. 

The guests for this event were a couple dozen people, mostly adults, and the event started at 4:30 p.m. We knew that no one would walk in the door truly hungry at that hour, but it was important to set up an inviting buffet to thank everyone for joining in and to set the stage for a community, feel-good event. Here’s what we came up with…

A Spring Small-Bites Menu for a Crowd

  1. Pizza al Taglio – Two types, one with tomato and another with scallions, which is bright green and super spring-y
  2. Minty “Koftinka” Meatballs with Yogurt, served on toothpicks, recipe from @leitesculinaria
  3. Crustless Quiche with Zucchini, onion, Parmesan (made in muffin tin and stacked high on a cake plate)
  4. Cauliflower Shwarma, served assembled in 1/4 pita. We used the spice mix from @themediterraneandish and green tahini recipe from @halfbakedharvest and threw in red cabbage pickles inspired by @domenicacooks – The bright pink from the cabbage was gorgeous on the table
  5. Turkish Red Lentil and Bulgar wrapped in lettuce parcels because I could not find Endive to make boats, recipe from @give_recipe
  6. Caponata with pine nuts, served with baguette
  7. Lentil Coconut Curry Soup by @ottolenghi. Soup is not a “small bite,” but it rounded out the nibbles and made this menu truly a meal. And…like so many Ottolenghi recipes it soup stole the show! Even if you *think* you’re not ready for dinner at 4:30 p.m., when you walk into a house that smells like this soup, you need it. We made two batches given the guest list. We served it with a bowl of limes, cilantro for garnish, and a basket of sliced baguette. Highly recommend sneaking a soup onto your next party menu!

HOST TIP: This menu offers a variety of ingredients and flavors, but most of the dishes have some Mediterranean connection, so there is cohesion. 


For a big buffet event like this one, I love serving single-serving desserts that don’t require a fork. I also needed to load-balance the work and did not want to create more dishes to wash, so I went pretty simple on the desserts. We served:

  1. Rice Krispie Treats, but adult…with brown (toasted) butter + flaky sea salt, by @smittenkitchen – I made two batches
  2. Supernatural Brownies by @splendidtable
  3. World Peace Cookies by @doriegreenspan

HOST TIP:  For a crowd this size, my rule of thumb is to offer three dessert choices (including at least one chocolate option). I have found that doubling dessert recipes introduces error, and when you offer three dessert choices for two dozen people, most recipes do not need to be doubled.


For drinks, we served wine, water, and Ginger-Orange Mocktails, a simple non-alcoholic punch made with orange and pineapple juice, ginger ale, from @southernlivingmag 

HOST TIP: Punch at parties is always a hit. I find that a big-batch drink, especially if it’s not alcoholic, helps you streamline all that critical decision-making and save the energy for schmoozing and digestion!

For tips on hosting a political fundraiser check out this post.