Lunches are fun, and often less formal social events than their dinner counterparts. Whether celebrating time with family and friends or a special occasion such as a birthday, anniversary, bridal or baby shower, lunch is in! “Let’s do lunch” has been a common business practice for decades in the working world whether it’s to woo clients, host meetings or simply for fueling employees through a busy day. There are several ways to make lunch more than just “grabbing a sandwich.”
Salad can be so much more than the standard iceberg or romaine lettuce studded with the ubiquitous cherry tomato and some croutons. We’re talking about serving up a sophisticated niçoise salad with salty, bold olives and fish contrasted with a spritz of tart lemon and buttery potatoes. Or a bountiful chopped Greek salad full of chunks of fresh feta, cucumber, kalamata olives and juicy tomatoes. Or maybe you fancy a warm salad, consider a smokey charred Romaine salad with fresh Parmesan. Looking for something sweet? Messina’s Ponchatoula strawberry salad features spinach, strawberries, toasted pecans and feta cheese topped in a balsamic vinaigrette. Whatever salad you choose….please don’t go dull.
Soup is a true meal-in-a-bowl and therefore are a great choice for lunch. It can be served on its own flanked with a good crusty bread, as soup shooter appetizer, or as a cup alongside a gourmet sandwich. In the fall and winter, bisques work perfectly like corn and crab, wild mushroom, or lobster. In the summer, stay light with crisp gazpacho. Want to add some international flair? Try Ramen, Pho or Matzo Ball. Take the local area into consideration when choosing a soup. Messina’s famous turtle soup provides that authentic New Orleans Cajun flavor. Whichever soup you go with, be sure to go beyond the chicken noodle!
Want a little more than soup? Stew tend to be heartier and feature more meats and vegetables than soups. Thinking about your grandma’s beef stew right now? Take it up a notch! Serve a savory, perfectly cooked Boeuf Bourguignon. Or maybe a creamy white chicken chili topped with fresh sliced avocados and tortillas. Looking for a great way to serve seafood without the fuss? How about a fresh seafood bouillabaisse? Add some New Orleans flair to your menu with gumbo, a long-time staple on Crescent City tables for generations. Messina’s gumbo is served from an authentic gumbo pot and chock full of smoked chicken and andouille sausage, or seafood.
Sliders with Variety
Miniature dishes are all the rage and sliders fit that bill perfectly. Plus, it’s a great way to offer guests a wide variety of flavor options. Amp up “miniature sandwiches”, or sliders, with custom condiments like house-made chipotle ketchup, and unique buns like homemade biscuits. Warm Miniature Muffuletta Sandwiches are filling treat consisting of olive salad layered with mortadella, salami, ham, swiss cheese and provolone. Pair your sliders with some soup such as grilled cheese slider squares served with tomato bisque shooters for a comfort food option.
Pasta with Flair
Pasta is not only a great way to stretch a catering budget, but it is a perennial favorite with guests. From hot to cold, the options are limitless. There’s the classics like a chilled pasta salad, or comforting mac and cheese, all the way to more gourmet options like Messina’s Shrimp Pasta La Scala, Shrimp Basil Pesto Penne, or decadent Chicken Alfredo. And forget the chafing dishes, chefs can dish out pasta with custom toppings from an action station right in front of guests. Mangia!
Tacos and Such
Who doesn’t love Mexican and southwest food? Bring this fan favorite to your next lunch with a street taco bar, chef-attended quesadilla station, or top-your-own nacho bar. Ensure that guests have plenty to choose from for toppings. Add a Spanish flair with distinguished bases like Spanish marinated chicken, chorizo, roasted veggies and steak. Create a feast for the eyes with lots of fresh, colorful toppings like multi-colored peppers, house-smashed guac and freshly-made pico de gallo.
Crepes are the ultimate street-food in France. Unlike the sweet breakfast or dessert variety, savory crepes are a great option for a satisfying and memorable lunch. Stuff savory crepes with combinations such as ham and cheese, or sauteed vegetables. Pair savory crepes with some pommes frites with herb-infused mayonnaise to complement.
If you thought carving stations were just for dinner, think again. Include a chef’s carving station to wow and fill guests with various meat selections. Some of Messina’s carving stations include Beef Tenderloin, Southern Fried Turkey, and Root Beer Glazed Chisesi Ham, which far surpass a boring chicken lunch entrée.
Don’t Forget Dessert
Serving chocolate chip cookies or brownies to end a catered lunch is simply a missed opportunity. Since we don’t want to put guests into a food coma, consider some light, yet memorable, dessert options. Examples include a light, fluffy angel food cake with fresh berries and cream, fresh fruit tartes, or an artful display of colorful macarons. For a Big Easy flair, opt for freshly made beignets dusted with powdered sugar. And don’t forget the coffee for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
To make the most of your mid-day meal, consider the type of occasion and the time frame you have for your event. Is it a relaxed, sit-down luncheon in which you want to feature a buffet or plated meal? A multi-course meal could be in order. Or is it a meeting where the focus is on being productive and efficient? Grab-and-go boxed lunches or stationed platters that rise above plain old deli sandwiches could be a great option.
New Orleans Catering
Don’t forget about lunch when you plan your next event. Before jumping straight to dinner, consider the meal in the middle as it may be the best fit for your event. It can be a more fun, casual way to engage your guests. Messina’s Catering & Events has been catering spectacular lunches on location, in offices, in customers’ homes, and at our own venues in the New Orleans area for over 60 years.