Dear Blue Apron,
I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking, but I invited my boss over to my apartment for dinner (and I’m not exactly a gourmet chef). Now I’m scrambling trying to think of what to make for her. Help!
Don’t be nervous—we actually think you’re nervy! Inviting any colleague (especially a boss!) over to your place for dinner takes a bit of courage, but it’s a great way to get to know co-workers as people . A good menu can lead to good conversation and a feeling of conviviality, which can only be a boon to your career.
As far as the food goes, the key is choosing a recipe that shows you’ve got skills but that’s pretty no-fail (and that’s a crowd-pleaser, of course!). Here are five ideas that fit the bill, whether your boss is a buttoned-up power broker or rules the office in a more casual style.
1. Roast Beef With Horseradish Sour Cream
A meal that takes inspiration from the past, this meat-based feast will satisfy your boss’s nostalgia while showing off your timeless taste in dinners. The beef stays perfectly juicy, and the beautiful multi-colored carrots come off as gourmet without trying too hard. Last but not least, a creamy horseradish sauce is the perfect condiment. (If you secretly despise your manager, the sauce is the place to get revenge for too many late nights at the office: Add extra horseradish and witness the surprise on her face as she takes a bite of the wildly spicy sauce.)
2. Bronzed Salmon With Orange Marmalade
Fish can be hit or miss with company, but salmon is a really likable option, especially for a health-conscious guest. Quickly sear the salmon in a pan, then pair it with lovable Israeli couscous and Romano beans (though you can sub in string beans if they’re easier to find). If you’re cooking this dish for more than two people, you might want to bake the salmon in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes instead of frying it—that’ll reduce both scent and mess.
3. Whole Wheat Spaghetti With Meatballs
We learned from Ina Garten, one of the cooking greats, that sometimes the best technique is surprise. Since your boss may expect you to make a classic fancy dinner, why not go the opposite route and serve something unexpectedly accessible, like spaghetti and meatballs ? Cook the noodles in tons of salted water until they’re al dente, then toss them with homemade tomato sauce and easy-to-make baked meatballs.
4. French Lentils With Sautéed Vegetables and Lamb Sausage
This sophisticated meal makes use of earthy lentils and rustic sausage to become a meal that’s much tastier than you’d ever imagine. The lentils are a more gourmet base for the sausage than pasta or rice, and the tasty lamb mix in each link is so totally toothsome that your boss won’t be able to stop raving. Best of all, you can make the lentils in advance, then simply warm them back up when your boss arrives. (In the meantime, clean your kitchen until it shines!)
5. Frisée and Farro Salad With Warm Goat Cheese
If your boss is a vegetarian, she’ll appreciate the variety of vegetables in this grain-based salad: frisee, favas (sub defrosted edamame in the fall), baby carrots, and chives. Best of all is the French bistro-inspired main event: crusty, warm rounds of goat cheese that will win hearts and minds for months of long office meetings to come.
Photo of man cooking dinner courtesy of Shutterstock .