Food for sharing: dishes to cook and eat together

Lighten the load and have fun by creating dishes as a group

It’s no secret that cooking can be a challenge, one requiring concentration and desire, or time-saving savvy. And on certain occasions – leisurely weekend cooking, DIY birthday brunches, Eid celebrations – it makes sense to share that experience with others because let’s face it, preparing dishes with friends and family makes the process much more enjoyable.

Culinary success is the sweetest of victories, best served among the group – how pleasing for all eaters to know they’ve contributed to the meal. Here, we have a collection of dishes that beg to be made by more than one… just bear in mind that when a recipe says ‘meanwhile’ that’s the cue for the sous (or how ever many chefs there are).

Platter chatter

The good old fashioned platter: the answer to varied tastes and multiple eaters. This humble one-dish-wonder boasts the beauty of DIY cooking (or no-cooking, in some cases). If you’re having friends over give each person something to bring and assemble, that way everyone adds a bit of their own taste and you don’t have to spend hours alone in the kitchen:

Mezze of mint-marinated lamb, red pepper hummus and spiced chick peas
Seafood sharing board
Build-your-own breakfast board

Simple skewers

A great way for kids to understand where ingredients come from is to get them involved. To make life easy for yourself teach them how to cook simple recipes, like food on sticks. Little ones will love stacking meat and veggies onto child-friendly skewers – and building their own dinner may make them more likely to eat their greens:

Chicken and apple skewers
Shish tawook
Sweet chilli prawn and mango skewers

Tricky tastes

There are always those recipes one looks at but rarely cooks – perhaps there’s an unfamiliar ingredient or a method that seems a little too long. However, when you’ve got the help of a buddy, no task is too taxing… it’s time to bring out the dishes you’ve been eyeing up. Take your time, make a mistake, get to grips with a new cooking technique – it’s all a culinary roller coaster made more reassuring with a friend in the other seat:

Tomato, mozzarella and black olive calzone
Grilled mackerel, black garlic purée and pickled beetroot on rye bread
Roasted garlic and sage gnocchi with cherry tomato sauce

Baking buddies

Dessert begs to be enjoyed as a group; even its poster parents – Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood – are people you’d want to be friends with. Whether you’re entertaining the little ones (in which case, cookies are a good option), having fun with friends or whipping up the final course for a dinner party, opting for puddings you can dip, dunk and devour are fun and interactive:

Dark chocolate and peppermint s’more dip
Lemon possets with mandarin caramel and camel wafers
Labneh cheesecake with honey, nuts and figs