The Ultimate Dinner Party Menu

Anna Barnett shares her ultimate summer dinner party menu

Since the release of her debut cookery book ‘Eat The Week’ in 2015, Anna Barnett spent several years writing ‘The Reluctant Vegetarian’ for The Independent, as well as running her own website, Anna Barnett Cooks. Today she is without doubt the most fashionable face of cooking, and here she shares her Ultimate Summer Dinner Party Menu with TOAST.


This is a great starter option for any dinner party. What’s even better, is that you can have it well prepped the day (or two) before. I always think, although I can be biased, that going vegetarian as a starter is a safe bet. Meat followed by meat can sometimes be a little heavy and this is so delicious that you absolutely won’t miss the meat. You can also dress this dish up with as many of your favourite herbs or edible flowers as you like and just simply put it all together ten minutes before you serve. Spring is the perfect time to give this seasonal dish a go. Opt for fresh peas in their pod for the ultimate results.’ - Anna 

Preparation Time: 10-15 Minutes

Cooking Time: 10 Minutes

Feeds: 6

What you’ll need

1 Pack of filo pastry 250g – cut into roughly 5cm squares

Several good glugs of rapeseed oil

150g peas (either defrosted frozen petit pois or fresh)

3 generous tbsp crème fraîche

Zest of ½ lemon plus juice

Sprinkle of sea salt flakes

Several turns of freshly ground black pepper

Sprinkle of white pepper

2 Sprigs of mint – leaves removed from stalk and added without stalk

2 sprigs of parsley – leaves added minus the stalk

1 punnet of fresh pea shoots (or rocket/watercress)

Selection of edible flowers (optional)

1 tbsp of fresh chopped parsley

1 tbsp of fresh chopped mint

1 tbsp of fresh chopped fennel tops or dill

100g feta – crumbled

3 tbsp pine nuts – lightly toasted

For the dressing

Glug of rapeseed oil

Juice of half a lemon

Sprinkle of sea salt flakes

¼ tsp of Dijon


Begin by preheating your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Using small cake moulds or muffin tins place the cut filo pastry in each tin, coating/brushing each layer with rapeseed oil. Aim to allow three sheets of filo per cup. I find it works best when you stick the sheets together but not directly in line with each other, you get more crunch and more of a rustic feel this way.

Once you’ve lined each tin, make sure the sides are sticking up and haven’t flopped over or inwards – once the filo is cooked it will harden and turn crisp.

Bake in the oven for 3-5 minutes or until they turn to a light golden colour. Once cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool.

For the pea puree, simply place all ingredients in a food processor and blend (a hand blender will also work). Have a taste and adjust the seasoning, herbs or zest to your preference. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Prepare your dressing by combining all ingredients in a jar and shaking or simply whisk together in a bowl, again check for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

Prepare fresh herbs and salad for garnishing and add just before serving, drizzling over the dressing at the very last minute to ensure nothing turns soggy and the salad stays as crisp and fresh as possible.

Construct by spooning in two generous tablespoons of the pea puree into your chilled filo cup. Place the salad and herbs in a bowl and drizzle over the dressing so it’s evenly coated then place equal handful on top of the pea puree.

Sprinkle over the crumbled feta and finish by garnishing with the lightly toasted pine nuts.

 Pea Cups Web 1



‘This slow roasted lamb dish has spring and summer time flavours in abundance. Once it’s all been prepared you can whack it in the oven and just leave it, so there's no to-ing and fro-ing from the kitchen. If you fancy a more informal dish where everyone can get stuck in then it also works great in tacos’ - Anna


Preperation Time: 15-20 Minutes

Cooking Time: 3-4 Hours

Feeds: 4-6 

What you’ll need

1.2kg Organic Shoulder of Lamb

1 Whole bulb of garlic

Generous sprinkle of sea salt flakes

250g Black (venus) rice

½ Red onion – Finely sliced

Bunch of radishes – Finely sliced

½ Pomegranate

Handful of fresh mint leaves – Roughly chopped

Handful of parsley – Roughly chopped

Juice from half a lemon

Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Generous sprinkle of sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

For the Green Harissa

2 Shallots

3 Tbsp of pickled jalapeños

Handful of fresh coriander

Handful fresh parsley

2 Birdseye green chillies (1 for less spice)

1 Tsp ground coriander

1 Tsp ground cumin

Zest of 1 lemon

¼ Tsp sugar

Several good glugs of olive oil


Pre heat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius.

Place the lamb in a roasting dish, add seasoning and garlic plus a glug of olive oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes then reduce the heat to 160 degrees Celsius and roast for 3-4 hours until crisp and meat falling off the bone.

For the black rice salad, pour 250g of black rice into a saucepan with 500ml of water, add a sprinkle of salt and bring to the boil, once boiling reduce the temperature and allow to simmer for 35-45 minutes or until soft but with a little bite to it still. Rinse with cold water or allow to cool.

Mix in the chopped red onion, radishes, pomegranate and chopped fresh mint and parsley.

Add in the fresh lemon juice a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and add seasoning.

For the harissa simply blitz all ingredients together, check for seasoning and spice, adjusting if necessary.

Store in an air tight container in the fridge and use when ready.

Serve up the lamb, rice salad and harissa and allow everyone to help themselves.

 Lamb Web 1




‘Another one that can be prepared in advance to give you more time with your guests. This tart never fails to impress, the combination of zesty lemon with the savoury pesto is really unique and the bits of thyme embedded in the pastry really finish it off nicely. It’s the prefect dessert for summer as its full of flavour but still light and delicious. It really is a great way to round off the night.’ - Anna


Preperation Time: 20 Minutes

Cooking Time: 50 Minutes

Feeds: 10-12 

What you’ll need

For the Lemon & Thyme Shortcrust Pastry

250g Plain flour

75g Icing sugar

120g Butter

3 Egg yolks (free range)

Zest of 1 lemon

Dash of milk

5-6 Sprigs of thyme (pick out the sprigs with the thinner more delicate stalks) – Fry in hot oil until crisp.

Lemon Tart Ingredients

5 Medium Eggs (Free range)

150g Caster sugar

90ml Lemon juice (roughly juice from 1 lemon)

Zest of 1 lemon

150ml Double cream 

Pesto Ingredients

1/2 Cloves of garlic or handful of wild garlic leaves

20g Parmesan – Finely grated

1 Tbsp pine nuts

Sprinkle of salt flakes

Small bunch of basil or nettles (around 2 tbsp once chopped) 

Lemon & Thyme Cream

3 sprigs of thyme

Zest of half a lemon plus a squeeze of juice

150ml double cream.


Begin by making your pastry- the easiest way is to combine the flour and butter in a food processor using the K beater. Alternatively you can crumble the butter and flour together with your finger tips.

Start by sieving the icing sugar into the plain flour before adding in the cold diced butter and either mix on a low speed or crumble together until you have a fine crumb. Next whisk up the eggs and lemon zest and add that to your mixture, blending some more until you have a smooth pastry.

Add a little dash of milk or water if you need extra moisture to help bring the pastry together. -Check that you have no lumps of butter – if you do give the pastry a kneed until it’s smooth and comes together in a ball, being careful not to over work the pastry. 30 seconds should do it.

Flatten slightly and wrap in parchment or cling film and store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

In a frying pan add a generous glug of oil and allow to heat before adding in your sprigs of thyme. Fry until crisp, this should take a minute or so, then gently transfer to paper towel.

Fry up all the thyme and set several sprigs aside to add to the lemon tart mixture.

For the lemon filling, combine the sugar, lemon juice and zest then add in the cream and allow to infuse for 20-30 minutes in the fridge.

Next pre heat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius and roll out your pastry so it’s around 3 mm thick over a lightly floured surface.

Using your rolling pin carefully lay the pastry over your tin and press down in to the bottom of the tin. Make sure you have plenty of pastry overhang around the whole of the tin.

Next carefully add your sprigs of fried thyme to the outside edges of the pastry, simply pull the edges back and tuck in the thyme stalks- so they’ll be seen when you remove the tart from the case.

Next line with parchment and add in baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Next remove the beans and parchment and coat with whisked egg yolk and bake for another 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is a lovely golden colour.

Warm the lemon mixture over a low heat for 5 or so minutes stirring the whole time so it doesn’t turn into scrambled eggs texture. Pour through a sieve into the cooked pastry case and add in the fried thyme sprigs.

Gently place in the oven and bake for 20-25minutes or until it’s set but still has a wobble.

Remove the tart and allow to cool.

Prepare the pesto, either by muddling all ingredients with a pestle and mortar and or by blitzing in a blender.

Combine the thyme, lemon juice and zest and allow to infuse over a low heat. Strain then serve warm with the chilled tart and a dollop of pesto.


For more on Anna and her top tips for dinner party success click here



Posted in Recipe

by Sophie Farrah
on on 24 August 2016


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