If you don’t relish the idea of braving the cold with the trick or treaters, but don’t want to let 31 October pass you by, why not throw a spooky soirée? We’re not talking face painting and apple bobbing here – this is an altogether more sophisticated affair
With flickering candlelight, a few carved pumpkins and some killer dishes, it’s so easy to transport your dinner from the realms of ordinary to the extraordinary. Here’s how…
Love at first bite
Kick off the fright night fun with a hot cocktail and nibbles. Welcome guests into your haunted house with a brew of hot buttered rum and use a surplus of seeds from carving jack-o’-lanterns to make maple-roasted pumpkin seeds – lightly coat them with a mix of maple syrup, olive oil and sea salt, then roast gently (at a low temperature) on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes, or until golden.
Give them a start(er)
Halloween falls on a Tuesday this year, so keep your starter simple – and seasonal. Prep the pesto for our pumpkin pesto pasta in advance, then stir through hot linguine – worms, anyone?
Quick win: Our in-store sweet potato and lime soup makes a smart change from pumpkin, and the zingy lime tempers the natural sweetness of the potato, too. Give it your own stamp by adding a cobweb decoration to each bowl – drizzle on concentric circles of double cream, then drag through with a toothpick.
The main event
As every seasoned host knows, the secret to throwing a successful dinner party is to keep things simple. Make our purple-hued cauliflower and gnocchi bake. Serve with a side order of ‘witches fingers’ – roast baby rainbow carrots with honey and a squeeze of orange juice until tender.
Quick win: Our in-store ready-to-serve slow-cooked top rib of beef is a sophisticated alternative for two and comes with a rich Wessex stout gravy and hasselback potatoes. Up the scary ante with our three squash bake – a side dish of autumnal squash topped with a creamy cheese and lentil sauce – plus a plate of ‘ogre’s eyeballs’ (fill Yorkshire puddings with a layer of caramelised red onions and baked meatballs).
When night falls, it's time to bring out some sinfully good puds.If you fancy some fruit, try swapping your traditional apple crumble recipe for something a little more elegant like our chocolate-dipped Halloween pears in a salted caramel sauce – find the recipe on our free Cook With M&S app.
Quick win: If you’re pressed for time, opt for our new in-store bonfire toffee chocolate tarts with their sticky base layer of ‘bonfire toffee’ – a warming caramel made with puréed pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves. Serve warm for a gooey centre and team with a dollop of ice cream.
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