6th November 2023
Back in the lockdowns, LGSM ran a mini series entitled ‘Bringing The Restaurants In’. The premise was that restaurants had closed, but the door to housemate bonding had been opened. I don’t know about you, but there are aspects of the lockdowns that I miss (touch wood). The daily walks around Sefton, the living in loungewear, and the group cooking in particular. Me and my housemates loved picking a culinary theme and each bringing something to the table, excuse the pun. Our favourites were Tapas Night and Asian Night. Whilst we may not be in a lockdown anymore, you don’t always need to eat out to enjoy a nice meal. Attending a ‘Tray Night’ for a friend’s Birthday was the perfect example of this.
‘What is a Tray Night?’, I hear my parents ask as they’re reading this. As most trends do nowadays, this idea blew up on TikTok. The instruction is very simple: bring a tray of food of your choice and share!
Starting with my own contribution, I wanted to take the opportunity to cook something new. Bruschetta is sentimental to me, as it reminds me of sitting on the Penarth waterfront with my Grandma on a very hot summer’s day. After consulting many Instagram Reels, I went with the following ingredients:
To assemble the bruschetta, all you need to do is slice the bread into nice chunks, then mix together the chopped veg with the dressing ingredients and distribute this on top.
This Italian classic went down a treat! If you’re more of a give me quantities person, the BBC Good Food bruschetta recipe looks pretty great.
Next up we had houmous, glorious houmous. Who could ever say no?! The Dips Tray consisted of an Aldi houmous, pimped up at home with a bit of extra seasoning. This was surrounded by pepper, cucumber and carrot sticks, as well as crisps and slices of pitta bread. A light, yet delicious, tray to balance all the carbs that were being consumed!
Back to the Italian theme! Arguably the boujee-est tray of them all, the Antipasti Tray was the welcome break from student eating that we all needed. Pesto mozzarella pearls, stuffed piquante peppers, olives, feta, sundried tomatoes, slices of crusty bread, and even salami shaped into roses… what a treat.
When I heard there was going to be a Garlic Bread Tray, little did I know just how spectacular this was going to be. The creator of this tray bought a tiger bread loaf and stuffed it with homemade garlic butter and cheese to create a gooey, garlicy dream. To get the full mouth-watering picture, I beg you to watch this Instagram Reel of one very similar to ours and re-create it if you fancy! The bread was served with olives, salsa, and a balsamic dip.
Another not-so-studenty but tasty addition to the evening was the Cheese Tray. Want your cheese, biscuits, and grapes for starter, main and to cleanse your palate? Go for it! Contributing to this dairy delight were brie, wensleydale with cranberries, and cheddar.
Just in case all of these appetisers weren’t enough to line our stomachs with, mains were provided too! Hot dogs and pesto pasta (with tomatoes) were the perfect carbs to fill up on before an evening of drinking. Strategic? I think so.
Okay, so we’re getting a bit extravagant now. But honestly, all bases were covered with our Tray Night! As someone who can always squeeze pudding in, I highly appreciated these little sweet plates to snack on as the night progressed. We had homemade brownies on one plate, raspberries, strawberries and pretzels with white chocolate dipping sauce on another, and strawberries and marshmallows with milk chocolate dipping sauce on the final one. Incredible effort.
Unintentionally, this tray provided guests with a parting gift. (Side note: why are adult party bags not a thing?!) Being individually wrapped meant the croissants, pain au chocolats and chocolate-filled crepes stayed fresh all night. It also meant they could be snuck into bags on the way out… but we won’t tell the host that.
So there you have it, nine tray ideas that you won’t be able to stop munching on all night long. If you recreate any of the trays, or think of your own, give us a tag on insta!
If you’ve enjoyed this article and want more inspo on eating in, see what LGSM contributors’ fave comfort meals are.
Featured Image Credit: The Author