Make an Appetizing New Year Buffet

Edited by Nerissa Avisado, Eng, Lynn, MsBarbs and 2 others


Greeting the New Year is something everyone wants to do with a lot of merry-making and fellowship. Can there be a party without the main attraction - that of an appetizing New Year's buffet, so that friends and family can start the year with an ambiance of prosperity?

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As far as cooks are concerned, there is greater flexibility in preparing the food for New Year's than for Christmas or Thanksgiving feasts. Traditional foods grace the tables for New Year's parties around the world, but for the most part, other foods can be served in their stead without people thinking a major misdemeanor has been committed.

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What Food to Spread on Your New Year's Table

A good number of dishes served on New Year are supposed to bring luck and prosperity to people who partake in them.

  1. 1
    Veggie Luck
    Greens are supposed to be lucky because they are the symbolic color of money. Beans, in particular the round types such as lentils and black-eyed peas, are also supposed to resemble money (coins this time).
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  2. 2
    From the Seas
    Fish is considered lucky food; its scales resemble money, and it swims in schools, which is symbolic of abundance.
    S2DEC94-03 1.jpg
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  3. 3
    Health and wealth
    Noodles are desirable offerings for a New Year's menu because their strands represent long life. Grains such as rice or barley signify prosperity.
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  4. 4
    Overweight but good
    Pigs are considered embodiments of plenty because they grow rotund. Thus, pork is considered good luck for New Year's dinners.
    S2DEC94-05 1.jpg
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  5. 5
    Sweet magnet
    Fruits are considered to attract good luck in many cultures around the world. For example, in some areas in Spain, Portugal, and Mexico, at midnight people will eat one sweet grape for each stroke of the clock. This is supposed to bring good fortune for all 12 months of the year. Pomegranates, like figs, are also considered bringers of good luck because their many seeds stand for prosperity.
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  6. 6
    Rings of Fortune
    A ring-shaped cake, sometimes with favors tucked inside) is supposed to bring abundance during the New Year, and in some places in the world, no matter how simple a New Year's dinner is, it has to have a good number of round fruits.
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Ideas from around the world.

  • In the United States, specifically in the South, certain dishes make it to the top of the list as foods to be served for New Year. The list includes black-eyed peas and collard greens, cornbread, Hoppin' Johns, ham, and pork chops.
  • In Italy, dinner on New Year's Eve is all about representing the abundance that people desire to have in the coming year. Risotto, lentils, and raisins are part of the fare across tables in Italy. Two of the most popular dishes for this special occasion are cotechino, a hefty pork sausage, and zampone, a sausage made by stuffing and drying a pig's trotter. Both are sliced to resemble coins, and served with lentils.
  • There are countless ideas you can pick up from places around the globe to create an amazing and appetizing New Year's buffet. Read on for a menu that will combine dishes from different countries - one that will present a melange of flavors for a truly colorful and irresistible New Year buffet.

A Menu to Tempt Everyone

Here is a truly tempting array of dishes to please everyone, while honoring tradition with foods that supposedly attract good luck. You can select the ones you think will be most appropriate for your own celebration, or serve all and encourage everyone to try each dish.

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Soup Italian Lentil Soup
Appetizers Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon Stuffed mushrooms A Plate of Cheeses, and Crackers
Salad Green Salad with Pomegranate
Sides Cornbread Collard Greens
Entrees Spaghettini with Nuts and Kale Roast Pork Loin Cotechino Ham
Dessert Crystal Grapes Bundt Chocolate Cake
For the New Year Toast Strawberry Champagne Sizzler

Recipes to Try

You can substitute your own dishes for the ones listed above, or pare down the number to a more modest one. What matters is that you have a collection of foods that will embody the spirit with which the New Year is to be welcomed. Here are recipes for some of the dishes on the menu.

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Shrimp Wrapped in Bacon

You will need:

  • 12 jumbo shrimp
  • 12 slices of the thinnest bacon you can find
  • Salt
  • Toothpicks
  • Non-stick skillet


  • Shell the shrimp and remove the veins, but leave the tails on.
  • Rinse well in cold running water.
  • Lay bacon on a clean chopping board.
  • Wrap bacon around the shrimp, starting with the tail end. Try to wrap evenly, overlapping slightly.
  • Sear both ends of the shrimp in a non-stick pan for 30 seconds on each side.
  • Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, impale with toothpicks and lay on paper towels.
  • Arrange on a platter and serve.
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Stuffed Mushrooms

You will need:

  • 24 large mushrooms (at least 1 ½ inches across)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup spinach, thawed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
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  1. 1
    Prepare the mushroom caps
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    • Remove mushroom stems and set aside.
    • Bake mushroom caps (stem side down) in a greased shallow baking pan for 10 minutes.
    • Allow mushrooms to cool. Turn over so their stem side is up.
      Stuffed Portabellos 013.jpg
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  2. 2
    Prepare the filling
    • Mince mushroom stems. Using a large skillet, saute stems for 5 minutes.
    • Add the spinach; saute it for 2 minutes.
    • Next, put in the tomatoes and keep sauteing for 2 minutes.
    • Then blend in the cream. Simmer the concoction for 3 to 4 minutes before removing from heat.
    • Set aside until cool enough to handle.
      A little wine never hurt.jpg
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  3. 3
    To assemble and bake
    • Place a teaspoon of filling inside each mushroom.
    • Top generously with Parmesan cheese.
    • Bake for 12 minutes. Serve immediately.
      Note:To make ahead of time, complete steps 1 and 2. Refrigerate caps and filling separately. Take out of the refrigerator at least an hour before baking then complete step 3. You can do steps 1 and 2 a day or two before your party.
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Italian Lentil Soup

You will need:

  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can (14-ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and soaked
  • 1 medium carrot, cubed
  • 1 small green pepper, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed pepper flakes
  • 1 can (14-ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (6-ounces) tomato paste
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
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  • Saute onion and garlic in a Dutch oven; add the next 8 ingredients.
  • Bring pot's contents to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minute (until lentils are cooked, but not quite tender).
  • At this point, add all remaining ingredients before simmering the dish for 15 full minutes, or at least until lentils are tender.
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This dish is best eaten with rice, a traditionally accompaniment for lentils. Some families like to cook lentil soup with ham bone or Italian sausage, in which case the meats are sauteed for 15 minutes right after the onions and garlic, and all other ingredients are added in the same sequence.

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Roasted Pork Loin

You will need:

  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 boneless pork loin roast (about 2 ½ pounds)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Line a rectangular roasting pan with foil.
  • Combine the first five ingredients in a bowl, then rub mixture all over the pork loin.
  • Place loin in roasting pan, fat side down. Roast for 30 minutes, turn meat so that the fat side is up, and insert meat thermometer into center.
  • Keep the pork roasting in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the thermometer reads 155.
  • Once done, it is time to take the roast from the oven. It is best to let it rest in a foil tent for a while or about 10 minutes.
  • Cut pork into ½ inch slices crosswise. Arrange on a platter and cover with a foil tent to keep warm.
  • Pour juices from the pan into a small saucepan and keep warm over low heat. Drizzle over meat slices.
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Strawberry Champagne Sizzler

For every eight glasses, you will need:

  • 8 shots orange-flavored liqueur
  • 8 teaspoons honey
  • 8 rather large fresh strawberries, tops trimmed
  • 1 magnum of Champagne, well chilled


  • Using a food processor, put in all ingredients (liqueur, honey and strawberries) to be processed until smooth.
  • Fill the chilled glasses about a third full with the strawberry mixture.
  • Follow up with Champagne to the 3/4 mark.
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Crystal Grapes

You will need:

  • ¼ cup pasteurized liquid egg whites
  • 2 pounds seedless grapes (cut into small clusters, trimming off all extra stems)
  • 1 cup superfine granulated sugar


  • Brush each cluster with egg whites.
  • Let set on rack set up over wax paper.
  • Hold each one by the stem and turn while sprinkling with sugar to coat fully.
  • Shake off excess sugar.
  • Allow clusters to dry on rack, uncovered, at room temperature. This will take 2 to 3 hours.
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With this appetizing New Year's buffet you are ready to start the year with a bang! When your family and friends get together on the last midnight of the year to welcome a new one, everyone will be in high spirits when the clock strikes 12!

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Article Info

Categories : Holidays & Traditions

Recent edits by: Maria Quinney, MsBarbs, Lynn

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