Having a few friends over for dinner this weekend and am pretty pressed for time, so I want to rely on familiar dishes I can turn out in my sleep. Problem is that I'm so bored of these, they might put me to sleep instead.
Can any of you offer up some easy ways to spice up this menu?
fresh ricotta and bread
roasted red peppers
Chicken braised with tomatoes and olives
Braised swiss chard
Perhaps someone can suggest some equally easy, but more exciting starters? I was actually hoping to do something with salt cod, but couldn't find anything simple enough.
Suggestions for the polenta and veg appreciated too. And fyi -- everything is pretty simply spiced -- olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, so if you have exciting flavoring ideas, bring them on.