Graduation party and food ideas from Nino Salvaggio

Chef Pete Loren from Nino Salvaggio joined us on The Nine to give us some graduation party planning and food tips. You can watch in the video player above, and get his recipes and tips below. To find a Nino Salvaggio location near you, visit

These are some questions Chef Pete says are important to ask yourself while planning your party.
- What is your budget? Think per person. This will help dictate your menu later on.
- Inside or outside? If it's going to be outside, remember you'll most likely want a tent (for shade, too, not just in case it rains).
- Any theme?

And for menu planning tips, Chef Pete says to keep it simple. Pick items that are popular with teens and adults, and that work in smaller portions that can travel from one corner of the party to the other as people walk around and mingle. Also think about food items that are easy to assemble and ones that will hold up in warm weather.

He suggests buying the little 5 oz. cups at party stores, and brainstorming ideas to fill them with. Think salads, puddings, pastas, etc. They are easy to grab and walk around with, and can be decorated, too. His idea? Stick a fork or spoon in the individual cups that has a cute picture or your son or daughter glued to the top.

He shared some specific recipes, too, which you can find below.

Serves 4

A wonderful marinade and sauce to keep on hand in either your refrigerator OR freezer! Added to sautéed beef, chicken, peppers and onions, it is one terrific Fajita. It's also a terrific salad dressing that can be used on a taco salad or any Tex-Mex inspired salad.

1 cup Teriyaki Sauce (Soy Vey Brand)
1 Tbsp. Cornstarch
2 Tbsp. Water
1⁄2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1⁄4 cup Garlic Cloves, fresh, minced
1⁄4 cup Vidalia Onion, minced
1⁄4 cup Red Bell Pepper, minced
1 Tbsp. Jalapeno, minced
2 Tbsp. Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp. Cilantro, minced
3 drops Liquid Hickory Smoke
2 Tbsp. Cumin, ground
1 tsp. Chili Powder, ground

1. Heat teriyaki sauce in sauce pan to a boil.
2. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to teriyaki sauce. Bring to a boil while stirring.
3. Remove teriyaki mixture from heat and chill well.
4. Saute peppers, then onions in 2 tbsp. of the olive oil. Add garlic near end of sauteing. Add these sauteed ingredients to the cooked and cooled teriyaki mixture.
5. Stir in and add remaining ingredients.
6. Chill thoroughly and reserve.

Serves 6

2 cups Farfalle Pasta (Bow Tie)
8 cups Salted Water (to cook pasta)
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1⁄2 ea. Medium Sweet Onion
1 ea. Medium Red Bell Pepper, cut matchstick
12 spears Fresh Asparagus, cut in 1" bias pieces
8 ea. Mushrooms, Med/Lg. White, quartered
1⁄2 cup Grape Tomatoes, halved
3 cups Pulled, cooked Meat from 1 Rotisserie Chicken
3⁄4 cup Basil Pesto (Cibo Brand, DeLallo Brand or homemade* Chef's homemade recipe below)
Salt & Pepper, To Taste
1⁄4 cup Toasted Pinenuts

1. Cook Farfalle Pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain, rinse in cold water until well chilled, drain once again then place in a medium large bowl and chill.
2. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil then sauté onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms and asparagus approximately 3 to 4 minutes or until slightly softened and glazed but still crisp and al dente. Remove vegetables from the heat, spread out on a plate or platter and immediately chill.
3. Toss the pasta with the sautéed vegetables, grape tomato halves, pulled chicken meat and basil pesto. Season additionally with salt & pepper and garnish with toasted pine nuts.
4. Serve.

Serves 4

One of my favorite cold sauces for grilled fish or poultry or serve as a dip for raw vegetables in a crudite tray. An optional "stir in" ingredient is diced sun-dried tomato.

1 Cup Mayonnaise
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Basil Leaves, Fresh
1⁄2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1⁄4 Cup Pine Nuts
1 TBSP Garlic, Fresh
To Taste Salt
To Taste Black Pepper

1. In a small food processor or blender combine the ingredients.
2. Blend all ingredients together until smooth.
3. Thin to desired consistency with milk, half and half, or cream.
4. Serve hot or cold.

Serves 6

This recipe is great to use as a dip with fresh fruit, cookies, pound cake, sponge cake and much more!

16 oz.  Mascarpone Cheese
2 tsp.  Instant Espresso (powder or granulated)
1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
1/2 cup  Powdered Sugar
2 Tbsp. Chocolate Syrup
3 Tbsp. Dark Rum

1. Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
2. Adjust flavoring and sweetness to taste.

Serves 6

This recipe can be used as a pie filling, a cake filling or you can pour it into small ramekin dishes or parfait glasses and serve as is with a garnish of freshly whipped cream and berries of your choice.

10 oz. Semi Sweet Chocolate
1 stick Salted Butter
5 each Egg Yolks
8 each Egg Whites
1⁄4 cup Granulated Sugar
1 Tbsp. Vanilla
1 cup Whipping Cream
2 Tbsp. Granulated Sugar

1. Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler.
2. Remove melted chocolate from heat and beat in egg yolks, then let mixture cool to room temperature.
3. Whip egg whites and 1/4 cup granulated sugar together to a soft peak and fold into chocolate mixture.
4. Whip cream, sugar and vanilla together to a firm peak and fold into chocolate mixture