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How to host the easiest, dreamiest Mediterranean-style dinner party, according to one food editor

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As In The Know’s resident foodie and senior shopping editor, I test and write about a lot of kitchen gadgets, cookware and small appliances. I love finding ways to make cooking easier and a little more fun and sharing my learnings with our readers. I also love sharing meals with my friends, so I recently hosted a dinner party at my NYC apartment using a few of my favorite tried-and-true tools to prepare a deceptively simple Mediterranean-style meal. Welcome to my dinner party!

I love Mediterranean food, admittedly because of all the amazing dips. Hummus? Yum. Tzatziki? Give me a spoon. Whipped feta? You’ll have to cut me off. For this party, I included all three dips on the menu along with some fresh bread for dipping, air fryer crispy chicken, lemon roasted potatoes and a vegetable salad with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion and green pepper. Oh yeah, every dish included plenty of olive oil. Call it heart healthy, or just call it delicious.

My hot take is that planning a dinner party doesn’t have to be difficult to be impressive. I like to create a menu that’s easy to cook and doesn’t take a lot of time. That way, when my guests arrive, I can feel less stressed about getting the meal on the table and actually enjoy the party. Every thing I made took less than an hour to cook — or about two hours total when counting the food preparation and table setting.

You can see how my dinner party went on this episode of ITK Eats: Dinner Party posted above. If you want to try out some of my favorite kitchen items used in the episode, you can shop them below.

1. Beautiful 6-Quart Touchscreen Air Fryer by Drew Barrymore, $89

Credit: <a href="" data-ylk="slk:Walmart;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Walmart</a>
Credit: Walmart

$89 at Walmart

If you don’t have an air fryer, get one. Drew Barrymore has a kitchen line at Walmart called Beautiful Kitchenware, and the sage green air fryer is my favorite. Not only does it look pretty, but the 6-quart size is perfect for air frying a 3-pound chicken in less than 45 minutes. The skin comes out perfectly crispy. Inside, the chicken is tender and moist. Behind the scenes of this episode, when I picked the chicken up out of the fryer, it was so tender that it nearly fell apart. OK, I’m raving about this air fryer so much that it’s probably getting annoying.

2. Kosterina Extra Virgin Olive Oil Duo, $48.90

Credit: Kosterina
Credit: Kosterina

$48.90 at Kosterina

Great olive oil can make all the difference in your meal. The key is to smell it. If it smells like plastic or old peanuts, move on. If it smells grassy, slightly fruity or like olives, you’ve found the good stuff. Kosterina’s Greek olive oil is a prime example. I love using its Organic Everyday Extra Virgin Olive Oil for cooking and its bolder Original Extra Virgin Olive Oil for dressing. You can usually find it at Whole Foods or get it online as a set. (Psst! The brand also sells garlic olive oil — and it’s amazing.)

3. Le Creuset Bread Oven, $300

Credit: Le Creuset
Credit: Le Creuset

$300 at Le Creuset

I don’t love overly complicated cooking. For example, I’m cool with buying bread versus baking my own. However, I tested out Le Creuset’s bread oven when it launched earlier this year, and I’m now obsessed with homemade bread’s fresher flavor. I try to bake my own no-knead bread for special occasions, like dinner parties or whenever I want to make an epic sandwich. My favorite bread topping is probably Trader Joe’s Everything Bagel Seasoning or their Green Goddess Seasoning. Whatever topping I use, this bread oven helps me achieve the perfect crispy crust and moist center.

4. Our Table Citrus Juicer, $11

Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond
Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond

$11 at Bed Bath & Beyond

There’s nothing super revolutionary about getting a citrus squeezer, but if you don’t have one, consider this your sign to get one: They’re not expensive, and using one makes juicing lemons much easier. Plus, you can actually get all of the juice out. I used one to add fresh lemon to nearly every dish in this episode.

5. All Day Poppin Seasoning, $7.99

Credit: All Day Flavors
Credit: All Day Flavors

$7.99 at All Day Flavors

One of the perks of being a shopping editor is that I get sent a lot of product samples. If I get one that I love, I’ll share it — take this All Day Poppin Seasoning, for example. I recently got my hands on it, and I’ve been using it at least once a week in my kitchen. It’s a bright, citrusy seasoning with lemon, garlic, parsley and black pepper. I tossed my potatoes with it in this episode, but I’ve also used it on avocado toast, chicken, fish and in salad dressings. It might sound simple, but I think it’s simply delicious.

6. Fable Base Dinnerware Set in Dove Gray, $238 (Orig. $264)

Credit: Fable <a href="" data-ylk="slk:Home;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Home</a>
Credit: Fable Home

$238 $264 at Fable Home

For me, one of the biggest signs I officially reached adulthood was when I invested in a matching dinnerware set. I love these hand-finished stoneware plates and bowls from Fable. Each one is sustainably-crafted and organically shaped, so it’s one of a kind. They’re also dishwasher, oven and microwave-safe. I got the Dove Gray color to switch things up from your standard white dinner plates.

7. Artisanal Kitchen Supply Coupe Marbleized Serving Bowl, $35

Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond
Credit: Bed Bath & Beyond

$35 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Fable makes serving bowls and platters that match my dinnerware. However, I don’t use my serveware that often, so it doesn’t make sense for me to spend a lot on it right now. To save a little cash, I got this less expensive marble-style serving bowl from Bed Bath & Beyond. I like how it adds a little contrast against the gray dishes on my table.

8. FINGERCRAFT 12-Pack Cotton Linen Blend Napkins and wonlex Cuff Brushed Gold Napkin Rings Set of 4, $19.99 each

Credit: <a href="" data-ylk="slk:Amazon;elm:context_link;itc:0" class="link ">Amazon</a>
Credit: Amazon

$19.99 at Amazon $19.99 at Amazon

My friends teased me for having cloth napkins decorated with actual napkin rings, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with going above and beyond. They’re an easy and inexpensive way to dress up your table, and cloth napkins are also more sustainable. I tested a few napkins from Amazon and finally landed on this linen set (you can get 12 napkins for $20). They get softer after you wash them. I also purchased these brushed gold napkin rings for $20 from Amazon. Together, I think they look casual yet slightly sophisticated.

9. Schott Zwiesel Pure Burgundy Wine Glasses, Set of 6, $90

Credit: Pottery Barn
Credit: Pottery Barn

$90 at Pottery Barn

These wine glasses were actually my boyfriend’s, and when we moved in together, I was happy to let him keep them on our bar cart. (The girls get it.) I love their geometric, goblet shape and I use them for both red and white wine, as well as England-style gin and tonics. (Although, they’re definitely made for red wine.) Keep in mind, they’re sneaky big — I usually pour the wine up to the middle indent, and it’s always more wine than I think.

If you liked this article, check out this beauty queen who invited her girlfriends over for a delicious, Caribbean-inspired feast.

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