Blog: How to celebrate graduation 2020 – food ideas!

Author Ellen Common is a final year French and Hispanic Studies student at the University of Liverpool.

The final semester of the 2020 academic year has been a strange one to say the least. The normal lectures, seminars and face to face teaching ended abruptly with the surge in COVID-19 cases and has left myself, along with many other final year students, saddened by the sudden end to our degree and lack of ‘closure’ that would normally be obtained at the end of university.

As a result of the pandemic, the way we graduate has had to be altered this year and, while the University have offered us an in-person ceremony in 2021, there will also be a ‘in absentia’ graduation online on the 17 July. Although it may not be the same experience, I believe that we should still make the most of the day and celebrate in whatever way we would like. Personally, I will be dressing up and consuming nice food and drink all day long! On that note, here are some super simple recipes that you can make on the day…canapé style!

Each of the following can be paired with little pieces of toasted bread, crackers, dips or whatever you like!

First up…Olive tapenade!

You will need:

  • 290g jar of pitted black olives (rinsed)
  • 2 anchovy fillets (although you can omit these, and it will still be delicious)
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • ½ lemon (juice only)
  • Splash of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Blitz all the ingredients in a small food processor then season with black and pepper. It’s as simple as that!

Red pesto

You will need:

  • Sundried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • Handful of basil leaves
  • Around 30g of pine nuts
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli flakes (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Pretty much the same way as the tapenade – blitz all the ingredients in a food processor until it reaches a pesto like consistency!


You will need:

  • 1 or 2 avocado(s)
  • ½ red onion finely chopped
  • 1 chilli finely chopped
  • 1 lemon (juice only)
  • Fresh tomatoes chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper

Mash the avocado in a bow with a fork, then add all the other ingredients, mix well and season with salt and pepper.

Mini smoke salmon potato cakes

You will need:

  • Packet of potato cakes
  • Smoked salmon (enough to put a couple of pieces on each potato cake)
  • A few tablespoons of crème fraiche
  • Half lemon (juice only)
  • Handful of fresh chives
  • Salt and pepper

Mix the crème fraiche with the lemon juice and salt and pepper. Toast the potato cakes and cut into quarters.

Add a spoonful of the crème fraiche mixture on top of the potato cakes, add slices of smoked salmon on top, then sprinkle some fresh chives on top.

Mango & chilli lime cups.

You will need :

  • 1 mango cut into small pieces
  • 1 red chilli finely chopped
  • ½ red onion finely chopped
  • Handful coriander leaves
  • 1 lime (juice only)
  • 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • Mini croustade cups (these were super hard to find so I made my own with shortcrust pastry, but you could just use small bits of toast too!)

Mix the mango, chilli, onion, and coriander leaves, then mix with the lime juice and sweet chilli. Season.

Divide between the mini croustade cups and serve within 1 hour so that they will be firm.

And don’t forget to top this all off with a glass (or two) of prosecco!

I hope that these have given you some ideas on something you could do on the day. I wish my course mates and everyone else graduating a wonderful day – let’s hope it’s sunny!