As we all try to stretch out these last lingering days of summer, I’m doing everything I can to make the most of relaxed schedules, friends dropping by, and fresh farm stand produce. There’s nothing better than throwing together a meal at the last minute and having it turn into a veritable “dinner party.” Whether you’re serving two or ten, you can mix it up and have some fun with fresh ingredients and some creative serving techniques. Before the fall bustle begins, take some time to stop and smell the heirloom tomatoes!
My recent Nantucket vacation with some girlfriends was the perfect reminder that keeping things simple is always best, especially when it comes to summer cooking. Riding my bike to the farmer’s market in the morning yielded an abundant supply of fresh ingredients, and most nights we would enjoy simple, no-cook meals outdoors on the patio (a great way to dine on a vacation-budget as well). Words don’t do justice to this kind of beautiful simplicity – so here are a few pictures…
Want to throw your own Farm Stand Dinner Party – perfect for vacations or stay-cations alike?
Here’s how to do it in 5 easy steps:
1. Stop by the local farm stand to see what’s fresh. Create a meal plan based on what’s available. The better the ingredients, the less you have to do to them before serving.
2. Call some friends and see who’s available to drop by for a bite. When they say, “What can I bring?”, tell them to bring the wine – that’s one less thing you have to pick up.
3. Throw together an easy salad with the produce you brought home, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. There’s no need to douse summer tomatoes with heavy dressing!
4. If possible, add a grilled protein. Some farmer’s markets will have sausage/lamb/chicken; if they don’t, just swing by the grocery and pick one up. Salt/pepper/oil and grill. Serve as is.
5. Set a scaled-back table and dig in. When it’s this hot out, a few wildflowers tucked into a mason jar counts as a centerpiece. Light a few tealights and you’re good to go. Another trick I love is serving very basic food on very fancy plates – ie: grilled kebabs on your wedding china – why not? It doesn’t add any extra time/effort to use the “good plates” – and it’s definitely an element of surprise when you bring them out to the patio! Everyone will appreciate that you’re outside enjoying good conversation with them, and not stuck in the kitchen slaving away.
Got a great summer entertaining tip? Share it here!