7 Summer Entertaining Recipes That *Feel* Fancy But Are Actually Super Easy
We’re going to call it: summer is the best time of year to throw a dinner party. You can serve cold food and people love it, and you can rely very heavily on the fact that all of the best produce is at its absolute peak right now, so you don’t even have to put in a lot of effort: just assemble some delicious, seasonal ingredients and you’re pretty much good to go.
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These are some of our favorite recipes that look super impressive for summer entertaining, but are actually dead easy. And when we say easy, we mean e-a-s-y, like many of them only require that you can operate a blender, and several others involve exactly zero cooking at all.
1. Cuban Ceviche
Starting out any dinner party with a bowl of ceviche is just a solid move, and it’s phenomenally easy to put together — and since the acids “cook” the fish and bay scallops, you don’t even have to heat up your kitchen. Serve in glasses or bowls with a spoon, or in a serving dish with baked plantain chips. For a party, we’d set it out with a couple of vegan dipping options, too, like simple guacamole and a bowl of pico de gallo (DIY is easy, but can also be time-consuming, and the refrigerated store-bought picos usually taste pretty great, in our opinion).
2. Spanish Gazpacho
If you can’t make it to Spain this summer (and with flights costing this much, who can?), do the next best thing and make you and your guests authentic Spanish gazpacho. This might sound like a vaguely intimidating prospect, but we promise: if you can operate a blender, you can make gazpacho. It’s basically a fancy version of tomato juice, and it’s delicious, refreshing, and fun to say aloud. If you want to do a little Spanish tapas party, we’d suggest starting off with gazpacho, then serving some cheese and charcuterie and a cold Spanish tortilla (it’s basically an egg omelette with potatoes), which can be made the day ahead.
3. Crab and Artichoke Stuffed Zucchini
We’re not going to lie to you: crab prices have gone through the roof, so this crab and artichoke stuffed zucchini recipe is not an inexpensive dinner party recipe, but because you mix the crab with so many other ingredients, it is a good way to make one container of crab meat really stretch. It’s also delicious, incredibly easy to make, and a great way to use ubiquitous summer zucchini, which is currently overflowing in practically every garden in America. While this recipe already replaces a lot of the mayonnaise with Greek yogurt, feel free to swap the mayo with grapeseed oil-based Veganaise or homemade vegan mayo for a heart-healthier option.
4. Peach Burrata Caprese Salad
This peach burrata caprese salad is just so impossibly gorgeous, it’s sure to impress everyone — despite the fact that it’s phenomenally easy to put together. This is one of those recipes where all the “work” is really done by simply using fresh, seasonal ingredients at the peak of their powers. This could easily serve as either a first course or side dish, and would work really well before the aforementioned pork tonnato.
5. Pork Tonnato
Tonnato is trending again (possibly thanks to its star appearance in Gary Shtenygart’s excellent pandemic novel, Our Country Friends). This tuna-based sauce is traditionally enjoyed over veal — and for those unfamiliar with the concept of tuna-anchovy sauce served on cold meat, we’re just going to let that settle for a second, because we know it does not necessarily sound good, but we promise it’s actually delicious. Anyway, we like tonnato just as much with pork or even chicken, either of which tend to draw fewer ethical objections from dinner guests. It’s delicious served with roasted baby new potatoes and pesto-drizzled green beans, and it’s also phenomenally simple to make: you simply toss all the ingredients in a blender and hit the “go” button. If you’re short on time, serve with a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store. Nobody’ll mind.
6. Almond Flour Tomato Tart
Fresh garden tomatoes are one of the most delicious parts of the summer, and this pesto tomato tart is a really impressive way to serve them. Fortunately, the almond flour crust is also seriously simple to make — and that’s coming from people who are not generally amazing bakers. We’d serve with this French green bean and potato salad and a light green salad with a simple vinaigrette for a well-rounded lunch or light dinner.
7. Baby Lamb Chops with Chimichurri
Lamb chops are one of our very favorite meats. They’re high in protein, low in fat, and packed with iron, zinc, and vitamin B12. They’re also absolutely delicious, and a great party food because you can encourage everyone to pick up the lamb chops with their fingers, which is just a fun time. If you want a more traditional lamb flavor profile, swap about half the parsley out for fresh mint, and you’ll be nodding *towards* mint jelly without any overly formal British luncheon associations.
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