Are summer dinner parties more relaxed than their winter counterparts? I suppose it depends on the cook and the crowd. All the brightly colored produce and fresh herbs from the planter box make me want to cook up a gorgeous feast to share with friends, but the wearying heat and vacation vibes mean I don’t want to work very hard to get there. Relatable?
Genevieve Ko has curated a beautiful menu with recipes from NYT Cooking columnists that will help you entertain in style without stress. The recipes, though simple, are truly special, and you can mix and match them as you see fit, maybe making just one or two before dessert. Then bookmark the others to save for future easy meals.
There’s Yewande Komolafe’s coconut-dill salmon with green beans and corn (above), which she prepares entirely on the grill, using foil packets to bathe the fish in a fragrant mix of coconut cream, herbs, mustard and lemon. The foil keeps the fish from sticking to the grate and contains its fragrant sauce, which is also used to dress a salad of green beans, corn and tomatoes. And if you don’t have a grill (or don’t want to step out of the air-conditioning), the recipe works in your oven.
For something that combines grilled meat with fresh summer fruit, Eric Kim offers a recipe for grilled pork chops with plum BBQ sauce. He adds slices of the fresh stone fruit to a sticky homemade BBQ sauce that he slathers over juicy chops. It’s bright, tangy and just a bit smoky from the grill.
As a starter, you can serve my baked feta dip with spicy tomatoes and honey with toasted baguette or some crackers. Or else double the quantities and make it a meatless main course, with a big green salad or some buttered corn on the side.
You could precede the meal with Rebekah Peppler’s nonalcoholic dirty lemon tonics, made with fresh and preserved lemon. (They’re also nice spiked with gin.)
Then for dessert, Genevieve Ko’s deeply purple blueberry crisp can be made entirely ahead. Or if you’re bringing dessert to a potluck, Genevieve suggests asking the host to use the oven, and bringing the blueberries in a baking dish with the topping separate. Scatter the crumbs over the fruit when you arrive, and let the crisp fill the place with its rich scent as it bakes. Warm berry crisp with melting ice cream is one of summer’s gifts to humanity.
Naturally, you’ll want to subscribe to cook all these recipes and more. If you need any technical help, the brilliant people at firstname.lastname@example.org are there for you. And I’m at email@example.com.
Almost Al Dente Pasta
In my last newsletter, I mistakenly wrote that Ham El-Waylly, in his recipe for grated tomato pasta, described al dente spaghetti as having a “tiny dry core when cut in half.” In fact, he was explaining what the spaghetti should look like when you take it out of the water, a few minutes before it’s reached al dente. In his recipe (and in many pasta recipes) the spaghetti will finish cooking in the sauce. Thanks to one of our readers, Deborah Cecere, for pointing this out!