A Small Summer Dinner Party Menu
Monday July 22, 2013

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Recently a regular reader of the blog asked if I might organize menus for a meal or dinner party that ensure great food and flavor, but also an opportunity for the hostess to enjoy the company that has arrived, and share such posts on the blog.

With a long list of recipes that I describe as being simply luxurious (click here to see the list on the archives pages under “Recipes”), there are endless combinations that I regularly go back through for my own uses each time I sit down to organize a menu.

Just this past weekend, a dear friend I have known for most of my life joined me with her family for dinner. And since it was quite warm, and I wanted little fuss, yet I also wanted to incorporate as many fresh from the market foods, I came up with the menu below:


*Everything on the menu can be made ahead of time (except the risotto and cooking the salmon). Prep or finish everything else, so you can spend as much time as possible with your guests.

(Please note, if the recipe is not listed in this post, simply click on the item to be taken to the page where is it described and shared in detail.)


(Upon the arrival of your guests, ask them what they would like to drink. Always have one alcoholic and one non-alcoholic drink available, along with water.)

~A crisp rosé


~Fresh Strawberry Lemonade

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    • Zest of 1 lemon, in wide strips
    • 2 cups sugar
    • 2 cups chopped hulled strawberries
    • 2 cups fresh lemon juice (from about 10 large lemons)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • Make the lemon syrup: Bring the lemon zest, 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring, until the sugar dissolves; let cool to room temperature.
    • Meanwhile, make the strawberry syrup: Toss the strawberries and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in a bowl and let sit at room temperature until the sugar dissolves, about 45 minutes. Strain the strawberry mixture; reserve the strawberry syrup and berries separately.
    • Make the lemonade: Combine the lemon juice, lemon syrup, salt and 2 cups cold water in a pitcher. For each drink, put about 1 tablespoon of the strawberry syrup in a tall glass. Fill with ice, then top with the lemonade and some of the reserved strawberries.


(Have the antipasto platter ready just before your guests arrive, so they can begin nibbling on it while they sip their first drink. Sit down and enjoy some time with them before bopping into the kitchen to finish the main dishes.)

On a large cutting board or cheese platter, organize a few of the following along with small plates, napkins and serving utensils:

  • cheeses (comte, brie, mozzarella, and parmesan are a few of my favorites)
  • cured meats (salami, proscuitto, etc)
  • olives
  • pickled vegetables
  • grapes (while not typically part of an antipasto platter, I like to add them)
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar

Main Dish

(While finishing the main dish will take 30 minutes, it will be 30 minutes that you can come and go from the kitchen, as you’re simply letting the risotto simmer in 5-7 increments. Begin the risotto first while preheating the oven for the salmon, and then after the second addition of chicken broth, sear the salmon (3-4 minutes), followed by placing it in the oven for 5-7 minutes. Both dishes should finish at about the same time and should be served within 5-10 minutes.)

~Panko Crusted Salmon

~Summer vegetable Risotto 

  • choose your favorite summer vegetables – yellow squash, zucchini and simply blanche them in the chicken broth prior to beginning your risotto

or skip the vegetables entirely and serve along side your risotto and salmon . . .

~a simple fresh green salad picked from the garden

  • mixed greens
  • simple dressing (3 tablespoons EVOO, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard)
  • sprinkle with roasted pine nuts, almond slices or walnuts and curls of parmesan


(Dessert can be made the day or morning before. Organize on a tray and take outside to enjoy with the cool evening breeze.)

~Strawberry Rhubarb Mini Tartlets

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Bon Appétit!


~Why Not . . . Have a Dinner Party? (2 part series)

 images via Instagram

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