As soon as summer’s first balmy nights begin to set in and the daylight hours grow longer, many of us head outdoors to dine and entertain al fresco. A gorgeous evening with a sunset that lights up the sky seems reason enough to celebrate with good friends and good food—which means you need a go-to repertoire of summer recipes that you can pull together quickly and easily when company calls…or whenever you want to make an occasion of making it through another workday.
Summer entertaining is all about effortless dishes that your guests can devour leisurely. There’s no need to rush or eat something before it gets cold—just sit back, enjoy the golden hour sun and take in these moments with those closest to you.
A summer mezze platter is a delicious way to make the most of the season’s bounty. Plus, it doesn’t require long hours in the kitchen and you won’t have to turn on the oven—always a bonus when the temperatures are rising.
The key to pulling together a summer mezze platter without cutting into your summer relaxation time is using ingredients that you likely have on hand already—and that can be easily portioned for two or 12. You want to pick a variety of items that will suit all taste buds and preferences, from those who want the spiciest of spice to those who prefer to munch on hearty and nutritious nuts.
Invest in a large wooden cheese board that will become a multitasking workhorse in your kitchen and can serve as a rustic backdrop for colorful dishes. Scattered across the board, you’ll set out dishes filled with dips that run from super spicy to refreshing and zesty. A bold harissa, a smooth and savory hummus, a cooling tzatziki and a snappy feta make for a delicious combination that delivers a diverse range of flavors.
Include accoutrements that can easily be purchased, such as good sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and artichokes. Sprinkle in bite-sized snacks, such as nuts and olives, to add texture and crunch to the spread. And, of course, serve with toasted pita and cucumbers for dipping.
Pour a glass of crisp, chilled wine as you build your mezze platter and let “abundant” guide you—don’t hold back! Layer, pile and stack your dishes. There’s nothing more appetizing than an overflowing array of summer colors and textures eaten al fresco on a perfect evening in the company of good friends.