Summer should be easy. It's a time for easy reading, easy clothing and all-around easy living. With the bounty of the earth at its greatest, it's also time to share in the joy of good food, al fresco. We like to entertain as simply as possible without sacrificing deliciousness, and you can too. Check out our tips for easy summer entertaining, and raise a glass, and a plate, to family, friends and summer fun.
1. Choose a base for your cocktails, and stick with it
Any summer party worth its salt revolves around a beverage. For an easy way to please all your guests, choose a non-alcoholic base that can be enjoyed alone or modified with various spirits. We like our Honey Lemonade, which becomes the Bee's Knees with gin and the Honey Bee with rum. Keep things simple, and consider having guests experiment with their own concoctions.
2. Put away the DEET
No one likes dousing their body in DEET-based insect repellant, especially when food is involved. Try an all-natural option with simple ingredients, like beeswax-based Bug Balm, and keep your party smelling, tasting and feeling how it should.
3. Decorate with herbs
With natural beauty all around, summer dinner parties may need less attention to table adornment, but a bit more green never hurt. If you grow your own herbs at home (if not, we highly recommend it), why not have them on the table? Fresh herbs look and smell great, and before long your guests will be asking “Could you please pass the thyme?”
4. Focus on dishes that keep well
Look for “long-tail” recipes that taste better after resting overnight, or dishes that make versatile leftovers. Part of keeping entertaining simple involves minimizing clean-up, so you might as well get a few more meals out of those grilled vegetables before having to wash the pan. (Pro tip: try them at room temperature as salad fixings.) Also make homemade spreads your friend—think lemony hummus and baba ganoush.
5. Diversify your sauces
Consider “sauces” here a stand-in for dips, marinades, condiments and salsas as well. Get more mileage out of a dish (say, wings, for example) by switching up the added flavor component. You can always mix and match sauces with other dishes on the table as well.
6. Delight in the power of honey
Speaking of diversification, raw varietal honey presents our favorite opportunity to sweeten food healthily while adding complexity of flavor. In short, any time you would normally use processed sugar, choose honey. Making a drink that calls for simple syrup? Honey. Sweetening tea or coffee? Honey. Whipping up a simple vinaigrette? Yep, honey.
7. Finish with cheese
We love entertaining because nothing animates conversation and creates memories like good food. We gather to share in the bounty, and cheese platters are simple to prepare and unavoidably communal. Pre-cut harder cheeses into grabbable wedges, and don't forget the garnish (remember those herbs). Also, try including sides of different honey varietals. In their quest to find the perfect pairing, your guests will enjoy the journey.
How do you like to entertain during the summer? Share your tips in the comments below.