What’s better than a sunny day in your backyard by the pool with a group of friends? Make the most of your gathering by being organized and strategic in your menu planning, so that you, the host, will have time to enjoy the day. Marinate your meats one to two days ahead, and serve side dishes that can be made beforehand, leaving only last minute details to attend to. This was my approach to entertaining last Sunday when I had a group of over twenty friends over. The appetizers included tomato bruschetta, sundried tomato and mozzarella skewers, edamame, and a nacho platter. Other than assembling the nacho platter, the rest was made the day before.
Later I served marinated skirt steak, tofu kebobs and chicken souvlaki with tzatziki sauce. The variety of salads I made can be found on past bog posts including black bean salad, red lentil salad and Greek salad. Look below for a new recipe for GRILLED CORN SALAD along with a repost of the souvlaki marinade and the tzasiki sauce.
Don’t forget the drinks! The two variations of sangria (white with nectarines and red with orange and apples) were a hit, and the fruited water was refreshing on a hot, humid day. And it wouldn’t be summer without sweet tea.
What really made this party a success was the company and the laughs. Between reminiscing our high school days, making s’mores by the fire pit, taking a night swim and entering my daughter’s friend in the next “Bachelor”, a good time was had by all.
GRILLED CORN SALAD
12 ears of corn, husked 3 limes, juice and zest
6 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 cups fresh chives, snipped small
1 cup sliced scallions salt and pepper to taste
12- 14 mini kumato tomatoes, halved 1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade
Place the ears of corn directly on the grill grates and grill until browned about 10-12 minutes. Cool and remove kernels from the cob. In a bowl, add corn, scallions and tomatoes. Drizzle in the olive oil and add zest and lime juice. Mix well. Add salt and pepper. Add chives and basil, mixing gently. Can be made one day ahead.
2 lbs of lamb, chicken, pork or beef (or tofu) 1/4 cup wine (red or white)
½ cup olive oil zest and juice of 2 lemons
3 cloves crushed garlic ¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 tsp. dried oregano ½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. dried basil or 5 leaves shredded fresh basil
Cube meat in 1½-inch cubes and marinate overnight. I like to make the cubes on the smaller side. Since I am alternating veggies and meat on the same skewer, I don’t want the veggies to burn and for the meat to not be cooked through. If you want larger cubes of meat I suggest making separate veggie skewers. I use onions and peppers. Mushrooms and cherry tomatoes are a nice addition as well. Do not marinate the veggies until the last minute. Grill and enjoy!
2 cups Greek yogurt* 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
4 Tbs. white wine vinegar 2 Tbs. fresh dill or 1Tbs. dried
3 Tbs. olive oil salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp. paprika 1 tsp. sugar
3 cucumbers- peeled, cored from seeds and finely grated. Press through strainer to dry. The cucumber will make the sauce loose and runny if you skip this step.
Mix all ingredients together with a whisk. Chill before serving. Serve with souvlaki. It also makes a refreshing dip. Make this a day ahead and the flavors will intensify.
*Greek yogurt is thicker than other yogurts. If you use any other yogurt, you must strain before making sauce.