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September 23, 2022
Planning a summer dinner party can be a bit of a challenge, especially trying to curate a menu that appeals to each of your guests. With so many fresh ingredients in season, it can be hard to decide what makes the cut and will be served on your table.
It can be especially challenging when considering the dietary needs and preferences of your guests. Are any vegans on the list? Will any loved ones who are picky eaters be attending? Do any attendees have food allergies you should be aware of?
Don’t worry — this list of summer dinner party menu ideas has you covered and offers an array of delicious options for all. These dishes offer a mix of gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegetarian options that utilize the season's best ingredients.
In the hot summer months, a chilled dish can be the perfect way to cool down in the hot summer months. Enter this delicious summer gazpacho, a cold tomato soup that hails from Spain. This no-cook, low-prep recipe is a no-brainer when it comes to casual dinner party menu ideas. It’s healthy, packs a ton of flavor, and comes together in minutes — making it the ideal summer dish.
The star ingredient in this dish is fresh tomatoes, so you want to make sure that you buy a high-quality variety at the peak of freshness. Heirloom tomatoes are a top choice, but other varieties work just as well. You’ll also need a few other fresh veggies that you might already have on hand, including cucumbers, bell peppers, and garlic. Once you have all your ingredients, simply throw them in a blender and purée until smooth.
A fresh peach salad is a perfect dish to pair with your tasty gazpacho. You can use whatever greens and toppings you have on hand and it can be as simple or as fancy as you like. Ingredients like nuts and seeds, fresh fruit, and salty cheeses can take any salad from drab to fab.
The sweet peaches and the savory gazpacho make the ideal pairing for a summer meal.
If you know there will be some carnivores at your dinner party, you’ll want a meat dish that’s sure to satisfy. L.A. kalbi is an innovative dish that mixes old Korean traditions with contemporary Californian cuisine. L.A. kalbi was developed in the Korean community of Los Angeles using ingredients that could be easily found at nearby Mexican markets. The dish features flanken-style short ribs to create a dish bursting with flavor. It's perfect for an outdoor barbecue.
This dish takes a bit more prep time since you’ll need to prepare a marinade and let the short ribs soak up all of that flavor for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. The marinade calls for ingredients like soy sauce, garlic, Japanese rice wine, and sesame oil. After marinating, you’re ready to grill the short ribs for 3 minutes on each side. Rest the meat for 5 minutes, and it's ready to serve.
You can serve L.A. kalbi as is or over a bed of crisp, leafy greens. This dish also pairs nicely with a fresh scallion salad.
Now that you’ve pleased the meat-eaters of the bunch, it’s time to think about those who lean toward a plant-based diet. This grilled summer squash with chickpeas recipe is one of the best summer dinner party menu ideas if you’re looking for something vegan or vegetarian.
While this dish is pretty simple, having a cast iron skillet on hand is a game-changer. A cast iron skillet should be able to handle the heat of the top zone of your grill, which makes cooking a snap.
Summer squash is delicious and fresh this time of year. Plus, it pairs well with the other fresh ingredients in the recipe, like sweet peppers and cherry tomatoes. To make this dish, you can bring your cast iron skillet out to the grill to cook the veggies, adding in seasonings as you go for fragrance and flavor. Pairing these delicate veggies with a plant-based protein like chickpeas makes it more complete and filling, as legumes pack in a punch of healthy protein.
If you want to wow your guests with your culinary skills, this recipe for peperoncini chicken is sure to surprise and delight. A one-pan meal, this recipe also uses every home chef’s best friend: The handy cast iron skillet. Instead of bringing your skillet out to the grill, this time, you're going to load it with juicy chicken thighs and pop it into the oven.
The (not-so) secret ingredient in this dish is a jar of peperoncini, or pickled Italian peppers. The peppers and the brine that they come in give the chicken and red potatoes the flavor this recipe calls for. After the chicken and potatoes are finished cooking, you can mix them in with some crisp, raw veggies for a variety of textures and flavors.
One last casual dinner party idea is this recipe for braised tofu and chiles. Ready in just 30 minutes, this vegetarian and vegan-friendly dish calls for fresh, summer vegetables like bell peppers and scallions.
Tofu is a healthy, plant-based protein that soaks up any marinate that you slather on top of it. Try to find high-quality or locally-sourced tofu as it will provide a more flavorful punch to the dish.
This dish will require a few staples — like soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic — that come together to make a delicious sauce to bathe the tofu and veggies in. After cooking, serve the braised tofu and veggies over a bed of rice.
As a host, you’ve got your hands full when preparing for a dinner party. To ease some of the stress, why not hire a personal chef to take care of the cooking for your next summer dinner party? Even the best dinner party hosts need to take a break once in a while!
INTUEAT is an innovative service that lets you browse vetted, professional chefs in your area. When you pick your chef, they’ll respond within 24 hours to tell you if they’re available for your event. Once you've got the green light, you and your chef can work together to plan your menu. INTUEAT will take care of everything by bringing all the necessary ingredients and equipment to your home. Your chef will prepare a meal that will knock the socks off your guests. And the best part is, you get to sit back and enjoy! Isn’t that delicious?
Love to dine al fresco, but looking for new ideas? Check out 10 Garden Party Menu Ideas Recommended By Private Chefs.
Looking for that magical combo of better nutrition and zero cooking? Read How to Eat Healthy Without Cooking: Tips & Tricks.