Contributing editor Maryellen Driscoll gets inspiration for a summer celebration from her own harvest
Living “the simple life” on a small, sustainable farm can get rather complicated. With six acres of vegetables, hundreds of chickens, and a couple dozen mischievous steers to tend to, along with restaurant orders to fill, hay to make, and weekly farmers’ markets to attend, we just don’t do a lot of entertaining at this time of year. But with so much good food at our fingertips, time has to be made to share.
What I like about this menu is that it’s full of fresh flavors and ingredients that almost anyone can find at local farmers’ markets from midsummer to early fall. I can’t help but use a lot of fresh herbs while they’re in season and tasting their best. For starters, grilled flatbreads (a guaranteed crowd pleaser and something that even a nonbaker can easily make) are served right off the grill, warm and chewy, with an herby lemon-garlic dipping oil. The oil is infused with earthy rosemary and brightly freckled with clean-tasting, fresh parsley for contrast. I can’t get enough of it. The rest of the meal continues to benefit from the use of fresh herbs for garden-bright flavor in the potato salad, green bean salad, and more nuanced complexity in the glazed grilled chicken. The way I see it, it’s the season to let what’s fresh speak for itself.
Another perk to this meal is that most of the cooking and prep work can be done ahead so that when your guests arrive you’re not stuck in the kitchen. You can join in, whether that means kicking back in lawn chairs or in my case, handing out beers and relocating the party to whatever crop most needs weeding. Just keep an eye on the make-ahead lemon-buttermilk pudding cakes. They have a way of vanishing before a party even gets started.