Celebrate the sweet, ripe flavors of late summer with Seattle chef Tom's Douglas's rustic and relaxed menu.
In September, farmers’ markets in Seattle overflow with summer’s last ripe tomatoes, sweet peppers, and tender green beans, while the fall harvest is coming in with pears and grapes of every color. Of course, this doesn’t just happen in Seattle. Markets all across the country are awash in gorgeous produce, and that’s a great reason to whip up a terrific dinner to share with friends.
Even though my wife, Jackie, and I own four restaurants and work long hours, we don’t need an excuse to invite guests to our home for dinner whenever we can. Naturally, though, we want to keep our entertaining hassle-free. This dinner is easy to pull off because much of it can be prepared ahead of time. My homemade bianco cocktail practically makes itself: Rosemary, mint and lemon zest steep in a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. Six hours later, the wine is tranformed into a fragrant herbal aperitif. For an appetizer, I like to make a pepperonata with the season’s last peppers (mine come from the Yakima Valley, east of Seattle, but you can use a selection from your local grocery). It’s a colorful, olive, salty and piquant topping, perfect for spooning onto a crisp baguette toast. Roasting a pair of chickens—slathered here with a mustard rub—for the main course keeps your hands free. The chickens need to rest for at least 10 minutes before you carve them, which gives you time to finish up the warm salad of green beans, tomatoes, and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
For dessert, I like to offer both sweet and savory nibbles. I put out ripe pears and grapes, a round of creamy, aged goat cheese, and a crusty loaf of walnut bread. I also serve wedges of one of my favorite cakes—a moist, orange-glazed cornmeal rosemary cake that Jackie bakes a day ahead and glazes on the day of the party. Then I pour each of my guests a glass of White Riesling Ice Wine or Moscato d’Asti and we make a toast to the end of another beautiful summer.