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A Vegetarian Summer Dinner

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Celebrate summer vegetables at their peak of perfection

On Martha’s Vineyard, where I live, late-summer entertaining is all about eating outdoors, making the most of everyone’s over-flowing vegetable gardens, and having a relaxed evening under the incredible light show that is the Vineyard’s starry sky.

It’s the perfect time of year to prepare a vegetarian menu. With the garden’s beautiful bounty, no one even notices that there’s no meat. If your menu o ffers interesting textures and vibrant flavors, and you
create a lovely presentation of several different kinds of dishes, then everyone is satisfied. Add a crisp summer cocktail, such as an Aperol spritz, and jugs of minted lemon water, and the evening will be set.

There’s no need to serve the menu in formal courses, but I think it’s nice to begin the meal with a “make-your-own” element that gets everyone involved in the party.

Menu Timeline

Up to 5 days ahead

  • Prepare these toppings for the toast bar: Balsamic Glaze, Roasted Cherry Tomatoes, Herbed Goat Cheese, and Quick-Pickled Red Onions. Place each in a covered container, and refrigerate until party time.
  • Prepare the breadcrumbs and Parmigiano-Reggiano “crumbs” for the gratin. Cover and refrigerate.
  • Cook the leek and spinach mixture for the gratin. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to assemble the gratin.

Up to 2 days ahead

  • Assemble the gratin. Wrap well and refrigerate.

Up to 1 day ahead

  • Prepare the Rustic Herb Oil for the toast bar. Store at room temperature.
  • Make the dressing for the salad. Place in a covered container and refrigerate.
  • Prep the salad ingredients: Cook the grain. Halve the tomatoes, slice the scallions, and cut the corn kernels from two cobs. Wrap each separately and refrigerate.

Up to 4 hours ahead

  • Bring the toast toppings to room temperature. Transfer to serving dishes.
  • Make the maple-cardamom butter.
  • Halve the peaches and/or nectarines for the dessert. Place on a tray, and brush the cut sides with oil. Cover loosely and set aside.

Up to 2 hours ahead

  • Make the frittata.
  • Uncover and bake the gratin.
  • Assemble and dress the salads.

Just before serving

  • Prepare the crispy shiitake for the toast bar.
  • Grill or broil the bread.
  • Grill the fruit.
  • If necessary, gently reheat the maple-cardamom butter.

The Menu

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