Try zaatar, a Middle Eastern spice blend, with lamb, beef, chicken, steak—even cheese and veggies. Or do a combo, like the meatball, halloumi, and squash skewer here.
There’s something about mango and papaya that makes us feel like we’re on vacation. This platter can be any mix of those plus pineapple and fresh coconut, served with lime wedges and a dipping salt of three parts kosher salt and one part cayenne.
Recipe: Fancy Fruit Platter
Bring the craze for izakaya, or Japanese small plates, into your backyard. Set out hard-cooked, bite-size quail eggs; then next to the eggs, arrange two bowls, one with furikake (Japanese seaweed seasoning mix), the other with a dipping sauce of mayonnaise seasoned with wasabi paste, toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, and salt. Ingredients are available at Chinese and Japanese markets.
Nothing says summer more than a ice-cold, sugary treat. Try our adult spin on popsicles (pictured) or this granita's unusual flavor combo to satisfy your craving. The margarita “poptails” require popsicle molds, but the granita, inspired by one at Foreign Cinema in San Francisco, just needs a square pan.
Margarita "Poptails" (pictured)
Bagna cauda, an Italian version of fondue, hits all the right notes: It’s delicious, it showcases fresh veggies, and it invites conversation around the bowl, or “hot bath,” flavored with garlic and anchovies. Put it in a heated bowl to keep it warm longer.
Recipe: Bagna Cauda
None of these take more than 15 minutes to make. Just prep the simple syrups and fruit in advance, employ the booze potluck, and voilà, you’ve got yourself a pretty impressive bar.
Recipes (pictured left to right):
It can cost more than $100 to serve drinks at a party. The answer? A booze potluck. Choose two cocktails you’ll mix at the party, then ask your friends to bring a bottle of liquor instead of the obligatory white wine.
Party tray: Buy these lacquered trays in multiples to make serving (and cleanup) easy. From $29; westelm.com
Glasses: Durable acrylic glasses in bright candy colors can withstand any party treatment. From $20/set of 4; surlatable.com
Festive napkins: Marimekko’s colorful patterns elevate even the humble paper napkin. From $5/set of 20; crateandbarrel.com
The bamboo spork: This brings the need for two utensils to one. Plus it’s washable and reusable. $8/set of 4; bambuhome.com
To fancy up chips and dip, make the bowl you serve them in pretty, the dip smoky, and the potato chips Western. We crunched through 30 brands to pick our faves.
Recipe: Smoky Clam Dip (pictured)
Our picks for chips:
- Kettle Brand Chips Backyard Barbecue. The perfect balance of sweetness, smoke, and a little heat. kettlebrand.com
- Alaska Chip Company. Their classic chip is crunchy with natural sweetness. akchip.com
- Tim’s Cascade Style Jalapeño Chips. Thick-cut chips with a bright, zippy flavor. timschips.com
- Poore Brothers Salt & Vinegar. Crisp, with wonderfully tart flavor. Find them in Arizona, Colorado, and SoCal.
Slice a baguette, brush slices with olive oil, and toast on the grill. Then set out a bowl of the toasts with any of the sweet or savory toppings here, and let guests build their own bruschetta.
Recipes for our favorite combos:
Beets and Preserved Lemon Bruschetta (bottom right)
BLT Bruschetta (bottom left)