When contemplating a summer party, think easy. If you serve a meal that can made ahead of time and served as a room-temperature buffet, you will only have to arrange the food on platters once the party begins.
What could be better?
The great thing about this kind of menu is that you can cook nearly the whole meal ahead of time. Refrigerate the food overnight and then place it on platters about an hour before serving so that it reaches pleasant room temperature. If the day is very hot, take care not to leave the food out for any longer than an hour.
A marinated flank steak is great for this sort to menu. Marinate the flank steak for at least 12 hours to give it great flavor. Experiment with flavored marinades - you might prefer one seasoned with Italian herbs and spices one day, and on another want to try one with Thai peppers and spices.
Marinated flank steak cooks in less than 30 minutes on the grill or under the broiler. Let it cool, refrigerate, and when you are ready to serve, let it reach room temperature. Just before you eat, slice it on the diagonal.
The sweet, seductive flavor of grilled or roasted vegetables is as tempting at room temperature as it is warm. If you oven roast the vegetables, add some carrots and potatoes to the pan along with the peppers, eggplant, and squash. Served with some fine olive oil and fresh herbs, these are perfect. Everyone loves them.
Cook noodles ahead of time and while still warm, toss them with flavored oil, or garlic-infused olive oil (sauté garlic in the oil first). Let the noodles chill and then return to room temperature before serving. At the last minute, sprinkle them with fresh chopped herbs or grated Parmesan cheese - or both. Very easy; very sophisticated.
And for Dessert….
Freshly baked fruit pies or just-picked summer berries are the ideal ending to a delightful summer meal. Serve them with ice cream, crème fraîche, or whipped cream. Don't forget the mint sprig!
Everyone will go home happy and well fed. Although you kept it simple, by relying on summer’s bounty of vegetables, herbs, and fruit, you will manage to offer a feast!