Summer is the season for an extreme dinner party

I know it’s cool to be cool, but that’s not my bag. Especially when I’m cooking for friends: Without any encouragement, I turn ordinary plans into an occasion. I invite four people and make food for 10 people. I keep plenty of wine in my fridge and a box of taper candles in the closet, just in case. You weren’t expecting flowers and cocktails this cold week? Strap in, I’m just getting started. My guiding principle is to go big, and I never regret that.

If you’re interested in joining the Maximum Effort community (it’s really fun; we’d love to host you), summer is the perfect time to get started. Long days and warm nights put people in the mood to party, so you don’t need an excuse to invite friends over and pull out all the stops. Plus, the drama inherent in hot grills, fancy produce, and bulky frozen desserts works in your favor, as this season’s best ways to cook and eat really are so much more. So whip up your group chat that dinner is at your house and use these tips as inspiration: We tend to have it all.

Splurge where it matters

If you’re going to be proud of an ingredient or two, make them the stars of your side dishes, as a little goes a long way. A few modern growers are marketing heirloom tomatoes for a cringe-worthy tomato spread, or a single package of specialty store jamón for this Jamón and Nectarines With Blue Cheese is enough to trick out a salad, making your table a little more festive than ever.

After shelling out the big bucks, be sure to treat your spent produce properly: Take a sturdy box or tote bag to the farmer’s market to carry the tender tomatoes home without the risk of being crushed or bruised, and give the pork at least 30 minutes to come to room temperature before serving to maximize flavor.

Tomato Salad With Crème Fraîche And Olive Granola On A White Plate With Utensils To The Side
Tomato salad with cream cheese and granola olives

Pair heirloom peak season tomatoes with a delicious, crunchy granola underpinned by salted black olives, which transform slightly crisp and meaty in the oven.

Watch the recipe

Lean toward family-style margins

Are you thinking more is better? You may be a spread person. I’m talking about meals with lots of little ingredients—the picture of abundance—that everyone around the table can make their own dishes with. The spreads combine the ease of family service with the flexibility of handling different portions throughout the day (in other words, no mad rush before you sit down to eat).

Try making your own handmade rolls with rice and tuna salad, a baked potato piece, or a bright and delicious meze. Just remember the rule of thumb for spread-out dinners: Unless you have a lazy Susan, place several bowls or plates of each item along the table so everyone gets equal access.

If you’re planning an appetizer, start with grilled vegetables, such as tahini grilled eggplant as your focus: Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. arrange 3 Italian eggplant, cut into “” thick slices, in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. spray 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil And ²⁄3 cup of tahini Over and generously marked with kosher salt. Flip the slices into the batter on the baking sheet, kneading to coat. Arrange on the wire rack and grill until tender and charred in spots, 2 minutes per side. Transfer the eggplant to a plate.

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