These three inspiring summer spreads are easy on the cook and even better for a crowd. Follow our menus, mix and match, or serve one standout alongside burgers and dogs.

By Ananda Eidelstein
Updated July 22, 2019
Greg DuPree / Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer / Prop Styling: Claire Spollen

The summer bounty is one to take full advantage of. There’s nothing like the taste of a sweet and juicy melon, a ripe tomato, crispy radishes, or plump berries when they’re all in season. And what better way to relish in it all than to host a dinner party that’s made simple with easy summer recipes? We made it extra easy by creating three different menus that are simple to put together: there are make-ahead recipes, some that take just 10 minutes, and even a few perfect for traveling with (because you never know when that last-minute picnic will come up). Best of all, we’ve got delicious no-cook recipes that’ll save you major time, too.

Heat up the grill and cook up an herby leg of lamb that can be made ahead and then served alongside a tart plum mostarda. And if you’ve got the grill going, you won’t regret throwing the bread on there to get it nice and toasted with some charred edges—it’ll make the juicy tomatoes and creamy burrata that much more irresistible. Then, slice into a cantaloupe, spike it with a sprinkling of sugar and lime zest, and serve it on a bed of honey mascarpone. Guarantee this will change how everyone feels about melon: ‘filler fruit’ no more.

If you’ve got pescatarian bellies to fill, we’ve got you covered. You’ll start the meal with a fritto misto, (which literally means ‘mixed fried foods’ in Italian), and dip the calamari, shrimp, onion rings, and green beans into a zesty pepperoncini mayo. Follow it with the quick and easy eggplant and lemon savory tart with slabs of feta hiding in between the rich crust and toppings. Have fun with it by looking out for different types of eggplant from Graffiti to Fairy Tale eggplant. Pro tip: the tart makes for an excellent weeknight dinner as well. Then, change up your salad game slicing raw zucchini and summer squash into thin ribbons with scallions, herbs, and crunchy, salted almonds. End with a trifle studded with berries, drowning in fluffy whipped cream, and flavored with elderflower liqueur. Go ahead and make it the day before so you’re ready to scoop as soon as everyone asks, “What’s for dessert?

And last but not least, menu number three has radishes, corn, stone-fruit, herbs, and tomatoes—a peak summer produce celebration. Enjoy the sweet corn raw in the couscous salad with caramelized onions and handfuls of fresh herbs. Pick up all types of radishes for the little gem lettuce salad and top the remaining of all your summer salads with the same trinity of seeds: sunflower, poppy, and sesame seeds. The flavorful pot of mussels and clams comes together quickly—dot with tomatoes to make it the perfect summer meal to gather around. Finish it off with an olive oil cake with a stone-fruit twist.

Cook up one of the menus as recommended, mix and match, or even make one recipe on its own. Whichever adventure you choose, summer will shine through in every bite.