With so many fresh ingredients from our garden or the local farm stands and markets, I think we all look forward to hosting gatherings during the summer months. While Jeffrey fired up the grill for some staples that honor the traditions of a 4th of July BBQ, I thought I’d find a salad to add that’s not complicated but filled with flavor. We recently had our friends over and I tried out a salad from chef Joshua McFadden’s Six Seasons cookbook, plus an easy seasonal dessert. There's no better way to celebrate the start of summer with friends than a sunset BBQ.
Here in Upstate New York, it's starting to get warm, so I'm pulling out our outdoor furniture and topping it with my favorite Tensira bedroll and cushions. And since we'll be eating outside, I'm using my go-to bamboo plates and bowls. I love how they're non-toxic, unbreakable and super lightweight, whilst still feeling elegant.
There's something wonderfully nostalgic about firing up the BBQ as soon as it gets warm out – especially when you've watched it sit outside covered in a blanket of snow for so many months. Since we eat a somewhat vegan diet, Jeffrey's grilling Beyond Meat burgers – a meat free alternative that in my mind tastes better than any animal meat burger I ever used to eat. For the fixings, these mini bamboo bowls (see here and here) are great for serving condiments like ketchup, mayo and mustard.
I pulled out a seasonal recipe from one of my go-to cookbooks, Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables by renowned chef Joshua McFadden. Winner of a James Beard Award, this cookbook highlights vegetables throughout their growing seasons and features them in a variety of forms – from raw and grilled, to sautéd and braised. I made the Roasted Beet, Avocado and Sunflower Seeds salad. The combination of fresh parsley, sweet beets and creamy avocado with the tang of red wine vinegar turns seasonal veggies into a standout side dish.
I'm also making up a side salad using ingredients that we're growing in our kitchen garden. A mix of fresh arugula and chopped sugar snap peas, topped with shaved parmesan, sea salt and olive oil. This simple salad has been on rotation lately, and we can't get enough. I like to serve it in this large bamboo salad bowl using these bamboo salad severs, plus these small bowls for each person. I custom design a line of organic cotton napkins and the fresh summer prints are perfect for outdoor meals. My newest prints are this blue paisley, tan paisley and chocolate/white fauna.
And to cap off the evening, we enjoyed a homemade rhubarb crumble, which we promptly devoured before I had a chance to snap a photo. Last year, Jeffrey made this Pavlova (see here) which was equally delicious if you're looking for an easy seasonal sweet treat.
The sweetness of summer holidays spent with good friends and a good meal al fresco is what we all remember fondly. And this is proof that hosting a small gathering doesn't have to be complicated. With a few solid recipes and a handful of fresh ingredients, summer meals can be simple and yummy too. What are your favorite 4th of July meals? I would love to hear!