9 Summer Dinner Party Dishes You Can Make Without a Recipe

August  5, 2016

You'd think that summer would be the easiest time to host any random, spur-of-the-moment get-together, with pretty greens and lusty tomatoes and perfect fruit at every turn. But there's so much goodness that we wouldn't be surprised if you felt a little overwhelmed by it. (We've certainly been there.)

Take a deep breath and a cue from these 9 (Not)Recipes posted on our app for our latest app contest (Your Best Summer Dinner Party (Not)Recipe). They're a good place to start daydreaming about tonight's dinner, and as good a reason as any to host a party:

A huge congrats to our winner, Melina Hammer, who set up a picnicking spread we'd hike just about anywhere to eat (lesson: snack dinners are completely appropriate for entertaining):

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Melina Hammer
Melina Hammer
Travel food worth eating. For a road trip out of town (and picnicking away), I arranged these simple but varied, tasty vittles: hard salami and Dijon mustard, a good variety of pickles, like cornichons and olives, a hard and soft sharp cheese, membrillo and crispy flatbreads to go with, boiled tiny potatoes, a couple juicy local tomatoes, and a shaved crunchy salad loaded with herbs. Party time. #lickingtheplate #f52party #sausage #mustard #tomato #cheese #olive #cornichon #pickle #zucchini #jalapeno #cheddar #washedrind #potato

A half-roasted tomato vinaigrette worthy of drizzling over greens or sammiches or little toasts or a ball of burrata:

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Half-confited cherry tomato vinaigrette ✨

Cook halved cherry tomatoes low and slow in lots of olive oil, shallot, garlic, anchovy and thyme until the tomatoes relax into soft, sweet puddles. Take off heat, add sherry vinegar to taste, and an equal volume of fresh, halved cherry tomatoes. Get ready to spoon over grilled meat and fish, omelettes, or crostini -- or to dress greens or pasta. Recipe in link. #f52party

Raise your hand if you want a grilled cheese packed with Taleggio, tomato jam, grilled zucchini, and shallots:

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Grilled cheese and vegetables on homemade Italian bread. Bread, taleggio cheese, grilled zucchini, sautéed shallot, tomato or tomato jam, butter, olive oil. Grill zucchini, sauté shallot season with salt and pepper. Spread tomato jam or tomato slices on bread layer with some cheese, now zucchini and onion and more cheese. Grill in butter and olive oil.#notrecipe #f52party #bread#grilledcheeseshould beafoodgroup

You'd never know this killer galette started out as leftover pie crust. Orange blossom water and saffron sugar makes it 100% party fodder:

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had left over pie crust so i used it to make this super sweet and easy wildberry galette! the berries are macerated in an orange blossom and saffron sugar too! #notacontest #f52party #notcontest #galette #berries #summer #summerberries #easy

Rice bowls are an easy, über-adaptable way to make sure everyone gets the dinner they want. These ones have steak and eggs, peppery radishes, a shower of little green onions...:

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Kylie Thompson
Kylie Thompson
Make rice (I did 1.5cups uncooked...all about that leftover life)

While rice is cooking, sauté sliced red onion in olive oil until soft. Add garlic and cook until the onions begin turning deep brown in some spots.

Add 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, one 10oz can of diced tomatoes and green chilis, and 1 small can of drained black beans. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, a bit of cayenne, and a bit of chili powder. Cook for about 15-20 minutes until liquid is slightly reduced.

Add the rice to the sauce and stir with a wooden spoon until coated in sauce. Stir in chopped cilantro. Keep warm.

In a hot skillet, cook hanger steaks (seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin) to your desired temp. Remove from pan and rest for 5 minutes. Wipe out skillet. Cook egg, sunny side up (or however you want it). Chop steak, slice a radish, and slice a scallion.

Divide rice between bowls. Top with steak, egg, radish, and scallions. Sprinkle a bit of remaining chopped cilantro on top. Enjoy!

#food #f52party #food52 #food52app #dinner #steak #rice #ricebowl #yum #homecooked

Dessert plans: Make everyone biscuits, and serve them up with jam (like this strawberry-red currant one). Ice cream optional, but not really:

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Matt Connor
Matt Connor
This #strawberry red currant #jam is lovely sharp and runny jam, which is equally good on scones, oatcakes or ice cream. #f52party #f52farmstand #berries #fruit

Put all ingredients into a pan, and heat. Aim for about 300g of strawberries, 150g red currants, 125g sugar and the juice and zest of one lemon. You want the sugar to become liquid with the juice from the fruit, once this happens give the mixture a bit to mush it up the fruit. Bring this to a boil and then boil for about 10-12 minutes. Try not to stir it, but do skim off any foam.

After 10-12 minutes, pour into sterilized jars while hot and seal. Let cool and set, and store in the fridge. Will last about week.

Pad thai made portable, bundled in rice paper wrappers (so you can eat it while sipping a drink from your other hand):

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because sometimes pad thai should be portable! ? #f52party

start with a homemade pad thai sauce of tamarind concentrate, fish sauce, minced garlic, palm sugar, and some Sriracha for a kick. smother your noodles and add your garnishes. here, I layered crispy baked tofu, red onion, chopped roasted peanuts, carrots, scallions, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime atop the noodles. wrap in a summer roll wrapper and rejoice!

Roast carrots, turn their tops into pesto, and serve them with burrata. It's one of our favorite appetizers, too!:

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Roasted carrots with burrata and carrot-top pesto. Gotta love using farm-share veggies root to tip!

Used a food processor to make pesto with carrot tops, handful of basil, olive oil, pine nuts, lemon juice, Parmesan, and salt n pepper. Browned carrots on the stove and then finished in the oven. Serve with fresh burrata and squeeze lemon juice on top. Perfect for a summer #f52party !

Rosemary does double-duty as an aromatic and a skewer for shrimp and squash kebabs:

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Marinate peeled & deveined shrimp with lemon & rosemary...slice zucchini...remove leaves from rosemary branches...skewer shrimp & zucchini onto branches...grill & serve. #f52contest #f52party

What's your summer dinner party go-to? Tell us (and invite us to dinner?) in the comments: