Cool Meals for Hot Summer Nights: June Dinner Party

Summer entertaining is all about keeping the kitchen cool and enjoying hot nights.  This dinner party let’s you do both and spend time with your guests.  Heavy appetizers let a light shells and cheese sing for the entree, and a fruit salad does double duty when you finish it off for dessert!

Menus like these can be a real challenge– you don’t want your guests to feel like they’re eating a bunch of sides. Add a little extra oompf to your appetizers and no one will notice. Everything can tie together with the ingredients; our hostess went for prosciutto, mint and cheese. By keeping the same ingredients throughout the meal, you’ll also save yourself labor and fridge space.

Try a multiple layers crostini, here we had goat cheese, fig, mint and prosciutto. For a gluten free version, spread the goat cheese on the fig, add mint and then wrap with the prosciutto. It’s a good balance of salty and sweet that will carry throughout the meal.  Our hostess can’t cook without having at least one haloumi dish, so we also had haloumi watermelon and mint.  I love the firmness of the cheese when its grilled and probably ate half the brick of it. In case you’re not familiar, haloumi is a Greek cheese that you grill.  It’s that good with the fresh sweetness of the watermelon drizzled with balsamic vinegar. These two appetizers are just good to keep in your repertoire for summer dinners.

By this point a creamy shells and cheese with prosciutto will go a long way and the preparation can be done in advance, finishing while guests and you enjoy appetizers. Think a smoky combination of white cheddar, smoked Gouda, Pecorino Romano and Gruyere cheeses and caramelized onions with CRISPY bits of prosciutto in the topping. Inspiration here– the sauce is actually a lot lighter than it might seem.

All of this will go fantastically well with a dry, zesty, acidic Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio or even a minty sangria. They’ll help cut the creaminess of the cheese and balance what is a pretty naturally salty meal without waging war on your palate. And they’ll carry through the meal to dessert.

Right! DESSERT!  Remember that watermelon? Combine with some feta, mint and thinly sliced red onion and refrigerate during dinner.  The red onion and feta may seem like an odd combination for dessert but adding some heat and savory can keep you on your toes and end your evening on a clean and refreshed note.

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