The New York Times Food columnists share their favorite simple dishes for a gorgeous spread.
Credit…Alex Lau for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Susie Theodorou.
By Genevieve Ko
The confusing spirit of August — the urge to relax while also making the most of lazy days — extends to cooking for friends. There’s a craving to casually have people over for a beautiful meal that takes nearly no effort. These special, unfussy dishes from the New York Times columnists — Melissa Clark, Yewande Komolafe, Eric Kim and Genevieve Ko — are perfect for an impromptu gathering because they come together so quickly.
We’ve also included a shopping list and prep plan so you can stay stress free while you cook. Beauty and ease? Maybe you can have it all.
On the Menu
Melissa Clark’s Baked Feta Dip With Spicy Tomatoes and Honey
Chile- and garlic-spiked tomatoes bake with creamy feta for a stunning appetizer. Make a double batch if you want to make this more of a meatless main course than a starter.
Yewande Komolafe’s Coconut-Dill Salmon With Green Beans and Corn
Grilling a whole impressive fillet of salmon in a foil packet ensures moist fish that doesn’t stick to the grates. Green beans char alongside the fish and get tossed into a tomato-corn salad.Coconut-Dill Salmon With Green Beans and Corn
Eric Kim’s Grilled Pork Chops With Plum BBQ Sauce
Plums lend their complex tanginess to a sticky BBQ sauce that needs only 20 minutes to simmer before smothering charred pork chops.
Genevieve Ko’s Blueberry Crisp
The whole dessert can be assembled in less than 30 minutes, then baked during dinner and cooled just in time for dessert. Lemon zest and juice give the crunchy topping and jammy filling a fresh pop.
• 2 pounds blueberries
• 1 pound black or red plums
• 2 lemons
• 2 pints grape or cherry tomatoes
• 2 ears corn
• 8 ounces green beans
• 1 head garlic
• 1 small red onion
• 1 small yellow onion
• 1 small bunch mint or basil
• 1 large bunch dill
• 1 (8- to 10-ounce) brick or slice of feta
• 4 ounces unsalted butter
• Vanilla ice cream
MEAT AND SEAFOOD
• 1 (2-pound) salmon fillet (skin on or off)
• 8 bone-in pork chops (1/2- to 1-inch thick)
• Baguette, pita, other bread and/or crackers
• 1 (13-ounce) can unsweetened coconut cream or milk
• 2 ounces sliced almonds
• Salt and black pepper
• Urfa or Aleppo pepper, or crushed red-pepper flakes
• Extra-virgin olive oil
• Canola or other neutral oil
• Granulated sugar
• Dark brown sugar
• All-purpose flour
• Sherry vinegar
• Apple cider or rice vinegar
• Dijon mustard
• Chili sauce (such as Heinz) or ketchup
FOR SERVING (OPTIONAL)
• Salad greens and dressing
• Fresh fruit
This order of operations is meant to make preparing a spread as simple as possible. Of course, there’s only so much you can plan for: An ingredient may be forgotten, guests may arrive early. So think of these times as guidelines, not hard rules.
If you want to give yourself a leg up, chop your vegetables early and make the plum barbecue sauce and the crisp topping in advance. (Both can be refrigerated in airtight containers up to three days ahead.)
THE DAY OF
1 hour before: Make the feta dip and get it in the oven.
45 minutes before: Prep the blueberry crisp.
30 minutes before: Make the plum barbecue sauce, if you haven’t already. Season the pork.
20 minutes before: Take the feta dip out of the oven and get the blueberry crisp in. Prep the produce for the salmon, if you haven’t already. Season the salmon and make its dressing. Heat the grill.
WHEN GUESTS ARRIVE
Serve drinks and the warm feta dip.
15 minutes after: Put the pork, salmon and green bean packets on the hot grill. Depending on the thickness of the chops, flip the pork after 1 to 4 minutes, then remove from heat after 3 to 8 minutes.
25 minutes after: Let the pork rest. Take the salmon and green bean packets off the grill.
30 minutes after: Take the blueberry crisp out of the oven and let cool. Finish the salmon dish. Set out the salmon and pork. Toss a salad if you’d like.
45 minutes after: Serve the salmon, pork and salad if you have it.
WHENEVER YOU WANT
Serve fruit if you’d like, along with the blueberry crisp and ice cream.
Recipes: Baked Feta Dip With Spicy Tomatoes and Honey | Coconut-Dill Salmon With Green Beans and Corn | Grilled Pork Chops With Plum BBQ Sauce | Blueberry Crisp
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Genevieve Ko is a deputy editor and columnist for the Food section and NYT Cooking, for which she also develops recipes. More about Genevieve Ko
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