Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.

Serious Entertaining: Farmer's Market Lunch

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[Photograph: Carrie Vasios]

At this time of year, the farmer's market is in full swing. Beautiful vegetables are piled high as the eye can see. Gem-colored fruits are laid out in baskets, so juicy and sweet that I can't help but eat them on the spot. In these months I run around the market like a madwoman—sampling, squeezing, buying, gawking.

Suddenly it's such a pleasure to go grocery shopping that I'd do it twice a day, if possible. The result is a kitchen that's stockpiled with produce, far too much for me to tackle alone. What a perfect excuse to make lunch and share with friends what summer is all about.

Sliced Summer Tomato Salad

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There is nothing quite like ripe tomatoes. They're so sweet and juicy, so very redolent of summer, that I'll eat them out of hand, like an apple.

Because tomatoes don't need much improvement, I like this salad for its restraint. There is a drizzle of sweet balsamic and a sprinkling of nutty, toasted pignolis. There is fresh basil and a crumble of tangy local chèvre. But the above all there are thick slices of tomatoes: beefy, juicy, and perfectly ripe.

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Grilled Chicken Stuffed with Spinach and Scallions

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In this dish, chicken breasts become the perfect vehicle for freshly picked spinach and scallions. Dill adds an herby touch and lemon zest a bit of citrusy brightness. I put the chicken on the grill so that the salty feta melts and literally ties it all together.

Mint Lemonade

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Nothing washes down lunch quite like freshly made lemonade. You'll enjoy how the mint perfumes your house while you make the simple syrup.

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