You can be one of those people for whom summer entertaining seems effortless. You know the type: They just “toss things together.” They don’t sweat the tablescape. They plunk down a few bottles of vino, light up some votives and enjoy their company till it’s time to clear the plates.
Here’s a way to do it. Compose a no-cook menu, most of which can be made in advance. Over the past few years, in anticipation of the August wilt, we have featured no-cook recipes for ceviches, crudos, carpaccios, granitas, nonalcoholic drinks, sandwiches, soups, salads, slaws, summer rolls, tartares, tonnatos, wraps and whipped cream desserts. Click the links, or choose at will from our Recipe Finder!
If that’s too much to sift through, consider this new three-course plan: a pale-green, creamy and refreshing blender soup to start; a trendy poke salad with unexpected crunch; and a coffee-kissed icebox torte made with chocolate-sided whole-wheat digestive biscuits. All are doable in an hour, provided you start with the dessert so it can chill while you make the rest.
Fresh peas give body and sweetness to the first-course soup, while cucumber keeps it light, and avocado lends richness. You can refrigerate it hours ahead and dress it up any which way you please. For the main course, spring for the freshest-looking tuna fillet you can find, and you will be rewarded with jewel-toned cubes of marinated fish that have a bit of a bite. Then just heap them on a bed of scallions and kohlrabi — the latter a vegetable that is consistently overlooked and underappreciated in high seasons of tomato and corn.
The torte turns out to look like more of a mess, really — hence, the name — by the time you have scooped it into cups. No matter. It’s a minimal-ingredient wonder, with lightly sweetened whipped cream, whipped cream cheese or tiramisu-flavored mascarpone, brewed espresso, pomegranate molasses and those addictive euro cookies from a tidy, one-sleeve box. Line a small loaf pan with plastic wrap, fill it in, seal it up. Given a 30-minute rest in the refrigerator, the biscuits sink and soften ever so slightly into the filling around them. It’s a dessert that can be done ahead of time, too.
And there you have it, without stress or heat or large sighs heaved.
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