Anything can be a fancy meal if you say it is. A humble grilled cheese served on your favorite plate (is it just me or does everyone have a special one?) can turn ho-hum into at-home-upscale.

That said, if you’ve missed the experience of dressing up and going out, go ahead and pull out your fancier duds, even if your grand destination is your usual dinner table. And why not come up with a meal to match the outfit?

Whether you want to celebrate a birthday, have a date-night in your front yard or feel like making something beautiful just for yourself, you’ll find some inspiration below.


Watermelon With Herbed Goat Cheese Whip. Summery watermelon gets a savory topping in goat cheese swirled with herbs. You can portion out exactly how much you’d like, and save the rest of the watermelon and goat cheese for snacking later.

Mushroom Pate. Vegetarian pate? It can be done, and deliciously, too. Most of the work for this recipe is done with a food processor.


Broiled Salmon With Mint Relish. Fancy doesn’t have to mean that your meal should take hours to prepare. Keep it quick and light with easy salmon and a fragrant, citrusy relish. If you don’t have mint, use any other tender herb.

Rustic Heirloom Tomato Crostata, above. Have you been starting a garden in quarantine? If you started your tomato plants earlier than I did, perhaps you have ripe ones ready. Showcase them by tucking them into a buttery crust — no worries if there are rips and tears, it’ll still be tasty and beautiful. This is a good format for just about any summer vegetable you can get your hands on.


José Andrés’s Miso-Roasted Asparagus. Perhaps your CSA is flush with asparagus or you chanced upon the spring/summer favorite at the store. This simple side dish uses just four ingredients — asparagus, miso, hot water and a little sugar — to make these green spears sing.

Pommes Anna. This potato dish looks fussier than it actually is: Layer thinly sliced potato with butter, salt, pepper and herbs and stick it in the oven. Done! It reheats beautifully if you have any leftovers.

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