There is no better way to kick off summer than with a casual meal with friends and neighbors in the backyard. After a day of playing in the grass and jumping in the pool, what parent doesn’t cringe when it’s time to wrangle the kids and get them cleaned up, all while preparing dinner?
This weekend, let the kids invite friends over for an afternoon play-date. Then, instead of having the parents come and pick them up, invite the rest of the family over for a low-key night of burgers served out of doors. That means no dirty or wet feet tracking through the house, no slaving over a hot stove in the kitchen — and chasing after fireflies after sundaes at dusk is encouraged.
Keep hungry tummies tamed while dinner is being prepared with a spread of White Bean Dip with pita crisps and carrots. Then quench everyone’s thirst with Watermelon Coolers (for the kids) and this super-easy No-Soak Sangria for the adults.
From patties made of beef, pork, or lamb, to those made with more unexpected ingredients like chickpeas or portobello mushrooms, there really is a burger for every taste. Make these classic beef burgers for the kids, and then opt for something a little more fancy like Gorgonzola-Stuffed Turkey Burgers for the adults. And don’t forget to read our tips for properly shaping burger patties, and then take to heart chef Jonathan Waxman’s advice for making the perfect burger.
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Bulgur
If the grill is going, throw on some vegetables, too. Smaller appetites will like sliced zucchini and mushrooms grilled 'til lightly charred and tender, while asparagus spears and cherry tomatoes, threaded on wooden skewers, are also delicious when grilled. For heartier appetites, mix those grilled vegetables into this bulgur and chickpea-based salad that makes for fantastic lunchbox leftovers the next day.
Because what backyard barbecue would be complete without this classic, summertime dish?
While many forgo serving sundaes indoors out of fear that melting ice cream dripping down chins (and sticky fingers) will dirty your upholstery, they are the perfect backyard dessert to enjoy all summer long. Start with your favorite varieties of ice cream, or try making your own batch of rich chocolate at home. Serve with crisp pecan cookies and fudgy brownies, fresh berries, and a drizzle of butterscotch and chocolate sauces. And don’t forget the sprinkles for the kids!